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I got over $100 worth of free stuff on my birthday—but these are the 5 places actually worth visiting

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How and where to score over $100 worth of birthday freebies

For my birthday last August, I spent the day traipsing around New York City, attempting to acquire as many freebies as I could. I was largely successful, too: I ended up with $111.18 worth of free food, products and beauty treatments from 17 places.

However, not every stop proved worth my time, as some rewards were far more valuable than others. When my birthday came around again this year, I took a different approach and zeroed in on the restaurants and retailers that offered the best deals.

If you're planning on scoring your own free birthday deals, keep in mind that it's important to plan ahead. Many places require a coupon or code that's only available via email or through an app. Sign up for loyalty and rewards programs well before your birthday month in order to make sure you end up with deals in your inbox.

Here are the five best places to score free stuff on your birthday, based on my own experience, from lowest to highest dollar value.

Moe's Southwest Grill

Items: 'Homewrecker' burrito and chips
Value: $9
My rating: 5/5 stars

I'd heard that Moe's gives out free burritos for birthdays, and I was not disappointed.

To get the deal, I signed up for Moe's Rockin Rewards program and downloaded the app. My birthday perk appeared in the app, and all I had to do at the store was show the app to the cashier in lieu of payment. I also made sure to call ahead, as not every franchise participates in the deal.

Between the burrito and accompanying chips, I got a complete and filling meal for free.

Emmie Martin | CNBC

Mario Badescu

Item: Rosewater facial spray
Value: $10
My rating: 3/5 stars

As a benefit of signing up for its mailing list, skincare company Mario Badescu emailed me a promo code worth $10 on my birthday. Although my birthday was in August, it didn't expire until well into September.

I used the code right away to order a bottle of the facial spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater, which retails for $7. With shipping and tax, the total came to just over $13, so I still had to pay a few bucks, but overall it was a good deal.

Godiva Chocolatier

Items: Four chocolate bars
Value: $10
My rating: 5/5 stars

For chocolate lovers like myself, Godiva's rewards program is a must. For my birthday, the company emailed me a $10 voucher that could be used both in stores or online. I headed to a nearby location and picked up four of the classic bars, which retail for around $3 each, but are discounted when you buy four for $10.

Emmie Martin | CNBC

Sephora

Item: Bite Beauty sampler kit
Value: $21
My rating: 4/5 stars

Sephora's Beauty Insider program is popular for its annual birthday giveaways, which I've collected for several years now. When I stopped by in 2018, I got a sampler from Bite Beauty, which included a miniature lip crayon, miniature lipstick, lip balm and lip scrub.

You can't buy the sample sizes at Sephora, but the kit is currently available from Bite for $21 on Amazon, up from around $15 when I originally scored the freebie.

Benefit

Item: Eyebrow wax
Value: $21
My rating: 5/5 stars

Benefit's free eyebrow wax was hands-down the best value I found all day. I love getting my eyebrows done at the company's brow bars, but costs can add up quickly. For my birthday, the procedure was free — all I had to pay was tip.

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