Personal Finance

How You Can Score Gift Cards for Free

Woman shopping gift card
Dean Drobot /

Earning free gift cards can be as simple as using a particular search engine, credit card or online shopping source. If you’re going to be using these things anyway, why not get yourself some freebies?

Not that you need a credit card or an online shopping habit to get free gift cards. We’ve come up with a dozen of tactics to bring free gift cards to your mailbox, or your inbox.

If you’re on a tight budget or working toward a financial goal, these free gift cards can give your budget a boost. Use them to pay for things you need — or want.

The money you don’t have to spend on those things can go into your retirement account, beef up your emergency fund or maybe let you do more charitable giving. Here’s how to find free gift cards.

1. Use a cash-back portal

Woman shopping online
Jelena Zelen /

TopCashback, Swagbucks Shop and Honey Gold are great examples of portals that give you the chance earn “cash” back on purchases, which you receive in the form of gift cards. For the super-simple details, see “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping.”

Other cash-back portals, such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates), give you actual cash back on purchases. And if you spend that cash back on gift cards, you’re effectively getting them for free.

2. Use a rewards credit card

Man giving a thumbs up happy with his credit card rewards
Dean Drobot /

Many rewards credit cards give you points or cash back for using them. Some rewards cards let you trade in points for free gift cards. And, of course, you can use cash back to buy gift cards, making the gift cards free to you.

Not all rewards cards are created equal, so don’t just apply for the first one you see. Instead, visit the Money Talks News Solutions Center and search for a great card.

3. Trade in your clutter

Amazon gift card
Nicole S Glass /

Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart are among the retailers that will give you gift cards for stuff you no longer want or need.

Learn how to get rid of unused items in “9 Stores That Will Pay You for Your Clutter.”

4. Transfer a prescription

Dragana Gordic /

Drugstores want your business. Some of them award gift cards for transferring an existing prescription to their pharmacies. This may include those inside supermarkets; I’ve earned free gift cards with Safeway and Fred Meyer prescription transfers.

These deals aren’t constant, but they do show up from time to time. If you take maintenance meds, do an internet search for “transfer prescription get free gift card” from time to time.

5. Recycle your old car batteries

Car battery in engine
Tomislav Pinter /

AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts and O’Reilly’s are among the chains that will give you a gift card for turning in an old battery.

Here’s the fun part: You don’t even need to have bought the battery there in the first place. So, don’t throw that old car battery into the trash. Trade it in.

6. Shop wisely at Target

Brenda Rocha – Blossom /

Target regularly offers some variation on this promotion: “Spend $20 on [specific brand or retail category] and get a $5 Target gift card!”

You can look for these deals in the weekly ad. Or you can find them on the retailer’s website under the “Special Offers and Promotions” section.

7. Buy P&G brands at Costco in the fall

Costco Shop Card
Kenishirotie /

Every fall, Costco offers a great promotion: Buy $100 worth of certain Procter & Gamble products and you’ll get a $25 Costco gift card for free.

Even better: You generally can do this twice, for a grand total of $50 worth of Costco shopping power.

8. Buy the right gift cards during the holidays

Woman holding holiday gifts
Avantikaa M /

Some people love getting gift cards for special occasions because it lets them get exactly what they want. That’s why I love giving them.

During the holidays, my gifts can get a little better: Some restaurants and retailers offer a bonus card for free when you buy a gift card during May and June (the graduation and Mother’s/Father’s Day season) or from late November to the end of December.

9. Take pictures of your receipts

Track and submit your receipts to earn cash.
Andrey Popov /

Some apps give you cash or points, which you can redeem for gift cards, for uploading photos of receipts with your phone. Here’s the skinny on a few examples:

  • Ibotta awards cash rebates for purchases from numerous retailers, movie theaters and restaurants.
  •’s app offers cash back on specific items.
  • Fetch Rewards gives points for snapping a picture of your receipt. You get extra points for purchasing products from brands that partner with Fetch Rewards.

10. Answer surveys

By Andrey Popov /

Somerewards sites — including Swagbucks, MyPoints and InboxDollars — give you points for taking surveys. And you can redeem those points for free gift cards.

Then, there are sites that specialize in surveys. Read the FAQs sections first to find out if the rewards are worth your time.

11. Earn rewards when buying gift cards

Rocketclips, Inc. /

When you buy new gift cards from Raise, you earn rewards that the site calls “Raise Cash,” which you can redeem on future gift card purchases. If you save up enough Raise Cash before redeeming it, you’re effectively getting those future gift cards for free.

Meanwhile, Ibotta offers actual cash back on gift cards you buy through Ibotta, with the cash-back rate as high as 10% and the cash made available to you as soon as instantaneously.

Various other cash-back portals offer similar opportunities, too.

12. Refer your friends

Dean Drobot /

Many cash-back sites and rewards apps give you points for sending new customers their way. Sometimes they’ll offer a higher-than-usual reward, such as 3,000 points per referral instead of 1,000 points. Watch for these offers!

And then refer your friends, your relatives and your co-workers. If getting free gift cards works for you, why wouldn’t it work for everyone else?

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.