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Cheapskate: How to use up every last cent on any prepaid debit card

Some prepaid debit cards can be problematic to use up to the last cent without going over and having to dip into your pocket to complete the transaction. Some of them have expiration dates, which is difficult to understand, but true nonetheless.

Another problem: Most stores will not allow you to split payments. That means if you buy a new bike and want to use up that last $1.77 on a

prepaid debit card, paying the balance with cash or some other form of payment, most stores will not let you do it. The problem is, when they try to process the prepaid card, it returns a rejection because the balance on the card is insufficient to cover the entire transaction.

I want to show you a way that you can use up that $1.77 or any nagging tiny balance — even $.05 — on a prepaid debit card. But before we go on, let’s define terms.

A “prepaid debit card” is a credit card branded gift card. That means it has a MasterCard or Visa logo on it. It’s been “loaded” with a certain amount of money that can be spent in any store that takes MasterCard or Visa transactions.

This article does not apply to a Macy’s or Best Buy gift cards. Those are department store gift cards, not prepaid debit cards.

For anyone worried that I’m about to haul off

and suggest you do something so sneaky you could be arrested, relax. This is very ethical and

completely legal — openly accepted and actually quite clever.

You will use Amazon to convert any amount on any prepaid debit card (defined above), even if what remains is only a few cents. This means you need an account at Amazon. If you have ever purchased anything there, you have an account. If not, you need to open one. It’s free and easy.

The way to conquer the prepaid debit card problem is with your account at Amazon.

First, you will transfer the value of any prepaid debit card that has not expired to your account at Amazon.

Next, you will use those funds to purchase an Amazon gift card and email it to yourself. The minimum purchase amount is $.50 so you will need to accumulate at least fifty cents in your Amazon.com account to do this.

Once you have an Amazon gift card, you can use it to buy anything at Amazon. And you can split payments. That means if you bought yourself a $.71 Amazon Gift Card, you can use it now to purchase, let’s say, one of my books or a gift for your best friend.

First you apply said Amazon gift card to your purchase, and then pay the balance as you normally would.

The nice thing here is that Amazon gift cards never expire. You can just hold the funds in your Amazon account until you need them or until you want to purchase an Amazon gift card for yourself or someone else.

So, let’s review, shall we?

Amazon has a method by which you can move any amount from a prepaid debit card into your Amazon account. Those funds can now be used to purchase things, including Amazon gift cards.

To learn more, go to Amazon.com and log in using your passcode. Look at the upper right side of the page and click on “Your Account.” Select the first item in the pull down menu, “Your Account” (yes, again). Look under “Payment Methods” and select “Add a Credit or Debit Card.”

Would you like more information? Log on to EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary @everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o

Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740.

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