Win a gift card for a penny, if you can sit in front of your computer for hours


With all day at home with an 18-month-old daughter, Cara Clark has enough free time to spend a few hours a day on-line bidding on discounted gift cards at the auction Web site, Her computer work has paid off in the six months since the site went live, netting her $3,000 worth of gift cards for $400.

Owner Sanj Raj's site allows the public to bid as little as a penny for a $50 gift card to Walmart, Target or a prepaid Visa card. But getting to the promised land of winning an auction can take luck and hours of bidding in one-cent increments.

A $3 entry fee gives you the right to enter an auction for items such as a $50 gift card. The auction lasts for a set period of 1 minute and 15 seconds. Every time a new bid is received, however, the price increases by a penny and the auction counter is reset back to 1 minute and 15 seconds to give other users a chance to counter-bid. The auction ends when no new bids are received within that 1 minute and 15 seconds. A $4.99 shipping charge and the $3 to join an auction means winners pay $8 in addition to their winning bid.

Within each auction, however, is a random "penny buy" that pops up and lets bidders pay only 1 penny for the item if they can answer two simple questions before anyone else does. Whether or not the "penny buy" pops up depends on the popularity of the auction item, and it can take from a minute to five hours or even a day before it comes up in an auction.