The internet is brimming with freebies—you just need to know where to look for them. There are a lot of sites that offer free items—but there are also a lot of scams. We've handpicked the most trustworthy sites and apps for you to turn to, whether you're hunting for a sofa or a smartphone app.
In exchange, you won't have to part with a penny (though you may have to register an email address). Or if you're willing to pay a little, some of these services also provide cheap-but-not-free deals and offers.
Head to the site and follow the relevant link to your local Craigslist. Then look under the For sale heading and click the Free link. You'll see a list of nearby offerings. When we checked in, a few minutes of browsing unearthed free furniture, garden tools, toys, and even an electric organ.
Because Craigslist has so much content, you'll need some patience to sift through the entires, and you may not find fantastic offers right away. Instead, think of the site as a resource that you check in with regularly, rather than a one-stop freebie destination.
Hey, It's Free! has been hawking free goods—movie tickets, beauty products, magazine subscriptions, groceries, gift cards, and more—since 2006. It stands out from other freebie sites because of its human curation: The Hey, It's Free! community submits a lot of the deals, ensuring that the offers are vetted and good-quality. The site also clearly states any hoops you have to jump through to obtain your free prize.
When you head to Hey, It's Free!, make sure to check the user comments under each post. These notes can warn you of potential caveats, like deals that expire quickly or require extra steps. You should also try to re-check the site fairly regularly, because it posts new goodies every week.
The only negative is that this site is less comprehensive than some of the other resources on this list. Still, you can be confident that the items you do see are trustworthy.
Companies want to distribute samples of their goods to potential customers. That's the basis for FreeSamples.org, which lets you choose free food, beauty products, restaurant vouchers, video games and more. We like the site because the interface organizes all the offers in a plain, unfussy format, with quick links that lead straight to deals. It's also honest—if an offer requires that you first register your personal details, the site makes this caveat clear right away.
Thanks to that interface, you can navigate the site fairly easily. We recommend that you check fairly often, as FreeSamples.org updates once every 24 hours. When we clicked through a few pages of offers, we found that all of the listed items were active and available.
FreeCycle is a non-profit organization, currently consisting of more than 9 million members, that aims to make the most of Earth's limited resources. Part of that involves finding new homes for unwanted stuff, so it doesn't end up in a landfill. As a result, you can find just about any free item, from televisions to beds for pets, on the free and transparent FreeCycle site.
Because the movement relies on community groups, you'll want to visit the site and then search for offers in your specific area. Some regions have more activity than others, but unless you're in a particularly sparsely-populated area, you should be able to find a decent selection.
Like Craigslist, FreeCycle will let you post as well as read others' entries. So if you're looking for a specific item, you can ask for it on the site—this type of entry will appear in the "wants" section. If you're trying to get rid of something, you can post your own offers.
Freaky Freddies is another long-established listing site, and its freebies tend to be more valuable—and come with fewer strings attached—than the items other free-stuff sites dig up. It covers everything from teaching supplies to food samples. In addition, Freaky Freddies collects deals from other services that list free items, saving you the trouble of checking each website yourself.
Head to the site, where the front page displays the most recent offerings. This is convenient, as Freaky Freddies updates frequently, posting several new items every day. If you're visiting because you're looking for a particular product, then make your search more specific by clicking one of the categories listed on the left side of the page.
Another convenience is a daily newsletter, which lets you avoid checking for new deals every day. Sign up by clicking the box in the top-right corner of the page.
In putting together this roundup, we've checked out a lot of freebie listings websites. Not many of them match the quality of Free Stuff Times: It boasts a clean layout, doesn't spam you with ads, researches its offers, and presents the listings in a very straightforward way. The deals encompass both digital and physical products.
At the time of writing, we found a variety of free items on the site, including ebooks, food samples, clothing, pet toys, magazines, and beauty products. While you're browsing, don't worry about a deal expiring—if that happens, the site makes it clear, so you won't get your hopes up.
One of the ways Free Stuff Times stands out is in its weekly summaries. These put every recent update into an easily digestible list, allowing you to quickly find new deals.
While the aforementioned sites specialize in physical items, you can also pick up a ton of free digital files online.
To find free apps, first open your app-store program: App Store on iOS and Google Play on Android. The "top charts" page should prominently display lists of the top free apps and games.
Free ebooks are also widely available. Amazon, for example, lists the top 100 free Kindle ebooks right on the website. For a larger variety of ebook formats, head to Project Gutenberg. This open-source collection boasts more than 57,000 titles, including many classics. Most are available in multiple file formats so you can read them with any app or device. .
If you're hunting for free music, this can be harder to find, since musicians (understandably) want to earn money for their work. However, YouTube has a huge number of music videos you can watch for free, as long as you don't mind the odd pre-roll ad. SoundCloud is another repository of free music, although you're more likely to find unsigned bands than big-name artists.
Unfortunately, cinephiles will have trouble digging up free movies. That said, filmmakers will often debut shorts on Vimeo's staff picks or YouTube's short film topic. To explore free full-length features, try checking out Classic Cinema Online and Sony Crackle. These ad-supported sites don't have an amazing selection, but they do offer a few decent films. For more options, read our guide to finding free music and movies online.
Last but not least, you can find giveaways and competitions when you search the #freestuff hashtag on Twitter. Not all of the results will be premium-quality, but it gives freebie hunters one more avenue to explore.