Where I Find Free Money

I figured that people would be interested in knowing a few very low-effort ways to put some extra money in your pocket.  Here are some money hacks that comes to mind.

Hack #1 – Credit Card Offers

With many Chase, American Express, and Discover cards, there are special offers for cash back at specific vendors.  American Express will give you a statement credit upon spending a certain amount at a specific site while Chase usually offers percent off discounts if you use your enrolled card to make a purchase.

For instance, here are a few of my American Express offers I added to my card in 2020.

Once in a while, an offer will show up which would offer a discount of over 50%.  I have even received an offer which offered me a $20 statement credit on Amazon.com if I spend $20 in a single purchase.  For what it’s worth, I have saved $1050 from card offers over the last three years.  My favorite situations are when you use a card offer in addition to a coupon or sale discount.  Speaking of which, if you don’t already, make sure to check RetailMeNot for coupons when you are shopping online.

The offers on my Chase card are less appealing, but if I’m going to make a purchase at one of these vendors anyway, I might as well save a few dollars.

To find these offers and add them to your card, log into your online account.  I have found that branded credit cards (i.e. Express, Lowes, Macy’s, TJ Maxx credit cards) usually do not carry these offers.  It seems that mostly cards directly offered from the credit card company or obtained through a major bank have card offers.

Hack #2 – Class Action Lawsuits

This one normally nets me an extra $250 a year and free credit monitoring with minimal effort.  Somewhere in the United States, somebody feels wronged about their purchase of a widely available product and contacts a lawyer.  The lawyer prepares a lawsuit and invites anyone who may have also purchased that product to be included in splitting the settlement payment.  It doesn’t cost anything to participate in these lawsuits – but by participating you will not be allowed to create a similar lawsuit in the future.  Seriously though, are you going to take the time to sue McCormick & Company for underfilling their spice bottles, or will you personally sue Johnson & Johnson for marking their baby wash as made from “100% naturally sourced ingredients” when it really was not (these were both actual suits)?  In other words, if you want anything, you should probably participate in the class action lawsuit.

You can find open class action lawsuits at TopClassActions.com and ClassActionRebates.com.  Typically, the time between submitting a form and receiving a check in the mail is several months, so be patient.  Hang on, quick story:

When I moved to a new house in the beginning of 2018, I received a call from someone at my old address across the country.  He had received 8 bottles of chewable vitamin C and hair/skin/nail vitamin gummies and was wondering if I wanted them.  I laughed and told him he could keep them.  I assume his hair is now as silky as Fabio’s.

Hack #3 – Affiliate Bonus Sites

The most well-known site for this is eBates.com (now Rakuten), but Delta’s Sky Miles Shopping, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Shopping, and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Shopping offer similar programs.  These sites use affiliate marketing to earn their money, and they give you, the customer, a cut of it as well.  You go onto one of these websites and click a unique link to a store (let’s say Express).  The link you click tells Express that Rakuten or some other site sent you there, so they will give them a cut of your total purchase as an affiliate marketing payout.  That then becomes reward points, cash back, or frequent flyer miles to you.

I use so many of these sites, I can’t tell you how much I’ve saved with them in total, but I bought an electric lawnmower in 2018 from Jet.com, which is owned by Walmart.  It cost $350.00, and I got 15% back, or $52.50.  Thus, the minimal effort netted me a big payoff!

Hack #4 – Grocery Coupon Apps

These are apps you can use on your phone to get free coupons for your grocery purchases.  The most well-known app in this category is Ibotta but Fetch and Shopkick may still be around.  With these apps, you scan the barcode of specific items with your smartphone to add offers and then take a picture of your receipt.  Typically, these apps will work best if you find yourself purchasing a lot of pre-packaged food from well-known brands.  Many offers equate to a 50% off coupon or better.  In fact, I’m looking at a $1 off Chobani yogurt offer right now.  After the coupon, I think my cost per yogurt would be close to $0.25 cents.  Works for me!

Hack #5 – Use Bing Instead of Google

Bing is a search engine run by Microsoft, and in its attempt to get people to switch from Google, it pays people to use its search engine.  You earn 5 “points” per search. 5,250 points gets you a $5 Amazon gift card.  Do the math, and that’s 1050 searches, or $0.0047 per search.

This one takes some patience, and I’ve gotten so used to using Google, I can’t be dissuaded from using it.  Nevertheless, Bing is there and ready to toss you some change if you’re willing to use it.

Hack #6 – Switch Banks

This one is a bit of a pain, but the payoff is larger.  Banks (generally not credit unions) routinely offer bonuses for people who decide to open new accounts with them.  The conditions normally read something like this: “Open a checking account with direct deposit during and we’ll give you $200.”  I’ve seen bonuses as low as $50 (TD Bank) and ones as high as $600 (Citizens).  An internet search will normally yield you the latest offers from a variety of banks.  Some things to note include:

  1. There may be fees for those who close their account as soon as they receive their bonus (read the fine print)
  2. Your new account bonus will be considered taxable income (read the fine print)
  3. Your direct deposit has to be over a certain amount (read the fine print)
  4. What actually classifies as a direct deposit?  Of course, a direct deposit from your employer counts, but social security, investment account, and pension deposits also often count.

And one more time, I emphasize with this trick to read the fine print! 😊

Hack #7 – New Credit Card Bonuses

Applying for new credit cards is a touchy subject.  Will it affect your credit score?  Yes.  A record of a hard credit score will appear on your credit history for just over two years.  Moreover, an article from Experian says a hard check could temporarily drag down your score by five points or less.  So, this tip goes out to those who are carrying very high credit scores (780+) who can lose a few points without any material consequences.

I have noticed the travel cards often have the best travel bonuses.  Southwest Airlines used to run a promotion with their cards which gave you nearly $1250 in flight points after spending a certain amount on your new card.  Chase Sapphire cards routinely have attractive bonuses as well (usually something like 60,000 points, which is worth $750 in travel). Try to avoid store cards and bank credit cards, as their bonuses are typically paltry. The Points Guy usually does a good job keeping track of the best bonuses in real-time.

Free Money – Difficult to Come By

In this post I tossed out a few ideas to get “free money.”  I know, nobody is going to get rich filling out class action claims and typing internet searches on Bing.  Nevertheless, I think we all wonder if free money exists and where to find it, and that’s why posts on the topic are everywhere across the web (even though most of them are shameless plugs for pyramid schemes and scams).  I hope you found this post informative, or at the very least entertaining.  Stay WELLthy!

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