More often than not, people are looking for ways to make money. It becomes challenging to figure out where you can fit in a profitable side gig when you’re already working 40 hours weekly, or you’re at home raising a family. Sometimes, the extra time needed to invest in developing a second business doesn’t exist.
Investing time and energy into finding savings hacks doesn’t guarantee the results you’re looking for, either. Often these savings opportunities come with strings attached or have one-time incentives. Plenty of restaurants offer rewards programs, but they require you to buy items actually to earn the rewards. Sometimes it’s not a solution to put out money to make it. While gratifying at first, these deals don’t assist with the long term goal of saving money.
We’ve found a solution to help you both make and save money. We’re saving you the footwork with our investigation of the best ways to earn free gift cards. Whether you like spending time taking online surveys, or you prefer to earn as you’re shopping, we’ve found ways you can tap earn free gift cards.
Market Research Companies
Market research companies offer the opportunity to use their search engines in exchange for free gift cards. Not familiar with that term? You’re probably more familiar than you realize. Examples of search engines include Yahoo! And Google. They’re the platforms you navigate to search from when you require online information.
You may wonder, “Why would a market research company have an interest in paying me to use their search engine?” The answer is two-fold. First, they want to analyze your input to develop algorithms of what the general population is searching for. Second, they want to help boost the popularity of their particular search engine. The more people who use the search engine, the more information they’re able to collect.
Swagbucks and InboxDollars have two distinctly different methods for payment.
Swagbucks rewards its users for signing up. As of our last check, they provide first-time users a $10.00 reward in exchange for creating an account. From there, users can generate points through the use of their search engine. While consistent points (i.e., points for each time you use the platform) are not guaranteed, sporadic points are. The more you use the platform, the more points you generate.
Swagbucks points translate to a dollar amount. Three hundred points are the equivalent of $3.00. $3.00 is the smallest value you can cash out your points for. You can choose between cashing out via PayPal or accepting gift cards to stores such as Target, Starbucks, or Amazon. If you’re looking for a passive way to earn free gift cards, you can upload the Swagbucks search engine and use it as your primary means of online research.
InboxDollars operates differently than Swagbucks. InboxDollars allows you to earn tokens every time you use their search engine. They do have conditions of use, though. To earn tokens when using their search engine, you have to remove ad blockers. This may be an annoyance if you’re not used to pop-up ads. It’s the price you will have to pay, especially if you need money now.
Most people use an online search engine at least a dozen times daily. Considering this average, you could rack up some serious tokens if you choose to swap out your regular engine with InboxDollars’. When you’ve earned enough tokens, you can put your total towards cash or gift cards.
We found Market Research Engines to be an effective method for users to earn gift cards with little effort.
If you have a bit more time, and the patience to earn your gift cards in a more task-oriented manner, you can take online surveys. Several sites exist for users to sign-up and complete surveys in exchange for cash or gift cards.
These surveys are seeking feedback from specific demographic groups, so you may not qualify for every survey. The median time for survey completion is 20-30 minutes, and with particular sites, the reward may not match the effort. Of the sites that are currently available, these are the best ones to tap into.
Springboard America is one of the leading online market research communities in the US, allowing fellow Americans to participate in surveys and discussions for rewards that will influence the brands, products, and services we all use every day!
Opinion Outpost is a free online tool that connects major corporations and businesses to their customers. By taking paid surveys online with Opinion Outpost, you can make money quickly and safely from home and help your favorite brands adapt and grow just by sharing your opinion.
Opinion Outpost users make money and earn prizes by taking paid surveys about various topics. Your input helps businesses better serve consumers like you, and they’re willing to compensate you for your feedback! Think about it: Businesses want your opinions so that they can make products you’ll love even more, and they’re going to pay you for it. Opinion Outpost is the ultimate win-win!
Turn receipts into rewards with ReceiptPal. The app lets you earn valuable gift cards and cash prizes just for submitting receipts. Use ReceiptPal to snap your paper receipts, or connect your email or Amazon account, and you’ll earn points for every receipt. You can redeem your points for gift cards from great retailers. Plus, you’ll be automatically entered into our weekly sweepstakes for cash prizes
My Soap Box
MySoapBox™ is an online research community. They collect feedback from members on products, services, and experiences. The most successful brands depend on members to help them evaluate how they are doing, what they need to do to improve, and what they should create in the future.
One Opinion is a survey site that has several methods of earning. Their surveys allow you to earn points. Surveys vary in point value. For every 1,000 points, you make you receive $1 toward a gift card of your choice. You must reach the threshold of 25,000 (or $25) before you’re able to cash in your points.
One Opinion’s other method of point generation is product testing. Participants can complete product testing from the comfort of their homes. One Opinion will send products that are not currently available on the market to you. Participants then provide feedback in exchange for points. The obvious downside to this is that participants don’t always have a desire or need for a particular product that requires testing. You may end up with something you would instead not incorporate into your daily life.
Survey Junkie is an online survey site that operates similarly to One Opinion. They also usually seek participants for specific demographic studies. They offer a wide selection of surveys that will provide several options. You’re bound to find at least a few that fit your needs.
Survey Junkie also operates on a point system. Surveys generate between 100-200 points. One thousand points are the equivalent of $10.00. Participants can cash out via PayPal or select to earn gift cards. For more details on Survey Junkie, check out a previous review we conducted, where we give insight about the process involved in obtaining freebies.
A common complaint with survey sites is they tend to pay minimal per survey. However, with Pinecone Research, you could make up to three dollars per survey.
Survey Club is like the shopping mall of online surveys. It is a hub for online platforms to market their survey needs. If you feel like you need a wide variety of options of surveys, from several companies, Survey Club is the place for you.
While having more options is great, the downside to this is that the payout is lower than the other survey sites we reviewed. Since Survey Club is the hub for survey vendors, they operate as a third party and take a cut of the profits. However, if you’re more concerned with access to as many surveys that apply to you as possible, this is the site for you.
Credit Card Rewards
Discover Cash Back
One of my favorite ways to earn free gift cards is with our Discover card. Each quarter, Discover offers special categories where you can earn 5% cashback on your eligible purchases. These offers do take a little bit of work. However, you can see in advance what categories will be featured every quarter. Typically, the categories are seasonally themed, making it easy to rack up free money. Summer months often offer cashback on gas purchases and theme parks; spring typicals include home improvement, and the fall typically has offers that are perfect for back-to-school hoping.
What makes the Discover card stand out is that you can redeem your cash back for gift cards with over 100 brands. Each brand offers a minimum of a five-dollar bonus when converting your money to a gift card; some brands even will double your cashback. So, your twenty-dollar cashback could be redeemed for a twenty-five, thirty dollars, or more.
Why We Love Discover
At the Your Money Geek household, this has been a popular wedding gift and holiday shopping hack since we were broke college students. We would save up our cashback all year long, then convert it to gift cards for stores like Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
The later is one of our favorites stores to find wedding gifts and holiday presents for those hard to shop for relatives. The best part, we could covert twenty dollars of cashback into a thirty dollar Bed, Bath, and Beyond card.
Shop with Discount Apps
Few people shop without utilizing some sort of smartphone application. It seems as though every store you walk into has an incentive associated with their brand’s app. Take advantage of these promotions and use them to cash in on free gift cards. Especially if you’re a first time user, these apps can help you make money and collect gift cards fast!
HOOCH is a free app that rewards you up to 10% back in TAP dollars – plus exclusive perks – when you travel, shop, or dine with over 250,000 global partners.
Powered by TAP blockchain technology, HOOCH is changing the traditional “points and miles” loyalty industry by letting consumers earn up to 10% in rewards dollars, 10x the standard earnings for most programs. Consumers can draw on top of their existing credit card rewards for spending at 250,000+ top merchant partners around the world, from booking hotel rooms to getting coffee or using rideshare services.
Earned rewards dollars can be redeemed instantly for hotel bookings, dining credits, and gift cards to hundreds of national brands including Amazon, Starbucks, Uber, Apple, AMC, Nike, and more.
To start earning rewards, all a consumer has to do is:
- Download the free HOOCH app.
- Link any credit or debit card through HOOCH’s secure platform.
- Get rewarded when you spend with 250,000+ hospitality and retail partners, such as Marriott hotels, Amazon, Uber, Starbucks, Shake Shack, and more.
Why We Love Hooch
Hooch had us at “Shake Shack,” however, beyond our favorite burger chain, there is a lot to love about the Hooch app. Since it is a relatively newer app, it much easier to earn referral points. Let's face it, everyone, you know has probably already signed up for Swagbucks, making it hard to get the extra referral money. Cashback rewards on Hooch can be as high as 10%, and the rewards stack with any offers offered by your credit or debit card provider.
Target’s Cartwheel App is the most popular free gift card generator. Use the Cartwheel App while you shop in Target, or online before going to the store. It will allow you to tap into exclusive deals and offers that aren’t featured more publicly.
The discounts associated with the Cartwheel App are great, but it’s the free gift cards you can gather from using the app that put the icing on the bargain shopping cake. Offers will usually provide a $5 gift card if you reach a specific monetary amount or if you buy multiple of the same item. You receive awards for completing your shopping, and that is a win: win situation in our book.
Ebates provides a first-time user a gift card as a reward. When you sign up for Ebates, you’re prompted to choose between a $10 gift card to Walmart or Ebates Cash. After you sign up, make sure you’re using Ebates when shopping. Once you’ve made your first Ebates purchase of at least $25, you will receive your $10 gift card.
The more significant benefit to Ebates is the cash you earn back from shopping from retailers that use the platform. Depending on what you buy, and from whom, you earn cashback. While the savings are often minimal, over time, you will start to collect some healthy pocket change. This will save you a decent amount of money in the long run.
Ibotta App is more often used for grocery purchases. You use the app when in stores, shopping, to find discounts and deals.
To earn gift cards, you have to do a little leg work once your shopping is complete. When you’re done using the Ibotta App for your purchases, save your receipt. When you get home, upload your receipt to redeem for cash or gift cards.
A cool feature with this particular app is the ability to use it as a “team.” Instead of gathering discounts as an individual, a family or group of friends can create a team of users who combine their shopping savvy to receive the most discounts and redemptions.
Why We Love Ibotta
Out of all the ways we have tested to get free cards, the ibotta app was the fastest way to earn 100 dollars. They typically offer a welcome bonus that rewards new users with extra money for using the app. Secondly, they provide excellent referral bonuses for referring your friends and family, and unlike the done to death Swagbucks, you might have a friend that not already a user. Lastly, the rewards are significant; we routinely save five to eight dollars per grocery shopping trip.
Honey is what we think of like a savings alert app. When you shop through this app, you can earn Amazon Gift Cards or cashback. Honey alerts you to opportunities to buy items at an increased discount rate. It does this by directing you to where that particular saving is available. If you are an avid Amazon shopper, Honey will assist you in finding deals through third-party vendors that are less expensive than the initial items offered on an Amazon search.
A small gray area with Honey is the amount of cashback you will receive when you purchase through their app. The precise amount of return is not identified until after the purchase is complete. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised at the amount of cash you receive back. Other times, you may be a bit disappointed. When shopping with Honey, it’s a good idea to purchase items you’re already in the market for. This will prevent you from falling into the trap of mindless buying because you find a good deal.
Good Old Fashioned Methods
Now that we’ve covered online and app methods, we can’t leave you without discussing some of the good, old fashioned ways for earning free gift cards.
Ask for Gift Cards
We’re not promoting asking your friends and relatives for freebies. However, on holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or your birthday, you should vocalize your wants and desires. If you’re saving up for a particular item, inform those around you that you’d prefer a gift card to put toward your more significant purchase.
If there is a store you like shopping at, whether for clothing or décor, make your loved ones aware of this preference. While they may not initially think a gift card is as creative a gift as they’d like to give, assure them that is the preferred option. Emphasize how nice it is to shop unburdened by cost. If you set the standard that this is your preferred gift, you’ll start being able to count on gift cards as opposed to asking for them.
Gift Card Granny
Not precisely free; however, Gift Card Granny does allow you to purchase discounted gift cards or sell gift cards. If you can do a little bit of planning, it is possible to stack a discounted gift card with coupons and discount or reward apps. You can routinely find cards for Walmart, Target, Gamestop, Best Buy. iTunes, and Apple store, for 1 to 3 percent off.
Sign-up for Giveaways on Social Media or in Store
Instagram marketing has become an enormous method for brands to increase their marketing. Through offering giveaways, that often incorporate gift cards, brands request participants to “like” their user profile and share the giveaway. Seek out brands you love on social media and sign up for these opportunities whenever they present themselves.
Stores also participate in gift card giveaways. To extend their marketing reach, they’ll ask you to sign up with their mailing list in exchange for the opportunity to win a gift card. If you’re not opposed to the increased mail-in your (real or virtual) inbox, sign up when you’re presented the opportunity.
Return Items That You’re Given
After the hectic holiday season, we often find ourselves surrounded by thoughtful, but not always useful gifts. If you find you have an abundance of items that you’re not attached to, return them in exchange for store gift cards. Often, when you receive the item, individuals will attach the specific store they purchased the item from.
Whether through the wrapping or with a gift receipt, you can determine where the item came from. Instead of going to the store and exchanging the unwanted item for something else, ask for a gift card. That way, next time you require something from that specific store, you have the gift card on hand to cover your purchase.
The Bottom Line
Shopping guilt-free is a lot less daunting than shopping when you’re always aware of the price tag of your purchase. If you’re looking for ways you can save money and earn some free gift cards, consider using some of the ideas above to capitalize on this opportunity. All it takes is a little diligence in your free time, and you could find yourself in need of a new wallet to store all of your free gift cards.
Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.