Free Gift Card Offers Explained

Are Free Gift Card Offers Worth the Effort?

By now you’ve probably received at least a dozen unsolicited emails letting you know that you can receive a $500 gift card to your favorite home improvement store or department store by responding to the email. Are these offers legitimate? More importantly, are free gift cards worth your time?

Their Definition of "Free" vs. Yours

Just realize companies aren’t handing out $500 gift cards to customers for little or no reason. As a consumer, you are going to have to put a lot of effort into getting that $500 gift card. You will need to sign up for many different services and/or apply for credit cards to qualify. At first you will have to complete three “partner offers” that seem easy enough. There are many options that might peak your interest such as a monthly DVD club. You can also fill out a credit card application or two. However, you’re not done by simply signing up for three deals. Those initial offers you completed are really only the first “tier,” and you will have to go through multiple tiers before meeting all the requirements.

This process isn’t evident at first to the consumer who is ignoring the fine print and excited about the free gift card. The real problem is that you won’t get to see the offers for the following tiers until you complete the first set. You never really know if there are enough offers that will meet your needs as a consumer, and most offers are for monthly clubs.

Don't Even Try to Outwit Them

Many savvy shoppers like to sign up for these offers just to get the credit card and end up canceling any monthly clubs they may have joined. However, that is not necessarily a practical way to go about getting a $500 gift card. Sure a $500 gift card is a lot of money, but ultimately the time commitment spent navigating the offers to get the gift card is not worth the hourly effort. Have you ever tried to cancel a monthly club or subscription to a service? Sometimes you won’t even get your initial paperwork saying that you joined in the mail until very close to or even after your deadline for canceling has passed. And sometimes a consumer will never get the free gift card at all, even after they complete all of the necessary steps.

I caution consumers to pursue free gift card offers at their own risk. Free gift cards are certainly nice, but the time and effort involved can be more of a headache than the gift card is worth.

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