AVOIDING

THE GOTCHAS

Know the fees and read the fine print, including fees for activating the card, checking balances, inactivity, going over the limit, and replacing a lost card.

Keep an eye on the expiration date. Some cards expire within as little as three months.

Know your balance. If you expect your purchases to exceed the balance of the card, ask a merchant if it can do a split tender transaction so you can use the full value of the rebate card and the balance on another form of payment. Another solution is to fill your gas tank with the exact balance on the card.

Be aware that your rights are limited if the card is stolen or lost. Rebate cards have voluntary protections that could be revised or rescinded at any time, unlike debit cards that limit a consumer's liability to $50 if reported within two business days.

Source: Consumer Reports

JOHN EWOLDT