The Internet is filled with coupons, deals and bargains, you just have to know where to find them. There are all sorts of hidden giveaways and promotional products that you can get without spending any money at all, but you have to be careful when you sign up for promotions, because there can be some pretty dangerous gotchas involved.
Consumer Reports Money Adviser released its list of the best ways to find product freebies online.
Go to manufacturers' websites -- Signing up on these sites can get you tons of freebies in one swoop. For example, on Procter & Gamble's site, at pgeveryday.com, your registration gets you one free order (which can be for several items) per household, per quarter. Kraft Foods First Taste, at kraftfirsttaste.com, offers coupons and also mails out samples of new products!
Try social media -- A lot of companies offer giveaways to people who "like" their brand on Facebook. Just search for your favorite retailers and products and once you like them, you can share it with your friends.
Online-store freebies -- Some big retailers offer online-store freebies either totally free, or free with a coupon code. Consumer Reports says start with the mass-merchandise giants like Target. For example, at samples.target.com, Target offers both free items and some that require a code you can only get from an in-store receipt. CR says Costco and Sam's Club generally require a membership number to get free samples, but if you do a little digging online, you may find that isn't always the case.
Work customer-reward programs -- Signing up for frequent-moviegoer programs like AMC Stubs Rewards or Regal Cinemas Crown Club will get you deals on tickets and concession items. Your bank card may also get you hooked up with some freebies, like museum passes, so check on that one.
Clark says the most important thing to remember with freebies is to avoid the gotchas, the hidden things you unknowingly end up signing up for. Usually when manufacturers and retailers ask for your e-mail address, it isn't just for fun. They usually want your contact information so they can try to persuade you to buy from them in the future. Here's how to minimize the hassle:
Create a new e-mail account -- Use it specifically for freebies so you don't overload your regular account.
Opt out of mailings -- It's usually an option, so opt out if you don't want tons of spam e-mails.
Read comments & reviews -- You can find them on aggregator sites like HeyItsFree & MoneySavingMom. You can find out what people think about companies before you sign up.
Fudge your personal info -- Offers will often require your name and birth date. Go ahead and make it up so your identity isn't compromised.