Universal Tips & Tricks For Free Stuff Sites

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Here is a collection of tips and tricks for successfully completing free stuff sites. Feel free to add your own in the comments. If there are some especially good ones that I missed, I’ll add them to the list.

Keeping Your Personal Information Private

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Get a Separate E-mail Account
Stop by a free e-mail provider like Hotmail, Google or Yahoo and create a new account. You will use this account for free sites and all offers you complete. I can’t stress this one enough. You will get spam like crazy before long, so you want an account that you can abandon after you’re done with the entire process.

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Keep Your Credit Card Safe: Option 1
Bank of America credit cards offer a feature called ShopSafe. They allow you to go online and create new, virtual credit card numbers with a limited dollar amount and expiration date. You could create a new number for every offer you complete if you wanted. Then if a company tries to charge you after the expiration date you’ve set, or for more than the dollar limit you specified, their charge will be denied.
Find out more at http://www.bankofamerica.com/promos/jump/shopsafe_olb/index.cfm

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Keep Your Credit Card Safe: Option 2
If you don’t want to apply for a new credit card just to complete offers, think about using a Visa or Mastercard gift card. You can purchase them online or at many stores like Walmart or a local drugstore.
Caution: Some freebie sites are now disqualifying users for using prepaid or virtual credit cards. Read a site’s terms carefully before using either.

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Get a Free Virtual Phone Number
PrivatePhone offers free phone numbers with voicemail. You can select the area code for your number, be notified at your email account when you receive a voicemail, and listen to voicemails right on the computer. You can even customize your voicemail greeting, so no one will ever know they aren’t calling you directly. An invaluable service for keeping your phone number private.
Visit www.privatephone.com to sign up.

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Get an Address Just for Packages
Some UPS Stores have mailboxes you can rent, similar to PO Boxes. The advantage is that you can have packages shipped there, whereas many companies won’t ship packages to PO Boxes.
Visit http://www.theupsstore.com/products/maiandpos.html for more details.

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Completing Offers Successfully

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Wait for Pages to Load
While you are filling out forms and completing offers online, always wait for each page to completely load before doing anything else. Watch the progress bar at the bottom of your browser or wait for the “Done” message in the corner. If a page that looks complete is still loading, it is probably transferring offer completion information, not the webpage itself. Halting this process could stop you from automatically receiving credit.

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Read Everything Before Signing Up for Anything
Pay special attention to the “Terms & Conditions” and “FAQ” pages on all offer sites. This one bit me in the behind. From one of the companies I completed an offer with, I failed to see that after my trial order I would be required to place an additional order before I would be able to cancel my membership with them. The result was an extra $17 worth of coffee. Not a huge deal (and I do love coffee), just making my point – read everything that you can.

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Get Contact Info Before Signing Up for a Service
While you are on an offer site, make a note of any contact information available before signing up, because you may not be able to get back to the page later. If you don’t see any on the front page, check the Terms & Conditions page. Some sites do not list any contact information whatsoever. It would be wise to avoid such sites.

Don’t Ask Offer Companies About Receiving Credit…
…they will almost always either deny having any affiliation with free sites, or misinform you as to what you need to do to receive credit, saying you must purchase certain things or keep the service a certain amount of time.

Don’t Cancel Immediately
If you are planning on canceling a service, don’t do so immediately after signing up or in hopes of stopping a company from shipping you a package. This sort of activity will frustrate companies to the point that they remove their offers from free sites. I’ve seen it happen many times.

Don’t Cancel at the Last Minute
If you are planning on canceling a service, try to do so before the last day of your trial. Some less-reputable companies will just assume that if you were going to cancel, you would have done so by then, and conveniently bill you for the next month of service. They’re very helpful like that.

Trials End Sooner Than You Think
When figuring out what day a trial ends, count the day you signed up as day one. For example, if it’s a 7 day trial and you signed up on the 18th, the last day of your trial is the 24th, not the 25th.

Return Packages for Free
If you have a package you need to return, and you haven’t opened it yet, use return to sender. Just write “return to sender” and/or “refused” on a few sides (make it noticeable), and drop it off at its local corresponding shipping center (UPS, FedEx, etc), or stick it in the mailbox if it was shipped via the postal service. This will work with many offer companies, but some won’t allow it. Just double-check their policy about returns.

The “Click here for additional rewards” Link…
…is just there in hopes that confused users will click it and sign up for additional, unnecessary services. Many sites will have this on the final page of offers. Don’t even bother clicking the link. It’s rarely necessary for you to receive your prize.

Staying Organized

Form a Strategy
Before you begin, look through the offer pages and form a strategy. Pick which offers you want to complete on each page, how much they’ll cost you, if you will have to cancel a membership trial for it (and when!), etc. Also, if a site requires a certain number of offers to be completed on each page, begin with the last page and work backwards. The final pages are usually harder to complete, requiring more offers but having less to choose from. Get those out of the way first and make it easier on yourself.

Keep Detailed Notes
Make detailed notes of which offers you’ve completed, which ones you’ve received credit for, dates you returned packages, etc. I keep track of every detail using a spreadsheet I created in MS Excel. Here is a blank copy.
Don’t have Excel? Use Google Docs to create a spreadsheet you can access from anywhere.

Keep Records of Everything
1. After completing an offer, print a copy of the confirmation page you reach. Save paper by using something like CutePDF (Windows). It will allow you to “print” to a PDF file, which you can save and print out later if necessary. If you’re on a Mac, you already have a “Save to PDF” option in the Print window.

2. Save every e-mail you send and receive, especially confirmation or cancellation messages. Many offers will immediately give you credit, but sometimes they take time. In some cases you might be required to fax or e-mail proof (such as that confirmation page) to receive manual credit. Also, saving correspondence messages with customer service is always a good idea.

3. If you speak with a customer service rep on the phone, be sure to write down their name and badge number (if they have one). It is also a good idea to make notes of what you were told, for future reference.

Patience, Patience, Patience

To successfully complete offers for any free stuff site with minimal frustration and stress, you must be patient. It will kill you at times, waiting for that last offer to credit, waiting for your status to update, waiting for that beautiful brown box on your doorstep. Just understand that everyone who gets involved with these things will at one time or another – and usually more often than not – get “stuck” for a little longer than expected.

And when a little voice reminds you that if you had just bought the thing it would be there already, smile and think of the money you’re saving instead. :)

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34 Responses to Universal Tips & Tricks For Free Stuff Sites

  1. mouseanon says:

    Great job, Josh. The only thing I would add is to read the Free Stuff Site’s TOS and all rules before you start anything. Then read them again. I suspect a lot of the angst and frustration comes from not really understanding what the requirements are or how long it may take to reach the finish line. It surely seems like an ADD world out there sometimes…

  2. brino says:

    Yeah I would say read the Terms & Conditions every time you do an offer even if you just got done doing one from the same Company. I wasted 18 offers from Nuitech for the $2000 gift card just because I didn’t read the T&C. I figured I did it before with the McB Pro so it would be the same.

  3. TJ says:

    Out of curiosity, which sites are now disqualifying users for pre-paid cards?

  4. Gina says:

    Yes Im curious to know what sites will disqualify for using pre-paid credit cards as well….anyone have an experience they’d like to share?

  5. Josh says:

    TJ & Gina,
    I don’t know any specific sites, I just saw it on a reliable forum that some sites were disqualifying from using pre-paid cards. I haven’t heard of any instances myself, and just added that bit for caution.

  6. jake says:

    What do you do if a company is saying that they did not receive your returned package and are sending you to collections. I had my credit card number changed after ending all of the free trials, so they have been unsuccessful at charging me so far, but are going to send me to collections. What does this mean exactly?

  7. McWilliams says:

    Excellent tips…

    I will warn about “return to sender” as some offers state in their terms that they will not accept returns marked as such. Just be sure to read everything.

  8. McWilliams says:

    Oooops…forgot, thanks for the tip on the free virtual phone number. Good idea although I’ve never had an issue with calls.

  9. michelle says:

    Hi. Great info. How do these companies track customers? By email addresses?

  10. Josh says:

    Michelle,
    Are you asking how freebie companies like Trainn keep track that you did the offers?

  11. Jody says:

    Well, this is turning out to be a nightmare! I started the $500 free gift card process, and as part of it began the free plasma TV offer. I am in hard-sell marketing hell!! After going through the pages of offers and clicking on the ones that didn’t seem to lock you into future liability, I am still struggling through this trying to find 9 more offers that would work. I have been at this for 5 hours, my Visa card company just called me to ask if fraudulent charges were being made to my account (2 for $1.00 that I don’t recall being stated on the web pages), and my card now has a block on it. So, I am stuck with having signed up for at least 6 offers, now can’t use the Visa to continue, and have NO IDEA where the hell I am in the process. I have a feeling I will be stuck with charges, crap I don’t want, and at the end of it without a free anything for all this time!! ARGGGHHH!!!

  12. Sarah says:

    Josh,
    When should I cancel out of my free trials? Should I wait for the freebie website to give me credit for completing the offer first…or wait for them to ship my free gift???
    Thanks and God bless :)
    Sarah

  13. Jack says:

    Josh, what about your web browser and operating system? Do you use Mac OS X with Safari or Firefox? If so, have you ever had any problems with any sites because you weren’t using Windows and Internet Explorer?

  14. Josh says:

    Jack,
    That is an excellent question. I’ll have to add it to the post.

    I use Mac OS X with Firefox, and I’ve never had any problems.

    I encourage my friends who run Windows to use Firefox (for many, many reasons), and when completing offers those using Firefox seem to have less problems (with offers completing, even) than those using Internet Explorer.

  15. Trevor says:

    Josh,

    Does Trainn allow the use of ShopSafe credit card numbers through Bank of America? Also, do have any tips as to getting referals quickly?

  16. Trevor says:

    hey josh sry about posting my link… i didnt kno it wasnt allowed. anyway would u be willing to trade referrals for YouriPodTouch4free??? thx and i really appreciate all ur help!!

  17. Josh says:

    Trevor,
    It’s okay, no big deal.
    I’m afraid I can’t be your referral, since I already have an account on that site. Sorry.

  18. Josh says:

    Oh and I think you should be fine to use ShopSafe card numbers.

    The best place I know of to trade referrals is ReferralSwapper. Click on the banner in the sidebar for my review.

  19. baeballfan says:

    Josh,

    I followed your advice and picked up the phone number and discovered that it comes with an email address. 2 birds – 1 form.

  20. Andrew says:

    For the MBP which offers have people done with success so far?

  21. Josh says:

    Hey Andrew,
    That’s the perfect type of question to ask in the forum.

  22. Kevin says:

    I was trying to register on the forum but it kept saying I messed up the Sig field. What does that mean and how do I do it right? If it is simply copying the random picture of letters and numbers correctly I did that to the best of my ability and it still said I got it wrong. Thanks for the help.

  23. Josh says:

    Hey Kevin,
    Try keeping all but the required fields blank. It should let you in and then you can edit your profile.

  24. Brian says:

    fyi: looks like privatephone.com is shutting down. any suggestions for a similar type of service?

  25. Josh says:

    Brian,
    Check out this thread on the forum:

    http://joshclark.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=210

    People are talking about it and good alternatives.

  26. Derek says:

    How do we make sure that we are officially registered with the freebie sites?

    for instance, everyfreegiftcard.com requires an email and password to check gift status and stuff, but it won’t allow me to actually “register”.

    I feel like I’d be filling out the offers with no registry into the freebie site itself to get the gift card…

  27. Adam Midkiff says:

    Josh,

    I almost got bit in the but by not counting the day of sign up as Day 1 of the trial offer… fortunately the fine print caught my eye at the last minute. I do have a question though…

    I’m signing up for offers around Thanksgiving, what happens if the trial ends on a non business day (i.e. The day after Turkey Day) and if it doesn’t credit by the 5th trial day, am I inclined to complete another offer?

  28. Josh says:

    Adam,
    I’m not sure I understand the question. It also matters what site you’re completing the offers for. Could you reword and clarify a bit? Thanks.

  29. Adam Midkiff says:

    Sorry. After I re-read it, I agree… it doesn’t make much sense. But after thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I know the answer. Dumb question… haha.

    Sorry for wasting blog space Josh… please forgive my incompetence!

  30. Josh says:

    No problem Adam, glad you figured it out.

  31. Jeff says:

    How do we protect our addresses from junk mail these people can send? Is that something we should worry about?

  32. Josh says:

    Jeff,
    It isn’t a big concern. I’ve done SO many offers and yet, my roommate still gets more junk mail than I do. It’s not a big deal.

  33. Stuart says:

    Josh,
    If I am working toward a reward on one TRAINN site, can I sign up on a different TRAINN-owned site as long as it is not the same site? And do I need to use a different email address to do so?

  34. Josh says:

    Stuart,
    You can sign up on multiple Trainn sites at the same time. Use the same email address and information on all of them.

Comments are closed.