SanDisk sent me $20 and $60 rebate VISA cards for buying SanDisk compact flash cards. I hate rebates in general, but I hate VISA prepaid card rebates even more. I'm told that banks are required to cash these cards in, but Bank of America had no idea what to do with them. So I tried using a $20 card at a restaurant (i.e. "put $20 on the card, and we'll pay the rest in cash"), and the transaction failed. It is very hard to use rebate VISA cards.
A friend suggested that I use the cards to purchase gift cards, which is a great idea. I bought a $20 card from Amazon with no problem, but a $60 order failed. I logged in, and it turns out that the account only has $59 on it, even though it plainly says "60 DOLLARS" right on the front of the card.
How is this not ripping me off? It isn't worth $1 to call a customer service number. Instead, I bought a $59 gift card from Amazon and am posting about the issue here on my website for SanDisk customers to find. I'm sure it will cost one of the companies involved (SanDisk, VISA) more than $1.
OK, I tried to purchase a $59 gift certificate on Amazon, and it failed. I checked the balance again, and now it says that it is $58. I tried buying again, and now it says $57. My balance is shrinking with each attempt, and I am not even successfully using the card!
I believe the reason my balance kept going down is that Amazon does a pre-authorization for $1 before charging the entire amount of the gift certificate. But because the VISA rebate card treats pre-authorizations as charges (before refunding the amount "up to 15 days" later), there is no longer enough on the card for the full charge to go through. The solution is to purchase a gift card for $1 less than the value of the rebate card, or to buy a gift card from somewhere that doesn't pre-authorize.
Note that my $20 gift card didn't have this problem, so it seems that Amazon only pre-authorizes for gift cards of a certain value or higher.
I just got a Verizon $50 VISA rebate card. Verizon has a menu item called "Access $" on their rebate card management website, and from there, you are able to withdraw funds directly to your bank account. Way to go, Verizon!