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Woman Leverages Rewards Programs To Pay For Christmas

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Wouldn't it be great to do all of your holiday shopping and spend next to nothing?

If you start now, you may be able to next year. CBS 2's Susan Carlson introduces you to one woman who really knows how to make reward points pay off.

Staci Gerardi started Christmas shopping months ago. She got all of her presents worth about $500 but only spent $30 total. And that was just for shipping.

So, how did she do it? Gerardi says "it's like game." She collects rewards through websites such as Pampers, My Coke Rewards, Swagbucks and Rewardport.

Throughout the year, she gets points just by logging on, inputting codes, referring friends and watching ads.

Consumer experts say it's a quick and easy way to basically get something for nothing.

"There are all of these different sites to help you get cash back, rebates, points or miles, and you can earn it for the programs you're most loyal to," Kelli Grant of Smart Money magazine said.

Gerardi earns at least four points every day. She often accumulates more than 100 points in just one day. She earns the most when she does Web searches through the Swagbucks search engine.

After she has thousands of points saved up, she starts cashing them in for products and gift cards. Gerardi usually sends herself the gift cards so she can use them at her favorite stores, such as Amazon or Target.

"I wouldn't be able to really holiday shop without it," she said.

She redeemed a total of 35,000 points and that was enough, along with her savvy shopping skills, to pay for all of this year's presents for family and friends.

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