The internet is not only a great resource for information, it is loaded with free stuff waiting to be claimed. If you would rather get samples and gift cards than viruses and spyware, you need to stick to legitimate offers. Identifying trusted websites can be a daunting task but the following list provides the top ten methods for snagging your share of swag. You may not get rich but your mailbox will be filled with fun freebies and your pockets lined with extra cash.
Becoming a member of an internet panel can be both mildly amusing and mildly lucrative. After providing in-depth demographic information, members receive sporadic, time-sensitive surveys. Preliminary disqualification is frequent and participants typically must complete five to ten lengthy questionnaires in order to reach the $5 payout threshold. Panelists are occasionally asked to test full size products at home for slightly more compensation. A few good companies are Synovate (www.synovate.com), Clearvoice Surveys (www.cvsresearch.com) and Mindfield Online (www.mindfieldonline.com). If you do not mind intrusion into your internet activity, try Swagbucks (www.swagbucks.com) which integrates survey information with search engine usage.
Should you find time and luck on your side, internet sweepstakes can pay off big. Prizes and participation vary wildly so a cost-benefit analysis is often necessary to determine your odds of winning. Roboform (www.roboform.com) is a safe, free program which minimizes time investment by auto-filling entry forms. Read the contest rules, create a dedicated email address and opt-out of receiving additional emails from sponsors. Sandra Grauschopf does an excellent job of collecting and categorizing sweepstakes on www.contests.about.com. For immediate gratification, subscribe to www.snazzywin.com which details both instant win games and free samples.
Join your local Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) group and peruse the forum for freebies just waiting for good homes. From used washing machines to clothing, turn other people’s trash into your new treasure. Freecycle is a “nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free” to ease the burden on landfills. There is no membership fee– you just digitally claim and then physically retrieve your booty. If you are fortunate and realistic, someone might even respond to your “wanted” post.
7. Trial Memberships
If you are a new user (or even an old user with a different address and credit card), why not get a month’s worth of free movies? Both Netflix (www.netflix.com) and Blockbuster (www.blockbuster.com) offer free 30 trial memberships. Hulu (www.hulu.com) is an excellent source for free television programming and extends a sample week of its larger Hulu Plus collection to viewers. Search the internet for www.audible.com’s promotional codes and download a free audio book or two. Just cancel your new memberships before the trial period ends to avoid being charged. You can also score some freebies by signing up for daily deal websites which offer an initial credit. Try www.groupon.com, www.1saleaday.com, www.dailysteals.com and www.savemore.com. Rack up even more credits by referring friends.
6. Telephone Technology
While you may not be able to eliminate your telephone bill entirely, you can take a chunk out of it by utilizing Skype (www.skype.com). Join for free and chat via your computer’s webcam and microphone with other Skype users, even overseas. You can also send and receive unlimited text messages without charge on www.textem.net to the vast majority of telephone carriers. If you can’t find your cell phone, www.wheresmycellphone.com is a lifesaver and will call your phone at no cost.
Not only can you source the internet for magazine trial issues, you can get free yearlong subscriptions of magazines you would actually read. Imagine people thinking your coffee table belongs in a doctor’s waiting room! Publishers target business people so tweak your information accordingly for maximal offers. Try www.rewardsgold.com, www.mercurymagazines.com and www.freebizmag.com. Even if you do not recycle, Recyclebank (www.recyclebank.com) allows you to earn points by watching short videos and taking didactic quizzes which are quickly redeemable for free magazine subscriptions (plus coupons, pet food, gift cards and restaurant discounts).
4. DVD Rentals
With the exception of brand new releases, all DVDs from Redbox and Blockbuster Express kiosks rent for $1 per night and the internet is packed with $1 off promotional codes. Just return the video before 9 p.m. the following day to avoid being charged. Because you can enter multiple promotional codes per credit card, the only limit is your viewing ability. For Redbox codes, visit www.insideredbox.com. For Blockbuster Express codes, visit www.retailmenot.com and search Blockbuster Express. Both sites monitor the success rate of codes but cover your bases by jotting down a few– the kiosk will alert you instantly if your discount was applied.
Matching coupons with sales often results in freebies but the comparison process can be time consuming. Visit www.moneysavingmom.com and click on “Store Deals” to view not only national sales at CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and Target but regional deals at your local grocer. These bargains are listed with citations to Sunday circular coupons and links to printable coupons on www.coupons.com, www.redplum.com and manufacturer websites. If there is an especially great discount on www.coupons.com, hit the back button a few times to get a second, unique coupon or request it by mail on the help menu to save ink. Two computers will allow you to get twice the coupons as the print limit is unique to the computer. You can also add coupons directly onto a loyalty card at your store’s website. Don’t ignore small value coupons, especially if your store doubles. Walmart will even let you use any post-coupon overage toward your total purchase and matches prices on all printed advertisements.
2. Samples in the Mail
There is an absolute plethora of free samples available on the internet which can transform your mailbox from a sad repository of bills to a fun storehouse of freebies. Finding samples is a hit-or-miss prospect unless you tap into the vast knowledge of bloggers devoted to finding them. Excellent resources are www.heyitsfree.net, www.freesamplefrenzy.com, www.freebies4mom.com, www.thethriftycouple.com and www.savingeveryday.net. Not only should you subscribe to their email lists but “like” them on Facebook to get time-sensitive freebies which go quickly.
1. Daily Feats
Daily Feats ( www.dailyfeats.com) is not just an inspirational website, it is a great way to earn gift cards. After joining the website for free, simply log in and record the small things you do every day–from flossing your teeth to taking the stairs. Each feat has an assigned point value and completing challenges with multiple tasks racks up points quickly. Once a month, you can easily redeem them for a $10 gift card at stores such as eBay, iTunes, Home Depot, Starbucks, Staples and Safeway. Or aim higher for a $25 spa or $50 airline card. Points also have unlimited redemption toward discounts at local attractions, restaurants, shops and services.