1/18/2012 2:29 PM ET|
Free gift cards -- yes, really!
"It's an indicator of the economy at large," Wisk says. A restaurant gift card is a way "to splurge without guilt."
Or to buy Christmas gifts. Dallas resident Shellye Carpenter cashed in $275 worth of gift cards for Lands' End, Amazon.com and iTunes. The take was a little higher this year because she bought shoes and some bridesmaids' gifts through MyPoints. Generally, she spends no more than 30 minutes a day on the site -- and always while she's doing something else.
"If you're sitting there anyway, watching TV or 'Facebooking,' why not earn something for your time? I've always been a multitasker," Carpenter says.
Assuming you bought nothing and simply clicked through emails, an average of three a day would earn more than 5,000 points in a year. That will more than buy a $25 card and is almost enough for a $50 gift card.
This sounds slow, but sometimes frugality is like that: small steps leading to (eventual) rewards.
A personal favorite
Swagbucks is one of the most popular rewards programs out there, according to Becky Ford of CompareRewards.com. It's one of her personal favorites, in fact. Mine too: I paid for a chunk of my under-$100 Christmas with Amazon gift cards I got from Swagbucks. (For more, read "Christmas for less than $100.")
The site's search engine randomly awards "Swag Bucks" to users. (I've gotten as many 100 or more in a single day.) You can earn Swag Bucks in other ways, too, such as taking surveys, finding bonus codes and watching short videos. The company recently introduced an app that lets users watch movie trailers for credits.
Points can be traded in for rewards like gift cards, PayPal cash, electronics, music downloads, housewares, sports logo items and jewelry. Guess which is chosen most often?
"Gift cards are our most popular item. It's really one of the big draws to Swagbucks," Chief Operating Officer Scott Dudelson says.
As with other programs, the number of points you get depends on how much time you're willing to spend. On the Facebook page, users crow about earning hundreds of Swag Bucks per day. Recently, half a dozen users qualified for a survey that paid out 10,000 points. Yes, 10 grand.
All but one of the gift cards offered are e-gift certificates, good for Internet commerce only. If you don't shop online, you could give the cards as gifts or sell them on eBay or on the secondary market. Amazon and Target cards are particularly valuable. (For more details, read "How to sell unwanted gift cards.")
Party on -- online
Two other potential gift card sources: blogs and social media. A number of bloggers regularly offer giveaways to attract readers. Do an Internet search with keywords such as "blogger gift card giveaway," and you'll find quite the lineup. Often, entering is as simple as leaving a comment.
Another hot search term: "blogger Twitter party." This is an online social event whose hosts frequently offer gift cards to encourage attendance. Find the events through hashtag searches on Facebook or Twitter, or through sites like Twitter Party Guide and Resourceful Mommy.
You must register in advance to be eligible for a prize, and other requirements may exist (e.g., posting a comment confirming your participation). Don't just show up five minutes before the party ends and expect to snare a gift card.
But do show up. Perales has won as much as $500 worth of gift cards in a single month.
"I did all my Christmas shopping with gift cards I got from the Twitter parties," she says.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
And as noted, some people do this while they're doing other things: watching TV, keeping an eye on their kids, waiting for the laundry to finish.
@screwthat~ if you feel that this is such a colossal waste of time, why have you spent so much time and energy in crafting such an eloquent response?
If this article were about tips on how to get food stamps, subsidized rent, or some other kind of handout, I could see why you might be upset. However, since the people who participate are doing so to supplement whatever other income they might be getting, and the other parties are willingly compensating them for their time, it's hard to understand why you feel so strongly about this subject...
Not all things are for all people, but if someone feels that this is a worthy use of their time, I say, go for it.
I'm sorry that you've expended more energy to vent than it would have taken someone to fill out an online survey, and in a way, I'm even more sorry that I felt compelled to respond to you. I hope you will find more satisfying ways to spend your time in the future...
What do you say about this one:
and this one:
which do you think I should go for?
(of course they're not the same... but still)
Kymm S., an Iowa resident who asked that her full name not be used, spends about 15 minutes a day on Mypoints and Swagbucks. The two programs yielded her $200 worth of gift cards for the 2011 holidays -- a real boon in a lean year
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These airlines have taken a la carte flying to a new level, charging for everything you can think of and then some.