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How to get free rewards

by Andrew Okwuosah, Digital Editor

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The best stuff in life is the stuff that requires exactly $0.00 to leave your wallet. Here’s how to spend nothing and get stuff:

Brand rewards

photo by Andrew Okwuosah

Companies know that loyalty is the way to your wallet. That’s why brands like Starbucks and RaceTrac encourage you to build the habit of checking in frequently.

In the case of Starbucks (I’m using Starbucks as an example here because it’s pretty simple and I’m a proud addict), you can sign up for an account once you download the company’s free app and earn two stars for every $1 you spend whenever you make a purchase in store (at the register or through mobile ordering on the app with a linked Starbucks card), online, or on specially-marked packaged products at your local grocery store. You can earn additional stars by participating in promotions like Bonus Star Bingo that encourages you to live the Starbucks lifestyle (For example: making three separate purchases on weekends).

There are two tiers in Starbucks’ Rewards program: Green, which everyone starts at, lets you skip the line with mobile ordering, get free refills on brewed hot or iced coffee on your same store visit, and get a free drink on your birthday and Gold, which you join once you receive 300 stars within 12 months, adds all of Green’s perks with an additional free drink every 150 stars, monthly double-star days (four stars for every $1 you spend), and a shiny gold (not actually) Starbucks card.

Results may vary based on the company, but most do at least offer coupons as an incentive to put them on your homescreen.

Microsoft Rewards

photo by Andrew Okwuosah

I spotlighted Microsoft Rewards (then known as Bing Rewards) two years ago, and everything I said then holds true now despite the slight name change.

For the uninitiated who don’t want to read the post linked above, Microsoft Rewards gives you credits for searching with Bing, completing quests within Bing, using Microsoft’s Edge web browser, or spending money at the Windows or Xbox stores. You can redeem those credits for gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Microsoft (naturally), Starbucks, iTunes, and more as well as entries into various sweepstakes that the team over in Redmond cooks up.

Joining is stupid simple: sign in to a Microsoft account. If you use services like Skype, Xbox Live, Windows, Bing, Hotmail, MSN, or Outlook.com, you probably already have one.

Once you join, there are two tiers: Level 1 and Level 2. You start out (naturally) at Level 1 and upgrade when you earn 500 points a month. To stay at Level 2, you need to maintain that mark. Level 2 offers you the big perk of discounted rewards from Microsoft brands and bonus offers on select Microsoft store purchases.

Gongle Opinion Rewards

Lastly, Google has a somewhat different approach to the rewards game: your opinion. Once you download the app, you’ll get short one-to-three-question surveys sent to you (via a push notification) that will ask you things like “Did you visit a particular place recently” or “What movies are you interested in” that give market researchers a peek into your mind. In return, Google will usually send you some credit (usually a few cents each time) that you can use at the Google Play Store.

If you’re an Android user, you can use these funds to buy apps. However, all users can take advantage of the Play Store’s web app to buy movies, music, and books that can be accessed from your iOS device, desktop, or laptop.

For more, be sure to follow me around the Interwebs and I’ll see you again here next week.

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How to get free rewards