Wal-Mart to Cash Tax-Rebate Checks for Free

New York City Wal-Mart Stores on Tuesday unveiled its plans to entice U.S. shoppers to spend their tax rebates in its discount stores, offering to cash the checks for free and saying it has cut prices on key items such as cereal and lunch meat.

The company said no purchase will be necessary to cash the checks at its customer service desks or in its MoneyCenters, the financial services centers it operates in its stores.

The retailer has cut prices on key grocery and other items such as shampoo, juice and sports drinks, to coincide with the distribution of the rebates.

Tax rebates began arriving in U.S. consumers' mailboxes on Monday. They are part of Washington's $152 billion 2008 economic-stimulus package, and payments should be in most Americans' pockets by the end of June.

Many retailers have unveiled plans to get shoppers to spend the cash in their stores.

Sears Holdings Corp. is offering a 10% bonus if customers convert their entire stimulus check into a Sears or Kmart gift card. For instance, if the check is $600, Sears will give consumers gift cards totaling $660.

Meanwhile, Kroger and Supervalu will allow customers to exchange their checks for a store gift card loaded with extra money.

Wal-Mart also said it will refund the purchase fee on its Wal-Mart MoneyCard when any portion of the stimulus check is loaded onto the card.

The Wal-Mart MoneyCard is a reloadable prepaid Visa that the retailer launched nationally last year.