Here’s a list of the fastest ways to get free gift cards. For each strategy below, we’ve highlighted our favorite option as well as a few worthwhile alternatives.
#1. Earn Points When You Shop
Earning rewards points on your everyday purchases is the fastest and easiest way to get free gift cards. All you have to do is click a link before visiting a retailer’s website. It takes seconds, and you can earn as much as 10% of your purchase total back in points. You can then cash those points in for gift cards.
Our Top Pick: Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping has a number of valuable features.
- It lets you earn points on the things you already buy at hundreds of major retailer websites.
- It can tell you if an item you’re browsing on Amazon is available on a different website for less money.
- It automatically checks if there’s a discount or coupon code available for the items in your cart.
The screenshot below shows some of the gift cards you can redeem your points for.
The service is free and you don’t need to be a Capital One account or card holder to use it. You can learn more in our Capital One Shopping review, which provides an in-depth rundown of the platform’s features and how they work.
More Options For Earning Points
We’ve tested and recommend each of the sites below.
- TopCashback: Consistently offers the best cash-back rates available. We sampled the offers from 10 major retailers on four of the biggest cash-back portals and found that TopCashback had the best offer all 10 times. It beat the competition by an average of 2.6%.
- BeFrugal: Has a “best rate” guarantee that will pay you 125% of a competing site’s offer (but you can only use it once per merchant). Also has excellent promotional rates that can rise to as high as 40%.
#2. Take Online Surveys
Paid survey sites let you earn rewards points that can be exchanged for digital gift cards (after meeting a minimum withdrawal amount). They won’t make you rich, but they make it easy to earn one or two gift cards per month.
Our Top Pick: Branded Surveys
Branded Surveys is a reputable and well-known online survey site. It has a clean user interface, a low minimum withdrawal amount of $5, and a constant supply of surveys.
We like Branded Surveys because:
- It offers a variety of cash-out options, including free gift cards, prepaid Visa cards, cash via PayPal, and direct deposit to your bank account.
- It provides bonus rewards for reaching weekly and monthly milestones through the Branded Elite program.
- It offers a small payout if you don’t fully qualify for a survey
Other Paid Survey Sites
Different survey sites work with different companies, and often cater to different demographics. So you might qualify for more (or better paying) surveys on one site compared to another. Here are a few additional options that are worth trying.
- Survey Junkie: Has an easy-to-use dashboard showing exactly how many points you’ll earn for each survey. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known online survey sites, with more than 10 million members and excellent reviews on Trustpilot, the App Store, and other user rating sites. Read our Survey Junkie review to learn more.
- Lifepoints: Offers a clean, intuitive dashboard and decent pay rates, but the inventory of surveys can be limited and the disqualification rate is relatively high. Learn more in our Lifepoints review.
- YouGov: A major public opinion firm that offers interesting surveys (including topics like politics and current events). The pay rate is solid but you have to earn $50 to cash-out, which can take a long time. Learn more in our YouGov review.
To learn about more options, you can check out our list of the best overall survey sites.
#3. Complete “Money Maker” Offers
One of the fastest ways to get free gift cards online is by completing “money maker” offers, which are promotional deals or paid trials that give you more money back than you initially spent.
Why do these offers exist? Because the companies that offer them hope you’ll like the product or service and remain a customer.
These offers are typically found on online rewards sites, where you can earn gift cards for completing a variety of tasks, like taking surveys, watching videos and more.
We recommend the three sites below for finding money makers.
Our Top Pick: Swagbucks
Swagbucks is the premier online rewards portal. The site lets you earn points in a number of ways, including by taking paid surveys, playing games, using their search engine and watching short videos. But the best way to earn on the site is via its money makers: offers that have a small cost but give you back more than you paid.
Here are some real examples of money makers we found on the site when writing this article:
- Aspiration Bank: Get 7,000 points ($70 gift card) when you open a free checking account and deposit $10.
- Sierra Club: Get 5,000 points ($50 gift card) when you make a $15 donation.
- Postmates: Get 2,000 points ($20 gift card) when you sign up for this food delivery service and place an order.
Signing up for Swagbucks is quick and free. You can exchange the points you earn for a wide range of gift cards to stores like Best Buy, eBay, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Target, Walmart and more. It’s also one of only a handful of sites that offers free Google Play gift cards.
You can learn more in our comprehensive Swagbucks review, which outlines more than 20 ways to make money on the site.
Other Sites With Money Makers
These sites are owned by the same company as Swagbucks, but the offers (and how much they pay) are sometimes different.
- MyPoints: Has been in operation since 1996, making it one of the longest-standing rewards sites on the internet.
- InboxDollars: Has some of the best-paying money makers you can find, but those high payouts are offset by the site’s relatively high minimum withdrawal amount of $30 (compare that to $3 on Swagbucks and MyPoints) — though you may be able to hit that threshold with one good offer.
In addition to money makers, InboxDollars is one of the few sites that will pay you for reading emails.
#4. Get Referral Bonuses
Earning referral bonuses isn’t always easy: the person you’re trying to refer needs to actually sign up for the site or service you’re recommending. But it can be one of the most lucrative ways to get free gift cards — especially considering the wide range of companies that will reward you for referrals.
Here are some of the best referral offers available right now, arranged alphabetically (we’ll update this section periodically).
- Chase Bank: If you’re a current Chase account holder, you can earn $50 for referrals who open a checking account and substantially more for referrals who get a Chase credit card.
- Comcast Xfinity: Get a $25 gift card when your referral signs up for one service, or a $150 gift card when they sign up for two. (You don’t need to be an Xfinity customer to earn referrals.)
- PayPal: Earn $10 for referrals.
- Rakuten: Rakuten’s referral offer changes periodically, but it’s normally either $20 or $30.
- Sam’s Club: When your referral joins, you’ll earn a $10 gift card and they’ll earn a $20 gift card.
- Swagbucks: Get $3 for each member you refer, plus 10% of their lifetime points.
- T-Mobile: Earn a $50 Visa gift card for each referral, up to $500 per year. (You must be a current T-Mobile customer.)
Keep in mind, these are just examples of the referral offers that are available. All kinds of companies have referral programs. So, if there’s a product or service you love, check to see if you can earn gift cards by evangelizing about it!
#5. Get Gift Cards for Grocery Shopping
The picks in this section reward you for completing simple in-person market research tasks, like scanning barcodes, taking photos of product displays and uploading copies of your receipts.
As a rule, you can’t earn as much with these platforms as with survey sites or cash-back portals. But they do give you a way to monetize your grocery shopping, earning free gift cards with minimal effort as part of your regular routine.
Our Top Pick: ShopKick
There are six ways to earn points with ShopKick, which can be redeemed for gift cards:
- Walk-ins: You’ll get points for walking into retailers. (This requires you to share your location with the company.)
- Scan barcodes: Visit a store, find the target product and scan its barcode.
- Upload your receipt: Earn points when you buy specified products.
- Pay with a linked card: Earn points passively by paying for your grocery purchases with a linked debit or credit card.
- Use their shopping portal: ShopKick offers a cash-back portal for online purchases, similar to TopCashback and Rakuten.
- Watch videos: You can earn a few points for watching advertisements (and sometimes answering questions about them).
We like the fact that ShopKick has an app that’s easy to use, as well as the fact that it’s owned and operated by one of the world’s leading market research and data visualization companies. Plus, it offers a wide range of gift cards to choose from.
Learn more in our Shopkick review.
Other Ways to Earn Gift Cards at the Grocery Store
These two apps are almost idenitcal to Shopkick.
- Ibotta: To earn cashback at the store, you have to open the app and activate offers before you go shopping. When you’re done, just upload a picture of your receipt. Whatever cashback you earn can be withdrawn as a gift card, or as cash through PayPal or Venmo. Learn more in our Ibotta review.
- Fetch Rewards: A receipt scanning app that stands out for its simplicity and ease of use. You don’t have to browse for offers and activate them to earn points; just upload a copy of your receipt and you’ll be rewarded. Learn more in our Fetch Rewards review.
#6. Trade Stuff In
Trade-in programs typically don’t pay as much as you could get for items on the open market, but they require little work. Often, you don’t even have to pay for shipping — just print a prepaid label, drop off the package and wait for your gift card.
Our Top Pick: Amazon’s Trade-In Program
Amazon’s trade-in program will give you gift cards for devices like smartphones, video games and consoles, laptops, tablets and more.
Finding out whether your items are eligible for trade-in (and how much you can get) is easy. Just visit Amazon’s trade-in page and use the search function to see the current offer for whatever you want to get rid of.
Other Trade-In Programs
Most of the programs listed below will give you an instant offer for your items, so it can be worthwhile to check a few different sites before choosing which one to go with.
- Apple: Only accepts Apple products (and only pays in Apple gift cards), but offers some of the best trade-in prices available for those devices.
- Banana Republic: Get Banana Republic gift cards for clothes that pass a quality inspection.
- Best Buy: Accepts electronics, including cameras and video games.
- Decluttr: Accepts the widest range of items of any service on this list, including books, DVDs, electronics and even LEGOs!
- GameStop: Accepts video games, game consoles and controllers, game headsets and smartphones.
- Gazelle: Accepts smartphones and iPads only. You can ship your devices in, or take them to an ATM-like trade-in kiosk.
- Swappa: Accepts electronics and a few other categories. Known for high payouts, but it also has high quality requirements.
- Target: Accepts electronics only.
- Walmart: Accepts electronics only.
- Whistle: Accepts electronics only.
#7. Win Gift Cards Through Giveaways
Winning giveaways is more realistic than most people think — you just have to enter the right ones. Contests sponsored by big corporations often have thousands or even millions of entries, but there are many drawings that fly under the radar and give you a decent chance of winning.
For example, small businesses use giveaways to promote their social media accounts, and brands sometimes partner with bloggers and influencers to offer gift card giveaways as part of promotional campaigns. In many cases, these contests only have dozens of entries rather than thousands.
Instagram is one of the best places to find these giveaways.
Here are some hashtags that had active contests when we were writing this article.
- #giveaway (40 million posts)
- #sweepstakes (2 million posts)
- #freebiefriday (185,000 posts)
- #giftcardgiveaway (90,000+ posts)
- #freegiftcards (58,000+ posts)
To enter these contests, you’ll usually have to follow one or more social media accounts and like, share or comment on a post.
There are also a handful of websites that aggregate giveaways from around the web. When entering the contests you find on these sites, we recommend using a dedicated email address to prevent your primary address from getting bombarded with marketing emails.
Some popular giveaway aggregators include:
- r/giveaways (a subreddit with over 70,000 members).
- r/sweepstakes (a subreddit with over 30,000 members).
- Contest Girl
- Giveaway Monkey
- Giveaway Frenzy
#8. Take Advantage of In-Store Promotions
A handful of stores, with CVS and Target being the most prominent, regularly run promotions through which you can earn a gift card for purchasing a specific item, or for spending a certain amount on specified brands.
For example, the screenshot below shows a promotion (recently featured on Target’s “Top Deals” page) that will give you a $10 Target gift card for spending $40 on Hot Wheels toys.
That amounts to a 25% cash-back rate; excellent by any standards, but especially for Target, which typically doesn’t participate in cash-back portals.
At both Target and CVS, these offers are scattered throughout the store and advertised with small promotional tags that can be easy to miss if you’re not looking for them.
#9. Use Bing Instead of Google
There are a handful of ways to get paid for searching the web, but they typically don’t pay much by themselves. To earn enough for a gift card, you have to pair them with some other activity (like taking surveys).
One exception to that rule is Microsoft Rewards, which gives your points for running searches on Bing. Unfortunately, there are limits to how much you can earn per month, which means you’re likely to max out at around $10 in earnings per year.
Still, if you’re willing to switch your default search engine from Google to Bing, it’s an easy and passive way to score a small gift card.
The reviews of Microsoft Rewards are solid across the web. The big downside is that you can only exchange your rewards for Microsoft-related purchases, such as Xbox or Skype credits, or for items at Microsoft.com.
#10. Play Games
Our Top Pick: Mistplay
Mistplay is an Android app that rewards you for playing mobile games. You’ll collect points (which can be redeemed for gift cards or PayPal cash) by installing new games, racking up play time, reaching specified levels and completing in-game tasks.
It’s an increasingly popular platform with millions of users and a wide selection of games from major publishers across multiple genres — from puzzles to real-time strategy and everything in between.
But what makes Mistplay especially great is its game recommendation engine, which uses your demographic profile and activity on the platform to identify games you might be interested in trying (and then rewards you for doing so).
Mistplay also functions as a beta-testing service for game developers, so you can expect to play a lot of new games on the platform. If you’re an avid gamer, it’s a great way to monetize your hobby.
More Ways to Earn Gift Cards by Gaming
These options don’t offer as much earning potential as Mistplay, but they can be a fun way to kill some time while earning a little bit of extra money.
- Drop: Primarily a cash-back portal, the Drop app also has a “games” section where you can play simple games like Snake to earn a few extra points. Learn more in our Drop app review.
- Swagbucks: Get rewarded for downloading games through Swagbucks and then reaching specified levels or completing specific tasks. Learn more in our Swagbucks review.
#11. Watch Videos
A handful of sites give you gift cards or cash in return for watching videos, which usually include advertisements, movie trailers or sponsored content. Sometimes you’re required to answer a few questions about the videos, while other times you can just let them run in the background while you do something else.
Here are some of the better options:
Swagbucks: Offers a wide selection of videos available, but what you have access to depends on your demographics.
- AdWallet: A video-based survey site. After watching an ad, you’ll be asked a series of questions.
- See more options in our dedicated guides on how to get paid to watch videos and how to get paid to watch ads.
#12. Trade Your Data
If you’re willing to share data about how you use the internet, the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel will pay you $50 per year in gift cards just for installing an app on your smartphone or compatible device.
The only time you have to do anything is when you want to check your account balance to see how many points you’ve earned (which accumulate monthly).
Learn more about how it works in our Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel review.
Another Option for Trading Your Data
Our top pick for survey sites Survey Junkie also offers a similar app (called Survey Pulse). However, it doesn’t pay quite as much as the Nielsen Panel, so it’s best for people who are also Survey Junkie members.
#13. Monetize Your Lockscreen
If you have an android device, you can earn gift cards by letting companies show ads or other content on your lockscreen. You won’t earn much with this method — around $10 per year is a realistic expectation — but it takes almost no work.
We covered all the best options in our guide to making money with your lockscreen, but a few of the best-rated options include:
- Current Rewards: Adds a music player to your lockscreen and rewards you for listening.
- S’more: The highest-rated and most well-known way to monetize your lockscreen.
#14. Complete Microtasks
Microtasks are simple and often menial jobs like data entry that usually take a few minutes and pay very little. But they’re available on-demand, so they allow you to work whenever you want, for as little or as long as you want.
Amazon operates the world’s largest microtasking site, which is called Mechanical Turk (or MTurk for short). It has thousands of tasks made available by companies big and small, and allows you to cash-out your earnings to a gift card upon completion of work.
A few other sites also offer payment in gift cards. Check out our list of the best micro job sites for more options.
#15. Give Blood
Donating blood saves lives, with ABC News recently reporting that blood supplies in the United States are “alarmingly low.”
Blood drives and blood donation centers frequently offer a gift card or a gift certificate for a local business as an incentive for donating, so this can be a way to get rewarded for making a positive impact.
The Red Cross has a tool that helps you find out where to donate blood.
#16. Test Drive Cars
Car manufacturers and dealerships will sometimes give you a gift card just for test driving a vehicle, with amounts typically ranging from $25 to $100.
The best way to find these offers is to search for “Test Drive [your location] gift card,” which should bring up a list of current offers.
You can also check the websites of the dealerships in your area, as not all of them are good at getting their promotions to show up in search results.
#17. Transfer Your Prescriptions
You can sometimes earn gift cards by transferring your prescription from one pharmacy to another, or by taking advantage of a pharmacy’s loyalty program.
Here’s a list of current promotions, as of May 27, 2021:
- CVS: Earn up to $50 per year in CVS Extra Bucks through their loyalty program.
- Rite Aid: Get a $25 gift card for each prescription you transfer, up to $100.
- Target: Get a $5 Target gift card after every 10th prescription is filled.
Companies like Walgreens and Kroger are also known to occasionally offer prescription transfer promotions.
Free Gift Card FAQs
There are a few different reasons. Some are market research firms that collect data about your shopping habits and preferences, usually by having you complete paid online surveys. The data you provide helps their clients (such as big-name consumer brands) improve their products and marketing.
Some work on commission and have contracts with major retailers, earning a fee whenever they refer customers who make a purchase. Others offer giveaways and sweepstakes, using these promotions as a way to draw attention to their products, services or website.
As a general rule, you’re going to have to give something to get something — whether that’s your time, your data, your business or your attention. Offers for free gift cards that ask for nothing in return are almost always scams.
Gift card generators are software programs that try to illegally guess gift card numbers. There are obviously many reasons why trying to use these applications is a terrible idea.
While we go in-depth in our article on how to get free amazon gift cards, based on our research and experience, the fastest way is through the completion of “money makers,” which are offers that cost a little bit of money upfront, but pay you more in rewards than you spend. It’s not uncommon to find offers that cost $10 to $20 upfront and pay $40 or $50 in points.
Our pick for the best place to find money makers is Swagbucks, which also offers surveys, cashback shopping and a host of other ways to earn points.
We wrote a dedicated guide to getting free Walmart gift cards that lists the best options. Our top choices include surveys, cash back shopping, and trade-ins like our suggestions here.
Many of the options on this list offer PayPal gift cards or direct PayPal cash transfers (or sometimes both). When opting for the latter, pay close attention to the rules; typically, you must request the money be sent to a PayPal account with a name and email address that matches the one you used when signing up for the rewards portal.
Here are a few more ways to get free PayPal cash.
While Instagram is a great place to find giveaways, Facebook is not an ideal place to look for gift cards. Hashtags aren’t as widely used as they are on Instagram, which makes giveaways harder to find. Plus, Facebook does not have as robust of a verification system, which makes it harder to judge whether you’re dealing with a reputable person or company.
If you’re looking specifically for physical, plastic gift cards (perhaps because you want to use them as a Christmas gift), there are still a few options — but you’ll have to be more selective about which websites you utilize.
Some of the platforms on this list that offer both physical and digital gift card options include Swagbucks and TopCashback. There is usually a small fee for requesting a physical card, so make sure to read the fine print before cashing in your points.
Yes, there are many! Swagbucks and Rakuten both operate discounted gift card portals, and sites like Raise.com are dedicated to buying unwanted gift cards and selling them as a discount off their face value.
Yes, you can. And while Coinstar charges a small fee for converting coins into paper money, opting for a gift card allows you to trade those coins in for free.
We didn’t include this method in the main part of the article because it isn’t technically a way to get a free gift card, but it sure can feel like free money when you cash-in your spare change.
How to Get Free Gift Cards: Final Thoughts
Earning a free gift card or two is the ideal way to creatively finance a purchase that’s not exactly a need. By doing so, you avoid blowing your budget. And even more so, you delay the purchase a bit to make sure it’s still something you want.
Here are a few more guide to getting free gift cards: