Who doesn’t love to get free samples?
Sometimes you just stumble on a free sample while you’re out, or you unexpectedly find one when you open your mail, but some of the best ways to get free samples are listed below.
1. Free Samples When Shopping
Some people go to Costco just to eat. And who can blame them? On a weekend especially, practically every aisle is flanked by a shower-cap-wearing food demonstrator giving out free samples of tiny cups of yogurt, bites of pizza or sips of juice. Trader Joe’s also always has a couple of featured free samples, and you can get a small, free cup of coffee or tea there anytime.
Other chain grocery stores frequently have those plastic bubbles you can open and help yourself to a free sample of foods like cheese or cut-up fruit.
Some free samples are only for children. Many grocery stores will offer kids a free piece of fruit or a free cookie at the bakery. My son came to see the free cookie as a guaranteed perk of visiting our local Giant Food until I finally told him the cutoff age was 5. (I made that up, but he had to be stopped.)
Whenever I’m in a department store, I avail myself of a squirt of the most expensive perfume. My kids picked up on this indulgent practice of mine, and whenever they smell Coco Mademoiselle, they ask what I was doing at the mall.
You can also get free samples at the mall from some kiosk operators, but these usually come with a price — an aggressive sales pitch for the item they’re selling. If you’re strong and determined, accept the free sample and keep moving.
2. Free Samples for Reviews
Some of these samples aren’t entirely free — you have to write a review of the product after you try it. But it’s a small price to pay for all the free health and beauty aids and other products you can get via this method.
The Pink Panel is a company that collects consumer reviews of beauty products that women use. You can sign up to get free samples to review.
3. Free Samples of Department Store Makeup
Anyone who has bought department store makeup is familiar with the small, zippered pouches you can get for spending a certain dollar amount during a promotional period. The products they contain are sometimes sample-sized, but other times you will get full-sized lipsticks, mascaras, cleansers and more.
What they don’t always tell you is that you don’t have to go during a promotional period to get these. I once got an adorable beach bag tote from the Clinique counter at Bloomingdale’s on an ordinary Monday afternoon.
And that’s the key. If you want the makeup ladies to give you free samples, you have to go to the best department stores in the expensive malls where they treat their customers better. Rich people get better service, but they don’t have to know you’re not rich. If you go to the Sephora in JCPenney, you probably won’t get a free sample. Stick with Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom and the like.
I am lucky enough to live outside of Chevy Chase, Maryland, one of only a dozen places outside of New York to have the distinction of having some of the most expensive department stores in the country. After I spend the same money at the Clinique counter I would have spent at a cheaper mall, they load me down with free samples and validate my parking ticket. If they are out of an item I want, they feel bad and offer to ship it to my home for free, then give me more free stuff to make up for it.
While you’re at the cosmetics counter, get your makeup put on for free! Not only is this an amazing value at the expensive counters, but you get a free lesson in how to put it on as well.
Be warned, you’ll do best with this by going at off hours. If you go on a Saturday morning, you’ll have enough trouble getting someone to sell you something, much less give you something for free.
You can get makeup put on for free at department store cosmetics counters. Also ask about tutorials, demonstrations, and events. I’ve gotten emails about free demonstrations that include a mimosa and croissant. Don’t expect this though — some of the longer events (four-plus hours) are called “workshops” and charge several hundred dollars.
4. Free Products on Your Birthday
Lots of customer rewards programs offer free samples on your birthday. I have one in my inbox right now from Ulta for a free NYX Happy Birthday Palette of 10 colors of eyeshadows — an $18 value.
Other companies that offer a freebie on your birthday include Mac and Baskin-Robbins. This site gives you a list of restaurants that will give you free samples of food on your birthday, and this one is a list of retailers that offer products, foods or special discounts on your birthday.
You could map out an entire day of shops to visit and get free stuff on your birthday!
If you incorporate these tips for the best ways to get free samples into your routine, you can save a lot of money.