Rebate debit cards are a growing source of funds for cash-strapped cellphone users. They're also a major new source of revenue for cellphone providers. Unlike the old-fashioned rebate checks that customers could cash or deposit into their general discretionary-spending funds, these high-tech devices enable big businesses to re-capture some of their rebate outlays. Consumers who receive rebate cards from their wireless providers are more likely to return to the provider's retail outlet or website to shop for additional products, accessories and upgrades. Some rebate cards may even come with gift catalogs or buying guides. Wireless providers count on re-earning a significant proportion of the rebates that they issue.
Most wireless providers, including Verizon, send rebate cards via standard mail. Since these products are backed by Visa's electronic payment system, they can be used at virtually any business that accepts Visa products. This is a signature advantage of these rebate cards: They are nearly as flexible as actual cash.
Unfortunately, Verizon's Visa rebate debit cards come with some drawbacks as well. First, they can't be used for any part of a transaction worth more than the balance remaining on the card. In other words, a Verizon rebate card with a $30 remaining balance can't be used to subtract $30 from a $40 sale bill. To complete such a purchase, you'll need to use a different method of payment. In practice, this means that you can't maximize your card's value by using it solely as a form of payment. Unless you're extremely meticulous, your card will have a balance remaining on it when you cast it aside.
These cards may carry monthly maintenance fees. To avoid being charged for the right to use your rebate device, you'll need to drain it within a month of receiving it. You also may be unable to split a restaurant bill with a prepaid card. Finally, your rebate card may carry transaction authorization fees that further hinder its spending power.
For all of these reasons, you'll want to transfer your rebate card's balance into your bank account soon after receiving it. Although they won't be happy about it, Verizon's customer service team can walk you through the process of depositing your rebate into your bank account. You'll need the PIN number on your card to complete this process. Alternatively, you can request a rebate check from Verizon's rebate department before receiving your card in the mail.