Who doesn’t love having more money to give gifts? Even better, use someone else’s money to do it. Here’s how to give free gifts using your credit cards and bank accounts.
Tips To Help You Give Gifts
It’s not a trick – you can actually get free money and rewards that you can use on anything – including your gift giving. And yes, I’ve actually done some of these myself.
Unlike other ways to earn “free” money, most of these tips won’t take up too much time. Especially once you get the hang of it!
These tips will let you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and more with gifts, without having to dip into your savings.
Opening up Bank Accounts
This is definitely my favorite way to get some extra cash for gift giving. Banks are competitive with each other and really want your business. Bank accounts are usually not reported to the credit bureau (if you’re worried, ask) so there isn’t really a limit to how many new account bonuses you can get throughout the year.
Most of the time the bank will require you to meet some kind of condition to claim the bonus. Usually they’re something along the lines of setting up a direct deposit, adding an automatic bill payment, or depositing a certain amount of cash.
Some banks will offer a gift instead of cash – I’ve seen things like iPads, gift certificates or even a flashlight I received once. Besides money and gifts, banks sometimes offer cash back rewards similar to a credit card.
Credit Card Rewards
You’d be hard pressed to find a credit card that doesn’t offer rewards nowadays. Cash back ones are my favourite, but cards that have points which can be redeemed are OK too.
Make sure you deposit any cash back amounts into your gifting savings account. If your cash back card goes right onto the credit card balance, transfer that amount from your checking account into savings instead.
A lot of companies will have discounts and bonus items on their rewards portal. Watch for these and take advantage of any offers that come up (as long as they’ll make good gifts).
If your card has cash back (or gift certificates) and product options, compare the price of the gift if you paid for it in cash vs the value of the rewards to see what’s the better deal. Sometimes, the points redemption value is a lot worse than paying cash for the item and you should redeem the points another way, but consider the savings as “cash” to cover your gift spending.
Keep Fees in Mind
Both bank accounts and credit cards can come with fees. If you’re opening a bank account just to claim a reward, be aware of any fees associated with the account.
Make sure that the reward is more than the fees or maintain whatever minimums are required to wave bank fees.
For credit cards, the most important thing to avoid is interest. If you’re using your card more often to collect rewards, make sure you stick to your regular spending habits and pay it off each month.
Some credit cards also have annual fees. These cards are only worth it if you earn more rewards than the fee plus the rewards you’d earn with a no annual fee rewards card.
TIP: Ensure you cancel the card before the next annual fee! Set yourself a calendar reminder for a month before the card is set to renew.
Bundle With Other Reward Sites
Whenever you shop make sure you use all the reward options available to you. I personally use Rakuten for online purchases, but there are others too.
Don’t forget about your old school rewards too – when was the last time you checked your AirMiles account?
Stay Away From Scams
Free money and points are great, but it’s important to learn how to spot a scam when taking advantage of offers. You should always err on the side of caution when handing over any personal information.
Do your research on banks before you open up an account for the bonuses. Make sure that they’re legitimate and that the offer is still valid.
The same goes for credit cards – know what you’re applying for and to. There are a lot of credit card companies that are predatory, too. Read the details and contract so you’re fully aware of what you’re signing up for.
Avoid Credit Seeking Behavior
This is another important thing to keep in mind when you see a good offer. Even if a credit card might have a great sign-up bonus or offer top tier rewards it doesn’t mean you should sign up for it.
If you don’t have a credit card or are ready for a new one, do your research and choose one card to apply for. Too many applications at once will flag your account for credit seeking behaviour which will have other impacts on your credit score.
Keep it Separate From Your Savings
Once you’ve started taking advantage of these ways to give free gifts using your credit cards and bank accounts it’s really important that you follow through with your intention. That means putting the money aside for gifts.
Gifts should be a seperate part of your budget and savings than an emergency fund. If you pull from the gift budget every time you need extra cash you won’t have anything there when the next holiday rolls around.
More About the Author
As the owner of UniqueGifter Anne Keery has been writing about gift giving and personal finance since 2012. She loves finding the perfect gift idea that’s on budget.