Bargains and deals are great, but free stuff is even better. If you just can’t pass up a free sample at Costco or a free bookmark on a bookstore check-out counter, you know what I’m talking about.
The best freebies require almost zero work or commitment, and they’re actually things you want, perhaps even enough to pay money for. If a particular free item isn’t quite right for you, there’s almost certainly someone you know who’d find a use for it.
Want more free stuff? If you can wait until your birthday, you can really load up. Here’s our list of 23 restaurant chains that offer free food (sometimes an entire meal, other times, just an entree or dessert) on your birthday.
But the items below don’t require it to be your cake day — they’re waiting for you anytime. Note that some offers require you to sign up for their promotional emails, but if you that bothers you, create a new email address just for such offers, or unsubscribe from the mailing lists once your freebie arrives. A very few require a small purchase, but they seemed good enough to include anyway. For each item, read the offer instructions carefully, as deals could change without warning, or a product could run out. Many offers are limited to U.S. residents only. Now, on to the free stuff!
If you love mints, but wouldn’t mind a new twist, try a free peppermint puff. It’s a nickel-sized, striped candy with a sugary shell surrounding a light, air-filled candy puff. Best of all, trying one doesn’t cost a mint.
Many freebies don’t give you any choice: Beggars can’t be choosers, after all. But here, you can select two hot beverage samples from five options, including coffee with ginseng and hot cocoa. Drink up!
3. Hair mask
Sure, you use shampoo and conditioner on your hair regularly, but add a weekly hair mask treatment to your routine for extra nourishment and repair. Start off with a free sample of Whole Blends Honey Treasures Repairing Rinse-Out Hair Mask. But don’t wait too long — the offer ends Jan. 7, 2019, or when samples run out.
4. Consumer Action Handbook
Shopping can be fun, but we’ve all had those moments when we feel ripped off by a seller. Download a free copy of the government-issued Consumer Action Handbook, and browse it for all kinds of tips on your consumer rights, including how to file a complaint about an unsatisfactory purchase.
5. Chocolate perks
Chocolate lovers know Godiva’s fantastically rich and creamy chocolates. Sign up for the free Godiva Rewards Club and the sweet perks will include free standard shipping for one online order, early access to exclusive sales, sneak peeks at new collections and a free birthday gift. Best of all, you’ll get a free chocolate every month.
6. Procter & Gamble items
Procter & Gamble (P&G) makes everything from beauty products to cleaning solutions. If you sign up to be a BzzAgent and give honest feedback on the company’s products, freebies will come your way.
7. Facial care
Join L’Oreal’s Worth It Rewards Club and earn points on qualifying purchases — and an inside track on freebies. At press time, you can sign up for a free sample of a grape seed sugar scrub as well as a pure-clay yuzu lemon mask.
8. Advil coupons
You probably have a bottle of Advil around the house and use the medication for everything from dental pain to headaches. Sign up at the medication’s offer page and select the coupon you want — I was able to print a $3 coupon for the easy-open arthritis cap Advil within seconds of signing up.
9. Betty Crocker freebies and coupons
Sign up to be a Betty Crocker member, and the baking-product line will send you a free calendar in the fall, plus exclusive access to coupons and a weekly email newsletter that periodically offers the chance to sign up for free samples.
10. McDonald’s deals
Fast food is pretty fast as it is, so you may not have felt a huge desire to download the McDonald’s app simply to order ahead of time. But downloading the app brings deals, including buy one, get one free offers. Did somebody say McDonald’s?
11. Emergen-C sample
You might already have heard of Emergen-C, a powdered drink mix and vitamin supplement that some folks swear by to help ward off colds. Sign up online, and a free sample packet will come your way, maybe before the next germs find you.
12. Toilet paper roll extender
You may have noticed that bathroom tissue rolls are getting fatter and fatter these days. The bigger rolls may last longer, but there’s a problem: They may not fit in your home’s standard-size bath-tissue holder. So Charmin, the top name in the TP biz, will send you a free extender that allows most holders to fit the bigger rolls. This deal might just bowl you over.
13. Nasal strips
Breathe-Right nasal strips help hold your nostrils open so you can breathe more deeply, and they can also help prevent snoring. You’ve likely seen pro athletes wearing them — they kind of look like butterfly bandages worn on the nose. Try them yourself with this free online offer. Sweet dreams!
Sign up for Penzeys Spices’ Voice of Cooking newsletter, and you’ll get plenty of offers, deals and, yes, even opportunities to get free spices and seasonings. Spice up your email box!
15. Credit report
Don’t be fooled by sites trying to charge you for a copy of your own credit report. You’re entitled to a yearly free report from the big three companies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Annual Credit Report.com will help you get all three. It’s the site that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau links to, so you know it’s not a scam.
Is there a Johnny Rockets diner near you? Sign up for the chain’s Rocket E-Club, and you’ll get a free burger with purchase, plus other deals. Say cheese!
Sign up for two free single-serve samples of Truvia Natural Sweetener and a $1 coupon, or forgo the free packets and choose a $2 coupon instead. How sweet it is!
18. Face moisturizer
Soften up with a free sample of Olay Whips, a non-greasy face moisturizer. To get the sample, you must join the free Club Olay, and will receive offers and news from Oil of Olay.
19. Ice cream
We all scream for ice cream. Download Baskin-Robbins’ free mobile app, and you’ll get a free regular-sized scoop of one of the chain’s famed 31 flavors (they really have many more than 31). Daiquiri ice over here, please.
20. Coffee drink
Free java, no jive. Sign up for Dunkin’ Donuts DD Perks program, and you’ll get a free drink when you sign up, another on your birthday, and another every time you accumulate 200 rewards points.
21. Pet food
TV host and celebrity chef Rachael Ray is in the pet-food business now, too, and you can get a free sample for your furry friend. When we tried, three of the four free sample offerings from Ray’s Nutrish brand, including both dog foods, were unavailable, but we were able to request a sample of Nutrish Peak Woodland Catch Recipe for cats, with chicken, trout and salmon. Purr-fect!
22. Bumper sticker
Wear your patriotism on your sleeve, and on your car. The Military Times online magazine offers five different free “Support Our Troops” stickers. Choose from either a Military Times sticker or a car window cling representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force.
23. Bagel and cream cheese
Bruegger’s Bagels has 260 locations in 26 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Sign up for the company’s e-club, and they’ll start you off with a free bagel with cream cheese, plus regularly send you deals and offers.
Sign up for IHOP’s Pancake Revolution club, and you’ll get free pancakes for signing up, every year on your birthday, and annually on the anniversary of your signing up. You’ll also get special offers and deals that’ll make you flip.
25. Personal pizza
Slice, slice baby. Sign up for Chuck E. Cheese’s More Cheese Rewards Club and enjoy a free personal one-topping pizza on your next visit. Plus, you’ll earn rewards to use on food, drink and games.
26. Kind snacks for being kind
Kind bars will send a free snack to anyone you nominate for doing a kind act. You find the good-hearted person and send them an e-card through Kind’s website, and the company will send the goodies. (Maybe you can then do a kind act for that person, so they’ll nominate you right back.)
27. Smoke alarms for those in need
We all should have smoke alarms in our house to alert residents in case of fire. But for those who can’t afford one, the Red Cross will provide and install a limited number of free smoke alarms to those in need. The Red Cross will also install a limited number of specialized bedside alarms for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
28. Arby’s sandwich
Sign up for regular email offers from Arby’s, and the roast-beef sandwich chain will send you a coupon for a free signature sandwich (though you do have to purchase any soft drink to get the freebie). They’ll also send you meaty birthday deals.
29. Admission to the national parks
America’s national parks are a treasure. Many are free year-round, but others charge an admission fee. Save this handy schedule showing the days when all the national parks are free to everyone.
30. Streaming movies and shows
There are plenty of streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, if you’re willing to pay up for your programs. But SonyCrackle, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment, is free to watch, though you will have to sit through ads. You can flip through the offered titles before you sign up to see if it’s your kind of entertainment.
31. Hash browns
Waffle House restaurants aren’t in every part of the U.S. — sorry, West Coast — but the tasty breakfast eateries are a morning must for many. Sign up for the Waffle House Regulars Club, and the chain will email you a coupon for free hash browns with up to two toppings, such as grilled onions, hickory-smoked ham and melted cheese.
What freebie are you hungriest for? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.