The Ultimate List of Free Apps That Give You Gift Cards

My daughter has been business-minded since birth. The lemonade stand that she set up this summer has recently morphed into an apple cider shack (and I think she’s drawing up plans for a hot cocoa house to launch in December). She’s so committed to her beverage business that we even bought her a smartphone to use for accepting debit card payments via an app. She’s only in the third grade, but this kid has not one, not two, but three piggy banks.

A few weeks ago she was given a class assignment to let her imagination run wild and come up with a new invention that would be helpful for the world at large. It really was no surprise to my husband and I that her “invention” had a focus on earning money. Her idea? How about if that app she uses to collect money for lemonade could help her earn money for lots of other things as well, like washing the dishes and sorting laundry? Our girl certainly is clever. She didn’t manage to talk us into paying her for helping out around the house, but she did get us thinking about whether or not there were apps out there that would pay us for doing little tasks. Believe it or not, there are!

If you haven’t browsed the app store lately, you should! There is a whole list of apps that give you gift cards available these days—and all of my favorite ones are free to download and use. Each one works a little differently, but what they all have in common is that they help users earn gift cards by doing quick and simple activities, like taking surveys, posting photos to social media, or even scanning barcodes at stores (which is like getting paid to grocery shop!).

There are two morals to this story. One: kids these days really are as tech-savvy as they say! Two: chances are you’ll be able to find an enjoyable way to use your smartphone to get free gift cards. And so, without further adieu, here is my ultimate list of free apps that pay out gift cards.

The Ultimate List of Apps that Give You Gift Cards—for FREE


Shopkick turns every trip to the store into a super fun scavenger hunt for points, which the app calls kicks. It’s super easy to use, and the tasks that users have to complete for kicks are ones you do every time you go shopping anyway. At its core, Shopkick is a free app that pays you to shop. For example, if you download the app, then walk into a partner store, you’ll earn kicks. Scan featured item barcodes, get kicks. Buy a featured item, get more kicks! Shop from your sofa using the app, get kicks!  Once you’ve earned enough kicks, you can then trade them in for gift cards to a super wide range of stores that you shop at all the time. One of my favorite things about Shopkick is that you really don’t have to go out of your way at all. What’s also cool about Shopkick is that you can combine it with other shopping rewards apps—or any of the other apps listed above that you’re thinking about downloading!

For example, Shopkick works really well with Mobee, one of our featured apps below. Really, you can combine Shopkick with any of the best free smartphone apps that pay you! And, Shopkick is so easy to use and has a great social media community of like-minded users who are always giving out tips about everything from deals on certain products to their tips for maximizing the number of kicks you can earn. It’s a small thing, but it makes a BIG difference.

How the app works:

An incredibly easy-to-use and intuitive app, Shopkick turns regular shopping trips into fun scavenger hunts for points

How much users earn:

Varies by store visit, with little restriction on how many kicks users can accumulate

Gift cards available:

Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, Sephora, Amazon and many, many more.

Minimum amount to cash out:

$2.00

You know the lock screen on your phone, the one you see every time you hit a button on your device without unlocking it first? That screen can give you free gift cards. Well, with the help of Fronto, that is. All you have to do is be willing to swap out whatever you have there now, whether it’s stock wallpaper, a photo from your vacation, or a cute snapshot of your kids (sorry, kids, but no one will be complaining when the first free gift card is rewarded!). Instead, you’ll receive news and ads selected by Fronto. Every time you view one of these of ads, you’ll earn points. Sometimes the app will ask you an interactive question to help you earn some extra points. Once you have earned at least $10 worth of points, you can exchange them for, that’s right, free gift cards! A word of advice, though, for those of you who are tethered to your phone all day like I am: Fronto can be a bit rough on your data plan and your battery life, so make sure you have available data—and several chargers—before you download it.

How the app works:

Users view ads on their phone’s lock screen for points

How much users earn:

Anywhere between $.01 and $2.00 per interaction

Gift cards available:

Amazon

Minimum amount to cash out:

$10.00

Here’s something my kids have trouble believing… I used to be young, just like them. In fact, when I was fifteen I even had a job bagging groceries at the local supermarket. What I remember most was how the managers were always encouraging us to smile and be polite because the owners of the store liked to bring in mystery shoppers, regular people who shopped at the store and then afterward evaluated how the employees treated them. Mobee turns its users into mystery shoppers, each of them on a mission to visit specific stores and restaurants, eat or shop there, and then answer questions about the experience. Sometimes, users are also asked to take photos. Each of these missions lasts between roughly 10 and 15 minutes and is worth between $1.50 and $12, with the higher rewards missions taking the longest amount of time. I recommend this app if you live in a city as urban areas will offer the most opportunities to complete missions. You can even use Shopkick to have a blast hunting for kicks inside the store, and then afterward you can use Mobee to answer questions about your shopping experience.

How the app works:

Users visit a store or restaurant, then answer questions about their experience.

How much users earn:

Between $1.50 and $12.00 per mission

Gift cards available:

Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, and many more.

Minimum amount to cash out:

$5.00

The Ipsos app’s mission is to find out what the public thinks, especially when it comes to topics like advertising, politics, and other sources of debate on the national level. The way Ipsos works is that the average user receives about 8 survey invitations each month, which they can then accept or deny. For completing each survey, users get points that can later be cashed in for prizes, including gift cards to many different places. There are so many different survey apps out there, with more and more new ones seeming to pop up every week, but Ipsos is certainly one of the most popular. If you are looking for a survey app that will give you gift cards, know that you can use Ipsos via a smartphone app, which gives it a leg up over some other survey platforms that require you to use a desktop computer.

How the app works:

Ipsos sends users about survey invitations on a monthly basis can be completed in exchange for points

How much users earn:

Up to 90 points per survey

Gift cards available:

Starbucks, Facebook, Amazon, Target, and many more

Minimum amount to cash out:

500 points, which is equal to $5.00

SavingStar is a digital coupon app that pays users to shop at grocery and drugstores. More than 60,000 stores are part of SavingStar and they represent more than 100 retail chains. It’s generally free to use, but beware. If an account is inactive for 180 straight days, they will charge a fee of $3.99. To take advantage of SavingStar, users either link their existing store loyalty cards to the app or submit receipts after they make purchases. Their savings add up until they can eventually cash out through PayPal, Upromise, or even in the form of Starbucks, iTunes, or AMC Theater gift codes. If you frequently use loyalty rewards cards, this may be a great app for you. If your commitment to them is less than stellar, however, SavingStar may end up costing you money via its service fee.

How the app works:

Users link existing store loyalty cards to the app or submit photos of receipts after making a purchase

How much users earn:

This varies depending on the offer, much like paper coupons

Gift cards available:

Starbucks, iTunes, AMC Theaters, and many more

Minimum amount to cash out:

There is no minimum to cash out

I LOVE all social media platforms, but I think my all time favorite has to be Instagram. I love taking pictures of fun foods, my kids, my vacations, and even interesting cloud formations I see in the sky. And I know I’m not alone. Most—if not all—of my best friends take pictures and upload them to social media every day. CoSign helps users earn gift cards for this habit, turning those photos into rewards. Users just have to tag the images they’re already uploading to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr and add additional information about the products that are pictured. Did you just buy a brand new scarf? Take a picture of yourself wearing it and then use CoSign to add the brand and price. It’s not just for clothes, though! Users can also tag a wide range of household goods, tech products, books, movies, and even food, among other things. When followers buy items that you’ve posted photos of, you then earn a commission of up to 35 percent, which you can opt to have paid out in cash or gift cards.

How the app works:

Users take photos of a wide range of products, upload to social media platforms, tag them with CoSign, and then add information such as the brand or price; when their followers buy an item, the user earns a commission.

How much user earn:

Up to 35 percent of the item’s sale price.

Gift cards available:

Varies, but cash payouts are also available

Minimum amount to cash out:

$40.00

One of my uncles used to buy my siblings and me scratch-off lottery tickets every year for Christmas. He’d hand them to us and then make the same joke: I got you up to $1 million! None of us ever won the $1 million prize, but we had tons of fun scratching them off and anxiously waiting to see if we had! Lucktastic is an app that lets users play games that are a lot like scratch-off lottery tickets, right down to the random rewards, while they view product ads. Each day, they get a new handful of tickets to scratch, which give you between 5 and 10 points. You then save your points and eventually you can cash them in for cash or gift cards. Also, like the lottery is the fact that there’s always a chance to win a $10,000 jackpot. Earnings, however, are much much much more likely to be on the smaller side. If you decide to download this app, scratching tickets with Lucktastic will only take a minute or two of your valuable time. Unlike the lottery, however, this app is totally free to use.

How the app works:

Users view ads and plays games that are similar to scratch-off lottery tickets

How much users earn:

Between $.0005 and $.01 per scratch-off, with a chance to win a big jackpot instantly

Gift cards available:

Amazon, GameStop, Fandango, and more, as well as cash payouts

Minimum amount to cash out:

$10.00

While my daughter is still the business guru of the house, my husband and I have also gotten into this idea of earning a little side money with the help of our smartphone apps. Since downloading Shopkick, my personal favorite app that pays, I’ve earned quite a few Starbucks gifts cards—and my husband just snagged one for Best Buy! And our little genius who planted the idea to look for these apps in the place? Her birthday is coming up and I think we’ve just earned enough kicks to wrap up a Target gift card for her. It’s her favorite place to shop for aprons, pitchers, and wooden spoons!

App: How the app works: How much users earn: Gift cards available: Minimum amount to cash out:
An incredibly easy-to-use and intuitive app, Shopkick turns regular shopping trips into fun scavenger hunts for points Varies by store visit, with little restriction on how many kicks users can accumulate Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, Sephora, Amazon and many, many more. $2.00
Users view ads on their phone’s lock screen for points Anywhere between $.01 and $2.00 per interaction Amazon $10.00
Users visit a store or restaurant, then answer questions about their experience. Between $1.50 and $12.00 per mission Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, and many more. $5.00
Ipsos sends users about survey invitations on a monthly basis can be completed in exchange for points Up to 90 points per survey Starbucks, Facebook, Amazon, Target, and many more 500 points, which is equal to $5.00
Users link existing store loyalty cards to the app or submit photos of receipts after making a purchase This varies depending on the offer, much like paper coupons Starbucks, iTunes, AMC Theaters, and many more There is no minimum to cash out
Users take photos of a wide range of products, upload to social media platforms, tag them with CoSign, and then add information such as the brand or price; when their followers buy an item, the user earns a commission. Up to 35 percent of the item’s sale price. Varies, but cash payouts are also available $40.00
Users view ads and plays games that are similar to scratch-off lottery tickets Between $.0005 and $.01 per scratch-off, with a chance to win a big jackpot instantly Amazon, GameStop, Fandango, and more, as well as cash payouts $10.00

Ready to explore the best free shopping app that helps you earn free gift cards—and have fun doing it? Download Shopkick for free and join a community of loyal Shopkickers who’ve already discovered the rewards of shopping with us.

And, if you love social media as much as you love stretching your budget, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily shopping inspiration.

Image courtesy william.perugini