NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The average American family spends about $800 on holiday gifts each year — and a lot of that just ends up on your credit cards.
But believe it or not, one woman was able to buy gifts for her entire family this season without spending a dime.
CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reports on just how easily she was able to do it, using holiday rewards.
Not only is Staci Gerardi finished with her Christmas shopping, she doesn’t owe one cent on the hundreds of dollars worth of loot she bought.
“This whole box is filled, which I can’t show you because people are watching and I’m not giving away all of the gifts I got for everyone,” Gerardi told Hsu.
She didn’t pay cash for her stash. She didn’t get it on layaway either. She actually bought all of the gifts with “reward points.” The total amount she shelled — zero!
“It’s fun, really. It’s like a game,” Gerardi said.
Here’s how Gerardi did it: every day — for the past year — she spent about 10 minutes browsing through a couple of websites that rewarded her with digital dollars or reward points every time she read special offers, referred a friend, or watched an add — no purchase necessary. After a year of accruing nearly 50,000 digital dollars or points, Gerardi said the sites allowed her to redeem them for real dollars — hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards for major retailers.
“The light went off in my head and I’m we could have a real holiday this year for everyone,” Gerardi said.
Consumer expert Kelli Grant said it’s a quick and easy way to basically get something for nothing.
“There are all these different sites to help you get cash back, rebates, points or miles and you can earn it from the programs you’re most loyal to,” Grant said.
All you have to do is sign up by providing some simple information, like your name, age and email address. Some of the sites like swagbucks.com and rewardport.com have become so popular some consumers have taken to the web themselves to sing their praises.
“I wouldn’t be able to really holiday shop without it,” Gerardi said.
Gerardi said these sites not only helped to relieve holiday stress this season, they helped to save her family’s Christmas.
“I get our kids, I get my three nephews, my niece … I get my parents, I get my nanna and a family friend, 10 people,” Gerardi said.
Gerardi accumulates about 4 to 20 points daily. The more she browses, the more she gets. Approximately 100 points equals one real dollar.
Gerardi said she has about 4,000 points left after her holiday shopping, which she’s carrying over into 2011.
For more information on holiday rewards, please click here.