You Can Get So Much Cool, Free Stuff At Conventions If You Play Your Cards Right

Voting Rules
Vote up the tried-and-true techniques you've relied on to score free merch at cons.

If you're a regular con-goer, you already know about all the swag you can get at conventions, but what's the best way to maximize your take?

Cons vary in size, but larger ones like San Diego Comic-Con have hundreds of booths, dozens of which give away freebies. It's easy to get overwhelmed, so stick to your guns, and keep that desire to get as much free stuff as possible burning.

You can't just walk into a con expecting to collect all the free goodies by meandering aimlessly. No, you need a well-thought-out plan that details how to get free stuff at conventions without working too hard. Study up, and all the limited edition buttons and posters will be yours!


  • 1
    10 VOTES

    Listen To Booth Attendants' Spiels

    Listen To Booth Attendants' Spiels
    Photo: William Tung / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    A ton of booth attendants are forced to give short presentations on whatever new product or service they represent, and these demonstrations are often accompanied by giveaways. Rarely do the spiels run longer than five minutes, so why not nod along to get some goodies? 

    10 votes
  • 2
    8 VOTES

    Search Every Nook And Cranny Of The Venue

    Search Every Nook And Cranny Of The Venue
    Photo: Tunechick83 / Pixabay / CC0

    Navigating a con can be taxing. After spending hours wading through crowds and standing patiently in line for free goodies, it's hard to work up the motivation to keep going. Your feet probably hurt, and your hotel room is calling out to you. 

    This inevitably leads to booth-skipping, or in extreme cases, fans ignoring whole halls in favor of calling it a day. In these situations, it's important to fight through the pain, as the last booth you visit might have the best giveaway yet.

    8 votes
  • 3
    7 VOTES

    Trade Freebies With Others

    While some con-goers are understandably apprehensive about asking other attendees for free stuff, offering to trade merch is much more socially acceptable. 

    You can broach the conversation by offering up a specific item, or (if you're desperate) by telling your target you're willing to give them anything they want. Just make sure neither party comes off as overly creepy. 

    7 votes
  • 4
    15 VOTES

    Get A Swag Bag ASAP

    Get A Swag Bag ASAP
    Photo: Frederik Hermann / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    A ton of different booths hand out swag bags, whether they be empty totes emblazoned with the company's logo or plastic satchels stuffed with goodies. Either way, the bag is going to act as a magnet for people at other booths to throw stuff at you.

    If you're walking around with a not-yet-full bag, don't be surprised if someone calls out to help you fill it. 

    15 votes
  • 5
    10 VOTES

    Participate In Marketing Stunts

    Participate In Marketing Stunts
    Photo: Lineplot Productions / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    If they want you to spin a big wheel or answer trivia questions, do it. They’ll give you something for your time. At the New York Comic-Con there's a HarperCollins book wheel; spin the wheel, get a free book. It's hard to see the downside in that.

    You might even get extra lucky and be asked to test a new game, in which case you'll get some branded merch as compensation. That's basically getting paid to test unreleased video games.

    10 votes
  • 6
    10 VOTES

    Be A Kind Human

    Be A Kind Human
    Photo: John Nakamura Remy / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    It may sound simple, but it's highly effective. If you tell someone you love whatever they’re selling or representing, you might get a small token of appreciation in return. It's not guaranteed to work, but if you act friendly and enthused for the duration of the con, your persistence is bound to pay off at some point. Alternatively, you could be kind because it's the right thing to do. Regardless of your motivations, give it a shot.

    10 votes