What you should know about magazine scratch cards


Financial Guidance

When picking up a newspaper at the weekend, you’re probably used to several scratch cards as well as other leaflets and advertisements floating out as you try to get to your favourite section. Although you may think of these scratch cards as harmless fun, there are a few things that you should be aware of to protect yourself if you ever want to claim from them.

How do they work?

When we’re talking about scratch cards we’re not talking about the ones that you pay for from The National Lottery, but the ones that come free in newspapers and magazines. These often offer luxury prizes like holidays, cars, cash, mobile phones and computers and are usually designed so that everyone wins something. This is made clear by the fact that the cards don’t come with their own unique number and are packed in with several others – at least one of these will contain a winning combination.

Typically, all you have to do to retrieve your prize is text or call the number on the back of the card. When you do this, be cautious if you’re required to give out personal information such as address, contact details and date of birth, as these may be used in other marketing campaigns.

Don’t be fooled

However, when you get in contact with the company (either by text or on the phone) you will usually be met with high charges. These will be incurred per minute on a premium rate phone line or when you follow the instructions to text the company and receive numerous texts in return – charges of £10 or more for the text messages are not uncommon. The scratch card will usually set out what these charges are in its terms and conditions – so take a careful look before calling on texting.

If you get a response back from the company, providing you with details on how to redeem your prize, it’s not always easy to claim it. This is because the prizes on offer may not be quite what they might seem at first. For example, the holiday to Spain that you’ve been promised may only cover the cost of your accommodation and not the flights over, or you have to sign up to a minimum 12 month contract with a service provider to get your hands on that free mobile phone.

The holidays are where most people can lose out, lured in by the prospect of a few days away in the sun. But in some cases in return for the prize, winners are often asked to attend a lengthy presentation where they are encouraged to purchase membership to holiday clubs or timeshare trials.

Ultimately, when it comes to free magazine scratch cards, remember that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is. The hassle and cost that you’re going to incur by attempting to claim your prize, is unlikely to be worth it in the end – so steer clear!

Image: rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com

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