The upside of playing rebate games is that you can save a ton of money on something that you actually need. You’ll often see a product advertised at a very low price… “after rebate”. The whole scheme works because most people buy a product “for a steal” but never fill out the rebate form. But we are not those people, right? We submit rebate forms and get our hard-earned cash back in a month or two. The downside is that a lot of these rebate checks are not checks at all but prepaid cards. They show up in your mailbox with a preset amount and then you need to figure out how to use them before they expire. Today I’ll share an easy hack you can use to “cash out” your prepaid cards in just a few clicks.
But first let me say this: if you don’t do rebates you really ought to consider getting in on the fun. Dealing with rebates used to be a lot more complicated. Companies had you jump through the hoops to get that rebate check. Print the form, fill it out with a certain color pen, attach proof of purchase, mail and wait a couple of months to hopefully hear back. Good luck trying to check on the status.
But the process has been improving as of late. Are there companies that want to make sure it’s not easy to submit a rebate? Absolutely! After all, that’s the only way the rebates would work for them.
What I did notice over the last few years is that there seems to be a trend of companies moving to online rebate processing. It goes something like this… You buy a product, click a link that takes you to an online rebate form that’s already partially filled out, type in the required information along with the order number, click Submit and you are done.
My latest rebate was from Newegg.com. I was rebuilding my HTPC and needed a new processor. One that could run anything your throw at it today without quickly becoming obsolete… And it had to be cheap! Here is the deal I found:
$119.99 – $10 instant discount – $40 rebate… That’s only $69.99 for this beast! Actually even less after Ebates for cashback (use this link and get $10). Even today, several months after I bought it, this processor is still selling for double what I paid.
See the link on the invoice that says “Mail in Rebate”? I just clicked it, filled out a quick rebate form and that was it. I did have to wait to submit the rebate until after I received the processor in the mail because they asked for the serial number from the box. But with a 2-day free shipping it didn’t take that long!
A month later I received a $40 prepaid Visa gift card in the mail. It’s valid for 6 months so better use it quick before it expires. But how do you use it without much hassle?
I can go to a gas station and fill up my tank. But there are a couple of issues here. First, some of these cards won’t work at the pump outside. I’ve had to go inside and ask them to put a certain amount “on pump number X”. Besides, my MINI Cooper can’t take $40 bucks worth of gas so I’d have to do it a couple of times. Again – first world problems but who wants to deal with that?
To make matters worse, they sometimes put $1 authorization on the card when you try to use it so instead of $40 you’d have $39. You have to wait for the hold to release and sometimes it’s tricky to drain the card down to zero.
You could keep the card in your wallet and use it the next time you are buying something that’s over $40 to use it up at once. Fair enough, but I don’t usually shop at brick and mortar stores anymore. Seriously, even my kitty litter is delivered right to my door! Who wants to carry 40 pounds home from a store??
I wanted to find a way to “cash out” prepaid cards instantly without having to go anywhere.
First I tried adding a prepaid VISA debit card to my PayPal wallet so I can transfer the balance to my linked bank account. Unfortunately, PayPal doesn’t let you do that. They don’t want you to use their service to launder prepaid cards for free.
PayPal will let you add a prepaid card and use it to pay for something you buy online. Certainly better than having to go into a physical store but still not ideal. What am I going to buy for exactly $40? If I buy something for less then I’ll still have some random amount left over on the card like $3.27 or whatever…
Then it hit me – what about Amazon? We do a lot of shopping there so a gift card from Amazon is as good as cash. That’s probably true for most people today. Besides, Amazon gift cards never expire and they don’t have those sneaky maintenance fees that gradually drain the balance to zero.
I logged into my Amazon account, clicked on the “Gift Cards” link and then on “Reload your balance”. Along with the preset dollar amounts I saw exactly what I hoped for – “Enter an amount”.
I entered the prepaid card information, typed “40” in the “Enter an amount” box and clicked the “Reload $40” button… Boom! The money was instantly transferred from the prepaid card to my Amazon balance.
Even better, when I went back to check my Amazon transaction history I saw a $5 bonus added to my $40:
Amazon does have a promo where they’ll kick in $5 for every $100 reload but I only added $40… Whatever the reason – I’m not complaining!
You may think – why the hell he’s so excited about this? I know it sounds silly, but this is important if you occasionally get stuck with prepaid cards instead of checks that you can simply deposit at a bank.
If you search for how to cash out a prepaid card or how to deplete a prepaid card or how to transfer money from the prepaid card you’ll get lots of results but most are worthless at best and spammy at worst! They either try to get you to sell your card at a substantial discount or talk about “10 Amazing Ways To Cash Out Your Prepaid Card” without providing any useful information.
But this Amazon hack is not really cashing out, some will say. I get it but for me, and I think for most people, converting prepaid card balance into Amazon dollars is as good as cash.
I hope that this neat little hack I discovered will help others to never miss out on another rebate and turn it into (Amazon) cash quick! And don’t forget that this also works with any prepaid card. For example, I used the same trick to cash out several prepaid cards I received for test driving cars. Let me know in the comments if you know another way to easily cash out prepaid cards.