Loopholes, shortcuts, and life hacks are on the rise. Let’s face it. The Internet has provided the consumer with tons of data and slick tools that help us save money. It seems there are so many ways to skin cats these days that some people appear to go through this world a whole lot cheaper than the average person.
Whether taking advantage of corporate errors is on the up and up is definitely in question. Right or wrong, we can all agree that some secret savings hacks are well thought out and quite lucrative. I must admit, the Robinhood theme of rob the rich to feed the poor side of savings hacks is pretty interesting to me.
Do you follow the rules? Are savings hacks still questionable when one of the violated parties is a greedy corporation? This is for you to decide. I know this – whether you agree or disagree with you will be impressed at the level of sneakiness some of our contributors have gone to to save a buck.
Don’t judge yet. These hacks may convert you to loving loopholes. Enjoy.
1. Pizza Burnout Is A Real Thing, No Way!
Got like 25 leftover coupon books from one of our football team fundraisers. At the time, I was a teacher/coach at a high school. Each book had a coupon for free medium pizza no purchase necessary.
So I ate 25 free medium pizzas the next six months.
2. Finally, A Way To Win At Casinos
My roommate used to go to the casino and buy $10,000 in gift cards with his credit card. He would then cash out the gift cards and pay his credit card bill with the money. His cash back was pretty insane until the casino made him stop.
3. Talk About An Awesome Free Refill Policy
A local movie theater offered a $15 unlimited refill popcorn bucket at the beginning of the year, have saved hundreds of dollars in popcorn because of this bucket (even will stop by just for the popcorn if I’m in the area).
4. Making The Most Of The College Years
While I was at university, I figured out I could weasel an extra degree by overloading more than once a semester. Typically, you took five credits each semester, and if you were in good standing, you could take an extra one. Making a total of six classes, or 12 credits per year.
I figured, by trial and error that if one dean overloaded. For example, the Dean of Science gave me permission to overload. I could go to the Dean of Socials to overload again. The computers never picked it up.
So for three years, I overloaded, collecting up to 9 credits each semester. By the time I finished my fourth year I had a stand-alone BA. On top of another HBA and BSc.
The university tried to demand I pay, but nothing in the course calendar or rules said what I had done was wrong. They changed the rules the following year.
5. McDonald’s Dollar Menu Secrets
One day, long ago, when time was new and things were different, I was waiting in line to order at McDonald’s drunk off my keister. The guy ahead of me ordered a six-piece nugget.
I thought to myself, don’t get a six-piece nugget, get two four-piece nuggets. He turned around and said, what did you just say to me? And I said, “Oh god that was out loud, wasn’t it?”
I explained that, at the time, six nuggets were $2.16. Four pieces were on the dollar menu. He could have been getting two more nuggets for sixteen cents less.
He turned back to the counter and said, “Yeah. Do what that guy said.”
6. ATM Arbitrage – Could You Say NO to 100% Returns?
About 12 or so years ago a certain popular bank chain started rolling out ATMs in some locations which dispensed $10 bills and not just $20s.
For about three days, there was one ATM in my town which only dispensed $20s but had the new firmware and gave the option to dispense in denominations of $10. So if you ask for $100 in tens, the machine would spit out ten bills— only those bills were $20s. So you get $200. I did this three days in a row but didn’t take out much each time since I was broke.
The scam lasted only three days. I noticed the glitch on Friday and it was fixed by Monday.
7. Do You Really Need To See The Movie You Rent, Or Just Hear It?
Not exactly a giant loophole, but I used to live in a very rural area with really slow internet. Anyway, I’d rent movies on Amazon and stream them and the definition would get pretty rough sometimes and it’d have to buffer a bit, but overall not enough to ruin a movie for me.
Well, Amazon will refund you if rented a movie and it gets a notice that the streaming wasn’t great. I rented a whole bunch of movies I normally would never pay to rent and got refunded for all of them. Yes, I was sacrificing quality, but I basically had a “free” streaming service until I moved and got better internet.
8. Vending Machine Or Slot Machine?
I found a vending machine at work that didn’t differentiate between quarters and golden dollar coins when dispensing change; when it was supposed to give you quarters about half of them were golden dollars.
I put in as many $5 bills as possible and bought the cheapest item available and got ~$8 of change back each time. My total profit off that machine was over $50 before it ran out of golden dollars.
9. Starbucks Is The Best Caffeine High
A few years ago, Starbucks had a program where if you bought a pound of ground coffee and brought back the bag, they would give you a free small coffee.
The program ended two years ago, but up until a month ago, the staff would just do it for me because I still kept asking about it. I didn’t know that they had stopped that program until they got some new staff. I had a good run there.
10. Who Pays For Their Ubers?
I earned hundreds of dollars in Uber credits. When Uber launched in my country, I changed my personal referral code to “Uber [country].” My hope was that people without a code would guess at a promo code and go with the obvious. I had dozens of people use the code to get the “$10 off your first ride” promo without my ever sharing the code. They got $10, and so did I.
11. I Thought Everyone Got Free Unlimited Internet
Optus (an Australian phone service provider) used to have a prepaid, unlimited credit cap for $3 a day. So, I signed up for the cap, put the sim card in a spare phone and used it as a Wi-Fi hotspot, making occasional phone calls and texts to my regular mobile just to make it look like I was using it for a phone.
I was essentially getting unlimited data for $90 a month. At my peak, I was downloading 20 GB a day. I kept it for 3 years before Optus clued into what I was doing.
12. Never Pay A Hotel Reservation Cancellation Fee Again
I travel a lot and lose tons of money canceling hotel reservations last second. Instead of accepting the penalty for canceling last second, I “move” my reservation to three days later… then I call back in a few minutes to fully cancel my reservation at no charge.
13. I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Cheap Ice Cream
The grocery store messed up and marked all the Tonight Dough Ben and Jerry pints to $1. They didn’t notice for a couple weeks. I ate so much ice cream!
14. McDonald’s Excels At French Fries, Not App Development
Back when the McDonald’s app first came out it didn’t require a login and when you first downloaded it and you got a free signature sandwich. I would just delete the app and re-download it every time I was hungry.
15. Linner Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day
My college had a dining hall with continuous hours from 7:30 AM – 9:00 PM. The meal plan I could afford only gave 1.5 meals/day with a decent bit of flex money for the various campus vendors.
I discovered fairly early on in the school year that if I entered during the latter half of a particular meal’s service and parked myself around the midpoint of the seating area with my laptop and a textbook while staying quiet, I could typically work one single meal ticket for two full meals plus plenty of beverages. Pretty sure a few of the cafeteria ladies knew what I was up to, but because I kept my space clean and wouldn’t cause any fuss, they never told me to leave despite it being against the rules. They probably assumed I was studying, which was accurate maybe half the time.
16. Unlimited Flight Miles for $0.00
I had a buddy that worked for American Express when the new dollar coins came out. He was able to secure a $40,000 line of credit given he worked there. He would buy $40,000 in coins for the points, open them all, take them to the bank and tell them he was a coin dealer looking for misprints and they would deposit $40,000 into his account. Rinse and repeat.
He ended up with 4 million airline miles off his card. He once took a trip overseas, instead of finding a hotel he would fly somewhere first class that was an eight-hour or longer flight so he could sleep. He was also able to buy tickets for people at $0.03 a mile.
17. Print One Sheet, Get Second Sheet Free
My university printer system. Send two documents to the printer. First one is a single page, the second one is the long document you actually want to print. When you go to the printer, you select the first document and delete it. The second document moves up and gets selected, but the price doesn’t get updated. Print out as many pages as you want for the price of a single page.
It was their own fault really. Getting us to print out 20-page state diagrams when we could have just as easily handed it in by sending them a file.
This was a long time ago, and the bug was fixed, but only shortly before I graduated.
18. Please Hold for 5 to 10 Minutes
Old call center I worked at made it very clear that calls less than two minutes, and greater than 15, would never get listened to by QA (which to their credit, was accurate the entire time I worked there ).
All that meant was those of us who had a mean person we didn’t want to deal with, could just put a caller on hold for 5-10 minutes for no reason as we “looked into that” for them, and then hang up the call with no possible repercussions.
Never saw how stupid of an idea that was, at least up until the time I left.
19. If You’re Not Picky, Groceries Can Be Free
Not sure if it’s a loophole exactly, but a grocery store chain used to have a policy that if you found an item on the sales floor that was expired, they would give you an equivalent item for free.
So in college, me, my roommate, and my girlfriend would go to the grocery at midnight and go through the meat, dairy, and bread sections looking for things that had just expired due to the change in date. I had discovered that they didn’t go around pulling newly expired items until around 5:00 AM. We would consistently roll up to the register with a cart full of chicken, steak, bread and cheese, all for free. They hated us, but it was their rule.
20. A Sonic Soda Addiction
Sonic had a “Free Route 44 with the completion of a survey” promo about 10-12 years ago or so. By complete accident, I found out that the survey codes for the free drink weren’t just printed on the receipts given with meals – ohhhh, no no no – they were printed on every receipt.
For at least a month, I’d go to Sonic before work and redeem my free Route 44 coupon and then ask for a receipt of the transaction. New survey code every single time. Got probably 20 free Route 44s before someone higher up caught on and killed the promotion. I’m sure they lost a ton of money on that loophole.
21. You Paid $400 for Your Xbox, I paid $250
Target had a deal on their website where if you put an Xbox One in your cart then added things like a controller or other accessories you would get percentages off your total. Thing is, if you removed the extra accessories from the cart as you were checking out, it wouldn’t remove the discount off. Got a $400 1 terabyte Xbox One about four years ago for like $150 bucks, gave it my dad as basically a Netflix machine.
22. Need New Shoes For Free, Ask Your Health Insurance Provider
I have some health issues but I’m also a runner. I run a few races every year. My neurologist knows this and thinks it’s fantastic. So he will write me orders for all kinds of stuff; compression wear, different support braces, shoes, etc. because I can get them from the med supply place with a script and my insurance will buy them.
I wasn’t even aware that I could do this. I see him every three months and every time he calls in new stuff for me. My insurance doesn’t put a cap on how often I can get new ones. I get these insane custom casted shoes that knock anything I could buy out of the water.
23. Take A Free Train Ride, Everyday
I have an app for train tickets. So you buy a ticket then it’s in your “wallet” but waits for you to activate it for use. So I just don’t activate it unless I see one of those ticket checker people.
24. Go To Summer School and Skip The Books
I just took a calculus course over the summer and the online textbook was required for homework. But they give a two-week free trial for leniency I guess. I noticed there wasn’t a date for the trials ending period so I just never bought the book as the class was pretty easy for me. Saved myself $350 as I didn’t need the physical book or the online homework access code.
25. Getting Your Dollar’s Worth
I once went to a vending machine. Put a dollar in, bought some chips, it gave me my money back. I tried it again, gave me four quarters back again. With one dollar I bought the whole row. Had like 40 bags of chips and a bunch of gobstoppers and crackers. When I went down the next row it kept my money, and thus the glitch ended. Ended up filling my book bag though, probably wouldn’t have been able to carry more.
26. An Emergency Situation
At one of the hospitals I work at, the WiFi is so locked down with firewalls as to almost be useless (you can’t even log onto ESPN much less any gaming sites or even the Apple App Store). When I’m working in the middle of the night and it gets slow, I like to play games.
I learned that I can use my phone as a hotspot until I get logged in, then I could switch my computer over to the hospital WiFi, and I somehow could get through their firewall. This also worked with downloading large files and updates from Steam.
27. Calling Out Sick
I once worked at a call center that would let you call out two days in a row as long as it was for the same reason and only counted it as one absence. Their thinking was most people could use two days when they call out sick but are afraid to take it and that makes more people sick.
What most people did was realize they could call out between their split days off and give themselves a four day weekend. They asked a girl once why she always took two days off and she was like “you give me the option and you’re surprised when I take it?”
28. Bringing Bereavement Hours To The Bank
At the company where my mother works in the human resources department, her assistant found a loophole that the overtime reports didn’t flag bereavement hours, no matter the hours. She stole half a million dollars over three years as a part-time employee making $18 an hour. She finally got caught, by my mom, because of a random comment she made that raised an eyebrow.
29. Getting Dollars From Dropped Calls
Many moons ago, Sprint used to have a 1-800 number that you would call for drop call credit (.50) and it could be called up to 20 times a month. You could also buy referrals for Sprint from eBay for dollars and you would get a nice referral credit. For two years, my cell phone bill was less than $5 every month. Man, those days were nice.
30. All You Can Eat, All Winter
Back when I was homeless, I found this newly opened place that was a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet.
Yeah, I guess they didn’t think that through.
Went there, paid the $9.95 and just spent the entire winter in a warm restaurant, on a soft sofa bench, eating and drinking very slowly and occasionally going to the bathroom for a poop or sponge bath.
Totally beats sleeping outside in the snow.
31. Letting It Run The Course
IT major at a community college. We use Cengage’s Mindtap for pretty much all of our coursework. And the way one professor who teaches the majority of the classes, you don’t have to do any work.
The labs are just instructions on how to do something followed by questions. You can just show the answers to the questions and not lose anything from it. The lab simulations are having to do a series of tasks in a virtual machine that they run. He just checks to see if you marked them as done, so you can start it, leave it running (he can see how long you spend on stuff) mark it as done, get full credit.
I try not to do it too often since this is my major, but sometimes you just don’t have time to deal with it, especially with how poorly the VMs run. Plus he has assignments that you actually have to do, plus tests, so I don’t feel too guilty about it.
32. Vending Machines or Virtual Transactions
My bank refunds ATM surcharges. It thinks the vending machines at work are ATMs.
33. Girl Scout Badge of Not-So-Much Honor
I got Girl Scouts to pay for one of my college courses. One of the badges required you to take an art class or workshop. I was under 18 so I could still get the badge. It paid for Drawing I.
34. Passenger, You And Only You – Are Now Browsing the Internet for FREE!
There was this airline that I flew once that had in-flight WiFi, but you had to pay a ton to use it, but if you chose to use their entertainment system, you wouldn’t have to pay.
The thing is, you had to download their app to use their entertainment system, but to download their app you have to go to the App Store, so they let you use WiFi to download the app and redirect you to their page in the App Store.
I just left the App Store and continued to browse whatever I wanted with the connection they provided me to download the app, but instead, I did whatever I wanted.
Free full speed in-flight internet was so great. The last time I flew with them though this didn’t work, I guess they corrected this bug. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
35. Picking Up Discounted Groceries
Even though I hate shopping at a certain big box store (rhymes with call dart), they have this grocery pickup where you order your groceries online, drive to the store at your appointment time, and they put the groceries in your car for you.
The loophole is that for new customers if you use a coupon code, you get $10 off. Every single time I use this service, I create a new email address so that I can use that coupon code.
36. Lot Of Movies, But Too Much Plastic
There was a deal where if you buy two boxes of Ziplocs, you get a free movie ticket. The cost of the two boxes was $3 less than a ticket and the coupons movie didn’t expire for a year. Anyway, I bought something like $250 worth and had free movies every week for a couple of months… literally bought all the boxes off the shelf in two stores. Took over a year to use all the bags.
37. Overload The Pizza Man On Purpose
A pizza place near my dorm had a ’15 minutes or its free’ if you order through the app. I and half of the floor would coordinate our orders so that all the orders would come at once when we were having parties, and would have tons of free pizza.
38. Parking Meter PRO
In Seattle, I have to pay for street parking every day. There are two ways you can pay for it: 1) pay at a meter and put the ticket in your car, or 2) use a phone app.
The street I park on only allows for four hours at a time, so when I get there in the morning, I’ll pay at the meter and then use the phone app four hours later while I’m at my desk.
Seattle friends, you can thank me later.