12 Clever Ways to Get Free Gift Cards
We all love getting free gift cards, and the good news is, you don’t have to wait until Christmas or your next birthday to cash in. There are more ways than ever for Canadians to get free gift cards. Here are 12 that you may or may not be familiar with.
Get Free Gift Cards by Searching Online
Let’s kick things off with a couple of ways you can earn free gift cards by scouring the web. Chances are you’re familiar with the first item on the list, but you may not have thought of the second one.
1. Search the Web
Swagbucks is a popular online survey company that rewards members with points that can be exchanged for gift cards. One of the ways you can earn points is by using Swagbucks as your primary search engine. You can earn quick, too. As soon as you reach $3 in rewards, you can cash in. Gift cards include Amazon, Starbucks, and iTunes.
What We Like: $5 signup bonus.
2. Social Media Gift Card Giveaways
Brands and influencers use free giveaways to attract more followers and ‘likes’ to their social media channels to expand their reach. One of the most popular giveaway items are gift cards. For example, Instagram is full of giveaways, but you need to know how to find them.
One way is to search for relevant hashtags, such as #giveaway, #contest, or #freebie. To be eligible to win, you’ll have to engage with the social media account by following, liking a post, or leaving a comment. Of course, prizes and rules will vary by contest.
What we like: Endless number of contests, easy to enter
Earn Free Gift Cards When You Shop Online
3. Drop App
When you shop using the Drop app, you earn loyalty rewards that can be exchanged for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, and Netflix. Here’s how it works: Download the Drop app, then choose your 5 favourite stores.
The stores must be Drop partners, but there’s a long list, so you should have no trouble finding places you love to shop at. Then, link your credit and debit cards, and the app does the rest, keeping track of your points automatically whenever you spend.
What we like: A seamless loyalty rewards experience.
4. Rakuten (formerly eBates)
Rakuten is a major player in the Canadian loyalty rewards market. The concept is simple. You earn cash-back by shopping at your favourite online retail stores directly from the Rakuten website. Rakuten boasts cashback rates of up to 30% and over 750 retail partners.
You can choose to have your cashback paid out quarterly through PayPal or via a cheque in the mail.
If you prefer to earn gift cards with your earnings, you can opt to spend your cashback in Rakuten’s dedicated Gift Card store. A $5 bonus is available when you sign up with Rakuten.
What we like: High cash-back rates and a huge number of partner stores.
Ampli is an RBC-backed cash-back app that allows you to earn gift cards when you shop, albeit indirectly. Like Drop, you connect your debit and credit cards to the app, which matches your account to offers from their partner stores. You can pay yourself via an e-transfer when you earn $15. You can keep the cash in your account or purchase gift cards from Ampli partners online. As a bonus, you earn $5 just for signing up.
What we like: Quick payouts via Interac e-Transfer.
Earn Free Gift Cards with Online Surveys
One of the easiest ways to earn free gift cards is by signing up for online survey websites. The surveys don’t pay all that well, so you have to complete a lot of them for the rewards to add up, but it’s something you can do in your spare time. Here are a few of the top online survey websites offering gift cards as payment.
The aforementioned Swagbucks is one of the largest survey sites in Canada. Like other Swagbucks tasks, you can earn points that can be redeemed for free gift cards when you complete surveys online. One of the problems with online survey sites is that they pay so little that it can take forever to get paid. With Swagbucks $3 minimum payout threshold, you can earn in no time.
What we like: Low minimum payout of $3
7. Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie is a market research company that pays members to take surveys and participate in market research studies. The payment amount for surveys varies, but it’s believed to be in the $2 to $5 an hour range. Like Swagbucks, you can redeem your earnings for free gift cards.
What we like: Higher earn rate than with many online survey companies.
8. IPSOS i-Say
When you complete surveys with Ipsos i-Say, you earn points that can be redeemed for sweepstakes entries, cash, gift cards, and Amazon vouchers. The more active you are with Ipsos, the more you can earn, as they offer members bonus rewards when they reach different milestones. In other words, it pays to be an active member.
What we like: Tops for reward flexibility
MyPoints is one of the oldest survey websites in existence. They don’t reward you with cash but with points that can be exchanged for gift cards from stores like Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks. Because the website is US-based, not all retail partners and gift cards are available to Canadians, although you can sign up from Canada. A nice feature of MyPoints is that you can redeem rewards when you reach $5 in earnings.
What we like: Low payout threshold of $5.
10. Daily Rewards
You can earn PayPal cash and gift cards in various ways with Daily Rewards, including taking surveys, shopping, and referring your friends. You’ll earn a $5 bonus for signing up, and 10% of what your friends earn when they sign up through you. One negative of Daily Rewards is that you have to earn $30 before you cash out, a far cry from the $3 minimum Swagbucks offers.
What we like: 10% Refer-A-Friend program
Earn Free Gift Cards with a Rewards Credit Card
Several credit card rewards programs in Canada allow you to redeem points for gift cards at top retailers. Here are a couple of my favourites:
11. Scotia Rewards
Flexibility is the name of the game with this big-bank rewards program. To earn points, you’ll need a credit card that earns Scotia Rewards. Fortunately, there are no fewer than 8 cards to choose from. Points can be redeemed for travel, Cineplex movies, and popular merchandise, including gift cards from top retailers.
You’ll get the most bang for your buck when you redeem points for travel, but if you’re not planning a trip anytime soon, gift cards are a great alternative. To give you an idea of how many points you’ll need, a $50 Uber gift card requires 6700 points, while a $100 Boston Pizza card will set you back 13,400 points.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card
The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite comes with a signup bonus of 30,000 points. From there, you’ll earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for every dollar spent on groceries, dining, entertainment, and transit, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
12. BMO Rewards
Like Scotiabank, BMO has its own BMO Rewards program that enables members to redeem points towards a wide range of gift cards. The programs are similar, although BMO only has two affiliated credit cards, versus Scotiabank’s eight.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
If you want to earn points but don’t want to pay the hefty annual fee of a premium credit card, the BMO Rewards Mastercard is a great option. Not only is it a no-fee card, but it also comes with 20,000 rewards points when you sign up. Every dollar spent will earn you 1 BMO Reward point.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
The BMO World Elite Mastercard is a premium rewards credit card that allows cardholders to earn points at a much faster rate. There is an annual fee of $150, but it’s waived for the first year. The signup bonus is an impressive 35,000 points, and you earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel, dining, and entertainment. You earn 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
With BMO Rewards, not all gift cards have the same value. For example, you’ll need 20,000 points for a $100 Home Depot card but only 19,000 points for a Rona card. Keep this in mind when you’re redeeming your points.
Other Ways to Earn Gift Card for Free
There is at least one more way to earn a free gift card, and it doesn’t require signing up for a shopping app, taking an online survey, or using a rewards credit card. You could ask for one.
These days, many people prefer getting a gift card on special occasions. If that’s you, and you have a birthday coming up, or Christmas is approaching, when your friends or loved ones ask for suggestions, let them know you’d rather get a gift card. They may secretly be relieved, as it will save them from the time-consuming task of trying to pick out the perfect gift.