1/18/2012 2:29 PM ET|
Free gift cards -- yes, really!
Save those bottle caps
I know that soft drinks aren't good for me, but what's life without a little sin? Especially if you can make your habit pay. The My Coke Rewards program offers points for codes found inside bottle caps (three points) and multi-packs (10 to 25 points). My favorite prize is the free movie ticket, but you can also get gift cards for restaurants and retailers.
Or lodgings. A reader named Nancy W. has used My Coke Rewards points for hotel gift cards when relatives hit town. She has cashed in for gift cards to Panera, Red Lobster, Bath & Body Works, Olive Garden and Omaha Steaks, too.
"I really can use (the income supplement), even though I have a full-time job," says the Pennsylvania resident, who asked that her last name not be used.
My Coke Rewards generally experiences "a big spike" in card redemptions every autumn, according to spokeswoman Susan Stribling. "We assume it's people giving Christmas gifts."
I'm there myself, having cashed in points for gifts like magazine subscriptions, a set of barbecue tools, a movie-themed T-shirt and a NASCAR hat.
The old switcheroo
Drugstores want your business, so watch their ads: Some offer gift cards if you'll transfer your prescription or fill a new one. Before I got into an HMO with its own pharmacy, I took pains to buy prescriptions from places that would pay me back. I also transferred prescriptions from place to place whenever possible.
Sometimes these programs are limited to first-time customers. But a pharmacy may define that as "someone who hasn't filled a prescription for six months." Read the fine print.
Note: If you take more than one medication, say so. Pharmacists need to be on the lookout for possible drug interactions.
If a coupon is required, clip it and put it in your wallet; that way, you're prepared for when someone in your family needs a prescription filled. Write the phone number of the most conveniently located pharmacy on the coupon, so you can get the doctor to phone it in.
The prize for the oddest drugstore promotion: a $5 CVS gift card for turning in expired or unused prescriptions, reported by a Florida reader.
Tips from the pros
The question is whether you have the time to answer surveys, click on emails or attend Twitter parties. Only you can answer that.
How much of your life you can devote depends on the kind of life you have. An at-home parent can answer surveys while watching the kids play in the yard. A light-rail commuter can click on emails via her smartphone.
Learn to work those gift-card giveaways with advice from those already who do:
- Spam happens. Start a separate email account. You'll also probably get newsletters, updates or bonus-offer emails.
- Branch out. Look beyond surveys and searches. "How MyPoints Works" explains all point-earning tasks. At the bottom of the Swagbucks home page is a "Ways to Earn" section; an independent online guide called Swagging 101 is a big help, too.
- Hint, hint. Check the Swagbucks Facebook page from time to time, and watch for "thanks for the code!" messages from members. When you see one, start looking for a "Swag Code."
- Workplace points. In charge of ordering office supplies for the office? See if what you need is available through a rewards site.
- Down and dirty. If you're not squeamish, check the lunchroom recycle bin for Coke products. I look for caps everywhere, and I find them. Lots of them.
- Be patient. Points do add up. In time you will have enough to buy something for someone else or for yourself -- especially if you get chosen for a 10,000-point survey. I wish.
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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