Who doesn’t appreciate free stuff these days? If you know where to look, finding the free in your everyday travels is a very real possibility. With so many brands competing for your disposable income, getting them to send or give you free products has never been easier. The hardest part? Deciding whether you’re looking for something completely free to be mailed to you or if you want to receive instant gratification!
Getting Free Stuff is Simple
If you want something completely free and mailed to you, ask yourself:
What types of free products am I interested in?
What you want and what is available for free are going to differ dramatically in most cases. Something you can ask yourself before you start is, “Is it a realistic expectation that a company will offer this product to me?” For example, companies dealing in health, beauty, and grooming products are more likely to offer free samples of their products than an electronics company is to offer one of their mp3 players.
What information am I willing to share to get these free products?
At the very minimum, receiving free products will require:
- an email address
- your name
- your phone number
- a valid mailing address for the products to be sent to
If you want some instant gratification, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:
Is it my birthday?
Birthday incentives are becoming popular bonuses to customers. Many dining establishments offer free appetizers, desserts, or even a complimentary meal on your birthday. Denny’s and IHOP have offered free birthday meals for years—and still do—anytime they’re open, with ID, and Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins offer a complimentary birthday treat.
Is it a holiday or Tax Day (April 15th)?
Restaurants and retailers will often have free gifts or services on specific holidays, or customer appreciation days. For example, this past Tax Day, Office Depot offered to make free copies—limited to 25 pages—of the tax filer’s income taxes, and AMC Theaters gave away a free small popcorn to anyone that visited between April 12th-15th, 2013.
Other Helpful Tips
- Like and check in: “Liking” a brand or retailer on Facebook, or checking in via Yelp!, Facebook, or Foursquare, is a growing way to receive free or discounted items and services.
- There’s an app for that: Many retailers now provide free apps for smartphones that provide special freebies or discounts that can be redeemable without printing a coupon.
- Check online: Websites like RetailMeNot.com, provide coupon codes for popular retailers and are updated frequently. Many retailers also have email programs that occasionally send promotions offering free items or major sales.
Online Free Samples and Contests
Free samples and contests have become so popular online that there are now dozens of websites that are solely dedicated to giving out prizes and products for free. Many websites and blogs offer daily, weekly, and monthly samples or sweepstakes, sometimes even both, with minimal qualifications for entry. Others may ask for participation, such as registering for a free trial period or completing a survey.
Caveat emptor: Make sure you are entering free offerings and contests from reputable sites only. You may be asked to give some of your personal information in order to receive free items, so you don’t want that to fall into the wrong (or spammy) hands. Use common sense when trying to receive free items; a hair specialty company may be willing to give out samples of their shampoos, but how likely is it for you to receive a free television, too? Most big ticket items marketed as freebies are done so by scammers, spammers, and affiliate marketers. For example, when you see an ad for a free game console, the odds of it coming from Microsoft or Sony are pretty low. Above all else, remember the golden rule: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
In-Store Free Incentives
When retailers and stores need a boost in sales, many will offer free or bonus items with a minimum purchase. If you are a frequent visitor of malls and stores and online shopping sites, you have likely seen a rotating special of free offerings. By keeping a keen eye, you’ll be able to receive things that may already be on your shopping list: free lotions with a perfume purchase, laces with new running shoes, or a tote bag with a makeup purchase. Many of these bonus incentives and deals can be found online as well.
Although many stores will promote free offerings with marketing fliers, you may just have to be a diligent shopper to be rewarded. The upside to in-store free offerings are that you are less likely to have to give out personal information. Stores also offer membership freebies and benefits, like Costco and Sam’s Club, which may increase with frequent purchases.
Social Media Freebies
If you’re a frequenter of Facebook or Twitter, you know that nearly every major (and minor) business is now marketing through social media. By liking a blog’s or business’s Facebook page or using a promoted hashtag on Twitter, you could win prizes that are exclusive to those who are social media savvy. There are also many contests and sweepstakes available via social media that award prizes to participants based on participation and relevancy, like our Annual eBay Deals Frugal Blog Awards and our comment contest. Pepsi recently launched a social media promotion for their “Like Machine,” distributing free sodas to those who “liked” the brand, and used the Beyonce concert as a platform to help the campaign gain momentum.
Social media freebies require you to be a member of that specific platform, whether it be Facebook or Twitter. Many promotions are limited to the first hundred, thousand, or ten thousand “likes” and “shares,” which require you to act fast. Keep in mind though, if you’ve never heard of the company, product, or contest, be careful about releasing personal information. There many ways to scam legitimate entrants and the FBI reports that social media accounts are frequently “hacked.” Always do your best to verify the contest is real and keep the freebies free; don’t ever pay for entry to a contest.
Other Types of Free Product Sources
Become a Product Review Blogger:
Brands send out tens of thousands of products daily to be tested via panels and individual bloggers. This is one of the best ways to receive free products for those willing to try new things. Many of these in-home tryouts are from high quality products or brands. To get started, begin by creating a blog and social media presence to match. There are bloggers who explain how they’re finding success reviewing items, and you can always reach out to your favorite brands to request new and upcoming products for you to review. Major beauty retailer Sephora even lists the email address they’d like to be pitched to for product reviews on their site.
Try stuff out:
Try out food, beauty items, software–you name it! There are panels that send out stuff to people to test to gauge how consumers like particular products. Nielsen is one of the biggest, but consider registering yourself with all the major testing panels because you won’t always qualify to test every product. Nielsen sends you a scanner to use around your home to participate in their product surveys, which in turn issues gift points that are redeemable for name-brand merchandise, including electronics equipment, jewelry, household items, toys, and more. For all of these services, you must be willing to publicly share some personal information, and be readily open to giving honest feedback on the products. However, most of these tryouts are relatively simple to do, and take very little time.
Become a Secret Shopper:
Mystery shoppers are hired to experience a store or a brand’s placement and the environment, from the moment you walk through the door of the establishment to the moment you leave. Many of these mystery shopping jobs allow the shopper to purchase the product, report on it for a reimbursement, and then they can keep the product as well. In some cases, the shopper may even receive a small payment for their service.
We recommend doing research about the companies you’d like to become a mystery shopper with before signing up or releasing any personal information at all, even your name. There are definitely legitimate mystery shopping jobs, but this niche is a target of spammers, which makes finding the real opportunities harder for you.
Tips to Avoid Secret Shopper Scams from the FTC:
- Don’t pay for the mystery shopper opportunity.
- Don’t wire money to any mystery shopping service.
- Don’t obtain “certification” to become a mystery shopper.
- Do research the opportunity and the reviews regarding the company.
- Do visit an authoritative source to find reputable companies that are a member of the MSPA.
Get a Part-Time Job or an Internship at Your Favorite Brand:
You can get discounts and free stuff if you work for a popular retailer, restaurant, or brand, even just part time. Internships are another option, however. There are many companies that’ll train you, and offer some type of compensation. This maybe something like a per diem, as the WHO offers, or it could be free “swag” in the form of company products or services. You may even earn an actual paycheck too.
Some internships are super sweet. For instance, in addition to the monthly salary, which on average is over $6,000, Google offers its interns three square meals a day, and it also offers employees many services like bicycle repairs, a free game room, and massage therapy, to name a few. Internships at Google also come with opportunities to participate in baseball games, evening cruises, and rock climbing. Some popular tech companies, like VMWare, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Adobe pay Interns $5,700-$6,500 average per month, if you’ve got what they’re looking for in an intern.
Finding the Free Everyday
For those who need a little help finding a great deal right now, we’ve put together a starter resource in a PDF called “Scoring Products from Your Favorite Brands” with great examples of a few retailers and popular restaurant locations that currently give free samples or products regularly. Whether its sample-sized portions of your favorite lotions, perfumes, or foods – in some cases, full meals in appreciation of your birthday – free bonuses and perks are everywhere, in-store and online, and can be easily accessed right now, especially if you know where to look.
Just as a warning though, not every site offering something free is trustworthy. We recommend verifying the companies are reputable prior to trying out products or giving away any information. It’s always a good strategy to buy from reputable places with great reviews, Quality is especially important for the things that matter like electronics, clothing, and baby items. Also, oftentimes the better price is available from sellers without coupons or giveaway strategies.
Free products and coupons aren’t always available to meet your needs, so you’ve got to do a little research to decide the best place and time to purchase those items. Of course, you could participate in our money saving tips contest, in which you could win $500 from eBay Deals just for sharing an ingenious way you’ve saved money over the years.
Of course, not everyone can be a winner in the contest, and if you’re not, you can always find other ways to reduce spending and save, like quitting a few bad habits in your daily routine. For more ways to turn your cash flow on full blast, check out tips on how to do your own household repairs to save thousands, or read this article that talks about ways to increase your income from things you already have access to right now.
If you want to receive free products, the bottom line is to keep an eye out for special coupons or deals, whether it be by email, social media platforms, in the mail, or word of mouth.
What exciting freebies or deals have you come across lately? Feel free to recommend them in the comments below.
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