I also find they have more high-value coupons than other digital rebate apps. It's not uncommon to find $1.50/1 coupons that you can use twice, making for great deals on top of your normal local deals and coupons.
I literally went to the grocery store with a shopping list on a Post-It note and used Checkout 51. Despite the small list, I was able to find 3 coupons to use and redeem. The money is already in my account!
Who remembers the Equifax hack from 2017? You know, the one where 145 MILLION Americans had their private information stolen by hackers. Why? EQUIFAX HAD A MUSIC COMPOSITION MAJOR IN CHARGE OF SECURITY! I can't even….
If the hack slid under your radar last year, I'll let John Oliver catch you up. Each progressive revelation should make you that much more enraged over the whole situation.
One of the only ways to prevent getting your credit history tied up in the next hack is to put a credit Freeze and Thaw on your accounts. Previously, in order to do this, many states allowed the Big Three credit agencies to charge a fee for this and boy did they! $10 here, $15 there and before you knew it you could be flushing good money down the drain just to keep your credit safe.
However, as of September 21, 2018, credit freezes and thaws are 100% free nationwide. What's a credit freeze? It's a (now free) security measure that restricts access to your credit report, which means if hackers did get your personal information, they wouldn't be able to open an account under your name.
I personally suggest applying a free credit freeze with all three agencies. You can lift (AKA thaw) the freeze at any point, like when opening a new credit card. Once you have your new account, you can re-freeze your credit – all for free now!
PayPal members (so basically everybody) can get a free 2 year ShopRunner membership. For those new to the neighborhood, ShopRunner gives you free 2-day shipping at over 100+ participating stores, such as Bloomingdales, NFL.com, Staples, and 1-800-Flowers. An annual membership normally costs $79, so this freebie is valued at $158.
If, for some reason the link above doesn't work, then here's afree 1 year ShopRunner subscription link that has worked for years.
If you're unfamiliar, ShopRunner provides 2-day shipping (similar to Amazon Prime) to over 140+ major stores.
Also, you're welcome for me avoiding the painful “I never run to shop!” joke.
Original ShopRunner Review
We're 40 days away from Christmas. Yep, you read that correctly. I'm going to highlight a few services and websites over the coming weeks that might make your life easier during the holidays (and beyond), but remember that there are tens of thousands of Hiffers out there. Every service isn't going to be best for you, so I'm only focusing on ones that I use or ones that I think most people would find helpful.
You've probably heard of Amazon Prime. For $79, you can get free two-day shipping on pretty much every Amazon purchase. It's awesome. The problem is when you go to buy something on another site, you're back to paying $6 for shipping that takes a week if you're lucky. And we haven't even got to potential return fees!
Enter ShopRunner is a yearly $79 membership site in the mold of Prime. But instead of being available for just one store, it's works on over 150 participating stores (with dozens more on the way) that have banded together to offer free two-day shipping. A membership gets you free shipping from NewEgg, Toys and Baby-R-Us, MLB and NFL.com, American Eagle, PetSmart and tons more. Even better, you get free shipping on any returns as well. Because, let's be honest, we all occasionally make a regrettable 2am drunk purchase.
Aside from the free shipping for yourself, you can also designate up to four fellow household family members to share your account. And if you need to return something, you get free return shipping as well.
Is this for you? I don't know. I have no idea what your online shopping habits are. However, if you and your family shop even a handful of times online at participating stores, you'll make your money back through saved shipping costs rather quickly. In fact, ShopRunner is so confident you'll love them, they're giving people a free 30 day trial with no strings attached. If you like the service, you can keep it past the trial. If not, you are free to cancel it.
So if you do as much online shopping as myself, give ShopRunner a shot and see how awesome they are.
Lowest payout threshold means you get your 💵 quicker!
Nielsen backed, therefore more offers & trials.
Table of Contents
In 2005, when HIF was only a figment of my imagination, I was heavily into the “make money online for free” scene. It's actually what I considered making HIF about until I got into freebies!
Most of the offers involved paying a little money and getting little more back via a check in 10-18 weeks. There were scams and you had to stay on top of things, but if you were diligent and read the fine print, it was a cool little world where you could make some side money.
One of the popular methods were survey sites. They paid less than the big offers, but you could make a quick buck today versus waiting 18 weeks for a bigger check.
Flash forward to earlier this summer. I heard the term beermoney and began looking into it. Turns out, that's what the free money online scene had evolved into! As in you won't get rich, but you'll earn a little extra beer money. 😄 🍺
As I read more about beermoney, I started recognizing names from 15 years ago. With times still tough for so many, I figured why not put together a list of the best survey sites that legitimately pay out in 2018.
There are 3 simple rules when it comes to the best survey sites.
Important Survey Rules!
Use a new email for surveys only.
Don't give out your personal phone number.
If it's too good to be true…
If you follow these rules, you're golden!
For starters, make a new email account and only use it for survey sites. I prefer Gmail, but any free email service will work. The goal is making sure your personal or work email doesn't get slammed with survey offers.
Next, you'll want to get a free Google Voice phone number. This way if a legit survey company is ever acquired by a shaddy company, they can't sell your phone number to spammers!
Last, if it sounds too good to be true, then I promise it is. Make sure not to waste your time on any site that promises big, huge paydays. I participated on these sites during my downtime – watching TV at night, waiting for my girlfriend to get ready, sitting on the subway, etc.
Over the course of a month, casually taking surveys, I made enough to buy a few rounds at the bar this weekend. I could have made a little more if I spent less time watching The Expanse!
Key Survey Tips I've Learned
On top of those Rules, I picked up two key tips to maximizing my time and keeping my sanity on beermoney sites.
You can always give fake info or choose not answer.
Shop around – different sites want different people!
Always remember you can give fake info or select the “don't want to answer” option. There's no law against telling somebody on the Internet that you're Bob T. Bobbertson III from Tucson, AZ, a 90 year old Southern Baptist worth a million bucks. Perhaps while answering some questions, Mr. Bobbertson's eyes frequently slip to the screen as the Mariners continue their date with destiny. Who knows what he might have clicked!
Though be warned – the more inconsistent answers you give, the less surveys you may qualify for. That's why I always pick the “choose not to answer” option if I don't feel like giving away my personal info.
Finally, shop around! Each of these sites are running surveys or studies for specific brands or products. That means one site might want a single guy taking their surveys while another wants married moms. After joining multiple sites, you'll quickly notice which sites are giving you the most opportunities.
Armed with these tips, you can make money during your free time starting today!
Stuck Signing Up?
Some signup processes make it seem like there's nothing more to do after you join. Simply go back to the homepage and log-in with the account you just created. You'll then find the main user area!
3 Best Survey Sites
Without further ado, let's get to the best survey sites!
Inbox Dollars is a platform run by Cotter Web Enterprises, a company with an A+ BBB rating. They pays users cash for participating in polls, taking surveys, playing games, watching videos, and reading emails. They're not only one of the oldest sites on this list (up there with HIF in total age!), but they're also routinely rated as one of the top survey sites.
One reason users tend to love InboxDollars is the more you use their features, the more opportunities you're given to make money. For example, those who read the paid emails every day will continue to regularly receive them. However, if you don't read the emails or delete them without opening, InboxDollars will skip days and email you less. However, if surveys are your jam and you keep taking them, InboxDollars will start offering you more of them. They basically let you choose how you want to earn money.
Hands down one of the best bonuses offered on this list is InboxDollars gives all new users $5! Seriously, just for joining, you get $5 added to your account.
Payout for offers range from $.50 all the way up to $50. Most emailed offers are super easy to complete, though the higher paying offers tend to take at least 5 minutes. There are also high-paying offers that require you to sign up for other products or trials, but I personally skip all of them. My research shows those offers typically are approved within two days.
One wrinkle is their high minimum threshold required to cash out, which is $30. They also don't offer PayPal, but they do allow for Prepaid Visa cards (which have no fee) or you can get a physical check via snail mail with a $3 processing fee.
InboxDollars ultimately is an excellent platform for making a little extra money on the side. I give it based on their longevity, BBB rating, awesome signup bonus, amount of offers, and ease of use! If their payout methods weren't stuck in 2002, I'd bump them up to 5 stars.
Swagbucks is another tremendous money-making option run by Prodege, an A rated BBB company. Not only that, but I've written about Swagbucks frequently and many Hiffers have been earning rewards with them for over a decade!
Swagbucks' two biggest perks are their numerous ways to earn rewards and money along with their extensive history of paying out rewards. In September 2017, they hit a milestone of paying back $200 million to their users!
Veteran Hiffers may remember the Nielsen Home Scanner program from years past. They've since merged with another company and become the National Consumer Panel. New name, same money making opportunity!
As luck would have it, I'm a consumer who lives in a nation and loves being on panels, so I was happy to see the NCP is now accepting new applications where you can make money off your normal, everyday purchases!
Upon joining, you're sent a small, handheld scanner to scan the barcodes of all your purchases. Each item gives you points, which you redeem for prizes, gift cards, toys, and household items.
Once you become a National Consumer Panel member, if you scan at least one item each week, you'll earn one entry into their Quarterly Sweepstakes where you can win a $500 Visa prepaid card. On top of that, for each week you send NCP purchase information, you earn one entry into NCP's Grand Prix Sweepstakes where you can win $20,000! Every quarter one lucky panel member wins!
In addition, every month, 20 members who sent in purchase information every week of the month will win a Visa prepaid card.
Hiffer tips, tricks, and loot scores
While scanning individual barcodes after a huge shopping trip might sound tedious, Hiffer Theresa sent in this ingenious tip – take the scanner to the store with you! Then all you have to do is scan items as you add them to your cart! Another idea is to scan items slowly instead of all at once. My friend scans a few items each night while watching TV and I've heard of others getting their kids to do all the scanning 🙂
If you're on the fence about joining, I looked through the comments of our previous NCP posts and found some cool stuff Hiffers reported getting!
The prizes you pick do not cost extra and they are nice. I have received dog beds, MP3 player speakers, really nice spoon measures, and similar stuff. – Doreen
I have done this for about 5 years now. I have gotten a couple of really good gifts. A stereo w cd player and a NICE crockpot. Right now I’m saving for a handheld GPS to go geocaching with. – Susan
I've gotten a toaster, phone and answering machine, hedge trimmer, some other stuff – Melissa
I've only redeemed points for a coffee maker so far, but they add up pretty quickly. – Amanda
I’ve gotten, over the years, mixing bowls, air popcorn popper, paper shredder, and even an upright KitchenAid appliance worth more than $200! – Bobbie
I have gotten 3 phone system, toys, deep fry, 2 dvr's, egg cooker and more. – Sherry
Let's talk about Ibotta for a minute, shall we? To me it sounds like one of those pills you'd see a commercial for with people sitting in outdoor bathtubs. “Don't take Ibotta if you're pregnant, have an upset stomach, or handled rabbit fur within the past 5 days. Common side effects include drowsiness, diarrhea, and an unpleasant conversation with your roommate one day.”
But in reality it's a pretty cool app for your Android, iPhone, or other iOS supported device that pays you to shop for groceries. You can think of it as a new form of coupons. After downloading it and registering, you can see a list of products that, if you purchase, will earn you money on the same scale of a coupon.
So take the image below for example. If I purchase Capri Sun, I can earn $1.00. If I purchase Kool-Aid Singles, I can earn another dollar.
As you can see, it's honestly free money if you're already buying these items. And it's not just food. I have $0.50 for Chap Stick, $1.50 for Tresemme shampoo, $1.25 for Colgate toothpaste, and a bunch more.
So, any Hiffers out there already using Ibotta? What do ya think?!
Here's yet another installment “hey, I should take that old post I made and polish it up!” Today is the list of customer reward and loyalty programs that you might not be aware of. Everybody know their local grocery store offers a rewards program, but did you know that many other stores where you might make everyday purchases offer them as well? Below I've compiled a list of such programs and there were quite a few I didn't even know about. (I can't tell you how many movie ticket's I've bought over the past few years – wish I'd known about Regal's program earlier!)
ACE Hardware (ACE Rewards) – Earn 10 points for every $1 you spend and once you get 2,500 points, you get a $5 reward. You also get 1,000 free bonus points on your first purchase so you basically have to spend $150 the first time around before getting a reward. If you are a DIY person, spending that much on home improvements isn't hard as I learned first hand while trying to repair my mom's fence. I think I ended up just breaking it more.
AMC Theaters (AMC MovieWatcher) – You earn two points for every ticket you buy and can get up to four point per visit. Cash the points in for free popcorn (10 points) or movie tickets (30 points).
AutoZone (Rewards) – Spend $20 in-store and you earn one credit. If you then earn five credits within six months, you'll receive $20 AutoZone store credit.
Best Buy (Reward Zone) – For every $250 you spend, you'll get a $5 gift certificate as well as special offers during your birthday month.
CVS Pharmacy (ExtraCare) – Earn 2% back with every purchase in-store and online, plus earn 1 Extra Buck for every 2 prescriptions purchased.
Dick's Sporting Goods (Score Card) – Earn one ScoreCard Rewards point for every $1 you spend in store or online. Once you accumulate 300 points, you'll earn a $10 reward.
Dunkin' Donuts (Dunkin' Perks) – Use the promo code DDPERKSCoffee and receive a coupon in the mail for a free medium coffee.
Eddie Bauer (Friends) – Earn 10 points per every $1 spent and once you hit 1,750 points ($175 spent), you'll get a free $10 gift card. Thanks to Barb for pointing this out!
Hallmark (Hallmark Gold Crown) – 1 point is earned for every $1 spent plus you get bonus points for every card you buy. Points can then be used to earn discounts and coupons.
JC Penny (JCP Rewards) – Register online with any credit or debit card and you'll automatically earn points when you use them to make a purchase. Every dollar spent earns 1 point and you need 250 points to get a $10 gift card. But watch out, points don't roll over month to month, which stinks if you ask me.
Office Depot (Worklife Reward) – They offer 10% back on ink, toner, paper & design, and printing / shipping services. Everything else earns 1% back.
PETCO (Petco PALS) – In-store purchases receive discounted prices similar to how grocery stores reward programs operate. In addition, if you purchase 10 bags of the same brand and size premium dry dog or cat food within a 12-month period, you get one free. They have a similar “buy 8, get 1 free” pet grooming policy.
Petsmart (PetPerks) – Sign up now and receive a Welcome Kit with more than $100 in store coupons. In addition, you get exclusive offers and coupons sent to you.
Regal Cinemas (Regal Crown Club) – Earn one credit per dollar spent on tickets plus you earn four credits for every concession transaction. Their reward program is similar to a ladder, where you earn prizes at 50 points earned, 100, 150, etc. And last, but not least, members become eligible for special deals on certain days ($1 Candy Monday, $1 Popcorn Tuesday, etc.)
SEARS (Craftsman Club) – Looks like they'll just send you mailings and coupons, but there's no points system.
Staples (Staples Rewards) – Like Office Depot, they offer 10% back on ink, toner, paper & design, and printing / shipping. However, they don't offer the 1% back on everything else. Booo. To make up for this shortcoming, they give $2 in rewards for every used ink cartridge that you bring in. They also have a rebate program for teachers, which makes me wonder if stay-at-home parents who home school their children would qualify for.
TGI Fridays (Give Me More Stripes) – Earn an $8 certificate for every $100 spent (excluding alcohol-only purchases) plus get a coupon for a free appetizer when you sign up AND a one-time use jump-the-line-pass. That pass alone is worth it for me.
Toys incorrectly-displayed-R Us (Rewards R Us) – Earn $5 for every $150 spent during certain periods, which tend to be around three months. In addition, earn discounts on diapers and baby formula.
We've written about Swagbucks quick a few times already (tons of forums posts plus this extensive Swagbucks review I made back in January). After two months of using them as my primary search engine, I'd say I'm even more in love with them than I initially was. I've already earned enough points for two $5 Amazon giftcards and I'm fairly close to a third. How can you not love free money just for searching?!
If you're still sitting on the fence about joining Swagbucks, maybe this will help nudge you in the right direction. Starting today, any new member who signs up can use the code HEYITSFREE to earn two free swag bucks, which will be added to the three swag bucks already offered to new members, thus giving you five swag bucks starting out! For reference, a $5 Amazon giftcard costs 45 swag bucks, so you'll already be 11% of the way to getting your first prize. But that's just one example, they have hundreds of prizes to choose from and dozens of different gift card options.
I usually average around 2-3 swag bucks a day though my normal search habits, which takes me about 15-20 days to earn a prize. Just think how many giftcards you'd have by now had you signed up when I first wrote about Swagbucks in January!
The code expires at midnight PST on Wednesday, so you've got almost two days to sign up and use the code. For people who are already members of Swagbucks, feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on the site. I'm interested in hearing what others think!
For the past 10+ years, Swagbucks has been one of the leading websites to pay you to make Internet searches. I've personally used them for over a decade now and have probably earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500 in Amazon giftcards.
Now before I go any further, let me just say one thing. There's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be using Swagbucks. If you routinely search for things online via a typical search engine, then you're searching without the possibility of winning something. Any time you search on Google, your odds of winning a prize is 0%. Even if your odds of winning a prize on these two sites are 0.01%, that's better than nothing, no? Plus, given the facts that most people make multiple searches a day and that winning percentages are higher than that small number, you're essentially throwing away money if you're not using either one of these sites.
In addition, I could swear I win more often with Swagbucks. Of course this is highly unscientific and subjective, but while researching this article, I won $2 Swagbucks ($1 Swagbuck and then another 15 minutes later). Now while those can't be redeemed for anything worthwhile on their own, you only need 45 Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon giftcard. Given that you start out with $3 Swagbucks when you sign up, I'm already 11% of the way there after 1 day.
Now, it's not all rainbows and gumdrops with Swagbucks. The biggest drawback is the sponsored ads mixed in with the search results. As some of you might remember, that's what killed Blingo and Winzy many years ago. Both, as luck would have it, actually cut back on the ads mixed in with the search results. Guess they learned their lesson a bit too late when so many people jumped ship. As it stands now, they've got 4 sponsored ads in the search results. That's kind of a pain, but as I type this, right hand to God, I just won another Swagbuck. It's not even noon and I've got $3 Swagbucks under my belt for the day. I can put up with clearly marked sponsored ads in my search results if my winning average stays this high.
So for now, I'm drinking the Swagbucks Flavor Aid. Are you going to make millions? No. Are you going to make hundreds? Doubtful. But is there the opportunity to win enough Swagbucks every month to snag a free giftcard or two? Heck yes. Can the same be said for using Google or Yahoo?
With rising gas costs and summer on the horizon, I thought this might be a helpful if not cool freebie for those of you who are planning on driving this summer. AAA has put together a free fuel cost calculator. After seeing how much it's gonna cost me to go to the beach this summer, I might just stay at home and fill my bathtub with cold water instead!