Gift cards are great birthday and holiday gift choices. What makes them so great is that they seem to strike the perfect control balance.
On one hand, when you are given a gift card you have the freedom to buy whatever you want at a particular store or restaurant. That way you can be sure that whatever you get is what you really wanted.
On the other hand, gift cards must be used at the place of purchase, unlike cash which often ends up getting using on groceries or bills.
To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with someone using the cash that you’ve given them on practical things. But if what you’re really wanting to do is spoil someone with a gift, then giving them a gift card could “force” them to enjoy a special experience, like a fancy dinner, a movie night or a shopping spree.
Even “cash” gift cards like Visa Prepaid cards or PayPal gift cards can be a nice gift because they can be used for online purchases, which cash obviously cannot.
For all these reasons, gift cards are great to have around. But do you know the one thing that makes gift cards even better? Earning them for free! Let’s take a look at 16 ways that you can do just that.
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Use Shopping Rewards Apps
There are a great number of apps that will offer you coupons and rebates on the items that you buy in your favorite stores. With many of these apps, once you’ve reached enough points to cash out, you can choose to do so via a gift card.
Ibotta may be the most popular rewards app on the market. With 286 stores in their partner network, you shouldn’t have a problem finding stores near you that advertise with them.
After downloading the app, browse through the offers that are currently available in each specific store. Select the offers that interest you and then make your purchases inside the store.
If you have connected your store loyalty card to Ibotta, you’re savings will automatically be deposited to your Ibotta account. If you haven’t connected a loyalty card for a particular store, you can still upload your receipt to redeem your offer.
Once you’ve reached at least $20 of rewards, you can cash out (although some gift cards start at $25 increments). Just choose “cash out with gift cards.” Then, can scan through their large variety of gift card options until you find the perfect one!
As you begin using the Shopkick app, you can earn “kicks” (Shopkick’s name for the points that they give their users) in a variety of ways:
- Walk-ins (Earn kicks just by walking in to a particular store)
- Item Scans (Look for specific items on the store shelves and scan them with your phone. No purchase necessary.)
- Receipt Scans (Scan your receipt into Shopkick.)
- Linked Card (Link your store loyalty card to Shopkick.)
With so many different ways to earn points, Shopkick is a lot of fun to use. They are also unique in that they only allow redemption via gift card. In fact, before you can even begin earning kicks, you must select a store or restaurant gift card that you want your kicks to be used for.
While some require higher minimums, you can get some free gift cards on Shopkick for as little as $2.00 (500 kicks).
Rakuten is another popular shopping app that rewards you for shopping through their online portal or app.
You can get cash back for shopping inside stores as well as long as you link offers before you head out to shop and make your purchase with whichever debit or credit card that you’ve linked to Rakuten.
Unfortunately, you can’t get gift cards from Rakuten on a regular basis, as they only pay out through checks or PayPal. But you can get a $10 Walmart gift card for signing up with them.
That’s a nice bonus to go on top of the money that you’ll start saving on a regular basis by shopping through their website and app.
Businesses and brands are always looking to improve their products. Marketing departments crave as much consumer data as they can get their hands on. That’s why so many companies are willing to pay people to take surveys.
Now it’s important to understand that you aren’t going to get rich taking surveys and I doubt very many people could make survey-taking their full time job.
In fact, if you come across a site whose sales pitch is that “You can make hundreds of dollars a day right from your laptop just by taking a few fun and simple surveys!” run the other way.
Someone is trying to either scam you, or at the very least give you unreasonable expectations that will later leave you feeling disappointed and taken advantage of.
However, there are many legitimate survey sites and apps out there. Most of them partner with household brand names that simply need more market research and are paying real money for the surveys that people are given.
As you earn money through these sites, most of them have “gift card redemption” as one of their cash out options. Here are some high-quality survey sites that you could use to start earning some free gift cards today!
4. Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie has been one of the longest-lasting survey sites online. This matters a lot in the online survey industry, because any shady company can set up a quick website and call it a “survey site.”
The longevity of Survey Junkie tells me that they have a sustainable business model. That’s important to me because I want to know that I’m actually going to get paid for all the time that I spend taking surveys.
As with all survey sites, the more information you give to Survey Junkie, the better chance you’ll have of being sent surveys that you qualify for.
In addition to being one of the oldest sites, Survey Junkie still has one of the lowest payout thresholds at $10 (10,000 points). Many of the other sites require you to have at least $20 in your account before you can convert your money into cash or gift card.
Once you’ve reached the $10 threshold, these are the free gift cards you can get:
5. Harris Poll Online
Harris Poll Online also has a $10 (1,250 points) payout threshold and offers many different gift card options, such as Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks, ESPN, Walmart, and more.
From reviews that I’ve read, it looks like the average user can expect to receive 3-5 surveys a month. Unlike Survey Junkie, Harris Poll now has a mobile app that’s available on both Android and iOS so that you can fill out surveys while you’re on the go.
Once you’ve redeemed your points, it can take up to 15 days to process your reward before receiving your e-gift card voucher via email.
6. 2020 Research
2020 Research is a market research company that focuses mostly on longer, but also higher-paying survey studies.
If you get accepted to a study by 2020 Research, expect to be part of an online focus group that will convene over the period of a few days. You may also be required to personally interact with both the moderator and the other members of the group.
I was once part of a 2020 Research study that focused on creating innovative mortgage products for homebuyers. The study lasted 3 days and I probably spent about an hour online each of those days.
In return, I received a $150 Visa Gift card. That’s an incredible hourly rate of return for an online survey!
Because 2020 Research studies pay so well, there is a lot of competition to get into them. To increase your chances of being accepted, open up emails from 2020 as soon you get them to see if you qualify.
You may be exactly the kind of person that they’re looking for, but if you wait too long to open the email and take the screening survey, you may find that the study has already been filled with the max number of participants.
Also keep in mind that 2020 only wants the very best matches for their focus groups, so their screening process is pretty intense. Don’t be surprised if you get rejected from a LOT of studies.
But, if you stick with it, I’m living proof that you CAN be accepted. So don’t give up and you may soon find yourself getting accepted to a study that pays you a nice, big free gift card.
Use “One-Stop” Online Reward Shops
So far we’ve focused on sites and apps that pay you exclusively for shopping or taking surveys. But some sites actually offer both under “one roof,” and will pay you for doing many other things online as well.
Swagbucks calls themselves “the leading destination for earning real rewards for things you do online or on your phone.” When you navigate to their site, or open up their app, you’ll find that you can earn rewards points in many different ways:
- Taking surveys and daily polls
- Watching videos
- Shopping through their shopping portal
- Printing and using coupons from their site
- Completing tasks
- Using Swagbucks search engine (as opposed to Google, Bing, etc.)
- Playing video games and making in-game purchases
- Installing Swagbucks toolbar or extension
My wife loves Swagbucks and at times has been borderline addicted to it. She loves that she can go there during her downtime and do many of the same things she would end up doing on her computer anyway (like searching for stuff on Google or watching videos). But she’ll get paid to do them on Swagbucks.
They boast over 140 gift card brands for you to choose from, with some gift cards starting at $5 increments. And if you’ve reached $25 in your Swagbucks account, you can essentially get paid in cash by choosing a PayPal gift card.
InboxDollars is one of Swagbucks primary competitors. They offer rewards to their members for doing many of the same online activities. Additionally, you can earn rewards just for opening and reading the InboxDollars emails that are sent to your…inbox (get it?).
InboxDollars is A+ Rated and Accredited with the Better Business Bureau and they’ve already given over $57 million in gift cards to their members.
Unfortunately, at $30, their minimum payout threshold is pretty high. There is also a $3.00 processing for mailed-out gift cards. “Gold” members can select to receive their payment via e-gift card and thereby avoid the processing fee.
Install a Coupon-Clipping Browser Extension
There are a few browser extensions you can use to help you save money online. They’ll often pay out your savings in the form of gift cards.
Honey is an amazing browser extension that is available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Edge. Once you install the extension, you’ll notice that a Honey icon (a small h) has been added to your internet browser’s toolbar.
Then just start shopping online. If you are shopping on a site that is supported by Honey (over 4,000 do), Honey’s icon will turn orange and a red number will appear in the corner showing you the number of coupons available.
At checkout, Honey will automatically test out the coupon codes that they found and try to save you money. I can speak from experience that it’s as easy at that because we’ve used Honey for years and love it.
But there’s actually more ways you can save with Honey. With Honey Gold, you can even earn free gift cards.
Here’s how it works: when you shop at any of Honey’s participating sites, you earn a percentage back in Gold. The reward you receive is a randomized amount and varies from site to site, but will typically range from 1-5%.
If a site offers Honey Gold, you’ll see a G icon next to the site name. Just click the Activate button and you’ll receive your reward. Once you’ve accrued 1000 Honey Gold points ($10), you can redeem for a gift card from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Groupon, and many more.
Wikibuy is a popular shopping browser extension that can be used in place of, or in conjunction with, Honey. Like Honey, Wikibuy searches for coupon codes that can cut the cost of the products that you’re buying. But their extension goes even further to check and see if the products are being sold at a cheaper price anywhere else.
For instance, if you are buying headphones on Amazon, Wikibuy will let you know if those specific headphones can be bought cheaper at another store like Walmart, eBay, or Target.
But this is an article about getting free gifts cards and, yes, you can do that with Wikibuy too. By shopping at particular stores, you can earn Wikibuy Credits, which can be redeemed for gift cards on Wikibuy’s gift card store. You can also earn WIkibuy credits by shopping at local stores through Wikibuy’s local offers program.
Other Great Ways to Earn Free Gift Cards
Here are a few other ways to get free gift cards.
11. Convert credit card reward points into gift cards.
Have you accumulated a lot of credit card rewards points? Did you know that most credit card companies will let you redeem those points for gift cards?
Some companies are more stingy with their conversion rate than others. If your card company lets you convert 2,500 points into a $25 gift card or 5,000 points into $50 gift cards, then you are one of the lucky few who are being offered a 1 cent per 1 point gift card conversion rate.
But even if your credit card company isn’t quite so generous, it still may be worth your while to convert points into gift cards – especially if the points would otherwise go wasted.
For example, let’s say you have an airline rewards card that you are getting ready to cancel before your annual fee hits, and you still have 3,000 points in your rewards account. Most likely that’s not going to be nearly enough points to get you a free flight. But if your airline card will give you a $25 gift card for 3,000 points, then you can still put those points to good use.
No, it’s not the ideal conversion rate, but it’s a lot better than allowing the points to go to waste.
My wife and I have converted lots of credit card reward points into gift cards through the years. We tend to pick restaurant gift cards because we like to save them until our vacation. Then when we head out on our trip we know that most of our meals are going to be free – that’s one less expense that we have to worry about!
12. Switch internet, cable, or phone providers.
Does your phone bill or cable continue to creep up each and every year? Perhaps you’ve decided that it’s time to make a switch. If so, you may be able to lower your bills plus score a free gift card at the same time.
The internet, cable, and phone service industries are highly competitive and often companies will offer gift cards (usually Visa Prepaid gift cards) to customers who switch. I’m always quick to change providers whenever my current one starts to raise my prices. When I start shopping for better rates, I always look first for a company that will give me a gift card for switching.
I’ve received everything from $100-$500 in gift cards just for picking up the phone and landing a lower bill. It’s a huge win-win!
13. Trade in your old electronics.
Ready to move on from your old PC, laptop, phone, tablet, or other electronics? Instead of throwing out your old gadgets, why not see if you can trade them in for gift cards?
If you think that no one would be willing to pay you for your old devices, you may be surprised. We’ve written a full guide called 5 Legit Ways to Recycle Computers for Cash that gives all the information you need to start turning your old electronics into gift cards or cash.
14. Get paid to download apps.
- Typically, you’ll just have to download the app and keep it open for a few minutes. Easy money!
- Other times, you’ll have to get to a certain level in the game or answer questions about the app that help the makers improve their design.
Both apps offer a variety of gift card options, including PayPal, iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.
You won’t get rich from these apps, but if just you use them during your free time or when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, you couldn’t ask for a much easier way to earn a free gift card.
15. Test drive a car.
Car dealerships often offer free gift cards just for test driving one or more of the cars on their lot. Why would they do this. Because for the owners of car dealerships, it’s really all about numbers. The more people they get on site, the better chance they have of one visitor falling in love with a car and becoming a buying customer.
If you just google “gift card for test driving car” you should be able to quickly find recent articles that will point you towards current offers. But a quick warning – only do this if you know you have the discipline to walk away from the car!
16. Sign up for Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Mechanical Turk is an Amazon program that helps companies get things accomplished that are still more effectively accomplished with human beings rather than robots or computers.
On their Mechanical Turk worker FAQ page, Amazon says that the kinds of things that their human workers do includes “identifying objects in a photo or video, performing data de-duplication, transcribing audio recordings, or researching data details.”
Amazon calls each of these projects a HIT (Human Intelligence Task). As workers accept and complete HITs, Amazon pays them by adding money to their Amazon gift card balance.
Bet you never would have guessed that there were so many different ways to earn free gift cards.
Still haven’t gotten your fill of free gift card ideas? Believe it or not, we’ve still got more ideas for you. Check out our 30 Free Gift Card Apps to Earn More Money to keep the learning going!
Did any of the ideas surprise you? If so, let us know on Facebook or Twitter and also let us know which idea you liked the most.