Helena enjoys looking for ways to save money and make money. She shares her findings with her readers.
Free Gift Cards = Free Money
If the gift card is useful and acquired by doing things you are already doing to begin with, that's a true definition of free money. I like free money. In fact, I'd be willing to go as far as saying I love free money.
This post may seem a bit long, but it's going to be filled with great info for anyone that wants to stock up on gift cards that they didn't pay anything for. It would appear that frugality is in serious style right now, so let's take full advantage of it.
These are apps or programs/websites that I personally use on a regular basis. The time involved is very minimal and the rewards are pretty darn good. One site, in particular, I had originally said was a waste of time but I've since taken a second look because it's been a few years, and my goodness, how things do change.
Making money is easy. It's the spending part that can be a bit confusing sometimes. While you will never get rich from spending your money at retail stores, you can easily earn back some of that money to cut that out-of-pocket spending down to a minimum on the next "must-have" thing that you buy.
1. The Ibotta App
Ibotta is a phone app that was originally designed to help you save money on your grocery bill by giving you rebates for certain items. Now they also give you rebates for things that you purchase online through their site (check and compare the percentages against the other rebate sites you use, it takes two seconds). They even have rebates available for certain brands of alcohol if your state permits it.
The trick with this app, just like all other programs like this that I talk about, is to only buy what you are going to buy anyway and claim the rebates on those items. They offer a nice amount of bonuses on a regular basis. I received a $5 bonus when I uploaded the receipt for the items that are in that video.
They also offer a rare cash back option for purchasing in certain categories on Amazon's mobile site along with offers from other retailers. For the pets category right now the rebate is 3% and that's certainly better than nothing. I just purchased a cleaning kit for UGG boots through the Ibotta app and will be receiving 15% cash back on my $25.00 purchase. The possibilities to receive money back by shopping in-store and online are really nice with this app.
Once you reach $20 (and it does not take long at all) you can choose to have the cash sent to your Paypal or Venmo account or choose a gift card from the many retailers that have made their cards available on the site. My three favorites are Amazon, Target and Sephora.
You can take a look at Ibotta by visiting their website and having the link texted to your cell phone.
2. The Shopkick App
Shopkick is one of the first reward apps I started using, so I'm a bit partial to it. It's really easy to rack up the points or "kicks" as they call them, to cash in on gift cards. 500 kicks will usually get you through the gift card door for a $2 Target or Walmart gift card and the amounts go up from there. If you are a multiple trip per-week shopper, you can easily earn $10 or more a week in gift cards (that's $520.00 a year) with this app and that's not a fish story. You just have to take a few extra minutes to do the tasks necessary in the store to get the kicks. What could you buy with a free $520.00?
With Shopkick you can acquire kicks by simply walking into a store with the app open. You can acquire kicks by scanning their featured product barcodes and, their newest feature, buying a featured product and submitting your receipt to prove you made the purchase. I do admit that I have never purchased a featured product or sent in a receipt to them but once a product that I would buy anyway pops up for that, I most certainly will.
I don't know how many Target gift cards I have acquired and used in the past few years using Shopkick but I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have used quite a few free gift cards for quite a bit of free items using this combination.
You can cash your kicks in for gift cards from stores like Target, Walmart, Sephora, and a lot more. Unfortunately, Amazon isn't available on this one
3. Ebates Rebates
No, Ebates does not pay out in gift cards but you can get a free $10 Walmart gift card for joining the site after you spend your first $25.00. Considering Ebates is one of the sites that they give cash back on (1% to 5%) that $25.00 will be pretty easy to hit if you are like me and are an avid Ebates shopper. I've used this site for years and have never had a problem with them. They are one of the most respected and well know cashback sites on the internet.
There are hundreds of sites that qualify for cash back including Ebates, Sephora, Walmart, travel sites and a ton of other popular merchant websites. With daily doubles, birthday special rebate rates and other promotions that occasionally pop up on the site, it is definitely worth a look.
They pay out four times a year to your Paypal account and the payout threshold is $5.00. Ebates calls it "your big fat check."
This is my favorite rebate site, I use them every day, and if you want to check them out or take the savings plunge and sign up, here's where you go to do just that.
Ok... this one needs a bit of explaining. My original opinion was that it was awful and a waste of time. And in the past, it definitely was. Fast forward a few years and I'd say they have upped their game and are looking pretty good right about now in most areas of their website.
They do still have the annoying, time-wasting surveys but they also have those really cool video feeds. A lot of the videos are the same videos that you are watching on Facebook for free so they are interesting. There are many different categories like food and politics and you pick what block of videos you want to play. I let the videos run on another one of my computers while I'm doing other things because it creates a nice background noise and the videos don't distract me from my work, even when there is a great one that catches my full attention for about 90 seconds. Today's video stream has been all about food. Recipes and tutorials. So while it's running and earning "bucks," I'm writing this post. There are a lot of really cool things on this site.
I don't do survey sites because I'm not into sitting in front of my computer for 2 hours to make 25 cents against a gift card, and in my opinion, they started out as one of those annoying survey sites that had the occasional offer like "Get 5 free movies from Disney and be locked into a nightmare mail order subscription service that you'll never be able to cancel."
But now the offers are WAY better. The site itself has improved 1,000-fold and coming from me, that says a lot. There are a ton of things to do on the site that will earn points for you and you don't have to spend a dime, just a bit of time, to get them. Rebates for really popular websites that you are probably shopping at are just the tip of the iceberg.
I'm getting ready to take advantage of a few of those offers and cash in with a nice Amazon gift card when it's all said and done. I've been wanting to try out Dollar Shave Club anyway because of how cheap it is and all of the good things I've heard about it. Since I've drug my feet on it, I'll be snagging a $25 Amazon gift card in exchange for the "bucks" I'll be getting for my sign-up for no extra money when I sign up for the club this week. The second offer I'm going to take advantage of is going to put me close to another $25 Amazon gift card and that's starting a subscription to Blue Apron. I've wanted to try that service out for a while now to see if it is worth it and do a review.
Two things that I was going to do anyway and it will get me $50 back that I wouldn't get otherwise. I'm cool with that, what do you think?
The site has a lot of gift card options available including Ebay, Walmart, Target, Paypal, Sephora and so many more. There are a lot of options with this one and I do mean a lot.
Saving by Doing What You Already Do
Who would have thought in a million years that there could be ways to acquire gift cards and cashback on things that you are already doing? A lot of it requires very little additional time out of our busy lives and even if the return for you is small, getting something for what you already do is better than getting nothing, right?
Yes, those links are affiliate links but I never recommend anything that I don't use on a regular basis and approve of. I'm just sharing the information and how to with you, what you do with this information is ultimately up to you.
Do you use any of these apps or websites? If you do, let us all know your experience with them in the comment section below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Helena Ricketts
Kara Skinner from Maine on June 28, 2017:
I love Swagbucks! I tried to get into shopkick, but I lost interest quickly. The points didn't refresh that quickly and it takes forever to work up to even the smallest rewards. Once you have scanned everything near you, it's slim pickings. But Swagbucks works fantastic.