Scoop Up Savings with These 9 Ways to Earn Free Ice Cream
We may all scream for ice cream, but free ice cream is the holy grail of desserts. If you’re looking to cool off on a hot day, there are tons of ways to enjoy a free scoop, from racking up rewards to birthday benefits.
As sweet treats go, ice cream can be an expensive indulgence, especially if you’re heading into scoop shops daily. But it’s cheap compared to the most expensive ice cream in the world, which tops out at $6,696 per scoop. The secret ingredient in this decadent gelato? Truffles, natural cheese and lots of gold leaf.
Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out thousands for a satisfyingly creamy dessert.
When Is National Ice Cream Month?
Americans love ice cream so much that one day of celebration wouldn’t cut it. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau says the average American spoons up four gallons of ice cream every year. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared July National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July National Ice Cream Day.
If scooping up your favorite flavors will take more than an entire month, don’t despair. We’ve gathered ways to save on ice cream, leverage special offers and try new flavors on a regular basis long after the hot days of summer have faded away.
9 Ways to Get Free Ice Cream
From stepping up to the counter at Dairy Queen to clipping coupons for Häagen-Dazs, various ice cream brands offer enough free scoops to satisfy even the most persistent sweet tooth.
1. Scoop Up Ice Cream on Free Cone Day
Whether you prefer a light crispy cake cone, an old-fashioned sugar cone, or a chocolate-dipped waffle cone, there’s no doubt cones are a delicious ice cream delivery device.
National free cone day is a little hard to lock down as each shop seems to celebrate on a different day. Dairy Queen usually offers a free ice cream cone in March, while Ben & Jerry’s celebrates in April. Some Häagen-Dazs shops also offer free cones once a year, so mark your calendar accordingly.
2. Cool Off on National Ice Cream Day
National Ice Cream Day is a holiday everyone seems to agree on. Wander into a shop on the third Sunday in July (this year it’s July 16), and whether you prefer a waffle cone or a sundae with all the toppings, there’s likely to be a free scoop in it for you.
3. Celebrate a Birthday With a Free Ice Cream Treat
Several ice cream shops offer free birthday treats when you opt into a rewards program, but Baskin Robbins takes the cake with the Birthday Club. Simply sign up with your email and Baskin Robbins will send you a coupon for a free scoop of whatever ice cream your heart desires on your special day.
See our master list of dozens of birthday freebies, from free food to discounts on clothing.
4. Cash in on Free Frosties All Year Long
If you were clever enough to grab a $2 Wendy’s Frosty Key Tag last year, you’d be enjoying a free Frosty with every purchase all year long. If not, it’s possible they’ll offer the same promotion this year (or a free burger on National Hamburger Day) so keep your eyes peeled for the announcement.
5. Ask for Samples at Your Local Ice Cream Shop
Free samples are a standard offering at most scoop shops, so don’t be shy. Step up and ask for a spoonful or two of a new flavor or just stick with a classic because you can never go wrong with chocolate.
Be sure to sign for the shop’s newsletter, too, while you’re there. It’s a good way to learn about special events and get discount codes.
See how to get a sweet deal on cosmetics with free samples on certain products from beloved cult favorites to timeless beauty brands.
6. Get a Free Scoop With a Rewards Program
You might have to download an app to get access, but joining the rewards program of popular ice cream shops, like Cold Stone Creamery, is worthwhile. From discounts on your first purchase to the chance to earn points for every cup, you’ll scoop up sweet rewards from the following brands.
- Carvel’s Fudgie Fanatics
- Cold Stone Club
- DQ Blizzard Fan Club
- Friendly’s Fan Club
- Marble Slab Happy Rewards
7. Travel Pennsylvania’s Ice Cream Trail
Pennsylvania has an impressive array of local creameries where the milk (and ice cream) comes straight from the barn to the counter. To start your sweet journey, Pennsylvania’s tourism site says they recommend downloading the Scooped Ice Cream Trail app to track visits and earn points.
Grab your friends and complete the entire trail by the end of this summer to be rewarded with 600 points (the equivalent of six free scoops of ice cream) and a commemorative stainless-steel ice cream scooper.
8. Babies (Including Fur Babies) Get Free Ice Cream at Bruster’s
Pop into a Bruster’s location where the kids (and dog) can get a taste for the flavor of ice cream. Free baby cones are limited to your smallest family member, but doggie sundaes are provided for all four-footed family members of the canine variety.
Since not everyone can be shorter than 40 inches, watch for pajama day, where you can roll into a Bruster’s and get a free scoop just for showing up in your slippers.
9. Dig Into Free Ice Cream Coupons
And last but not least, if you live pretty far from the sugar rush of a local scoop shop, you can still snag a free pint. Many brands like Alden’s put the cherry on top with store coupons for National Ice Cream Month.
Don’t Forget About Free Frozen Yogurt and Italian Ice
Whether lactose-intolerant or pursuing a healthier lifestyle, ice cream isn’t everyone’s cup of choice. There are plenty of ways to get free scoops, from sorbet to frozen yogurt.
Get Your FroYo On
If you imagine yogurt as the plain-jane sister of ice cream, think again. Frozen yogurt now comes in every flavor of the rainbow, from strawberry shortcake to white chocolate peppermint. The following popular frozen yogurt chains have rewards programs that earn points on every purchase.
Welcome the First Day of Spring with Free Italian Ice
On the first day of spring for the last 25 years, Rita’s Ice has thrown open its stores to celebrate with free Italian ice for everyone. The next free Italian ice promotion for Rita’s enthusiasts will arrive on March 19, 2024.
Can’t wait until spring to get your fix? Rita’s Ice also has a rewards program that earns points toward free Italian ice with every visit.
Kaz Weida is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering saving money and budgeting. As a journalist, she has written about a wide array of topics including finance, health, politics, education and technology for the last decade.