Free Money? Well, Sort of...

If you are looking for free scratch cards to win real money, I'm here to provide a balanced view of what's available out there.  

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What are Online Scratch Cards Anyway?
The Internet has found a way to make an online version of lottery scratch cards, which are traditionally sold (in the offline world) at gas stations and supermarkets.  Also known as "scratchers," these cards are usually priced in the $1-5 range.  The buyer scratches off the surface with a coin or fingernail to reveal the contents of the game card and to determine if a prize has been won.  You can even make your own scratch cards if you are a crafty sort of person.  The online version of these cards typically use Flash or JavaScript and can be found at a wide variety of online casino or online gambling sites.

Two Types of Free Scratch Cards to Win Real Money
When it comes to free online scratchers, there are two basic types:

1. Web-based - These games do not require any type of software download to your computer.  The scratch card is completely housed within a website.  You typically need to sign up for an account with the website and then you use your mouse to scratch off the card.

2. Software Downloads  - These are applications that must be downloaded to your computer and run as stand-alone programs.  Of course, these applications require an internet connection, but the software is running locally on your machine.  I recommend avoiding these types of online scratch cards because of the risk of viruses and spyware associated with some of them.   

Can I Really Win Real Money with Free Online Scratch Cards?
Yes and no.  In many cases, you can find websites that offer special promotions (check out my list of the best new scratch card sites), especially for new account holders.  You might find a site that matches 100% of your deposit in the form of free online scratcher cards.  For example, you open an account, deposit $50 and receive another $50 in scratch cards.  In that sense, yes, you can win real money with free online scratch cards; however, I wouldn't really call this "free."  After all, you must go through the trouble of setting up an account and you must (usually) deposit and risk your own money first.  

Other sites claim to offer free bonuses (typically $5-10 in free online scratchers) just for setting up an account, even without a deposit at all.  One example of this is the site "Top Scratch."  These websites can be valid, but the hassle of signing up for a new account can be time consuming.  You'll often need to provide a valid email address, address, phone, etc., and you'll be hounded to come back to the site if you provide all of this personal information.  It is also likely that your information will be sold to advertisers and you can expect to see a lot more junk mail and spam coming soon.  You will find that many of these sites do not accept customers based in the USA, but they won't tell you that until they've captured your contact details.  With all of that said, technically you can win real money through those free scratchers you get for signing up.  One more "catch" to be aware of is that you may need to play a certain amount of credits before you are eligible for a withdrawal.  Be sure to read the fine print.  

Finally, you might find other forms of Web-based scratch cards that offer non-cash prizes and promotions.  For example, an online retailer might use a similar form of promotion as a way to reward loyal customers with coupon codes and free items as promotions, but I don't consider these promos to be "real money."

A Word of Caution
Before you go looking for free scratch cards, remember to check the laws of your country/state before engaging in online gambling.  Also, be sure to check the reputation of the websites offering free online scratch cards.  Some of these sites are the type that open dozens of pop-up windows and appear shady in my opinion, so I encourage a heavy dose of caution.  If it seems like a deal is to good to be true, it probably is!

Now you know that free scratch cards can win real money (technically), but not without some serious effort and hassle on your part, and/or initial deposits first.