Why Pay for Gift Cards? Here Are 7 Clever Ways to Get Them for Free

Target gift cards in a store display.
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder


There are few better feelings than a gift card burning a hole in your wallet.

Sure, you might not have cash. And your credit card’s high utilization rate might be threatening your credit score… but that gift card. It’s like a free admission pass, just beckoning you to spend some quality time in Target or to splurge on that fancy latte-mocha-cappuccino.

But what’s better than a gift card? A FREE gift card.

How to Get Free Gift Cards

If you’re looking to pocket some free gift cards, we’ve got your guide right here. We’ve searched the internet and have tested each of these strategies.

Spoiler alert: They all work; they all get you gift cards.

1. Get a Free $10 Walmart Gift Card for Shopping Online

If you’re planning to make an online purchase, you might as well snag a free $10 Walmart gift card.

Join Ebates, a shopping portal featuring coupons, promo codes and cashback offers. When you make a purchase at any one of Ebates’ thousands of partner stores, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Overstock and Walmart, you’ll earn up to 40% in cash back.

Sign up for free, spend $25 on your first purchase within 90 days, and you’ll snag a free $10 Walmart gift card.

2. Share Your Opinions (But Not on Facebook, Please) for a $5 Gift Card

We’re not going to sit here and tell you taking surveys is the fastest way to pocket a gift card. It’s not. However, if you’re just lounging around and binging Bravo (just me?), then hopping on a survey site and answering some questions is painless.

Try Swagbucks. With an A rating from the Better Business Bureau, it’s one of the most legitimate survey sites out there.

Most Swagbucks surveys take about 10 to 15 minutes and pay 100 to 200 points. Once you collect 500 points, you can redeem them for a $5 gift card to a popular retailer like Target or Starbucks.

If you really want to learn how to master the site, we put together a complete guide to Swagbucks.

3. Get $1 and Play Free Scratch offs

There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.

Instead, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens that you can exchange for free gift cards to retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Kohl's, Sephora and more.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. For more info, check out our full review.

4. Scroll Through Instagram (Like You Already Do)

Did you know you can actually get paid to spend time on social media?

On Twitter, try participating in a Tweet chat. Chats are especially popular during holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and even Mother’s day.

On Facebook and Instagram, like and follow various brand pages to enter contests and giveaways. Sometimes these are gift cards; other times these are products. Sure, nothing’s guaranteed, but these are kind of fun!

5. Practice Retail Therapy

Just to be clear: I’m not telling you to go on a shopping spree or anything. But if you’re already planning to make an online purchase, why not earn a free gift card while you’re at it?

But first, download Shopkick, a free app that’ll reward you in “kicks” for walking into certain stores and scanning items’ barcodes. You can exchange kicks for gift cards to a number of retailers: Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora, Best Buy… you name it.

Take notes from Penny Hoarder Khiem Nguyen, who’s pocketed more than $400 in gift cards using the app.

Bonus: If you purchase qualifying goods, you’ll earn even more points, though no purchases are necessary to earn these gift cards.

6. Save Your Receipts and Earn a Free $10

After fighting your way through the grocery store aisles, you deserve a gift card, right?

Before your next grocery haul, download the free Ibotta app.

Search for items on your shopping list within the app, and then snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

A few recent cash-back opportunities we’ve spotted include:

  • 25 cents back on any item.
  • 25 cents back on avocados.
  • 50 cents back on a carton of eggs.
  • $2 back on Colgate mouthwash.
  • $4 back on Bud Light.

Once you collect $20 in rewards, cash out for, well, cash or secure a gift card to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Chipotle, Old Navy, Sephora and Walmart.

Plus, you’ll earn a $10 bonus when you claim your first cash-back offer. In the words of Bon Jovi, you’re halfway there!

7. Get a $20 Amazon Gift Card for Going Green

Eric Hanson wanted a cleaner energy source, but didn’t have the option in his Maine home — and didn’t want to install pricy solar panels.

So he went with renewable energy company Arcadia Power, which helps you offset your monthly energy consumption with 100% renewable sources.

“On a fundamental level, the power that I use in my house is coming from renewable sources,” Hanson says. “By providing financial support for renewable energy sites, I can disrupt the market. I’m willing to support green growth.”

And, because you’re such a good person, the company will throw in a free $20 Amazon gift card.

You can sign up to qualify for your free gift card in about two minutes.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She realizes nothing in life is free, but if you can earn gift cards for going about your normal business… why not? She’ll take any excuse to step foot into a Target.

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