You can get free retail gift cards with the iPhone Gyft App. Those plastic retail store gift cards that you find on a wall of cards in grocery stores, convenience stores and other retailers, are available in digital form for your iPhone. The Gyft app offers gift cards from over 100 retailers including Lowes, Sephora, Amazon, Ann Taylor, American Express, Macy's, McDonalds and many more. The Gyft app works with Apple's new Passbook app that comes with the iOS 6 upgrade. To celebrate, Sephora and Brookstone are offering $5 gift cards for free.
Gyft iPhone App
If you have a plastic gift card, you can add it to Gyft by tapping the "upload your plastic giftcards" icon and typing in the card number. Gift cards for all participating retailers can be bought directly through the app.
Buy a card for yourself or send a gift card to your Facebook friends or people in your contact list. The app can list your friends in the order of upcoming birthdays so you won't forget to send them a gift card. When you receive a gift card, you will get an email or text from the person who is sending it to you. Tapping on the link takes you to a page where you verify that the app is installed.
Gyft is not automatically password protected. Be sure to go into the Gyft App settings to create a passcode pin. Once created, the app will lock, requiring your pin to open it so others can't get to your gift cards.
How to Get Your Free Gift Cards
To receive the free gift cards: download the Gyft App from the App Store, and tap on the Sephora and the Brookstone card icons. Tap on "redeem" and follow the onscreen instructions. Note that when I redeemed the Brookstone card it had an expiration date of October 10th, so it's best to redeem the gift cards sooner than later. If you want to use the card from the Gyft app, tap redeem to show the barcode and card number to the cashier.
Apple's Passbook App
In my article on first steps to setup iOS 6, I wrote about how to add cards to Passbook. Passbook creates a virtual wallet on your iPhone to digitally store your rewards/loyalty cards—Regal Cinema, Rite-Aid—as well as airline and concert tickets, and gift cards. The benefit of using Passbook is that you can flash your phone at the cashier (or ticket taker) rather than having to fish a card out of a wallet stuffed with plastic rewards cards. So far, it has been difficult to add cards to Passbook, but Gyft is making it easier.
When you buy, receive, or enter a gift card into Gyft, you can send it to Passbook easily. In the Gyft app, tap on the gift card you want to send to Passbook. Tap on the "i" in the bottom right corner of the gift card and tap on "Add to Passbook." The Passbook card will appear. It doesn't notify you that it's Passbook, but you'll see an "add" button in the upper right corner. Tap the "add" button and it will be included in your Passbook wallet app.
If you haven't upgraded to iOS 6 on your iPhone, do this first.
Here are first steps to setup iPhone 5 or iOS 6