Free gift card promotions are great, but some can require more work than the cards are worth.
The trick is to pick the offers that provide the best value on products you already want with the least amount of time and effort. While it's true you'll have to look at several offers before you find the right one, the pay off in savings is worth the effort.
Naturally, Gift Card Granny has a few ideas on how you can safely and fairly easily cash in on free gift cards.
1. Create a Dedicated Email Address
Create a free gmail or Hotmail using a generic address like kate.freegiftcards.hotmail.com and have initial emails sent to this box. If you come across a scam offer or a vendor that sends umpteen emails every day, you can simply abandon that address and move on to a cleaner address.
After you've assessed the offers in your generic inbox, select the ones you want to pursue and sign up again with a second dedicated account for this purpose. That way you'll only receive emails from vendors that are worth your while.
2. Read the Terms and Conditions
Every free gift card program should have a "Terms and Conditions" link or drop box. (If you don't see this information on the site, close the window and slowly back away because it's probably a scam.)
Sure it's incredibly tedious to wade through all this legalize but it's important to know your rights and how your information will be used. You don't want to be surprised when you learn about hidden terms, like you have to refer two friends before you get the free gift card.
3. Go Visa
Take the Visa free gift card -- instead of a store gift card -- if you have the option. The Visa card is worth more because you can use it anywhere Visa is accepted.
Offers may look good on the surface, but some require you first make a substantial purchase. Research requirements before you complete the process. Some offers, particularly the high-dollar ones, can sound appealing but what you end up giving is far more than you get. Finally, bookmark or write down the contact info in case you never receive the free gift card.
5. Buy Something
Keep an eye out for deals like the one offered last December by Walmart. Shoppers received a $50 Walmart Gift Card with every purchase of a $199 Wii console. The bundled Walmart free gift card was usable on the consumer's next purchase or at any future Walmart purchase.
6. Recycle Something
Get a Best Buy free gift card from some outlets when you participate in Best Buy's trade in or recycle program for old televisions, laptops, iPods or mobile phone. This offer varies, so check first.
7. Transfer a Prescription
During special promotions, you can get a Walgreens free gift cards, CVS free gift cards and Target free gift cards when you transfer a prescription. Transfer between stores every few months and rack up several cards in a year.
8. Attend Trade Shows
Some trade show vendors at trade shows hand out or enter you into a contest for free gift cards when you answer a questionnaires, sign up for a free trial, etc. However, you may have to invest a fair amount of time checking with vendors throughout the entire show to find these free nuggets. Ask before you make the effort.
9. Give Blood or Plasma
Donate blood or plasma and some Red Cross will enter your name into a free gift card contest. It's a win/win situation as you'll be donating the fluid of life and possibly getting a freebie in return.
10. Redeem Credit Card Points
Discover, American Express and other credit card companies often offer points redeemable for gift cards at the end of the year. Check with your credit card carrier to learn if they offer this perk. Frequent travelers may prefer to cash in points for miles, rather than a free gift card.
11. Enter Blog Contests
Frugal living blogs have spread faster than a computer virus. Many of these bloggers post gift card giveaways to draw readers and improve their search-engine ranking. For many of these contests you only need leave a comment, but others may require registration for a newsletter or email updates. Blog give-away contests also offer specific products. For example, I recently saw one offering a $350 designer purse for a Valentine's drawing. (There should be no fee required for these contests.)
12. Earn Swagbucks
Swagbucks is a highly popular clearing house for freebie programs. Participants earn Swagbucks -- redeemable for free gift cards -- by searching the web, completing surveys, trading in used products and more. It's 100-percent free, including shipping.
SpringsBargains.com has an excellent explanation of how to work the Swagbucks system. BudgetSavingMom.com tells you how to take advantage of Mega Swagbucks days every Friday.
13. Test Drive a Car
In the post "Cash for Klunkers" era, car dealers are finding it more difficult to move their merchandise. Check with dealerships in your area for any who offer a free gift card when you test drive one of their vehicles. Just make sure you don't get sucked into buying a car as that's a pretty expensive way to get a free gift card.
14. Gift Card Granny
Visit GiftCardGranny.com regularly for discount gift cards.
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