Debit Card Rebates

by john on November 5, 2005

Despite our washer and dryer set only being about 4 years old we splurged on a new front load washer and dryer from Maytag. One of the deals they had going on was getting a $100 “Gift Card” with the purchase of this set.

Well I just got the “gift card” in the mail and it turns out it is a Visa Debit Card loaded with $100. On the face of it that is pretty cool – I can use just like cash pretty much wherever I want. In fact I could even use at an ATM.

But when you read the fine print you find a number of ways they can get you if you aren’t careful.

p.. Account Maintenance Fee
After six months if there is still a balance on the card they charge you a fee of $3. Then after that each and every month you still have a balance they will charge you a fee of $3. Each month!

p.. Over-Limit Fee
This fee is $15 and is charged when the account balance is less than $0.00. What’s scary is it isn’t clear if the final month of the Account Maintenance Fee would only be the remaining balance under $3.00 or if they pull a full $3 out no matter what. So let’s say you forget about your card and never use it. Eventually you’ll be left with $1. Then in that last month does the $3 Maintenance Fee trigger the Over-Limit Fee or do they only take $1 out to close out the account? Obviously that is the way it should work but you never know.

Now the other way this Over-Limit Fee could be kicked in is if you make a purchase for more than what you have on the card. So if I go buy groceries with this nice new shiny debit card and I mistakenly use it when my grocery bill is $101 (yeah right, when is the last time I spent that little) then they’ll soak me for the $15 Over-Limit Fee. According the the Terms of Use these sorts of transactions should not be allowed by the vendor but they may do it anyway, which would result in the Over-Limit Fee and having a collections agency come after you for the balance.

p.. ATM Access
I’ve setup the card for ATM access as directed on one of the literature pieces I got with the card. But then in the Terms of Use section it clearly states “this card does not have cash access.” Weird.

Getting around all of this will be pretty easy of course – just go buy a real $100 gift cards at Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, etc. But I’ll bet more than a few people get screwed over by these.

Be careful out there.

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