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I’m a big fan of free gift cards.
I’m one of those people that feels weird spending money on things I don’t really need, especially if I have to pay full price.
So, if there’s something special I want at a department store, that’s not a necessity, I have a hard time justifying the cost.
As I write this, I’m obsessing over something that most people would call ridiculous: a pair Christian Louboutin heels at Nordstrom.
They’re called the Loubitag Sandal, and they are divine. They’re white with a hand-drawn graffiti pattern, a peep toe, and a stacked 5.5” heel.
But, and this is a biggie, they’re a staggering $1,195:
I mean seriously, who pays that for shoes?
Okay, obviously a lot of people, or they wouldn’t still be making them by the truckload. However, I am not one of those people who can justify that kind of money on a pair of shoes I probably can’t even walk in. Still, I want them.
My secret to getting them? Free gift cards.
I’m going to show you how I do it.
How to Get Free Gift Cards: 13 Easy Hacks
When it comes to online shopping dreams, I don’t give up easily, so my workaround solution is to use free gift cards I’ve accumulated through various different life hacks to help offset my expensive taste. The best part is that I figured out how to get free gift cards without having to spend any money. It seems like every day there’s a new way to earn points online to redeem for gift cards or discount codes.
I’ve tried most of them, and here are my top 13 favorites. One of them involves zero technology whatsoever!
1. Use Swagbucks or InboxDollars to Search the Web
Swagbucks and InboxDollars are market research companies that pay you to use their search engine instead of some of the more prominent ones like Google and Bing. The idea here is that they will learn more about people search habits and uncover patterns that may be valuable to companies trying to better understand consumers. You can read our Swagbucks Review here and InboxDollars Review here.
Each site has a $5 signup bonus.
(Update: Swagbucks is now offering a $10 sign up bonus for using their search tool).
Neither of these are going to make you rich overnight (or ever), but if you’re wondering how to get Amazon or Visa gift cards with virtually zero effort, you may as well try these out. The other perk being that you start earning online without completing offers or committing to any sort of work whatsoever.
2. Take Online Surveys that Give You Gift Cards
It seems like every day there’s a new survey site popping up, so I’ll only tell you about the best survey sites that give you the best rewards, including free gift cards.
Seriously, the range of compensation on survey sites is astonishing! I got suckered into one a couple of weeks ago that was offering like 12 cents to take a 20-minute survey. I won’t name names, but I’ve definitely not included it here.
Some of the survey sites I’ll share here offer five or six dollars for surveys that take less than 10 minutes. You can cash in or accumulate points and convert them into free gift cards, which I love doing!
And some even have you do fun tasks like play games and watch movie trailers.
Here’s the rundown on my favorites and why:
- Super easy to start making money right out of the gate
- Earn Rewards: Complete surveys and earn virtual points
- Get Paid: Redeem virtual points for Paypal cash deposits or e-Giftcards
- DollarSprout’s Survey Junkie Review
Vindale Research: You get an instant $2 signup bonus and the surveys are for fun, recognizable companies.
SurveyClub: You can get text notifications about new surveys, plus you also get entered to win into sweepstakes each time you complete a survey.
3. Join Rakuten and Get a Free Gift Card ($10)
All you have to do is sign up for an Rakuten account (formerly Ebates), and you can get a $10 gift card after your first purchase. Plus, you earn cash back every quarter.
Rakuten is a cash back shopping site, and if you shop strategically, you can earn up to 40% off at thousands of stores. In addition to giving you cash back, you’ll also be alerted to discounts, which really comes in handy.
All you have to do is shop through their portal on Rakuten.com or the app and you can start accumulating cash back rewards as early as today. If you’re worried about forgetting to shop through the portal, you can install the free extension on your browser and it will prompt you whenever you’re shopping on an Rakuten partner site.
You can also redeem your rewards in the form of free gift cards to major retailers such as Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes or Starbucks — or you just pick up a free Visa gift card and spend your rewards anywhere you like. Sometimes there are extra incentives to accepting a gift card in lieu of cash.
You can read our full Rakuten review here.
4. MyPoints: $10 Amazon Gift Card
The MyPoints app has been around for eons. Well, at least since 1996. And they’ve provided a ton of ways for you to accumulate cash, collect travel miles, receive discount codes, and earn Amazon gift cards. Like other rewards programs, you can earn points by taking surveys, watching videos, and searching the web. But, they’ve added even more fun activities, like playing games, printing coupons and shopping online at partner stores.
And here’s where it gets meta…you can earn points toward gift cards by buying gift cards. Kinda weird, but I like it.
Right now they have a online promo going where anyone who signs up will get a free $10 Amazon gift card after spending $20. Pretty sweet!
5. Download the Drop App for Automatic Gift Cards
Drop is a service that gives shoppers cash back when they make purchases.
For example, you might see that the app is offering 5% back on purchases made at Target. If you go to a Target store and make a purchase, you’ll get Drop points that you can later redeem for gift cards.
For companies, Drop is a way to advertise. Target might offer Drop a commission on all of the customers that Drop can drive to its stores. Drop places a cash back offer in the app, convincing some of its users to visit the store and make purchases.
- Earn cash back when you shop
- Easy to sign up and view offers
- Earn ongoing rewards for shopping at major brands
- Cash back can be earned on top of credit card rewards
- Payment comes in the form of gift cards, not cash
- Only works if you pay by card. Cash users need not apply
- A small number of negative reviews when it comes to dealing with support
6. Link a Card to DOSH and Get $5 Instantly (cash)
The DOSH cash back app has been creating a ton of buzz on online social media lately, and for good reason.
Here’s how it works:
- Download the app and connect your credit and debit cards (they use bank-level encryption technology to keep your info safe)
- Use them where offers are available
- Accumulate cash back
- Deposit your cash back into your bank account
What we love about DOSH:
- All rewards are pure cash. You won’t get free gift cards, but cold hard cash is a viable substitute 😉
- You get $5 for every card you link to the app and $10 for every friend you refer to the app.
7. Grocery Shop with the Ibotta App
If you like saving money with coupons but hate the idea of clipping them, carrying them around and remembering to bring them with you, then you’ll love the Ibotta app. It’s mostly for grocery stores, but they’ve added other types of retailers, too.
It works by giving you offers to save money on products you need if you complete simple tasks. Then you go shopping, upload your receipt to the app and get paid within 48 hours. Choose whether you’d like cash or free gift cards that you can use at major retailers — think Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, Starbucks, Apple, etc.
Something unique about this app is that you can participate as a team. Build up your network and you all earn rewards faster together than you would as an individual.
8. Use the Honey Chrome Extension to Earn Free Gift Cards
Honey is the closest thing you’ll ever get to free money. And free gift cards.
I got hooked on Honey when I started seeing their ads on Facebook for top secret ways to shop. Of course, I had to find out about the secret!
It’s a free Chrome extension that follows you around as you shop (in a totally non-creepy way, though) and automatically applies the best coupon codes, so you get the lowest possible price. For every 1,000 points you earn from your purchases, you get a free $10 gift card. Thousands of online stores participate in Honey’s discount program, so you can kiss the days of searching for coupon codes goodbye!
From Asos to Zappos, and everything in between, you’ll get the best deal using Honey. Again, not only do you get everyday low prices, you get gift cards, too. Since I frequently like to use Amazon to shop, I use Honey to save on my purchases and then I tack on the Amazon gift cards I’ve previously acquired to get heavy, heavy discounts on all my shopping.
9. Credit Card Rewards (Be Responsible)
If you are using a credit card that doesn’t give you cash back, we need to have a serious chat. In the old days, it seemed like the only way to get cash back rewards on your credit card was to have one of those fancy gold American Express cards with astronomical annual fees.
Now, just about every credit card company has a cash back rewards program with no annual fee. You can use the rewards for cash or redeem those points for free gift cards.
10. Use Instagram to Find Gift Card Giveaways
Companies are always giving away cool stuff on Instagram, and oftentimes it’s a gift card. The rules of the giveaways vary, but usually you just have to be following the account that posted the contest and like the image, comment, or tag someone.
The best way to find these opportunities is to enter these hashtags into the search bar:
Recently, Instagram allowed you to start following hashtags, which means you don’t have to manually search these terms every day. Instead, once you follow these hashtags, they’ll show up in your newsfeed automatically! If you’re lucky enough to score a win, you’ll usually earn a discount code to a large digital retailer that you can claim at checkout. Hard to beat free stuff.
11. Amazon Mechanical Turk
Imagine getting paid to do simple, everyday tasks on your computer like identifying pictures, transcribing audio recordings, or doing basic research. This is a real thing.
Mechanical Turk is an Amazon company that pays people to do tasks called HITs, or Human Intelligence Tasks. Even though machines have become capable of so many things, we still need humans to do stuff, too. Thank goodness!
You can get paid in cash or request a Amazon gift card as payment instead.
12. Get a $25 Amazon Gift Card from JOANY
Update (July 2018): This survey has been put on hold, but check back later to see if they’ve opened it back up.
JOANY is an online “health care concierge” that is on a mission to make health insurance simple and transparent. They help people find and compare plans, match up with doctors, and negotiate medical bills.
Right now, JOANY is conducting a research study to collect valuable feedback from consumers on their health insurance experience. Participants who complete the survey (which has less than 50 questions and should take less than 10 minutes) will receive $25 dollars for their time.
If you meet these qualifications and complete the survey, you’ll get $25 (choose between PayPal or Amazon gift card):
- You bought insurance through your state exchange, Healthcare.gov, through a broker, or directly through a health plan like Oscar or Aetna for 2018.
- You do not receive your health insurance through an employer.
- You are not currently enrolled in a short-term plan.
- You currently have this health insurance active.
- You are not on Medicaid, Medicare or VA health insurance.
- You do not receive your health insurance through your school/university.
- You have not taken this research study using your current health insurer previously.
Most questions are multiple choice, which makes the process fairly painless. And of course, your answers are kept private (and are actually protected under federal law).
13. Ask for Free Gift Cards Instead of Regular Gifts
Okay, this is my favorite free gift card strategy, so I wanted to save it for last. Plus, it doesn’t involve any apps or technology, and it’s probably the fastest and easiest way to get gift cards.
All you have to do is ask. When it’s gift giving season or your birthday and people ask you what you want, you are doing them a favor when you say gift card.
Some people think gift cards are a cop out. And maybe they are, but only in some cases. The thing is that your friends and loved ones want to get you something that you genuinely want. They will literally pull their hair out (okay, figuratively) trying to pick out just the right gift. Something unique and quirky that you’ll love and cherish for years to come. And when you get a hideously too large turquoise blue lace thermal because “you love turquoise blue, and lace, and you like to stay warm!” you realize that you should have just asked for what you wanted.
If you do feel weird asking for a gift card, here’s a clever technique one of my friends did for his birthday party. He told everyone he was saving up for a new MacBook Pro, and would really appreciate gift cards to the Apple store to help offset his purchase.
This technique is genius for two reasons:
- The people buying gifts for you don’t have to think too hard about what to get you, but they still feel good about the purchase but they’re getting you something tangible that you asked for.
- You get exactly what you want!
After trying almost all of these techniques during the past year, I am amazed by how much I’ve been able to accumulate (in addition to the other ways I’m able to make money online). I’m not 100% of the way to my goal yet of buying my dream heels, but I’ll get there soon!
Do you have any other fun ways to earn free gift cards? Let me know in the comments!
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