With major holidays on the horizon and birthdays and other gift-giving celebrations happening year-round, it’s always a good idea to be working toward free gift cards. There are all kinds of ways to earn free gift cards, especially online and through apps. Below are a few of my favorites:
I’ve written about Swagbucks before, and that’s because I love them. Swagbucks is a multi-faceted program that awards you with “SB” (like points) that you can collect and trade in for gift cards and even cash payouts.
There are a number of ways you can rack up those SB:
- Use Swagbucks as your search engine for a chance to win
- Shop online through Swagbucks and earn SB every time you make a purchase at a partnering merchant
- Watch Swagbucks TV
- Play games
- Complete surveys and daily polls
- Redeem special offers
- Refer your friends to Swagbucks
- Sign up for a Swagbucks VISA Rewards Card
When it’s time to redeem your SB, you can opt for gift cards to specific stores, to online retailers like Amazon, or even cash payouts via check or PayPal. Get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
2. Amazon Trade-Ins
If you’ve got extra stuff lying around, pop over to Amazon and see if any of it qualifies for the Amazon Trade-In program. You send Amazon your stuff, and they give you free gift cards!
The program works best for books, electronics, DVDs, and video games. Gather up what you’d like to trade-in, and start searching for those items. Look for the box on the far left that says “sell yours for a Gift Card” and see the max amount Amazon will give you for the item. Once you’ve got all your goods to mail in, print the label that Amazon provides and mail it in.
There are some things to consider with Amazon’s Trade-In program. You may be able to get more money for your items elsewhere, so know what your lower limits are. Amazon does cover shipping, which should factor into your calculations. And the convenience of packing everything up and sending it in one fell swoop is significant, too. Just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into and decide if it’s right for you.
What started as a fun grocery coupon app has turned into much more! Ibotta now offers ways for you to shop at popular online retailers in addition to grocery stores, and you can earn cold, hard cash rebates for doing so.
Once you’ve met the minimum thresholds (usually $25), you can “cash out” your rebates to your PayPal or Venmo accounts, or buy gift cards to popular stores like Amazon, iTunes, Best Buy, Starbucks, Sephora, Cabelas, and more.
One of the great things about Ibotta is their referral program. If you can get a few friends of yours to sign up using your link, you’ll not only get a bonus when they register and start using the app, but you’ll all be on a “team.” The more your team shops, the more team bonuses you’ll get. It’s quite literally free money! Get a $10 bonus when you sign up.
4. Credit Card Rebates
Take a look at your credit card’s website. Most credit cards now offer gift cards and rebates from popular retailers like Walmart, Kohls, Target, Best Buy, Sephora, Home Depot, and more. You can shop using the links on your credit card site to get more bang for your buck, or buy gift cards to the merchants at a reduced cost. Use these gift cards to do your holiday shopping, or give them as gifts. The best part is, some credit card programs let you use them with your “points,” so they don’t end up costing you a cent!
Discover is a great example. I earn cash back on my purchases. I can then request a check or purchase gift cards. I can even use my cashback to pay for my Amazon purchases as soon as it becomes available. There's a little button in my checkout that asks me if I want to use my Discover cash back. That comes in handy! If you sign up for a new Discover card and make a purchase within three months, you will get a $50 cashback bonus if you use my referral link.
5. Amazon mTurk
If you have been around the work-at-home world for a while, you have likely heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk, or mTurk. As an mTurk worker, you can make money completing small tasks like transcription, data entry and surveys. When it comes to getting paid, you can choose to receive your earnings in your Amazon Payments account, which can then be transferred to your bank account, or you can receive your earnings as an Amazon gift card.
For many people, myself included, Amazon store credit is almost as good as cash. You can purchase everything from TVs to toilet paper on the site after all. mTurk isn’t going to pay the bills, but it is what I consider “commercial break” money. It’s a way to earn a few pennies while completing small tasks during commercial breaks.
The minimum payout for InboxDollars is pretty high when compared to most of the other options on this list. Many have no minimum at all while InboxDollars won’t let you cash out your earnings until you hit $30. But, they will give you a jumpstart.
Get a $5 bonus when you sign up through this referral link.
Shopkick is a smartphone app that allows you to earn “Kicks” while shopping both online and locally. Examples of local opportunities may be checking an in-store display or simply walking into a participating merchant’s store. Like a few of the other opportunities on this list, you can also earn “Kicks” by shopping online through the website.
Shopkick has never been a big earner for me as there isn’t a lot of participating stores in my area. But, your area may be different. Redeem your kicks for gift cards. Target, Amazon, Starbucks, and Groupon are just a few of the cards available.
If you are a penny-picker-upper like me, you likely have a jar of coins waiting to be turned into bigger bills right now. Coinstar is a popular option for those who don’t use a local bank. Instead, you will find these change machines in many Wal-mart and grocery stores.
Coinstar isn’t cheap. An 11.9% service fee applies at most locations. But, if you choose an eGift card you can keep every penny for yourself. Depending on the eGift card you choose, there is usually a $5 to $25 minimum for redemption.
These are my favorite ways to earn free gift cards, but what are some of yours?
Originally published in November 2016. Updated September 2019.