Rebate Cards Don’t Always Provide Chicago Consumers with Advertised Savings

Would you turn down an opportunity to get money back on a purchase? More than 83 percent of consumers wouldn't - that's how many people in a recent study said they look for rebates when shopping.

But the problem is, rebates aren't what they used to be, say Chicago bankruptcy attorneys. If you don't read the fine print and follow spending directions for your rebate, you could miss out on an opportunity to save money - and that's no small change when you're struggling with debt or other financial issues. In times like these, most of us could use every discount we can get.

Retailers have gotten stingier over the years. Rather than send checks, many now send prepaid cards that resemble gift or credit cards. Consumers put these cards in their wallets, thinking they can use them at any time. But when they whip them out months down the line, they may find that the cards have expired - or that the value is slowly being whittled away by inactivity fees.

Because the rebate cards are considered free money rather than gift cards, retailers don't have to follow rules set in the new Credit CARD Act. Whereas gift cards aren't allowed to expire within five years or charge fees before one year, rebate cards are pretty much a free-for-all.

Retailers do, however, have to outline their own unique set of rules. And if you learn these rules, you still have a shot at getting a full rebate.

First, read the print on the back of the card - it should clearly state the expiration date. In addition to the deadline, some cards also charge fees for underuse - in general, the more distant the expiration date, the sooner monthly fees will be deducted from the card's balance.

Making sure your rebate is still there when you need it is one way to make the most of your money. Another is to lower debt. With less of a balance - and therefore less interest - to pay with each bill, you'll have more of your paycheck leftover for you. If your debt is too big to handle alone, bankruptcy can help you get the ball rolling. Find out more about bankruptcy when you try a free one-on-one debt analysis courtesy of a Chicago bankruptcy attorney. Just like free money, free financial advice is too good of a deal to pass up.

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