The latest rage in rebates seems to be gift cards (credit cards with small balances on them). Thing is, they come with strings – lots of strings and they’re completely inconvenient.
When we renewed our contract with Cingular we got two $50 gift cards and one $25 gift card. I knew when I received them that they expired pretty quickly – but they expired after like 60 or 90 days. We had been busy and since you can’t use them for online transactions (since you have to pay on a single card and nothing costs exactly what your card is worth), and they’re a bit embarrassing to use in public ’cause they’re a real hassle for the person ringing up the sale, the bottom line was we never got around to using the two $50 gift cards. A couple weeks after they expired we realized we’d just lost out on $100.
We’ve been doing some technology/web planning work with Animal Haven – a no-kill animal shelter here in NY (hopefully they’ll get a grant and we’ll get to do a complete overhaul of their web site – it’s too much work for just pro bono).
One day when I was thinking about the shopping cart they use for donations I realized charities are perfect for all those pesky gift cards. You’re going to give to charity anyway, and a charity won’t care of you have a transaction for every gift card – they’re just happy for the money…
So when we got another gift card today from Symantec we just straight away gave it to Animal Haven via their web site.
Symantec’s gift card looked better – didn’t expire for a year, but in the fine print it said that after 6 months they deduct $3/month in “maintenance fees”.
So when you get a gift card – don’t view it as a hassle, see it as a charitable contribution.