My dear friend Greg is a big fan of the “cost neutral” approach to spending, which essentially means having other people pay for your stuff. As the owner of both a home and a barbershop in Chicago, he uses the cost-neutral approach as much as possible.

He has money-saving hacks for everything. The rent from his two tenants pays for his place; he’s agreed to drive an RV cross-country in exchange for a miniscule rental free; and he uses an internet provider that gives you free data when you let others tap into your network.

Greg has also turned the referral code hack into an art. He shares them with his friends to earn credit on anything from ride shares to food delivery services.

Greg estimates that he’s saved about $600 in the past year using referral codes.

I, on the other hand, consider trying to persuade people to use a referral code to be too much of a hassle. So is the referral code hack game worth it to save a buck? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each side, shall we?

Team Pro-Referral Code


Aside from saving money, you’ll probably be the first to learn of new apps, products, and services. Greg has codes for Uber, Lyft, and a bevy of food delivery services based in Chicago. So if he’s saved $600 over the course of a year, that breaks down to about $50 a month in savings. Not too shabby for asking the simple question of “Have you used Lyft before? If not, here’s a code for $50 credit.”


You run the risk of being a bother to others. You’ll also subject your friends to services that they may not enjoy after all. Greg has joked about sending referral codes in holiday cards, but there are some people who really do push them on you. And depending on how intense you are about it, it can turn into a proper part-time job.

Team Anti-Referral Code


You don’t have to go through the trouble of setting up different accounts for these services. I caved in to a $10 credit from GrubHub. While I only ended up spending about $6, I wonder how much the prices on the entrées are inflated, if the delivery fee that gets tacked on is worth it, and so forth.

Plus, I save on brain space. I don’t have to keep tabs on what accounts I have, how much credit I have with each service, or which friends I’ve already hit up for referral codes.


Aside from missing out on certain money-saving hacks, I really can’t see any downsides for not sharing referral codes. Obviously, I’m biased. (Sorry!)

Greg's Referral Code Hack Tips

Here are some of Greg's tips on how you can make the most out of referral code sharing:

1. Spread the Word From the Get-Go

Referral codes are definitely hot right after a product or service first launches. Then they fizzle. So you’ll want to share your referral code with as many people as possible from the outset. Though Greg claims that he’s been able to share certain referral codes for as long as five years.

2. Keep a Log

Greg has a document where he keeps all his referral code links. That way, he doesn’t have to waste time digging around and can easily access them as needed. After I learned this hot tip from Greg, I decided to try it out. I have a total of three referral codes and have only shared them twice. My success rate wasn't very high.

3. Suss People Out Before Asking

When you first offer a referral code to someone, they may be the most receptive if you ask them in one of three ways:

  • Just let them know you have a coupon for them.
  • Let them know that they get a free credit of X amount when they use the referral code.
  • Or let them know you also get a free credit when they use the code.

Figuring out which tactic to use is a challenge in itself. If you want to play it safe, try one of the first two approaches. But if the person likes to help others, then the third tactic might be the best.

So if you’re curious about getting into the game, try out a referral code hack and see how you fare. Have fun!