Rebate Cards Don’t Always Offer Advertised Savings to Atlanta Consumers

What's the difference between a real rebate and an advertising gimmick? The answer lies in the fine print.

Retailers are making it harder than ever for Atlanta consumers to get money back on purchases, thanks to early expiration dates and fees for inactivity on rebates. In tough economic times, making sure you take advantage of every opportunity to save can be the difference between drowning in debt and doing away with debt to find a fresh financial start, say Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys. Fortunately, with a little detective work, you can make sure you get the discount you deserve.

Once upon a time, merchants would mail rebate checks after a shopper turned in a proof of purchase. But that made things too easy for consumer, so retailers began replacing those checks with cards.

Now, in theory, a rebate card serves the same purpose as a rebate check - it's free money. The problem is that the cards look nearly identical to gift cards - as such, consumers treat them like gift cards, stashing them in their wallet to save for a rainy day. But when that rainy day comes, many shoppers are surprised to find that their rebates have expired - or have been obliterated by months of inactivity fees.

Unlike gift cards, which are subject to regulations in the Credit CARD Act - for instance, a gift card can't expire for five years or be subject to fees after less than one - rebates can come with any sort of terms. Bear in mind that rebate checks also come with expiration dates, but since they don't look like gift cards, shoppers are more apt to treat them differently.

If you want to ensure you'll get the full value of a rebate, read the expiration date on the back of the card. It's up to you to use the card before then. If the expiration date is a couple years away, retailers may try to get their money another way - with fees. Again, using the card up as soon as possible - even if you don't use it all at once - will help you avoid wasting your discount on inactivity fees.

If you're struggling to make ends meet, rebates and other discounts are one way to make sure you're getting the most from your money. Another way is to lower your debt burden, which can free up more of your paycheck from bills each month. When your debt is too big to budge, bankruptcy can help you get things moving. Wondering if there's a bankruptcy plan that's right for your financial situation? It's free to find out when you sign up for a complimentary one-on-one debt analysis with an Atlanta bankruptcy attorney. Unlike with rebate cards, though, there's no catch.

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