Sunday, July 26, 2009

Generic VISA Gift/Debit/Rebate Cards - A Ripoff

Generic VISA gift/debit cards are a convenient way to give a quick gift to someone, without having to shop for them. In theory, it's a great idea - let the gift receiver choose where they wish to spend the money.

Generic VISA debit/rebate cards are a popular way for companies to send out rebates or refunds.

Be careful with these cards.

Most payment systems are not set up to handle generic gift/debit cards. If you use one of these cards for a purchase, and you do not use the entire amount of that card for the purchase, chances are you will not be able to use whatever funds are left over on the card after that initial payment. For instance, I used one of these cards recently at Target for a purchase. There was an unused amount on the card. I tried to use the same card at the same Target later on for a payment, the Target payment system would not accept the card. I checked online - the card showed an unused balance, but it can't be used. If you use a generic VISA debit card for a payment, make sure you use up the entire amount of that card for the payment.

In addition, when used almost all VISA debit cards trigger an account 'usage' or 'maintenance' fee - usually 2.50 per month, until the card is used up. If the card isn't used at all for a period of time (usually a year), the fees start automatically.

These 'quirks' are designed on purpose - the funds that are lost or confiscated go directly into the pocket of the company that issued the card. This is how they make their money - and they make a LOT of money.

To avoid this, if you are buying a card as a present for someone else - buy a gift card that is specific to a store or chain. For instance, if you buy a Target branded gift card, your recipient will not have a problem using the full amount of that card at Target stores, with no fees or problems with the payment system.

To avoid this, if you are the recipient of one of these cards as a present, refund, or rebate, use the card quickly, and make sure your purchase uses up the entire amount of the card.


Kath said...

Could have sworn you already had this up. Is this a trick??

67Cougar said...

Don't think so ... maybe someone else with the same subject?