About Those Adobe Prepaid Discount Cards

This holiday season Amazon, B&H, and others have all at one time or another had yearly prepaid Creative Cloud cards on sale from anywhere around US$90-100, which would represent a discount of about US$20-30 from paying monthly via your credit card.

Adobe isn’t exactly “smooth” about how this might work if you’ve been paying by credit card but want to change to a prepaid account. So a few things:

  • If you have a card go to www.creativecloud.com/redeem or creative.adobe.com/redeem. You then sign into your account, provide the redemption code, and then provide a credit card to rollover to when the prepaid plan expires. This seems to work just fine for people with near expiring plans (I just did it myself using the second URL).
  • One problem occurs if you committed to a yearly plan (but are paying monthly) that isn’t about to expire. Then you'll run afoul of Adobe’s cancellation policies, apparently: you’ll be charged 50% of your remaining contract obligation when you make the switch from paying on your credit card to using the prepaid card. 
  • Another problem occurs if you committed to a yearly plan and prepaid the full amount when, it, too, isn’t about to expire. You again run afoul of Adobe’s cancellation policies, which in this case means you get nothing back on the unused portion of your previous contract.

To say the least, these last two items are about as customer-unfriendly as you can get. You can easily end up paying more with the discounted prepaid card than you did on the monthly plan billed normally to your credit card. And Adobe wonders why they’re not liked or trusted among much of their customer base. Well, this would be one of those things. 

Now it very well may be that you can convince Adobe’s chat-based or phone-based customer support agents to do the right thing—that would be end the current plan without penalty and use the prepaid card to extend the plan accordingly—but be prepared for a long, laborious, probably unsatisfactory customer service experience. Even minor things seem to take fifteen minutes or more to resolve. And this won’t be perceived as a minor thing. 

So what do you do if you get a prepaid card as a gift or pick one up on your own? My suggestion: wait until you’re well into the final month of your current plan contract, then use the first bullet above to redeem the card code you got. These prepaid cards don’t appear to have expiry dates to them, thus you could pick one up today and use it a few months from now. Indeed, the one I received—printed in Singapore—had a creation date of 7/15. 

Now the really interesting thing here is the cash lag inherent in the prepaid cards. Adobe sells those to places like Amazon, B&H, and others. They don’t get used immediately after Adobe sells them (especially if you follow my instructions). So Adobe gets use of the cash without providing a corresponding service for some time. Nice ploy if you can manage it, but I think Adobe is making short-term monetary decisions that are impacting customer satisfaction and are going to burn them in the end. We already have a near Photoshop clone in Affinity Photo, and as the previous story indicates, we’re going to have a near Lightroom clone in Luminar at some point soon. US$120 a year is starting to look like a lot to pay for the “safe choice.” 

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