There are over 20 ways to earn money on Swagbucks, the most popular online rewards site. These include taking surveys, watching videos, playing games and browsing the web, among many others.
But to squeeze the most money out of your time on Swagbucks, you have to use a little bit of strategy and go beyond just trying to power through as many tasks as possible.
In this article, we’re going to highlight the very few legitimate hacks that can help you ramp up your Swagbucks earnings. We’ll also explain why a few often-touted strategies either don’t work well or don’t work at all, and answer some common questions about the service.
If you aren’t familiar with Swagbucks yet, we recommend signing up and giving our full Swagbucks review a read. It goes into detail about how the site works and includes full breakdowns of every earning method on the platform.
What It Means to “Hack” Swagbucks
When we say “hack,” we aren’t advocating trying to cheat Swagbucks. Instead, we’re talking about optimizing your time on the site to earn as much money as possible as quickly as possible.
Trying to cheat Swagbucks is not only wrong, it’s also virtually impossible; the company keeps a close eye on irregular activity and permanently suspends users for trying to exploit the system.
Unfortunately, some of the most commonly-suggested “hacks” you’ll find online are clear violations of the site’s terms of service.
Examples include using multiple accounts, a strategy some users employ in order to claim the most lucrative offers on the site more than once. If Swagbucks catches you using more than one account, they’ll suspend both of them — and you’ll be permanently banned from the platform.
Other examples include less obvious violations, such as unnatural activity while browsing the web with the Swagbucks search engine. If Swagbucks believes you’re running searches just to earn points — instead of browsing the web as you naturally would — it can suspend you.
Swagbucks has a list of offenses that may result in suspension in its help section.
The Five Key Swagbucks Hacks
With so many different types of tasks and offers available on Swagbucks, it can be hard to determine which ones will make you the most money and which ones you should ignore.
So instead, put these five key Swagbucks hacks to use to maximize your earnings on the site.
#1: Focus on Money Makers
Swagbucks has plenty of offers that pay a few SBs here and there. But remember: 1 SB is approximately equal to 1 cent.
So while you can find dozens of offers that pay a couple of SBs just for clicking on a link, or surveys that pay 10 SBs for three minutes of your time, you would have to spend many hours completing these types of tasks to make any real money.
You’ll earn a much higher return by focusing on “money makers,” which are offers where you spend money up-front and then get paid more in SBs than you spent.
Why do offers like these exist?
Simply put, because companies are willing to pay for new customers. They hope you’ll sign up for a service or buy a product, genuinely like that service or product, and then remain a customer beyond that initial transaction.
Note: You’ll find money makers throughout the different sections of the site, but the best place to look for them is in the “Discover” category.
There are two primary types of money makers:
#1. Open a financial account: Swagbucks has numerous offers for bank accounts, investment accounts and credit cards. These typically offer the highest payouts on the site. You generally have to open an account and then deposit a certain amount of money within a set timeframe. You may also have to keep the account open for a specific time period.
Here’s a screenshot of a money maker.
#2. Sign up for a product trial or a subscription: You can earn plenty of SBs by signing up for subscription boxes (such as shaving kits), meal kits, media streaming services and more.
Here are some examples of money makers that were recently offered:
- North One Bank: Earn 15,000 SBs ($150) by opening a business checking account and depositing $50.
- Aspiration Bank: Earn 3,500 SBs ($35) by opening a checking account and depositing $25.
- Stash: Earn 3,000 SBs ($30) by opening a micro-investing account and depositing $5.
- Truebill: Earn 1,500 SBs ($15) by linking your bank account and signing up for the seven-day free trial.
We tested these, and the total time it took to complete all four offers (earning $240) was less than one hour. Here’s the activity report showing the earnings (minus the Truebill SBs, which had yet to credit at the time this article was written).
When taking advantage of money-makers, pay attention to the following:
- What actions do you have to take to earn the SBs? Just signing up isn’t always enough. For example, you may need to deposit a certain amount of money or make a purchase.
- How long do you have to leave the account open? Swagbucks often stipulates that you must keep your account open beyond the trial period. For example, you could be prompted to sign up for a free 30-day trial but only earn SBs if you keep the account open for a minimum of 31 days.
- What are the account cancellation policies? Does the Swagbucks partner provide clear guidance on closing the account if you choose to do so? Do they charge any fees for closing the account? Are the requirements to do so difficult or tedious (e.g., you have to call them on the phone during limited business hours)?
- Specifically when will you be charged, how much will you be charged, and what are the recurring future charges? You almost always agree to be charged on a recurring basis unless you cancel. You must know precisely when those charges will hit and how many days you have to cancel.
With all of this in mind, your top Swagbucks strategy should be working through every money maker you have access to before moving on the lower-paying tasks, as they pay dramatically more on a per-hour basis than activities like searching the web or watching videos.
#2: Use Virtual Credit Cards
Money makers require you to spend money upfront, and free trials almost always require you to provide credit card info for future billing. This can lead to problems.
The whole point of signing up for these offers is to score large amounts of easy SBs. The last thing you want to happen is to forget about a subscription and get charged — or worse yet, cancel and get charged anyway — rendering your SB earnings moot (or even resulting in a net loss).
There’s also a certain level of risk in signing up for many services with your credit card information.
Not all of Swagbucks‘ partners are well known/thoroughly-vetted companies, and the more sites you give your information to, the greater the risk that your information could be compromised through a hack or other security lapse.
Related: Tips for preventing identity theft.
For these reasons, we recommend using Privacy.com for Swagbucks offers.
Privacy.com is a service that allows you to quickly generate virtual credit cards so that you don’t have to give out your actual credit card details.
Here’s an example of what a virtual credit card looks like (with the personal information redacted):
Privacy.com virtual cards also come with additional features that help ensure you don’t get billed for services you don’t want to pay for.
For example, you can set spending limits for each virtual card; in the screenshot above, the card limit is set to $15 per month. If you set a spending limit lower than what a merchant will bill you for, that transaction will be declined.
Example: Let’s say you sign up for a 30-day free trial, and on the 31st day, you’ll be billed for $29.99. Just create a virtual card for that transaction and apply a spending limit of $10 per year. Even if you forget to cancel the trial, the $29.99 charge will be declined.
You can also pause or permanently close cards, as is the case in the screenshot.
To use Privacy.com, you’ll need to create an account, confirm your email and link your checking account or debit card. You can connect multiple accounts if you’d like, then choose which one you want to use to fund each new virtual credit card.
Privacy.com offers three plans:
- Personal: Free, lets you generate 12 cards per month.
- Pro: $10 per month, lets you generate 36 cards per month.
- Teams: $25 per month, lets you generate 60 cards per month.
Now, not all merchants take virtual credit cards; some have systems in place that identify virtual cards and treat them like “prepaid cards.”
Since prepaid cards eventually run out of funds, many merchants that rely on subscriptions or recurring charges don’t accept them. Thus, you won’t be able to use Privacy.com cards in all cases.
#3: Use Calendar Alerts
The Privacy card method detailed above can be a good option for limiting how often you give out your credit card info and reducing the chances you’ll be charged for things you don’t want.
Still, you should only use it as a backup plan. As we said, not all merchants accept virtual credit cards, and there’s no reason to pass up on a great money maker just because of that fact.
Additionally, while Privacy.com will decline a payment that’s above the spending threshold you set for a given card, some merchants will try to claim that you still owe them that money (since you never actually canceled).
They’ll then continue trying to collect those funds, potentially even selling your “past due” account to a collections agency.
That can become a nightmare fast.
So it’s best to make a good effort to cancel your trial or close your account. And to do so, we recommend you get in the habit of creating calendar alerts that remind you about the free trial expiration date of every offer you sign up for.
If you want to be extra cautious, you can even set up multiple alerts for the day or two leading up to the expiration date.
To set up an alert in your calendar, first, open your calendar and set it to the month view.
Once you’re there, click on the date for which you’d like to set the alert (in this case, five days before the expected billing date). A menu will pop up, allowing you to create a new event for that date.
Click on the menu item that shows the name, date and time. It will expand into the alert menu, allowing you to set a date and time for the alert.
Since you aren’t planning an event — but rather, reminding yourself to cancel something — you can set the “starts” and “ends” time as close or far apart as you’d like. You can also choose all-day, which will make the event stick to the top of your daily agenda.
Feel free to add notes, such as information about how to cancel, like a website URL or phone number.
You can also set multiple reminders if you’d like to be extra cautious about canceling your subscription. We recommend setting an alert for five days prior to billing (as in the screenshot above) and one day prior to billing (as in the screenshot below).
#4: Only Take Surveys That Pay 200 SBs or More
Every survey on Swagbucks gives you a “time to complete” estimate along with the earnings amount to help you determine if taking the survey is worth it.
There’s only one problem: this “time to complete” estimate isn’t very accurate.
Think about it: when was the last time a “15 minute” survey actually took you 15 minutes? Probably never.
On Swagbucks, the surveys with the lowest payouts sometimes take just as long as the highest-paying ones. In fact, few surveys ever take less than five minutes or longer than 10 minutes.
So with that in mind, only shoot for surveys that pay 200 or more SB.
There may be fewer of them, but this strategy will help you avoid sinking more time than you expect into low-paying options.
#5: Use Your Rewards to Get More Discounts
Want to make your SBs rewards stretch just a little further? Swagbucks owns a website (MyGiftCardsPlus) where you can earn SBs for buying gift cards.
So this hack is simple:
Step #1: Earn enough SBs on Swagbucks to cash-out for a prepaid Visa card.
Step #2: Instead of using your prepaid Visa card at a merchant, purchase a gift card for that particular merchant on MyGiftCardsPlus.
Now, there’s a catch: MyGiftCardsPlus is one of those merchants, mentioned earlier in the article, that does not accept prepaid credit cards.
But there’s a workaround: you have to add your prepaid Visa card to your PayPal account first.
How to do it: Just log into your PayPal account and navigate to Wallet > Link a Card > Debit or Credit Card, and then enter the card details.
Once you add your prepaid card to PayPal as a funding source, you can then visit MyGiftCardsPlus and buy your gift card, making sure to choose the PayPal checkout option.
Note: you must create a MyGiftCardsPlus account and then link it to your Swagbucks account to earn SBs. If you don’t, you’ll still be able to buy the gift card but you won’t earn the bonus SB for the purchase.
To link your Swagbucks account, just go to Account Settings and follow the directions; the process takes about two minutes.
Swagbucks Hacks & Tips That Don’t Work
Here are two tips that are frequently recommended but not worth trying. If you’ve had a less-than-great experience with a tip you’ve found online, please let us know in the comments section and we’ll update this list with your feedback!
#1. Watching Videos In The Background or Inactive Tabs
One of the most recommended Swagbucks hacks is to let videos play in the background while you work or study on your computer.
But this isn’t a viable earning method for a couple of different reasons:
- Watching videos is one of the lowest-earning tasks on Swagbucks.
- In most cases, you can’t watch videos passively anyway: you often have to click a button to start a new playlist, confirm you’re watching or answer a question.
If you like watching random videos to pass the time, it can be an OK way to add a few extra SBs to your balance — for example, if you need to earn 10 or 15 SBs to have enough for a particular reward.
Here are some more ways to make money by watching videos.
#2. Using Swagbucks as Your Default Search Engine
It is theoretically possible to earn as much as 25 or 50 SBs per day via Swagbucks search.
However, the common advice to “make Swagbucks your default search engine” dramatically overstates the likelihood that you will earn that much.
“Search Wins” — which are the random instances where you’re awarded SBs for searching — tend to be spread a few hours apart, and you usually have to perform dozens of searches to get one.
When you do, they pay a handful of SBs — think in the 4-12 range.
If you earned the maximum of 50 SBs per day via Swagbucks search, it would amount to about $15 per month. However, to hit that threshold you’d have to perform dozens of searchers on a daily basis.
To put that in context, Hubspot estimates (based on publicly-available Google search data) that the average person runs about three or four search queries per day.
So for most people, earning enough SBs to make this strategy even remotely worthwhile would require actively going out of their way to perform searches — which as we noted earlier, is a violation of Swagbucks’ rules.
Swagbucks Basics FAQ
Absolutely. Swagbucks is a completely legit website that’s owned and operated by Prodege, a major player in the online marketing industry. To date, the site has paid out nearly $500 in rewards to its users.
There are quite a few sites that have a similar model, though we think Swagbucks is the best of the bunch and the best option for most people. You can read more about why, and learn about the other available options, in our roundup of 32 Swagbucks alternatives.
SBs are a virtual currency created by the company, so they technically have no set value. However, in the years we’ve been using the site, they’ve remained pegged at a 1:1 valuation. In other words, 1 SB = 1 U.S. cent.
But keep in mind, that valuation could change at any time. So we recommend not holding on to your SBs for too long.
No, but you can redeem your SBs for a transfer into your PayPal account.
Like virtually all survey, rewards and “get-paid-to” sites, the answer is generally “yes.” Swagbucks has a series of pages on its website that disclose what data it collects and who it shares that data with. But in general, you should expect that any information you provide to Swagbucks, or anything you do on the site, may be used for marketing purposes.
As we outlined above, the fastest way is through money makers. Here’s a guide that lists more of the fastest ways to earn SBs.
How to Make the Most of Swagbucks: Final Thoughts
Swagbucks offers a myriad of ways to earn. So many, in fact, that picking which options to do can become overwhelming.
With so many choices, it can be hard to see which ones will earn you the most bang for your time.
Your best bet is to stick with the tips outlined in this article, and avoid wasting time on tasks that seem easy but pay only a few cents upon completion.
In general, this means focusing on:
- Money makers
- Earning SBs through the cash-back shopping portal
- High-value surveys
Are there other tips and tricks that have worked well for you? We’d love to hear about your experience with Swagbucks in the comments section below.
What to read next: 16 Money Hacks You Need To Know