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When you have free time, there are plenty of things you can do to keep occupied, like cleaning your living space, catching up on your favourite television shows or dealing with any bills you’ve been avoiding. If you want to be extra productive, you could also use that time to search for free gift cards online, in-app or in-stores. 

How Can You Score Free Gift Cards?

These days, millions of businesses offer their own reward systems to reel in new customers and incentivize returning clients. Whether it’s a cash-back app, a survey website or another innovative platform, the procedure is the same; you complete special transactions and tasks, in exchange, you score a free gift card or another reward.

Find out if your credit card rewards can be taxed.

Once you’ve qualified for your rewards, there are many different benefits that you take advantage of, such as in-store discounts, charitable donations and cash-back dollars sent to you by cheque or PayPal. The specific types of rewards and gift cards you’re able to rake in depend on which platform you choose and what kind of client you are. 

Learn how to get money for free.

Earning Free Gift Cards Through Cash-Back Apps

As mentioned, one of the best ways to score free gift cards is to download cash-back apps on your computer or mobile device, then use them to earn and redeem points. 

Here are some popular cash-back apps that Canadians use today:

Ampli

Powered by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Ampli is a free cash-back app that allows you to collect online and in-store rewards by purchasing everyday items. Simply create a profile, register your bank account, connect your debit or credit card and you’re ready to go. Basically, Ampli pays you to shop and here’s how you get rewarded: 

  • Earn Points – You can collect Ampli cash-back dollars by shopping with any partnered brands that are having active promotions, like DoorDash, H&M and WestJet. Additionally, you can earn points by accepting exclusive offers and referring friends with your personal code ($5 per successful referral).
  • Redeem Points – Once you’ve reached a $15 minimum cash-out limit, you can send yourself a free Interac e-Transfer. It takes up to 5 business days for eligible items to appear in your bank account and for the cash-back to affect your Ampli account balance. Be sure to use the same email address for both accounts.
  • Dreamstakes – After your online bank account is connected, you’re allowed to enter Ampli’s monthly “Dreamstakes” contest, where qualified members can win different prizes, such as cash rewards and gift cards. To earn entries, you’ll have to compete in various in-app or mail-in competitions.

Check out how you can earn extra cash back with Paymi

Drop

Created in 2016 and headquartered in Downtown Toronto, Drop is another free mobile app that allows you to earn points by completing different tasks, like buying items from big-name partners like Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. Here are some of the other ways to collect reward points through Drop:

  • In-App Shopping – If you spend at least $25 with any of Drop’s partner brands, you can start redeeming points. 
  • In-App Surveys – Use your Drop profile to take a variety of personalized surveys through their other partners; Tap Research and inBrain. 
  • Card Linked Offers – Select your “Card” tab, then link up your debit or credit card to access an even larger range of offers from your favourite brands. 
  • Games – Check out your “Games” tab to see a list of mobile gaming offers. Download your game of choice and hit “Start Playing” to earn points.
  • Referrals – Use your Drop profile and referral code to receive 5,000 points (up to $50) for the first 10 friends you invite.

Rakuten

Rakuten was founded in San Francisco in 1999 and launched in Toronto in 2012. They’ve recruited at least 6 million members and dealt out more than $70 million in cash-back points from over 750 stores, including Amazon, Old Navy and Best Buy. You can redeem points via PayPal, a cheque or an Amazon e-gift card and earn them by: 

  • Shopping – Like Ampli and Drop, partner stores pay Rakuten a commission when members make purchases and accept offers using the app or website. As such, every purchase you make through Rakuten will earn you a certain amount of points that you can later redeem. 
  • Making Referrals – Each successful referral scores you $25 in Rakuten points. Plus, you get a $5 bonus for signing up with your Facebook or Apple account.
  • Buying Gift Cards – Buy gift cards for your family or friends to earn cash-back points from over 100 restaurants, gas stations, movie theatres and stores. 
  • Downloading the Rakuten Browser Button Extension – This allows you to activate cash-back and automatically applies coupons on store websites.

Enjoy shopping deals? Check out the best comparison websites in Canada.

Nielsen Homescan 

Nielsen is an information and measurement company that reaches more than 100 countries globally. The Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel is a network made up of thousands of households. Candidates are chosen based on their demographic. While you don’t get paid for joining, you can earn and redeem points by:

  • Scanning Barcodes – Using your mobile app or the hand-held unit provided, you can scan purchases and accumulate points along the way. Once you’ve earned enough, you can redeem those points for products from Nielsen’s gift catalogue. 
  • Recording Your Shopping Habits – In addition, your app allows you to record information about your trips to different stores, as well as what you’ve bought and spent. You must transmit these details to Nielsen once a week to earn points. 
  • Taking Surveys – Nielsen shares your shopping habits with its partners and uses them to improve their marketing strategies. Taking surveys is just another way to influence your future shopping experiences and earn points.
  • Entering Sweepstakes – By joining the Nielsen Homescan Panel and collecting points, you’ll also earn entries to monthly, quarterly and annual sweepstakes contests, where you can win cash prizes, such as Visa Prepaid credit cards

Checkout 51

Similar to Nielsen Homescan, Checkout 51 is a simple, free mobile app that helps you accumulate points from your gas and grocery purchases. Their partnered brands include Kellog’s, Nestle and Shell. Here’s how you can earn and redeem points::

  • Download the App & Browse Offers – Available on the App Store or Play Store, use the Checkout 51 app to create an account and choose from various savings offers, which are updated every Thursday and can be refined to suit your habits. 
  • Select and Redeem Offers – To start racking up reward points, tap the “Redeem” icon, then select any items that correspond to the offers you’ve chosen. Make sure to keep your receipts for the final step. 
  • Upload Your Receipts & Cash-Out – Once your selections and purchases are made, use the app’s built-in camera to upload copies of your receipts. Points are credited to your account and you can cash-out when you’ve earned at least $20.

Earning Free Gift Cards Through Surveys

There are also many customer-activity-based websites and apps where you can score rewards points, cash and free gift cards, including but not limited to:

Swag Bucks

Headquartered in El Segundo (California), Swagbucks is another popular rewards program that you can use to earn points by shopping at various retailers, accepting promotional offers, viewing content, searching the web and completing surveys. There are several methods of redeeming Swagbucks points:

  • Free Gift Cards – Easily cash-out your reward points in gift cards to tons of major retailers and services, like Starbucks, Target and Amazon. 
  • Entertainment – Gain points by completing surveys, surfing the web, watching videos and answering quizzes. You can cash out after earning as little as $1.
  • Sell & Trade Items – Use your Swagbucks account to sell or trade your used electronics to select retailers (Best Buy, Walmart, etc.) in exchange for gift cards.
  • In-App Purchases – You can earn anywhere from 1%  to 10% cash back by connecting your credit card to your MyPoints app and shopping online.  

Check out which credit cards will earn you the best rewards as a student.

Survey Junkie

If you like sharing your opinions and giving suggestions about brands, you can use the Survey Junkie app to take surveys at any time, anywhere. A consumer insight platform called DISQO, records your information and sends along the feedback. The more surveys you do, the more points you can earn and redeem:

  • SJ Opinion & SJ Pulse – Once you’re a member, you can start participating in two different communities. SJ Opinion lets you share your opinion via surveys and focus groups, while SJ Pulse lets you share your digital browsing habits.
  • Redeem Points – As soon as you’ve accumulated 500 points, you can redeem them for cash through PayPal. If you’re a U.S. resident, you can also redeem points via e-Transfer or e-Gift Cards from various brands, like iTunes. 

I-Say

Powered by a leading global market research business called Ipsos, the I-Say platform is another website where you can take surveys and enter competitions to score rewards, including e-Gift Cards from notable brands like Tim Hortons and Cineplex. After you’ve accumulated at least 500 points, you can redeem them for:

  • Cash & Prepaid Credit Cards – You can cash-out your points via Paypal, which can take 3 – 4 weeks or redeem them in Virtual Visa Prepaid Cards.
  • Merchandise – If you can’t find a suitable gift card or cash reward, try redeeming your points for merchandise from spotlight brands like Foot Locker and Roots. 
  • Donations – Unlike other rewards platforms, I-Say also allows you to redeem your points for donations to charities like UNICEF and the Canadian Red Cross. 
  • Sweepstakes Entries – If you prefer, I-Say has plenty of recurring sweepstakes contests where you can win prizes worth up to $500 or 5,000 bonus points. 

DailyRewards

Founded in 2000 and featured on Yahoo Finance and BBC News, the DailyRewards website offers a broad range of activities to earn points with. Like most rewards-based platforms, they share consumer input with their partnered brands; JUSTFAB, ComScore and Rosetta Stone. Here’s how to earn and redeem points:

  • Surveys & Referrals – Make $0.50 – $3.00 per completed survey and other rewards for referrals. You’ll also score points when your referrals make money.   
  • Shopping & Videos – Extra points are awarded when you redeem coupons, complete shopping offers, and watch videos on the DailyRewards website.
  • Games & Emails – Get points by playing games on InboxDollars or signing up for PaidEmails (you earn extra by reading emails and accepting the offers within).  
  • Redeem Points – When you’ve accumulated at least $30 in points, you can redeem them for Paypal cash or gift cards from select brands, like Amazon.

Check out why you should beware of credit card rewards.

Toluna

Toluna is an online social voting platform that has over 21 million “influencers” in 50 countries. Their website is available in 28 languages and even has a community chat where you can share information and learn about new offers. Partnered brands include Coca-Cola, Expedia and CBS. They also have many ways to earn and redeem, such as:

  • Home & Mobile Surveys – Using the app or website, you can earn between 15 and 15,000 points by participating in surveys (amounts depend on their length).
  • Polls, Thumb It & Battles – You can also gain points by posting images and videos (“Likes” may earn you extra), and by creating or participating in polls.
  • Topics, Games, Opinions & Ratings – The more content you create and the more you engage with the Toluna community, the more points you’ll earn. 
  • Redeeming – Once you’ve made it to 30,000 points, you can redeem them for gift cards (Air Canada, Groupon, etc.) or $20 PayPal increments. 

Do you live to travel? Check out how you can travel using Aeroplan Points.

Other Ways To Earn Free Gift Cards

If you don’t want to download a cash-back app or join an online community, there are several other platforms where you can earn free gift cards with minimal work, such as:

Microsoft Bing Rewards  

If you have a Microsoft account, not only will you have access to many different programs and software, you can use it to accumulate reward points, which you can redeem for free gift cards, sweepstakes entries, charitable donations and more. There are plenty of ways to earn Microsoft Points, including but not restricted to: 

  • Internet Searches – When you browse the web with the Bing or Microsoft Edge app, you’ll slowly level up (3 pts a day at Level 1 to 12 pts a day at Level 2).
  • Shopping – When you buy products from the Windows or Xbox store, you’ll earn 1 Microsoft point for every $1 (CAD) you spend.
  • Gaming – If you own an Xbox, there are tons of mini-games you can download and special offers you can accept to generate extra points. 
  • Browser & Mobile Extensions – Log into your account on your computer or mobile device to participate in polls, surveys and trivia for further rewards.

Enjoy additional perks through your credit card such as mobile device insurance.

MobileXpression

MobileExpression is another popular marketing research panel among Canadians who are looking to score free gift cards and cash rewards for completing activities and accepting offers. They are powered by ComScore and their company focuses mainly on the internet behaviours of its members. You can earn and redeem points by:

  • Installing the App – If you download the MobileXpressions app on your mobile device and keep it there for at least 7 days, you can score a $5 Amazon gift card. 
  • Completing Surveys – Surveys earn you the most points, which you can redeem for gift cards from Home Depot, Dunkin Donuts and other major retailers. 
  • Entering Sweepstakes – MobileXpressions hosts periodic sweepstakes contests where you can win prizes of up to $100,000.  

Switching phones? Learn how to unlock your phone for free.

Looking To Score Free Gift Cards With Minimal Hassle?

If that’s your goal, check out the websites and apps above. While you might not make a huge profit, the free gift cards you redeem may be of great value and can even help you save money. Not to mention, some of these platforms give you cash for participating. Just do your research, find a trustworthy company and start earning rewards today.     

Bryan Daly avatar on Loans Canada
Bryan Daly

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and travelling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer.

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