Hotel rooms. Groceries. Movie tickets. When it comes to saving money on the things you want and need, you can’t beat getting them for free. What you may not realize is that there are ways to score almost anything without paying.
1. Check online community marketplaces
Craigslist, Nextdoor and Facebook groups are great resources for free goods and services. You can find advertisements for a wide variety of things people want to give away, such as furniture, appliances, moving boxes and plants.
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2. Sample products
Look for free samples at stores. You can graze on food at Costco and other wholesale clubs or ask for beauty and fragrance samples at department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s.
You can get samples by mail from manufacturers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
Can’t find samples in person? Request them online. You can get samples by mail from manufacturers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever, sometimes in exchange for testing or reviewing products. Amazon Prime members can buy sample boxes in a variety of categories — including nutrition, skin care and pet supplies — and get reimbursed in Amazon credit that they can redeem for select items.
3. Enroll in loyalty programs
Sign up for rewards programs at your favorite businesses. Many restaurants and retailers give members special perks for their birthdays or based on how much they spend. You could get free food, shipping, gift cards, merchandise, movie tickets and other freebies.
4. Use your library card
Libraries provide plenty of free educational and entertainment resources besides books. With a valid library card, you could get access to movies, music, games, audiobooks, classes, museums and more. Check with your library for details.
5. Take online surveys
You can earn gift cards, money and sweepstakes entries by answering questions on sites like Swagbucks and Global Test Market. Taking surveys is usually easy work, but time-consuming — and the payout can be low. See our survey site reviews to learn more.
6. Cash in on credit card rewards
Have a rewards credit card? You can redeem points, miles or cash back for things like hotel stays, flights and gift cards. Some cards come with additional perks such as free checked bags, travel insurance and access to airport lounges. Explore what types of rewards you can get with your card.
7. Download an app for freebies
Cash-back and rewards apps can hook you up with free stuff. With Shopkick, you earn points for visiting certain stores, viewing products online or making purchases. You can redeem points for gift cards to places like Target and Starbucks.
8. Use coupons
Coupons aren’t just for discounts; They can also help you score freebies. Many stores and brands issue free items, buy one, get one free or free gift with purchase offers. You can get coupons from places like online databases and the Sunday newspaper. Make sure to read the terms, conditions and store policies.
9. Indulge in national food holidays
If you use social media, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a “holiday” to honor almost every food item. Find local restaurants or chains that participate and you could get free food or drink. For example, Cinnabon treated customers to a free cup of coffee on National Coffee Day in September.
10. Sign up for a free trial
Subscription boxes and services are all the rage, but they can be expensive. However, you can get free TV, music streaming, audiobooks, snacks, meals, coffee and more by signing up for trial periods. For example, Crunch Fitness offers a free one-day gym pass, and Netflix is free for one month. Mark your calendar for the dates free trials end so you can cancel and avoid surprise charges.
11. Enter sweepstakes
Contests give you opportunities to win all sorts of cool prizes. Radio stations reward lucky callers with concert tickets. HGTV does a dream home giveaway. Vacations, merchandise and gift cards may also be at stake. Even if the odds of winning are low, it’s usually easy to enter.
Sometimes, you’ll get entries for leaving a product review on a website or tagging a brand in an Instagram post. Keep your eyes peeled for sweepstakes from your favorite companies. Read the rules carefully, and never enter a contest that asks for sensitive information like your credit card or Social Security numbers.