Product testing freebies can range from granola bars to sunscreen to running shoes. Some testers may even get lucky and test appliances, like coffee makers and vacuum cleaners! And many testing programs pay you in cash or gift cards on top of the free items you receive.
This article covers what you can expect as a product tester, explains the benefits of product testing, and provides a list of legit product testing opportunities that will send you items for free in exchange for your honest opinion.
You’ll also learn about a few less traditional ways to get free products.
The post is broken down into the following categories (just click the respective links to jump to the sections you’re most interested in):
- Product Testing Companies: These companies focus solely on product testing opportunities.
- Market Research Companies: These are survey sites and other market research firms that occasionally offer product testing opportunities.
- Brand Testing Programs: A list of companies that currently offer in-house product testing programs.
- Mystery Shopping Companies: Learn how to get free goods by visiting stores and restaurants.
- Amazon Vine Voice: The best way to get free Amazon products.
- Blogging: Starting a blog is the best overall way to get free products, but it takes some work to get up and running.
At the end of the article, you can also find a list of inactive product testing programs as well as a product testing FAQ section.
Note: The sites listed in each section below are organized alphabetically, not in order of ranking. If you have experience with these or any other product testing sites, please let us and our readers know by leaving a comment!
Product Testing Companies
Product testing companies ship products to people who meet their demographic requirements, so you’ll need to fill out a bit of personal information for each testing program. You won’t meet the qualifications for every campaign, so you won’t be able to predict exactly when you’ll have products to test.
Here are a few of the most popular product testing companies we’ve found.
- BzzAgent: Testers receive free products in exchange for social media posts about the items. Members typically receive about three items per year to test.
- Clicks Research: In addition to the products you receive, you’ll earn points for taking surveys about those items, which you can redeem for gift cards.
- Influenster: This company targets social media influencers. Start by linking your social media accounts. If you qualify, brands will send products in a “VoxBox” (which is their name for a shipment of test items) to influencers that meet their target demographic. Filling out your “Snaps” (profile questions) on the Influenster app increases your chances of getting a VoxBox. Influenster focuses heavily on beauty items.
- Mesh01: A relatively new player in product testing, Mesh01 is a small company that focuses on outdoor and athletic products. This is a good fit if you’re an avid outdoors fan with hobbies like running, hiking or skiing.
- Parent Tested Parent Approved: Many brands seek the coveted “Parent Tested, Parent Approved” badge that is doled out to top products. This company veers toward household and children’s products, such as diapers, cleaners, vitamins and bubble bath.
- PinchMe: Once a legit product-testing company, PinchMe’s user reviews have degraded significantly over the past few years. Members complain of delayed sample boxes (though they do arrive eventually) and spam emails after signing up.
- ThePinkPanel: In addition to testing beauty products, ThePinkPanel offers opportunities to participate in focus groups (online and in-person). They allow you to keep the tested products and often give gift cards as well. The program is only open to women in the United States and Canada.
- Ripple Street: Formerly House Party, Ripple Street got its start by sending free samples to testers who would host a house party to feature the promoted products. As such, the company has a heavy focus on alcoholic beverages but also features other product categories like pet food, beauty and snack items.
- SheSpeaks: This company is very focused on social media. Testers even have a chance to be on SheSpeaks TV, their YouTube channel. SheSpeaks is a women-only product testing platform, as the products offered are aimed at women.
- Smiley360: To increase your odds of getting a box of free samples from Smiley360, you’ll need to fill out surveys, keep your profile info current, and stay active in their online community. User reviews suggest that Smiley360 is one of the more reliable product testing companies.
- Social Nature: If you want to get free, health-conscious and eco-friendly samples, Social Nature is the product testing company for you. You can request products that are vegan, gluten-free or all-natural. You can also boost (i.e., vote for) products you like so you can get a notification — and a discount! — when the product is available in a store near you.
- Tomoson: Whether you have a large social media following or are trying to build one, you can use your accounts to get free products to review from Tomoson. Once you have a large following, you can earn cash as you promote product campaigns. However, user reviews of the platform complain of poor customer service and pressure to review products even if they aren’t delivered.
- TryIt Sampling: The TryIt Sampling community on BazaarVoice.com tests a wide variety of products such as shampoo, dog treats, pharmaceuticals and shoes. They have separate programs for the USA, UK, France and Germany.
- UserTesting.com: This site helps brands get real-time information on how their target audience feels about their products. To accomplish this, testers record a video and sometimes a screen capture while they give their thoughts as they order a product, open the packaging and/or try out the item. Testers are paid $10 per 20-minute test and more for interviews with representatives from the brand. Payments are made via PayPal. To apply, you’ll need to fill out some demographic information and complete a practice test.
- VocalPoint: As a tester for VocalPoint, you can test and review products in concept and prototype phase, as well as ones that have already made it to market. You can buy these products and get discounts on ones that are highly rated.
Market Research Companies
There are many companies that focus broadly on market research as a whole, with product testing representing one facet of that research. These companies offer mostly surveys, but they sometimes request that you test products as well.
If you’re interested in more of these types of opportunities, check out our list of the best survey sites for making money.
- American Consumer Opinion: You’ll earn between 100 and 500 points for each survey you complete (100 points is $1). You need at least 1,000 points to cash out via PayPal or as a donation to charity.
- Ipsos I-Say: This company focuses exclusively on surveys (though it’s part of a larger conglomerate that also offers mystery shops). Some I-Say surveys do involve product testing. I-Say runs a similar point system to American Consumer Opinion.
- Pinecone Research: A subsidiary of the well-known marketing firm Nielsen Research, Pinecone is another paying survey site that occasionally offers products to test. Online reviews state that users can plan on about one to four surveys per month.
- Schlesinger Group: Product testing is just one of the many services the Schlesinger Group offers; they also conduct mock jury trials, clinical testing, usability testing and more. Their Facebook page reports mixed reviews, and several testers complain of very late or missing payments.
Test Directly for Brands
Individual brands often run their own user testing programs without going through research companies. Although you must fill out a profile for each brand you want to test, you are less likely to be stuck with a box of random items you won’t use. The following companies allow you to sign up for product testing directly.
- Kellogg’s: Testers in the Kitchen Insiders program test Kellogg’s products, such as breakfast cereals and bars. They use a point redemption system for gift cards, similar to many product-testing companies.
- McCormick: Sign up to receive McCormick spices and seasonings by mail. If you live near Hunt Valley, MD or New Orleans, LA, you can also sign up for local testing opportunities.
- Red Robin: Once you apply to be a Red Robin panelist, you’ll be notified if you’ve been accepted within 30 days. The application form insinuates that this opportunity is mainly open to those in the Denver Metro area, where the company headquarters is located.
- Good Housekeeping: That coveted Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval comes from product testers’ ratings. Only GH+ members are eligible to become testers; membership includes a subscription to the GH magazine and costs $20 per year.
- Kolcraft: Mom Matters is Kolcraft’s product testing program for baby cribs, carriers, strollers and other nursery items. If you have a little one (or are expecting), this is a great chance to get some baby gear for free!
- Philips: Past testing products from Philips have included electric shavers, pacifiers, high-powered blenders and electric toothbrushes.
- Procter & Gamble: The Savvy Circle is P&G’s product testing program for the UK and Ireland. They have a survey/rewards program for U.S. users, but there are no samples available.
- Johnson & Johnson: The J&J Friends and Neighbors program lets users do product testing, online surveys, online discussion groups and focus groups. They also allow children under 18 to do product testing on child-focused products with parental consent.
- Snuggle: The Bear Den allows you to test laundry products from Snuggle and participate in discussion groups and surveys.
Personal Care and Cosmetics
- Elle/Marie Claire: Members of the Inner Circle Group voice their opinions on beauty products, get exclusive content from Elle, and get entered to win prizes.
- Glamor Beauty Club: This UK-based product testing group samples items such as makeup, skin care and hair care products. Members also get event discounts and early access to the Glamour Beauty Festival.
- L’oreal: Although it’s best known for makeup, the company recruits both men and women to test hair color, hair care, styling, skin care and sun care products. This program is open to U.S. residents only.
- Macy’s Review Squad: Offers full-sized beauty products for review before they hit the market. Macy’s Review Squad only ships within the 48 contiguous United States (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii). Sign up to get on the waitlist.
Sporting Goods and Fitness
Note that with some of the programs below, you have to return your used gear after the testing period is over. This is true of big names like Nike and Adidas, which evaluate the returned gear for wear, manufacturing defects and other factors.
- Adidas: Open to men and women in America and Europe, the Adidas product testing program assesses things like athletic shoes and apparel. Note that the maximum foot size you can have for testing is men’s 9.
- Asics: FrontRunner is the consumer testing program for Asics in the UK and a few other countries (U.S. residents cannot apply). Testers designate their specific running emphasis (ultramarathons, track and field, trail running and so on).
- Brooks: The Brooks Ambassador Outreach program seeks runners with a “run happy” mentality and a solid social media following to test and review their athletic shoes.
- FitBit: Anyone can apply to beta test FitBit’s new products. You do not have to own a FitBit to do the testing. These are new updates or new products that haven’t hit the market yet, so you’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
- New Balance: The product testing department for New Balance will send you new prototypes of athletic shoes in exchange for an honest review.
- Nike: The Voice of the Athlete program recruits people to test their products, write reviews, then return the items for further testing. Children and teens can also do testing with parental consent.
- Reebok: Similar to the Adidas program, Reebok enables consumers to test their shoes and apparel. You’ll be asked about your preferred athletic activities when you apply. The maximum foot size is men’s 9.5 for this testing program.
- Saucony: As a premier brand of running shoes, Saucony’s product tester application is pretty thorough; you’ll be asked about what surfaces you run on, what part of your foot hits the ground first and your average running pace (among many other questions).
- Under Armor: Even if you live outside the U.S., you can sign up to test apparel and athletic gear in Under Armor’s field testing program. Those who work in (or are related to someone who works in) the footwear, apparel, or sporting goods industry are ineligible to be product testers.
Mystery Shopping Companies
In addition to product testing, mystery shopping is a great way to get stuff for free. And if you’re lucky, mystery shops will reimburse your purchases as well as give you a small cash payment on top of it.
If you want to know more about becoming a mystery shopper, check out our beginners guide to mystery shopping.
- Coyle: This company offers some of the most coveted mystery shops, most of which are high-end restaurants or hotel stays. The competition for these shops is fierce, but you can get your foot in the door with some phone shops or mid-level restaurant shops.
- Amusement Advantage: This secret shopping company is my favorite. You can take a date, a friend or your family to fun outings like theme parks, zoos, aquariums or bowling alleys for free! Most shops are kid-friendly, which is unique among mystery shops.
- Customer Impact: This company offers a wide variety of mystery shops in many different locations. Get gasoline, a burger, or even your taxes done for free.
- Intellishop: The shops for this company are many and varied. They focus on the retail and fast food industries. Past shops have included burger joints, chicken restaurants, oil changes and more.
- SeeLevelHX: SeeLevelHX offers similar shops to Customer Impact and Intellishop — there’s a good amount of variety, but the focus is on retail and fast food. They offer good pay and prompt payment via PayPal.
Amazon Vine Voice
Online sellers know that good reviews are their lifeblood, so there used to be dozens of websites that would offer you free products in exchange for Amazon reviews. However, Amazon recently changed its terms of service to forbid incentivized product reviews. As a result, almost all of these sites have shut down.
These days, your best opportunity to review Amazon products is through their Vine Voice program. Vine Voices are product testers who review and rate current Amazon products and those that are about to be released to help customers make informed decisions.
This program is invite-only, but you can up your chances for getting selected by leaving helpful reviews on Amazon.com. Other Amazon users can rate your reviews up or down (similar to Reddit), and the more helpful reviews you have, the more likely you are to be selected — particularly if you establish yourself as an expert in a niche category of products.
Reviews with photos are most likely to be upvoted.
Start a Blog
You can earn some free samples or an ocassional gift card as a product tester, but if you want to make real money testing products, starting a blog is your best option.
Brands and manufacturers know the power that online influencers have with their audiences, and they’re willing to pay to tap into it.
Once you gain a following, you can make hundreds of dollars per post to write articles on products that are relevant to your niche and readers. This can come in the form of sponsored content (when a brand asks you to weave their product into a blog post) or a review post (when a brand sends you a product and asks you to write up a review). As with product testing, the company will send the blogger a sample of the product that they usually get to keep.
Things can get a little ethically tricky with paid or sponsored posts, particularly if you don’t like the products the manufacturer sends you. Always disclose when your article is paid or sponsored, and be honest in your write-ups. False positive reviews may make you money in the short term, but you will sacrifice your readers’ trust if you embellish or sugar-coat your true opinion. If you don’t want to write a negative review, you can return the product.
If you end up loving a product and you think your readers will too, you can see if the brand has an affiliate program. By adding affiliate links to your blog post, you’ll get paid a commission each time a reader clicks on your link and buys the product. This way, you can get paid for your post again and again.
For more info on starting and monetizing a blog, check out our full guide on how to start a blog and make money.
Due to the high level of interest, many programs close their doors to new applicants if they already have enough reliable product testers. Here are a few that have had active product testing programs in the past.
We update this list periodically throughout the year (most recently, on April 13, 2021).
- Black and Decker (by invitation only)
- Brillo Connection
- Franklin Foods
- General Mills Advisory Panel
- Hamilton Beach All Star Ambassadors
- Hoover/Orek/Dirt Devil
- Kraft First Taste
- Lowes Loop
- Mead For Teachers
- Microsoft User Research
- Minute Rice Recipe Club
- New Trent
- OXO Insiders
- Root by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (by invitation only)
- Serta Comfort Fans (by invitation only)
- Step 2
- Target’s hey, bullseye (by invitation only — leave reviews on Target.com to qualify)
- Tide Development Team
- Vogue Influencers
- Walmart Spark Reviewer Program (by invitation only — leave reviews on Walmart.com to qualify)
Product Testing FAQ
You probably haven’t heard as much about product testing as you have about other income streams and savings methods. It’s a lot less publicized than couponing or mystery shopping. As such, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs to help you decide whether to try becoming a product tester.
Product testing opportunities are absolutely legit, and it is 100% realistic to think that you can sign up for the options on this list and actually receive products. However, signing up does not guarantee that you’ll receive products from any particular program; that depends on whether you happen to fit the demographic profile needed at that particular moment in time. On top of that, a realistic expectation is that you will occasionally receive a product to test — it won’t be an everyday thing even in a best-case scenario.
The frequency varies depending on the platform, but you should expect a trickle rather than a flood. Additionally, while most product testing companies allow anyone to sign up for free, you’ll only get products to test and review if you meet the target demographic for the product.
This can be frustrating, because even if you are a great reviewer, you may go long stretches without any products or freebies. For this reason, product testing is best suited for patient souls who are looking to occasionally get some cool, free stuff — not those who are looking for a consistent side hustle.
If that’s what you’re searching for, check out our list of the best side hustle ideas.
Testers try out the products that testing companies send them. Products can be anything from shoes to makeup to dog food. After using the product for a designated period of time, testers write a product review — sometimes on a company website for internal feedback, and sometimes on social media to encourage company engagement.
It depends on the product. If you’re testing a granola bar, a few bites are enough to write a review. If you’re testing a pair of athletic shoes, the manufacturer may want you to try them out for a few weeks before you give your opinion.
In the case of a granola bar, you may be asked to take a short survey, answer a few questions or write one or two paragraphs. In the case of running shoes, you’ll often be asked to keep a detailed, weeks-long record of how often you ran, how far you ran and the conditions (hot/cold, rainy/dry, etc.).
In other words, the expectations and amount of work required varies dramatically.
One thing to keep in mind is that once you commit to testing a product, you need to complete the review. Otherwise, you’ll be unlikely to receive future shipments from that program.
Sometimes, but usually testing companies consider the free products you get as your payment. Occasionally, testing companies reward their testers with gift cards (or points that can be redeemed for gift cards). A few select programs, like UserTesting.com, pay testers outright.
No. In fact, most product-testing companies consider testers to be volunteers. The fact that you can’t predict when you’ll have a product to test makes this a better money-saving hobby than a full-fledged side hustle.
Product testing may not earn you big bucks, but the legit companies won’t ask you to pay money for anything. Steer clear of any company, app or site that insists you must pay them before you get “free” products. Also, avoid anyone who promises a hefty cash payment for a small amount of your time or a couple reviews — if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
While this site isn’t a scam in the truest sense (they’re not collecting any money from you), reviews state they are notorious for spamming your inbox. Users also note that the surveys are lengthy, and the products to test are few and far between.
While it would be amazing to get the next generation of iPhone for free, it isn’t likely to happen. Apple tests its products in-house on their own employees. In fact, many product-testing scams offer high-value products (like iPhones) to lure in would-be testers.
Product Testing Sites: Final Thoughts
You won’t make a lot of money doing product testing, but you may save yourself some cash on food, household items or cosmetics by signing up. If you’re lucky enough to score a larger item like an appliance or a bottle of cologne, you can even sell it online after you’re through testing it.
If you enjoy getting stuff in the mail, becoming a product tester is a fun way to try out new products for free. Check out a product-testing company’s reviews and what samples they send before signing up. Choose reliable companies that offer products you use or are interested in.
What to read next: The best ways to make money from home.