Old Bottle Caps Can Mean Free Holiday Gifts

Photo (cc) by Svadilfari

Yesterday, I bought four 12-packs of Diet Coke for $8.19. That’s not a typo. I took advantage of a buy-two-get-two-free sale and “bought” one of the two with a free-12-pack coupon that I got from My Coke Rewards.

Yeah, $8.19 for the one 12-pack is a rip. I’m vacationing in Alaska, where everything costs more. But now I’m all set for my caffeine of choice.

My Coke Rewards is a pretty simple program. Each bottle cap from a Coke product (which includes Minute Maid bottled juices, Powerade, and flavored Dasani water) has a code worth three points. Multi-can packages bear codes worth 10 to 25 points. It costs nothing to sign up.

I’m not getting paid to write this, by the way. I’m writing because I like the program. It gets me free soft drinks, free movie tickets, and occasionally, other free items as well.

Those of you who think it isn’t worth the effort: Have you priced movie tickets lately? When I was really broke a few years ago, one of the Christmas gifts I gave my daughter was half a dozen movie tickets (which come with free fountain soda).

Among other presents I’ve “bought” this way are a movie-themed T-shirt, a NASCAR cap (a friend’s son is a big racing fan), and a couple of subscriptions.

Bottle bonanza

It generally takes me a couple of weeks or more to go through a 12-pack of Diet Coke. (Depends on how many deadlines occur in a given week.) Yet personal consumption doesn’t affect my points-gathering much because most of my codes come from someplace other than my fridge.

A friend saves caps for me. I’ve found 12- and 24-pack boxes in the recycle bin at my building – if I can reach them, they’re mine. (The fact that I own one of those Gopher tools ensures that just about all of them are within my reach.)

I regularly find codes when I’m out on walks. If they’re still attached to bottles, I recycle the bottle when I get home.

The cashier at my favorite teriyaki joint, bless her heart, lets me take codes off boxes while I’m waiting for my food. She even lends me her scissors.

The lion’s share of my codes, however, comes from the University of Washington campus. The recycle bins at the library are bottle bonanzas, since students + homework = caffeine.

All together now: Eeeewwww! Pick up soda caps from a dirty, old street? Pull bottles out of a recycle bin? I’d never do that!

Fine. Don’t do that. It leaves more for me and anyone else who likes free stuff.

Just another (slightly sticky) frugal hack

I know I’m not the only person who harvests codes, because I’ve gotten feedback from readers who do this. One woman picked up a staggering 375 bottle caps after a community festival. I wish.

If you decide to try, here are some tips…

  • Some caps are sticky, so hand sanitizer is a good thing to have.
  • Keep an old plastic bag in your purse or backpack to store your finds.
  • Reaching into a trash can? Give it a tap first to shake loose any squirrels or wasps attracted by the sweet smell of Barq’s.
  • Check workplace recycle bins and lunchroom trash cans.

Yes, it takes time to get enough codes for many freebies, especially since you can enter only 120 points per week.

If you’re unemployed, under-employed, or trying to pay down debt, sending for freebies is one way to stretch your budget or allow for some fun. Right now I have a dozen movie tickets stockpiled – and they don’t expire.

Some of those premiums make great stocking stuffers or presents – and are definitely worth it if you like getting free stuff in the mail.

More stories from Donna Freedman:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
8 Products That Make It Easier to Get Fit
8 Products That Make It Easier to Get Fit

Amazon reviewers give high marks to these tools that can help you get in shape without a gym.

7 Things That Prove Cheaper Isn’t Always Better
7 Things That Prove Cheaper Isn’t Always Better

These purchases can end up costing you more if you try to go the cheap route.

12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t

Thinking of trying to deduct a few of these things on your federal tax return? That could be a costly mistake.

9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air
9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air

These plants may also do everything from reduce the amount of dust in your home to improve your productivity.

12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier
12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier

These products on Amazon will ease worries and simplify your routine.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.