Free Online Deals

Tips for Evaluating Free Online Deals

The internet is a valuable resource when it comes to finding the latest online deals. Sites like Groupon and RetailMeNot connect consumers of all stripes to the goods and services they’re looking for at a discounted price.

Still, ‘free’ deals are often a source of confusion. Consumers are well aware that many companies aren’t in the business of truly free giveaways, but terms and conditions can be difficult to sort through. Sometimes, it may even seem purposeful.

Many times, free deals have strings attached. In some cases, this may be as minimal as signing up or opting into a subscription. Other times, a free deal may be the start of an ongoing contract. Regardless of the offer, there are a few key tips that are useful for evaluating the value and risks of a bonus.

When it comes to free online deals, many know tricks like shopping around to compare companies and keeping track of expiration dates on certain deals. Looking to dive deeper? Here are three insights that will help you find the offer that’s right for your needs.

Assessing Terms & Conditions

Free products or services from companies typically come with lengthy terms and conditions, often displayed in a tiny font. Looking for a way to separate the high-value deals from the risky, low-reward offers? Just take a look at the fine print, which is one of the easiest ways to understand a company’s motivation in offering a free bonus.

Truly free (and valuable) deals won’t be vague and difficult to navigate. T&Cs will be easy to find and easy to understand. For example, free spins on sign up at Wildz is a competitive and transparent offer. The website’s bonus code comes with a description and explanation, as well as an FAQ section at the bottom of the page.

Remember, the point of a free deal is to entice a consumer to stick around, not to trap them.

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Subscriptions vs. Sign-Ups

Speaking of being trapped in a long-term contract when accepting a free deal offer, one important aspect to consider is opting for a subscription or a sign-up. Subscriptions tend to come with a higher demand, as they’re often re-upped monthly. Signing up is a one-time affair (in most cases).

One of the most common free deals seen online is a free trial. A free trial is a great way to figure out if a service is right for you, especially when trying out something new like a workout app such as CorePower Yoga or a video streaming platform like Paramount+.

But subscription models are a new phenomenon, especially when related to entertainment and recreation. The best deals don’t ask newcomers to enter their banking details for a long-term subscription right at sign up. They’ll prompt you at a later date, instead, once a free trial is over.

Seen From a Business Perspective

One of the easiest ways to evaluate a free online deal is to investigate the offer from a business POV. Does the deal sound too good to be true? Then it probably is. Remember, a free deal is a way to attract new customers and provide them a sneak peek into a company’s unbeatable product or service.

From a business perspective, companies want to reduce ‘churn’. Churn is the rate at which customers leave a company, which can be alleviated by offering free deals. Still, most companies will offer one free deal at sign-up or on a seasonal basis. Keep a lookout for brands that offer too many free deals—they’re likely struggling with churn, which can be indicative of deeper-rooted problems.

If a free offer doesn’t immediately prove relevant to your life and needs, then don’t be afraid to stop a trial early. Remember, a free offer should be the first step in building a relationship with you as a customer.

About the Author

Linda Jeasie

Linda Jeasie is a writer and content editor with over a decade of experience covering consumer gadgets and mobile tech. Before going freelance, she got her start as an editor at, a coupon and review website. These days she writes about gaming, life hacks, apps and software, and financial subjects for a variety of publications.