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Swagbucks Review – Earn Rewards & Make Extra Money Online

At a Glance
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3.5 / 5

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  • What It Is: A free search engine platform that lets users earn points, called Swagbucks, for common online activities such as searching the Web, completing surveys, and shopping online
  • Key Features: Earn rewards from many common online activities through the Swagbucks website, browser toolbar, or mobile app; points can be redeemed for rewards such as retailer gift cards, PayPal cash, or Visa reward cards
  • Advantages: Earn money for activities you already do; get points for referring friends; no special skills or qualifications required
  • Disadvantages: Can be time consuming; some activities might not be worth the effort; the site is sensitive to scammers, so any unusual activity might cause your account to be shut down

Modern companies love big data — and they’re increasingly willing to pay for it.

Swagbucks offers you rewards such as gift cards and PayPal cash in exchange for sharing your Web browsing and online shopping habits, participating in surveys, and giving feedback. It’s a platform where you can earn rewards for online activities you’re probably already doing. Since many retailers and other companies are already tracking your habits online anyway, you might as well make a little bit of money from it, right?

How Swagbucks Works

Signing up for an account and getting started is simple. There are many ways to earn points (also called Swagbucks or SBs), some more time-consuming than others.

Earning Points

Here’s a rundown of the ways you can engage with Swagbucks, and an estimate of how many SBs you’re likely to earn for each activity.

1. Search the Web

One of the easiest ways to earn Swagbucks is to start using it as your search engine. Instead of opening up Google or Bing, switch your default to Swagbucks. You can also add the Swagbucks search toolbar to your Web browser. When you do your web searches through Swagbucks, you earn points for every search you make.

Your rewards will depend on how many searches you do each day and what those searches are, but you can usually earn about $0.10 in Swagbucks for every 10 searches you do. If you find that your search results for a particular query aren’t great on the Swagbucks portal, you can always switch over to Google to see if you get the answers you need. There’s no rule against switching back and forth from one search engine to the other.

2. Shop Online

When you shop online through Swagbucks, you earn a bit of cash back in the process. Swagbucks has a wide range of stores, including big retailers like Amazon and Target, where you can earn about 1% back on the total amount you spend if you shop at these sites through Swagbucks. The site also often features deals where certain stores give you a higher percentage back, usually only for a limited time.

Swagbucks is an affiliate program, a common arrangement in which a merchant pays an affiliate a small commission to send Web traffic their way. If you click on a link to an outside merchant through Swagbucks and buy something at that merchant in the same browsing session, Swagbucks gets a commission and sends a small part of that back to you in the form of SBs. To participate in the affiliate program and earn SBs with each online purchase you make, ensure you’re using the portal every time you buy something online.

If you want to make it even easier on yourself, download the SwagButton browser extension on Google Chrome. When you shop online using Chrome, SwagButton automatically searches for coupons and cash back on the site you’re visiting. It then alerts you to available offers and coupon codes automatically.

The amount of SBs you earn varies by retailer, and there are often limited-time offers or flash sales where merchants double or triple the number of SBs you can earn with purchases. If you use the Swagbucks site or SwagButton to do your online shopping, just make sure that these kinds of flash sales aren’t encouraging you to spend more money than you meant to in the first place.

3. Take Surveys & Participate in Polls

One of the more lucrative ways to make money through Swagbucks is by taking surveys on the site. Before you’re able to take a survey through the Swagbucks portal, you generally have to answer a few qualifying questions, but Swagbucks says the site tries to learn from your answers and match you to surveys that are a good fit. Surveys cover a range of topics, including services, brand recognition, product appeal, and advertising.

You can generally expect to earn anywhere between 40 and 200 SBs per survey, which can take anywhere from five minutes to as long as 30 minutes to complete. Whether the rewards are worth your time depends on a few factors, including the number and length of the surveys you can qualify for. But, if you have the time, taking surveys on the site is the most efficient way to earn SBs.

4. Watch Videos

Swagbucks has a bunch of videos in categories from health to food to travel. The more videos you play, the more SBs you earn, up to almost 150 per day. It’s not the most lucrative way to earn SBs, but it’s one of the easiest because it doesn’t require your active attention or engagement. You can play the videos on mute in another tab on your computer while you work. You can also download the Swagbucks TV app to your phone and set it to play back-to-back videos. Just make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi so you don’t use up all your data streaming videos.

5. Play Games

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who play video games, online games, and computer games, you might want to play some of these through the Swagbucks platform. You can earn SBs for playing all kinds of games, including solitaire, slots, and memory games.

The amount of SBs you earn for each game varies from day to day depending on promotions and other special deals. But generally, the rewards are modest and it’s probably only worth your time if you were already interested in playing online games. If the games don’t appeal to you by themselves, it’s best to focus on earning SBs in other ways.

6. Download the Mobile App

You can also earn SBs through the mobile app if you’re not sitting in front of your computer but still have some time to kill. The mobile app offers all the same options as the browser version. It can be a good way to pass the time if you’re parked in the carpool lane picking your kids up from school, enduring a long bus or train commute, or stuck in the waiting room at the dentist. If you tend to scroll mindlessly through your phone during the day to fill time in between activities, consider downloading the app to earn a few points while doing so.

7. Refer Friends

As is the case with many affiliate sites, referring your friends to Swagbucks with a code or referral link is an easy way to get a few extra SBs in your account. When a friend signs up for Swagbucks through your referral, you get a bonus of 300 SBs as long as they earn 300 SBs within the first 30 days, at which point they will also earn a 300 SB bonus.

Even better, once you refer someone to Swagbucks, you earn 10% of whatever SBs they earn in select categories — Shop, Search, Watch, Play, Answer, and Discover — for as long as they’re active on the site. There is no limit on how many SBs you can earn from referrals. If the person you refer downloads the SwagButton extension to Chrome within the first 14 days of signing up, each of you also gets an extra 100 SBs.

Redeeming Points

When you’ve amassed enough Swagbucks, you can redeem them for various rewards, including retailer gift cards, Visa rewards cards, and PayPal cash. Each SB is worth about one cent, so 100 SBs yields you about a dollar. Keep that exchange rate in mind when you’re determining how much time you want to devote to the platform.

Swagbucks can be redeemed with a payout minimum of $3. It doesn’t benefit you to hoard SBs, so redeem your points early and often. Make your first goal a $5 reward — that way, you can see how often you’re able to redeem your SBs for $5 and gauge whether or not the time and effort is worth the money. There are horror stories online of people collecting thousands of SB points and then having a hard time redeeming them, or having their accounts frozen by the site for one reason or another and losing all their points.

Redeem your points quickly and often to avoid this fate, and keep in mind that when you do redeem points, you don’t get your chosen gift card instantaneously. It can take up to 10 days before you receive the email notification that a gift card is available to download from your profile. If you use PayPal to redeem points, the bank transfer can take additional time to complete, so plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to receive the money in your bank account before you spend it.

Advantages of Joining Swagbucks

Reasons why you might want to join Swagbucks include:

  1. It’s free and easy to join.
  2. You can earn SBs for activities you’re already doing online.
  3. It doesn’t require any special skills or training.
  4. There’s no minimum time commitment.
  5. Referring friends and family members easily earns you SBs.
  6. You can earn a wide variety of gift cards, including some that are as good as cash.

Disadvantages of Joining Swagbucks

Drawbacks and common complaints to consider before joining Swagbucks include:

  1. Payouts aren’t huge, no matter how much time you spend on the site.
  2. It can be easy to waste a lot of time on activities that only earn you a few dollars.
  3. The fine print and payout amounts for various activities seem to change often, usually to the disadvantage of the consumer.
  4. Shopping through the site might encourage you to spend more money than you originally planned.

Final Word

You won’t get rich with Swagbucks, but it is an easy way to earn a few extra bucks each month, depending on how much energy you devote to it. If your budget is tight and you don’t have much disposable income, earning $10 to $30 per month through Swagbucks might be the answer you’re looking for to fund small indulgences without feeling guilty.

However, don’t think of Swagbucks as a way to generate a ton of passive income to fund your lifestyle. If you want to boost your income significantly, you’re better off spending your time on developing job skills or working a side gig.

Do you participate in Swagbucks or other paid survey websites? Do you find they’re worth your time?

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3.5 / 5

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Swagbucks is a popular website with more than 20 million active users who access the site in a number of different ways. Some people spend an hour or more each day trying to earn SBs to convert to cash or gift cards, while others are more casual users who simply use the search function or shop through the affiliate program. Because it doesn’t cost anything to sign up and there’s no minimum commitment, it’s a low-risk way to earn a little extra money each month.

The ideal Swagbucks user is someone who can make the site work for them instead of the other way around. It’s worth it if you can find ways to fit it into your life and monetize online activity you’re already doing, like searching the Web, playing games, or shopping online. But if you’re looking to add a significant revenue stream to your monthly budget, Swagbucks won’t help. It’s not a part-time job, but it’s a way to earn a few extra bucks for your time on the Internet.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Marisa Bell-Metereau
A grant writer and personal finance fanatic, Marisa is an avid traveler who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. When she’s not reading or writing for work or play, she enjoys running, thrifting, and searching for the most authentic Mexican food in the city.

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