Legitimate ways to get free stuff online (and tips to not get scammed in the process)
When I was a freshman in college, some of my roommates liked to tease me because of how much I loved free things.
If there was free food on campus, you’d better believe I was there. A free t-shirt advertising for some event? I had at least 10. There was even a time that I signed up for all the free samples I could (partly because I wanted mail. And mainly because it was free!)
There was one time that I had paid five dollars and gotten a t-shirt somewhere on campus. I remember coming home, and talking to my roommate, Christie. When I proudly showed her my shirt (which I admit, sounds so lame,) I told her:
“Look at this shirt I got for free, it was only five dollars!”
Obviously, it wasn’t a free shirt. I had paid for it. But I was so used to saying I got a free shirt, I accidentally said that. And from that point on, it become a roommate joke.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at discerning where I can get free items legitimately. In my attempts, here are some tips on how to avoid scams, or even less-than-worth it deals.
Read the Fine Print
We’ve all seen those popups that say “You’ve won a 300 dollar gift card to McDonalds!” Right? Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but those are not real! If you read the fine print, it will tell you to get your gift card, you have to complete several offers, and the highest one ends up costing a ton of money overall. And to even get to that point, you have to go through tons of pages of offers. Mainly, it’s just important to know what you are getting into before signing up for anything — even with legitimate websites and companies.
Asks for a Credit Card? No way!
Let’s just get this straight — if it asks for your credit card number, don’t do it! Unless you want to have some random charges popping up in a few weeks or so. Granted, there are a few exceptions. Sometimes, if there is a free trial of something, giving your credit card number is acceptable. I signed up for a free year of ShopRunner last year, and I had to put in my credit card number. It’s been worth it. But as I said before, make sure to read the fine print. If you do sign up for a free trial, make sure to put that date on your calendar, so you can make sure to cancel it. Believe me, that day can come and go pretty quickly, and you might find a not-so-welcome surprise in your bank account.
“TONS OF FREE PRODUCTS!”
On the side of my Facebook page, I often see ads for a website that apparently gives you tons of free baby products. This never happens. It usually ends up being a website that makes you sign up for emails from different companies, that may send you a coupon every now and then, but more likely, you’ll just get tons of emails that are just annoying.
In order to cut down on the amount of spam I get from signing up for free products, I have a spam email account! It makes it easier when there is some kind of requirement to register your email. I learned that the hard way, when I had to start a new email account for myself, because the old one just got hundreds of spam emails a day.
My Favorite Free Product Websites
Follow Freebie Sites
Quite often, companies will have giveaways on their Facebook pages that are fairly easy to win. For instance, last year, Dominos gave away hundreds of thousands of free pizzas, and all you had to do was be close by when they announced it on their page — we got two! It can get kind of tricky trying to find all these, especially because they are pretty quick to end, so that’s why I recommend following a couple coupon and deal websites online. My favorite (obviously, if you’ve read this blog for long) is Freebies2Deals, because she doesn’t post freebies if they aren’t legitimate, or if they are obviously going to run out before the majority of people see her posts. I also like the site because she posts things that are close to my area. I’d recommend finding a site that focuses especially on your area, and go from there!
Unlike most of the links I’ll list below, you don’t have to do any reviews or social media shout outs. Most of the time, you just have to sign up for an email list, answer a few questions, or like a page on Facebook. Super easy.
This is a fairly new website, and it’s pretty cool. Every Tuesday, they release several new samples that you can go and add to your box. There is no subscription fee attached (everything is even shipped free!) and all they ask is that you come back and share your opinion on the product. They have a variety of different samples — from food, to beauty products, to omega 3 pills. The only downside is you have to be quick! Samples get snatched up pretty quickly, so if you want to get them, be sure to be by your computer on Tuesday mornings!
This is a new one but one of the best! You get a BOX of free goodies – no credit card required and shipping is free. They have limited quantities so you want to make sure you get them while they last!
This is an invitation only website, but when I signed up, they were pretty quick to send you an invitation. I no longer have any invites. Influenster is really cool, because they send you boxes full of full-sized products — no wimpy, 2 ounce bottles of shampoo! The picture at the beginning of this post features my most recent Influenster box. You do have to answer questions and share about your experiences on social networks, but it’s really not hard to do at all — a tweet here, an instagram shot there. It’s a small price to pay for the awesome products you get!
PatPat is a daily deals site, where they have AMAZING deals on products for babies, kids, and women. They have a free product available every day as well – it goes up at 6 AM PST and is available until it runs out. You can get it on the mobile app or the website. When you place your first order, use the code apCI13 to get 25% off (if you order more than the free item.) It’s really an awesome website.
This is a survey site, but they also give out free coupons and free samples often to active members!
I stumbled upon Expo TV a few months ago when I was trying to find free baby products. I wasn’t quite sure what it was at first, but within hours of signing up, I was asked to fill out a survey to see if I qualified for one of the Tryology product samples. I’m usually pretty skeptical when I find a new site that gives away free products, and I figured I wouldn’t be accepted. However, I was, and yesterday I got a big package of Huggies diapers, and a box of wipes. All you have to do is try the product, and then upload a two minute video with your opinion. In the mean time, while you are waiting for these types of offers, they ask you to review products you already own, and upload videos. These give you points, and in turn, increase the likelihood that you’ll get one.
Since my first campaign, I haven’t been accepted again. For some reason, none of the videos I uploaded have been accepted, and I think that has to do with it. However, I still fully endorse this website because it is legitimate, and there is a lot of opportunities to earn points to redeem toward rewards. To see current programs that are open, visit this link.
I think I heard about this when one of my cousins posted about it on Facebook, and I was hooked ever since. Like Smiley360, they send you products in exchange for distributing coupons and sharing your experience on social networks. I think they have better products though for the most part. I’ve been selected for three campaigns in the past few months — one for McCormick seasonings, one for Glade Expressions, one for a hydro silk razor, and also for carb master yogurt. Sometimes they send you coupons in the mail for free products that you have to redeem yourself, and sometimes the product is just send directly to you. The coupons they send to distribute are also extremely high value, and quite often, the product will end up being free as well. You get more campaigns the higher your “bzz score” is, which can be improved by taking short surveys and sharing information on Facebook or Twitter.
This site basically sends you free products in exchange for hosting a party featuring them. I’ve only been selected for one — a Rice Krispie party — but they have so many different parties each year. I knew a few people who were selected for a Fisher Price party last year, and they received literally hundreds of dollars worth of free toys. It does take some effort to get selected — you’ve got to share it in Facebook or Twitter, and participate in discussions every now and then — but it’s totally worth it. Some of the parties I’ve seen recently have been for Soda Stream Makers, a movie projector, and for a bunch of Hasbro games. If you like to throw parties, and want to get all the materials to throw one, this is definitely the site for you.
Smiley360 lets you “be the first to try exclusive new products, experiences, and offers.” If you qualify for a “mission,” they will send you products in the mail to use and talk about with your friends. You get “smileys” for sharing the product (or a coupon) with others, and then recording your experience. I haven’t always qualified for missions, but I have gotten a few fun products — most recently, infant Advil, which has been awesome for when Jack has been teething or had an ear infection. The more missions you do, the more likely you’ll get selected for one of the cooler ones. They also host a lot of fun promotional events online.
These aren’t the only ways, but just a few of my favorites. I think I get at least one package in the mail every week with some kind of cool free (or heavily discounted product.) Next week, I will share some of the sites that help me save money, or direct me toward even more free products!
Do you have any favorite sites that give out free products?