Is that ‘free’ money you got in the mail melting away before your eyes? That’s exactly what could happen if you’ve received a rebate card based on a product you’ve purchased. Many merchants offering rebates have moved from sending checks to mailing prepaid cards. Rebate cards can either be ‘closed-loop’ meaning you can only use them for more of that merchant’s products or ‘open-loop’ which means you can use them to make purchases anywhere. But there’s usually a catch. Most rebate cards come with fees or expiration dates. Fees can include a monthly account maintenance charge if you haven’t used all the money within a certain timeframe and that can eat away at the card’s value until there is nothing left. And the real shocker can be the expiration date. If the money on the card isn’t used within a specified time period poof! The money is gone for good and the rebate that convinced you to buy the product in the first place is no longer available. But rest easy. There are ways to help ensure this doesn’t happen to you. It begins with the fine print. Make sure you read any information that comes with the rebate card or call the telephone number or the back. Be aware when any fees might kick in or when the card will expire. Then make sure you spend that money before it disappears!