101 Easy Ways to Get Tons of Free Stuff, From Food to Movies to Travel
My wife and I love to travel, so of the many free things I've received this year, money and hotel rooms are my favorites. But it's also been fun to get free movies, gift cards, oranges, books, classes and all the rest.
And if you like free things as much as I do, you'll love the following list. I'll even show you three ways to get those free hotel rooms, and five ways to get free money.
Of course, "free" is one of the most abused concepts of modern times. "Buy one, get one free" just means 50% off, and not even that much when stores jack up the prices. And “free samples” aren’t exactly free if you have to pay separate shipping and handling for each of them.
None of those fake "freebies" are on this list. I exclude offers that require you to pay for shipping or anything else. But you will have to give some information to get many of these freebies, so you might want to have an extra email address set up so you don’t clog your regular inbox.
Are you ready to get a bunch of free stuff? Let's get started with...
Free Hotel Rooms
Hotel stays are one of the more valuable items on the list, and you can get them as a signup bonus with the following credit cards (I have all of these ones).
1. Get the Marriott Rewards Credit Card
Get a free night at a Marriott (category 1 to 4 -- which includes a dozen hotel chains) as soon as you're approved. That's right: There’s no spending requirement. I used my free night two weeks after getting my card.
Then, if you put $1,000 on the card within three months, you'll get 50,000 points, which are worth up to six more free nights. I did that too, buying only things I would have bought anyhow. Cancel your card within a year to avoid the annual fee.
Get approved for this credit card to get 15,000 points in your Wyndham Rewards account right away, with no spending requirement. That's enough for a free night at many Wyndham properties, which include Ramada Inn, Days Inn and Super 8 hotels.
Choose the no-fee card -- the other one gives you more points, but has an annual fee.
Put $1,000 on the card within three months to get two free nights at category 1 to 4 hotels). Cancel within a year to avoid the annual fee.
Money is one of the best things to get for free, right? I'll be raking in close to $2,000 this year from these sources.
4. Take Advantage of Credit Card Bonuses
Last year I made over $1,000 from credit card signup bonuses and cash back awards. I've already topped that this year.
5. Earn Bank Account Bonuses
I made $175 this year for opening a savings account (I closed it after the minimum six-month requirement), and $125 last year for a new checking account.
I previously reported on how to find and claim lost money, and I helped my mother recover a forgotten insurance refund worth almost $1,000.
7. Maximize Your 401(k)
A third of employees don't contribute the full amount their employer will match, reports MarketWatch. That's crazy!
Even knowing I was leaving a job, I put $475 into a new 401(k) to get $475 in matching contributions from my employer. After quitting, I withdrew $950, paid the 10% penalty, and I still made money!
You might already qualify and not know it. Keep an eye on our monthly posts to see whether you’re eligible for free cash and vouchers.
My wife and I can make a meal of free in-store samples. Sure, we sometimes buy things as a result, if the price is right.
But if your goal is just to enjoy a few free snacks, you can do that. Or, to avoid the temptation to buy, get your samples online. Here are some of your options.
Find your closest store and determine which days are sample days. We used to go on Saturdays and eat from a dozen different displays, but your store might offer samples on other days of the week.
10. Check Your Local Publix
This store puts out fewer items than Whole Foods, but in our experience, the samples are sometimes the size of a full meal! One location near us has a kitchen just for cooking samples, and they’re delicious.
11. Visit Trader Joe's
You'll always find a free sample of food and a drink (coffee, lemonade or another tasty treat). Occasionally, Joe's has free wine-tasting events, with crackers to cleanse your palate between samples.
12. Review Products on PINCHme
If you're willing to review the foods you try, sign up with PINCHme to receive free samples in the mail.
13. Head to Kroger
Get a free "Plus" card, and you can download a coupon good for a free product every Friday.
14. Eat Free Donuts on June 5
Check out this post on National Donut Day, when Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts and other stores give away donuts.
15. Eat Free Ice Cream
Ben and Jerry's Free Cone Day is once each spring. Check that page every winter for the date, since it changes every year.
16. Go to Firehouse Subs on Your Birthday
Show your ID in a Firehouse Subs restaurant on your birthday to get a free sub, and sign up for their newsletter to get freebies and offers year-round.
17. Order Free Salt
Get a free sample of rosemary, lemon, and garlic salt from Gourmet Salt Blends.
18. Join Taco John's Email List
Sign up for this newsletter to get a free meat and potato burrito.
19. Go Foraging
We collect oranges and blueberries on public land. FallingFruit.org can help you locate opportunities for foraging near you.
Free Health Care
I got free aspirin as part of a drug trial I was paid for last year, but opportunities to be a human guinea pig come and go. Here are some more reliable ways to get free health care and medications.
20. Go to Free Dental Clinics
I once got a free cleaning and X-rays at a dental assistant school. Use the ADA search tool to find nearby dental assisting, hygiene and lab technology programs, and call to see if they offer free services.
21. Visit TalkAboutRx.org
This list of Prescription Assistance Programs (PAPs) will help you get free (or deeply discounted) drugs. Your income can usually be up to 200% of poverty level, so a qualifying family of four can make up to $48,500.
If you have a "Sam's Plus" membership, some drug prescriptions are free.
23. Check My Free Product Samples
Offers include everything from pain relievers to vitamins.
24. Look Into Preventative Care
Under the health care law most insurance plans must provide a variety of free preventative care services, as explained on HealthCare.gov.
We save more than $1,000 per year by going without cable, and we no longer waste hours clicking through endless channels.
Instead, we've used these two alternatives to watch our favorite shows:
25. Get an Antenna
Free broadcast TV is still around, and now that channels are digital, the reception is better than ever.
So dig out that old antenna and cancel the cable. We get eight channels with our $10 antenna.
26. Watch Online
Want to learn how to lay tile, make a birdhouse or use your iPhone for more than just texts and calls? Here are some of the places you can attend free workshops.
27. Home Depot
Workshop subjects vary, from installing a faucet to building a Pinterest-worthy display stand for your Halloween pumpkin. Workshops are usually on Saturdays, and some are even designed especially for kids.
Kids can attend "Build and Grow" workshops, and they’ll get to take home not only their wooden creations but also a free apron, safety goggles and participation patch.
Enjoy various free craft-making workshops, from cake decorating to jewelry making and more.
The retail stores host hour-long workshops on everything from creating slideshows with iPhoto to putting together spreadsheets.
Some movies are worth the cost of seeing them on the big screen, but freebies are good, too. Here are some of your options.
Register for free email alerts and get a free movie.
32. Try Hulu
Sign up for a free one-week trial and binge on your favorite shows.
33. Register for Crackle
Watch free movies and TV shows, as well as original series, through your computer, Apple TV or gaming system. You’ll have to put up with commercials, but hey, it’s free!
As a movie mystery shopper, you’ll do better than free; you’ll get paid to attend movie premieres.
35. Watch Free Outdoor Movies
Cities around the country host free movies in parks and other spaces. Search online for "free movies" and the names of towns around you.
Free Credit Monitoring
Want to know your credit score and what you can do to improve it? Don’t pay for this info; you can easily get it for free.
This service is free and useful. I've used it for years to track my score while I apply for various credit cards.
37. Use the Big Three to Track Your Credit Report
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion have to give you a copy of your credit report once annually. Hit up a different one every four months to keep up on any changes to your credit profile throughout the year.
Among the free classes you can find online, some are the same college courses for which others pay thousands of dollars! You won't get credit, but you will get educated.
Choose from more than 1,000 courses from colleges around the world. Some give you the option of a "Verified Certificate" for $25 to $195, if you want something to show off, but if you just want to learn, you never have to pay a penny.
Yes, it’s that Yale University. Instead of paying full tuition, take classes for free online. You won’t have a fancy degree when you’re done, but you also won’t have huge student loans.
40. Try UC BerkeleyX
These classes are free, but you can also pay for a verified certificate if you want a paper to prove your expertise.
41. Study With MIT OpenCourseWare
Learn how to build a Geiger counter to test radiation, design and prototype a new toy or negotiate like a rock star.
You'll find free courses and educational materials for all ages and experience levels.
43. Try Khan Academy
I took a cool coding course here, and all of the site’s dozens of courses are entirely free.
Free Web Tools
I've used all of the following freebies for my websites. If you’re starting a blog, use these resources to get off the ground without spending much cash.
Create a free WordPress website or, if you already have a website, add a blog using these free themes.
45. Find Photos and Images
Flickr has millions of photos.
To find freebies for your website, search by keyword. Then, under "Attribution," click "commercial use allowed" (you still have to attribute the photographer and Flickr as the source) or "no known copyright restrictions."
46. Add Surveys and Forms
If you need just one contact form, get it free from Response-O-Matic. I used one of its free forms to survey my newsletter subscribers and design a successful book launch.
The only catch is that people will see an ad or two while they fill out the form.
47. Look for Clip Art
Try OpenClipArt.org for free clip art for your website.
Free Business Training and Advice
You can pay a fortune for business education and training. Or you can start for free or even get paid, using one of these resources.
The Small Business Administration has free online classes on everything from buying a business to accounting to how to get government contracts.
49. Check Out SCORE
This organization provides free mentoring and advice across the country. Mentors include retired executives and others who will help you in person (the best way to make contacts) or by email and phone.
Take online classes and get a "mini-MBA" business management certification at no cost.
51. Use Your Job as Business Training
What's better than free? Getting paid to learn!
Some jobs can help prepare you to start your own business -- if you pay attention. Here’s a more in-depth look at how to use your job as paid training.
Free Legal Advice
In a tough spot? Use one of these free resources.
Of course, if you have a detailed question or a more long-term need, you’ll likely have to find another option. Still, try these avenues first for a no-cost look at your situation.
52. Visit FreeAdvice
Ask a question and get answers from practicing attorneys. Like anything you find online, though, you may want to take this advice with a grain of salt and use it as a general guideline.
This U.S. Department of Justice website lists free legal service providers. Click through to your state to find one near you.
54. Take Advantage of Free Consultations
Many lawyers offer free initial consultations. Search online for "lawyer" + "free consultation" and the name of your city.
Adding the relevant subject, like “real estate” or “small business” will help you find an expert on your needs.
You can go to your public library, of course, but you’ll find many more free books online.
55. Download Kindle Ebooks
Authors list thousands of books for free, whether permanently or for a limited time, so scroll through to find tons of great options.
Don’t have a Kindle reader? No problem. Download a free Kindle Reading app for your computer, tablet or phone.
56. Visit Freebooksy
This site helps you find Kindle, Nook, Apple and Kobo ebooks. You’ll see at least one free ebook each day, across genres from mystery to romance to children’s books.
You’ll find more than 49,000 free ebooks in a variety of formats, though they’re mostly classics and older books. You won’t find the latest releases here.
Prefer to listen to your stories? Loyal Books has over 7,000 free, downloadable audiobooks.
My wife recently visited Washington, D.C. and was happy to discover that most museums there are free. Here are some other ways to get free admission to museums.
59. Use Your Bank of America Credit Card
Through the Museums on Us program, your credit card gets you free admission to more than 150 museums around the country on the first full weekend of each month.
This schedule tells you when you can visit museums for free in Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York City, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.
61. Ask Google
You can find lists of free museums here and there. Check your local museums online and you may discover they have free admission on certain days.
When I lived in Traverse City, Michigan, I went to free concerts at the National Cherry Festival. Similar community events often showcase free performances. Here are a couple more options.
62. Check I Love Free Concerts
This site lists upcoming free concerts in the New York City area.
63. Look for Summer or Holiday Concerts
Many communities and organizations offer free concert series during the summer or around other holidays. Google your city and “free concerts” to see what’s going on.
64. Work a Concert
Being an usher or ticket taker at a concert is another way to get in for free, or even make a little extra cash while enjoying the show.
A lot of freebie websites have more ads than free stuff, or they’re full of old information. Here are a few I've found to be useful and regularly updated.
This is a good resource for discovering the latest freebies.
This team scours the Internet for free product samples and deals.
67. Visit Freebies.org
You may have to pick through the ads, but you’ll find some good freebies and coupons.
Free Stuff Nearby
You can find various items for free in your neighborhood.
68. Check Craigslist Freebies
In the "for sale" section, click "free" to see what nearby people are giving away. You can even make money selling craigslist freebies.
69. Head to Your Local Library
Besides books, libraries offer other freebies. My wife attended a free poetry workshop at our library, and we get movies and music there.
70. Go to Rummage Sales
Many people put out a selection of free items (we did at our recent sale). Go early for the best freebies.
71. Read the Local Classifieds
Some small newspapers have a "free" category in their classified sections. Check paper versions and online in case there are different ads.
72. Attend Spring Cleanups
When communities have cleanup events, people often discard valuable things. My brother got a perfectly functional bicycle from a neighbor's pile, and a few good chairs from other houses. Wear sunglasses and a hat if you're embarrassed by junk picking.
Some of the following ideas don't fit the categories above. Others are resources you can use to get a variety of free things.
73. Get Into National Parks for Free
74. Try Mystery Shopping
Kyle Taylor has done 5,000 mystery shopping gigs, receiving free meals, movies and beer, plus making $8 to $25 per assignment.
75. Celebrate Your Birthday
Check out this list of 100 restaurants and retailers that offer free stuff on your birthday.
76. Get Your Flat Tire Fixed
Discount Tire will repair your flat tire for free. I've done this, and they didn't try to sell me anything (although they might if they can’t repair the tire).
77. Get Free Baby Stuff
Babies can be expensive, but you can get diapers, detergent, formula and other baby-related freebies.
Learn to hypnotize people on HypnosisDownloads.com. They'll try to sell you additional training, but you don't have to give a credit card number for the free lessons.
79. Play Multi-Player Video Games
Enjoy these free games both online and offline.
80. Review Products on VocalPoint
Get free stuff, from wine to cat food, in exchange for sharing your thoughts.
81. Try Stuff From Walmart
Walmart offers free samples of various products, but they don’t last long. Check back regularly to see whether there’s anything new.
82. Visit a Furniture Bank
If you're facing tough times, you might qualify for free furniture. Check this list to find a furniture bank near you.
83. Go Camping
Visit FreeCampgrounds.com to find free camping opportunities all over the country. We once spent a free week in our van at a campground overlooking a lake.
84. Print Free Graph Paper
Need graph paper for a school project? Instead of buying it, head to Print Free Graph Paper, choose the type and size, then just hit “print.”
85. Get Free Stuff From Amazon
From ebooks to TV shows to video editing, Amazon offers a bunch of freebies.
Get free medical care, grooming, food and even swim time in a pool for your dog.
87. Learn a Language
Learn a new language to impress your in-laws or prepare for an upcoming trip. Open Culture links to free online language lessons for 48 different languages. Ads for paid lessons are mixed in, so watch what you click.
Or, try one of these other resources for learning languages for free.
88. Polish Your Resume
Locate the Department of Labor's Career One Stop center closest to you for help with resume preparation and other aspects of job hunting.
Take digital photos of yourself and ePassportPhoto.com "will help you create passport photos that comply with the requirements of your home country." Choose the best ones and print them out.
90. Do Your Taxes
The IRS lists organizations that help you prepare your tax return for free.
91. Fix Your Car
Pep Boys will test your battery, check your brakes and rotate your tires for free. Some services require a Pep Boys Reward membership, but that's also free.
92. Sign Up for Magazines
Here are a few other ways to read magazines for free.
93. Check Out Free Art Friday
Artists around the country put art in the street for anyone to take home for free. They post photos and locations on the Free Art Friday Facebook page.
94. Get Ordained
Become an ordained minister for free online at TheMonastery.org (which claims to have ordained everyone from Richard Branson to Joan Rivers). Depending on your state, you could use your new certification to officiate wedding ceremonies!
95. Download Posters
Decorate your bare walls with hundreds of posters from FreeVintagePosters.com.
96. Order Pens
Fill out a short form and Bradley Pens will send you a free pen of your choice.
97. Help Your Child Become a Toy Tester
Working as a toy tester means getting paid to play. What’s better than that?
98. Go for a Haircut
99. Order Cat Food
Cat food companies regularly offer free samples online. I recently got a sample from Friskies.
Volunteering is one of the surest ways to travel for free, and joining the Peace Corps will also net you an $8,000 stipend and future job opportunities.
- Drink Wine and Beer
When I finish this post, my wife and I are going out for free wine and beer samples. Total Wine and More hosts these events every week, and they even offer free classes.
Your Turn: Did we miss one of your favorite freebies? Share it in the comments!
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Steve Gillman, author of "101 Weird Ways to Make Money" and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com, has been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).