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If you’re reading this, you’ve likely heard of Swagbucks and you’re wondering if it’s actually worth your time as a money-making option. You’ve probably also read about it on a big name review site or two. While many of the reviews for Swagbucks that you’ll find on the web are written by someone who tried it out for a few days or a week so that they could post about it, this post is drawn from my 2+ years of experience (I joined Swagbucks in late January 2018) using the website, the app, and all the content in between.
You’ve probably learned the basics of Swagbucks from your research. You know that the site is owned and operated by Prodege LLC, the company that also owns MyPoints, InboxDollars, and ShopAtHome. You’ve also probably learned that tens of thousands of people have used or currently use Swagbucks and that it is not a scam. Lastly, you’ve surely learned that you can make money with Swagbucks.
The intent of this review is to give you a deeper understanding of the money-making opportunities on Swagbucks to help you determine if the site as a whole, or just some of the parts, are worth your time. To do that, I’ll explain many of the money-making options on the site as well as give you a candid list of some of the pros and cons (which also serve as a tl;dr for the review if you’re short on time) of each.
Additionally, read below for a detailed explanation of how I use the site as well as the approximate amount of money I’ve made during my time on the site.
Swagbucks: The Points System
In case this is your first time researching Swagbucks, it’s important for you to understand how the site’s points system actually works. Otherwise, a lot of the content in the review may not make sense.
Members are awarded points for completion of various tasks, including those that I will list below. The points are called “Swagbucks” or “SB” for short (hence the website’s name).
The Swagbucks you earn can be redeemed and have a base value of $.01 per SB. There are several options for how you can redeem your SB, but the most common options are gift cards from dozens of major retailers, restaurants, and websites (rewards start as low as $1 or 100 SB for an Amazon gift card and go as high as $50 or 5,000 SB for a Google Play gift card) or a cash transfer to PayPal in exchange for your SB.
- Surveys are always available
- Surveys can be filtered by amount of Swagbucks rewarded or by survey duration
- Bonus points are sometimes added to surveys if none have been accessed for some time (i.e. several days or more)
- Surveys are often low paying compared to other rewards sites
- Survey disqualifications happen frequently and, in most cases, no SB are granted no matter how much of the survey was actually completed.
Surveys - the bread and butter of almost every rewards site you can think of in some form or fashion. As we all know, companies and brands are built on how well they understand their customer base and the general population. And these companies are willing to pay money to find out what your opinion is on almost every topic that you can imagine.
When you first sign up for Swagbucks, you will have the opportunity to answer questions to identify your demographic, your interests, etc. so that Swagbucks can determine to which surveys you may be best suited to respond. You’ll also be asked periodically to update your responses to those questions to ensure that the site has the most up to date information with which to pair you to surveys.
One of the biggest draws of Swagbucks surveys in my opinion is the sheer number that are available, either through the main site or through Swagbucks’ partners. Whether you have the stomach for 15 minutes or 5 hours of surveys, you will always be able to find surveys with varying levels of rewards with which to fill your time.
For those of us who want to spend our time on the highest paying surveys or who only have a limited amount of available time, the main survey page on Swagbucks also allows filtering of surveys based on duration and payout.
Be on the lookout as well for “bonus” points on surveys that sometimes are granted to incentivize you to take surveys if you haven’t done so for a while. Long story short, if you’re burnt out from taking surveys and want to take a break for a few days, you could be rewarded with additional cash when you start taking surveys again.
I’ve gone into detail above about several of the positives of Swagbucks surveys. I’ve saved the cons for this section so that you’ll understand why I’m telling you now that I personally don’t spend a lot of time, if any, on Swagbucks surveys.
In my experience, the payout for Swagbucks surveys is somewhat lower than what you can receive even from other similar rewards sites. In most cases, the duration and payout of the surveys is equal to less than $.05 per minute of your time.
Additionally, surveys on Swagbucks disqualify entrants as frequently or more frequently than similar rewards sites and have no disqualification compensation in most cases, whether you’re disqualified one minute or thirty minutes into the survey.
If my comments above sound like something you can live with happily, then Swagbucks surveys are probably right up your alley. If not, keep reading below for some of my personal favorites for earning income on the site.
Cash back Shopping
- Hundreds of sites on which to earn cash back when shopping
- Swagbutton browser add-on helps you get cash back even when you don’t enter a shopping site through Swagbucks.
- Small cash bonuses (typically $5) on top of normal cash back from online shopping offered by Swagbucks monthly or more frequently to incentivize you to shop through their site.
- Other rebate sites may offer more cash back, a better user experience, or different sites on which to earn cash back.
Sites that offer cash back when shopping online are a dime a dozen these days. Honestly, I could compile a list of a few dozen rebate websites and that list would barely even scratch the surface.
While Swagbucks likely doesn’t offer the highest amount of cash back among rebate sites, the site does offer cash back (over 10% in some cases) on purchases from hundreds of different well-known and lesser-known sites.
One additional benefit if you do most of your online shopping on a web browser rather than through an app: the Swagbutton browser add-on will remind you if cash back is available on a site you navigate to even if you didn’t enter the website by going to Swagbucks first.
I personally spend more time thinking of ways to save or earn money than I spend thinking of ways to shell out money. But I have found getting cash back for online shopping through Swagbucks to be rewarding in more than a few instances.
Plus, be on the lookout for cash bonuses of $5 or more that Swagbucks gives monthly above the normal cash back percentages to incentivize you to do your online shopping through the site.
- Endless opportunities to choose from with a wide range of difficulties, payouts, and durations.
- Many offers rely on Swagbucks’ partners to track your progress and completion status and report it to Swagbucks in order for you to get paid.
The Discover section of the Swagbucks website has the most variety in money-making opportunities out of all the options I discuss in this review. The below list of examples is not all-inclusive, but it does give an idea of what you can find:
- Cash back and coupons for in-store shopping
- Payouts for signing up with dozens of service providers you know and love like Uber, Hulu, Postmates, HelloFresh, SiriusXM, BarkBox, Starz, Dollar Shave Club, and more.
- Earn SB for downloading and opening apps on your phone. In some cases, complete certain milestones within the app (e.g. registration, reaching a certain level, etc.) for even higher payouts.
- Get paid to join mailing lists if you’re interested in the product or service. Or if you’re willing to receive spam in your inbox for cash.
- Additional survey and video opportunities outside of those mentioned elsewhere in this review.
You can spend a long time scrolling through the earning opportunities in the Discover section before you run out of options. And chances are you could get cash back on a service to which you already subscribe or one that you’ve recently been wanting to check out.
One of the hidden gems of Swagbucks is the ability to install apps on your smartphone for payouts that typically range from $.02 - $.40. In most cases, all that’s required after installation in order for you to get paid is opening the app. Well worth the 30 seconds in my opinion.
One drawback of the Discover section is that a lot of the offers rely on a “pay-to-play” format. This means that the offer will require you to sign up for a subscription, purchase an item, give a donation, etc. in order for you to receive the payout, albeit typically a large one (e.g. some are as high as $50!). While the payout is often larger than the initial amount of cash you have to spend, the offer owners obviously hope they can entice you to pay for their service more than once.
Watch (i.e. Paid Videos)
- Videos can be watched on your computer, your phone, your tv, or all three simultaneously.
- Videos often autoplay, meaning you can passively earn SB for hours of videos with little to no interaction with the videos themselves.
- Payouts for watching videos are very small ($.01 - $.04 in most cases) and require that you “watch” upwards of 20 minutes of videos and ads in many instances for each small payout.
- Some ads (especially when watching through mobile apps) require that you click through in order to move forward with the video playlist.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average American spends two hours and forty-six minutes a day watching TV. The vast majority of us pay cable companies, streaming services, movie studios, and others for the opportunity to watch their content.
Swagbucks offers you the opportunity to join the privileged few who get paid for the time we spend watching tv content. The payouts are by no means gargantuan, but consistent “watching”, whether active or passive, can add up in your account.
For example, during 2019 I earned 17,726 SB (i.e. over $177) just by running videos on my phone and computer. My wife also earned over $83 on her account by passively watching videos.
The best part of the videos in my opinion is that they often require no interaction whatsoever, rendering the earning process completely passive. Who doesn’t love earning money for doing nothing?
Honestly, any member of Swagbucks who doesn’t at least passively watch videos on the site is likely missing out on an easy way to earn cash that takes little to no effort.
- Get paid (sometimes) by using Swagbucks built-in search engine
- The search feature is finicky at best and earning SB rewards this way is usually random.
Most people likely use a search engine from time to time, whether for finding a great deal on a new smart tv, learning more about that rewards website you just heard about, or thousands of other potential searches. Many of us probably use search engines multiple times a day. I know I do.
Instead of using Google for your searches (let’s admit it, probably not too many people use Bing or Yahoo Search these days), doing your search through Swagbucks can net you up to $.20 in some cases if the algorithm monitoring your search decides to reward you on a given day.
Like other search engines, it’s basically a given that Swagbucks is collecting your searches so they can offer targeted advertising options to the companies who advertise on the site. If you’re comfortable with receiving a few SB here and there in exchange for your searches, then searching on Swagbucks may be rewarding for you. Just remember that Google and other search engines also collect your data for advertising purposes, and pay you nothing when they collect it.
I don’t use the Swagbucks search engine anywhere near as much as I could, and probably should.
One of the main deficiencies I’ve seen is that it’s impossible to know whether your search will get rewarded or not. On the one hand, Swagbucks surely does this to ensure that users don’t game the system by typing in specific searches just for rewards. On the other hand, the Swagbucks search engine is not as user friendly or efficient as Google or other search engines. In the end, sacrificing higher quality search results for randomly granted rewards is likely not for everyone.
- Get paid small amounts of SB to play Swagbucks’ free games
- Most games are completely pay-to-play, meaning you’ll earn only small amounts of cash for spending money on in-game items or contests.
Getting paid to play videos games really is the dream, isn’t it? At least for those of us who grew up playing our Nintendo 64 or PlayStation for hours on end every day.
Before you quit your day job to turn professional, be aware that this earning method has one of the lowest payout ratios by far on the site.
The gaming options are split up into essentially two categories: pay-to-play and free Swagbucks games.
Swagbucks offers a dozen or so games that will pay you a few cents back for every dollar you spend in game. Many of them are from brands you’ll recognize (like Trivial Pursuit, Angry Birds, and Scrabble). However, you’re certain to lose far more money than you gain by earning SB through this format.
Swagbucks also offers two or three free games (they seem to appear and disappear on the site randomly) like Swag Jump and Swagasaurus Run. The games are relatively simplistic and don’t offer consistent payouts, but if you play long enough or get far enough in the game, you’ll likely be rewarded with a few SB for your troubles.
With all the free games and higher quality paid games out there for PC, Console, and Mobile platforms, spending a dollar to play a game and get a few pennies back just doesn’t make sense.
While I have played the free Swagbucks games a handful of times, the rewards are too low and too inconsistent to keep my attention for long.
- Receive 10% of every SB your referrals receive paid directly into your account.
- Receive a bonus (I’ve seen it as low as $3 and as high as $10) when a referral signs up and uses the site or $1 when your referral installs the Swagbutton.
- Finding referrals who use the site consistently can be challenging to say the least.
It’s amazing how many rewards are out there for people who are willing to “convert” their friends, family, and random strangers to using a product or service. Financial institutions, gaming sites, e-commerce retailers, and more are willing to pay you money or give you free benefits for helping them advertise to people within your sphere of influence.
Swagbucks has jumped on this bandwagon as well. If someone you refer joins the site, you will automatically receive 10% of everything they make while using the site (a few exclusions apply). Additionally, if they earn a certain amount in their first 30 days after sign up (currently $3) you and your referral will both automatically receive a small cash bonus.
The main difficulty here is the same as with other referral programs: finding referrals to even accept your invitation, let alone use the site consistently, can be extremely challenging. To put it mildly, for every referral out there who uses the site over and over, there are probably ten other referrals who joined, got disqualified from a survey, and then never came back to Swagbucks again.
While finding referrals is definitely a challenge, the almost completely passive nature of the referral system (unless you’re a bit over-aggressive with your invitations and reminders) makes the effort well worth it in my opinion. I referred my wife to Swagbucks when she signed up and I made over $50 in 2019 from the referral bonus associated with her account.
Conclusion: Swagbucks is a win-win
It was a worthwhile journey, but we’ve come to the end of the review together. At this point, you’ve hopefully learned a thing or two about Swagbucks’ true earning potential and maybe even identified a couple of money-making methods on the site that you would like to try out.
For those of you who are still doubting the earning potential of the site, it will hopefully calm your fears to know that my wife and I together earned almost $1000 dollars in 2019 from Swagbucks, primarily from watching videos passively, taking surveys, and interacting with other areas of the site.
Swagbucks can, without a doubt, be a small, but regular source of income for those who use the site consistently and follow the tips found above. No one gets rich just by using Swagbucks. But most fortunes aren’t built in one day or through one money-making method anyway.
If this review was helpful and you’re interested in trying Swagbucks out for yourself, sign up here.
And feel free to check out my other blogs and posts for more tips on money-making methods, personal finance, and cryptocurrency.