What does the Rewards by Foursquare app have in common with real estate? Location, location, location.
If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Foursquare is the same location technology company that once encouraged you to check in and become the “mayor” of your favorite coffee shop. Now through this app, the company offers gift cards in exchange for learning how you move about the world.
But how much money can you really make? And what exactly is required to earn that money? Should you even bother with the app?
Let me break down my extensive two-week test of the app to answer all your questions.
Rewards by Foursquare is a location-based, income-earning mobile app. It gives you points (which can be redeemed for gift cards) if you leave the application running on your phone in the background. In addition, it offers multiple survey types, which also give points in exchange for your opinions. We estimate, based on our testing, that you can earn one $25 gift card per full year of passive use, and a little bit more if you take surveys.
- Gives points simply for running the application on your phone and allowing location tracking.
- The referral program is based on percentages, meaning the more your friends use the app, the more money you make. (Not just a one-time referral reward.)
- Has a very low minimum cash-out amount of $1.
- The earning potential is very low, averaging about $1.46 per hour doing surveys, and 7 cents per day with location tracking enabled.
- The earning structure is ambiguous. It’s impossible to tell how much money you can make per location tracked.
- 65% of the surveys we attempted only earned partial rewards or crashed entirely, offering nothing.
Rewards by Foursquare: The Basics
Back in August of 2021, the drab Panel App got a fresh facelift with bright and punchy colors and was rebranded into Rewards by Foursquare. The app features a mix of location-tracking rewards and surveys with prizes, all without leaving the app.
Ways to Earn with Rewards by Foursquare
There are four ways you can accumulate points to trade in for gift cards with the Rewards App:
- Allow Foursquare to collect your GPS data. You get points for every location sent over to the app. A location usually represents a single business, so standing on a busy city corner will register more individual locations than parking on a dirt road.
- Complete location-based surveys. These surveys are in some way connected to places you recently visited — e.g., food surveys after you visit the grocery store.
- Complete general surveys provided by TapResearch. Based on your demographic info, you’ll be offered dozens of surveys on general topics unrelated to your location.
- Refer people to the app. Rewards offers you 10% of the points earned by any friends you refer to the app.
Five Key Facts about Rewards by Foursquare
Here are some of the most important things to know before downloading the app.
- You allow Foursquare to track all of your aggregate GPS data. You earn points based on the number of locations you encounter.
- You also allow the app to track you across the internet. This includes knowing the other websites, apps, and smart TV or streaming devices you use, and how you use them.
- Foursquare uses this data to (among other things) offer you relevant surveys, and you earn points by completing those surveys.
- All surveys offer partial completion points, even if you’re disqualified from finishing.
- You can redeem your points (from both location tracking and surveys) for gift cards.
Our Rewards App Earnings
I tested Rewards by Foursquare continuously for two weeks. During that period, I earned a total of 6,000 points, which is worth $3 in Amazon gift cards.
I earned those points by using each of the app’s earning methods except the referral program.
Our Passive, Location-Based Earnings
Using Rewards by Foursquare technically only requires two things: allowing location tracking and keeping a connection to the internet (either WiFi or cellular). By doing this, you’re essentially selling your location data to Foursquare.
Once you allow tracking, you’ll start earning points based on the number of locations sent over to the app. Foursquare does not explain how many points you earn per location, nor offer any way for you to see how many locations you’ve visited in total — though you can see how many you’ve visited in the current week.
In other words, they ask you to trust that they’re keeping track properly and rewarding you accordingly.
I earned $0.94 from two weeks of location tracking. Primarily, I stayed in my small city, did errands, and walked around Main St. On one occasion, I visited a busy regional shopping mall area.
|Total time location tracking was enabled:||14 days.|
|Total points:||1,927 Points.|
|Cash value per day:||$0.07|
Based on this data, you’d need to leave tracking enabled for 15 days to earn a $1 Amazon gift card (the lowest value gift card).
As such, if your habits stay consistent, you can expect to earn one $25 gift card after a year of use.
Our Location-Based Survey Earnings
Location-based surveys show up in your notifications, usually a few hours to a day after you’ve visited a location. When one is available, it will display a map of the general area you were in, then ask which locations you physically visited at that day and time.
For example, here’s the beginning of a location-based survey that was offered to one of The Ways To Wealth’s editors:
It’s a bit creepy, honestly, and feels more invasive than it probably needs to — especially when it shows a map of your neighborhood with an indicator over your house and asks if you live there.
The app doesn’t tell you how long each location-based survey will take, and it doesn’t mention how much you might earn. You simply have to start taking it and hope you have enough time to complete it.
These surveys were far less lucrative than the general surveys, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
- Total number of location-based surveys offered: 4.
- Total points earned: 194.
- Total time spent: 8 minutes.
- Total earnings: $0.10.
Here’s a breakdown of the location-based surveys we completed:
|Time to Complete||Result|
|1 minute||Earned 45 points|
|3 minutes||Earned 37 points|
|2 minutes||Earned 50 points|
|2 minutes||Earned 59 points|
Our Earnings From General Surveys
If you don’t have any more location-based surveys available, you’ll be prompted to browse through “unlimited” surveys from Foursquare’s partner company, TapResearch.
All surveys in this section list the estimated time to complete and the total points offered as a reward for completing.
Unfortunately, you can’t filter these surveys in any way — such as from highest to lowest paying, or from shortest to longest duration.
The platform does try to distinguish surveys from each other with different colored boxes, “HOT” labels, and ratings on a five-star scale, but none of these are useful indicators of which surveys might work best for you.
Surveys were uniformly easy to complete. Most asked standard demographic questions about age, sex, zip code, household income and race, then went on to the main survey. I took surveys about a wide variety of subjects, from local news stations to car insurance to baby food.
The layouts were also easy to navigate. They often asked simple multiple choice questions, offered a short answer box, or requested I drag a slider to indicate my preference from 1-5. One survey asked that I drag and reorder sentences in a list, which I struggled to complete accurately on my phone.
Maximum Potential Earnings with General Surveys
At the start of our test, we were shown 48 surveys. We collected the data below to show you the maximum you could earn based on those surveys’ estimated time to complete and payouts. (Assuming you were eligible to complete all 48 of them.)
Remember, this data is the advertised potential — in the next section, we’ll lay out what we actually earned.
|Total surveys offered:||48|
|Total time to complete:||7.43 hours|
|Total points offered:||61,249 points|
|Points earned per hour:||8.243 points|
|Dollars per hour:||~$6.50|
The best reward available for redemption in the prize shop is a $25 Amazon gift card for 30,000 points, which means that each point is worth .0833 cents. Given the potential earning rate of ~8,000 points per hour, your per-hour earnings in this scenario would be approximately $6.50.
What We Actually Earned
While the data above is a snapshot of one day’s potential, my test surveys below reflect the actual results of completing 20 different surveys.
|Total number of surveys completed:||20|
|Total points earned:||3,986|
|Our total earnings:||$1.99|
|Total time spent:||72 minutes|
|Our earnings per hour:||$1.46|
As you can see, our pay rate was far less than the $6.50 advertised.
Here’s a list of each survey I attempted, along with the results.
|Advertised Length of Survey||Actual Time to Complete||Advertised Value||Actual Result|
|5 minutes||15 minutes||560 points||Partial reward of 500 points|
|4 minutes||2 minutes||460 points||Partial reward of 130 points|
|3 minutes||5 minutes||770 points||Earned 770 points|
|3 minutes||4 minutes||560 points||Earned 560 points|
|5 minutes||7 minutes||120 points||Partial reward of 66 points|
|2 minutes||4 minutes||220 points||Earned 220 points|
|9 minutes||1 minute||1,020 points||Partial reward of 30 points|
|1 minute||2 minutes||180 points||Survey crashed, earned nothing|
|5 minutes||3 minutes||340 points||Earned 340 points|
|12 minutes||3 minutes||1,020 points||Partial reward of 120 points|
|12 minutes||5 minutes||1210 points||Partial reward of 70 points|
|16 minutes||1 minute||880 points||Survey crashed, earned nothing|
|12 minutes||4 minutes||860 points||Partial reward of 160 points|
|14 minutes||1 minute||1,830 points||Partial reward of 30 points|
|6 minutes||1 minute||520 points||Partial reward of 90 points|
|5 minutes||1 minute||720 points||Survey crashed, earned nothing|
|10 minutes||7 minutes||540 points||Earned 540 points|
|10 minutes||16 minutes||1,760 points||Survey crashed, earned nothing|
|4 minutes||1 minute||360 points||Earned 10 points|
|11 minutes||12 minutes||350 points||Earned 350 points|
Note that I didn’t track the platform’s disqualification rate because each survey I attempted offered a reasonable amount of points, even if I didn’t get to finish. However, it’s important to note that I only earned the anticipated points 35% of the time.
For 45% of the surveys, I only received a partial reward. 20% of the time, the survey crashed and I earned nothing — even if I’d actually completed the entire survey.
Unfortunately, you have no idea whether you’ll qualify before starting, or how many points you might earn as a partial reward.
Getting Paid by Rewards App
Once you’ve accumulated enough points, it’s time to cash them in. The lowest cash-in level is 2,000 points for $1. If you can collect a total of 30,000 points, however, the exchange rate is far better, as 1,200 points equals $1 at that redemption tier.
The most heavily promoted redemption option is sweepstakes entries. There are currently 30 opportunities to gamble your points through different sweepstakes, with prizes ranging from gift cards to XBoxes to undefined “daily prizes.”
I was frequently confused by the labeling, as the app made it hard to distinguish what was a sweepstakes entry and what was a guaranteed prize.
Note: No information is given about the odds of winning any particular sweepstakes.
If you choose a sweepstakes option, you’re redirected to confirm your choice. But it doesn’t mention anywhere that you’re actually gambling your points by entering a sweepstakes. Instead, it clearly labels the section as “$1 Amazon Gift Card.”
There were only eight guaranteed gift card redemption options available during our testing period, and they’re found at the very bottom of the prize section. They range from $1 Amazon gift cards for 2,000 points to $25 Visa gift cards for 30,000 points.
Foursquare says your gift cards will be processed and sent to your email within two weeks. However, users on both the App Store and the popular money-making subreddit r/BeerMoney have reported not getting their gift cards.
You really need to pay attention during the redemption process. Even when I redeemed an actual gift card, I got a message saying I “successfully entered a sweepstakes.”
Rewards by Foursquare takes 1-2 weeks to deliver guaranteed gift cards. Mine arrived in 10 days. Note that at the time of publication, the delivery email still referred to Rewards App by its old name, saying “Your Gift Card from Panel App is here!” in the subject line.
Rewards by Foursquare FAQ
No. Rewards by Foursquare was once called the Panel App. However, it’s still being run by the same location tech company.
Yes, if you delete the app or disallow tracking for 90 days, you’ll become “inactive” and your points will expire. To remain “active,” you must have an internet connection (data or WiFi) and have location tracking turned on.
Only on a mobile device. There is no desktop version of the platform, and you can’t use it in a mobile browser; it’s only usable as an app.
Rewards by Foursquare: Final Verdict
We earned $1.46 per hour from surveys during our testing: a significantly lower rate than offered by the best-paying survey sites.
Given that, whether the app is worth downloading depends on whether you’re willing to leave it running 24/7/365 and sell all of your location data to the company. If you are, then our testing suggests you can earn one $25 gift card per year.
Whether that’s a good deal or a bad one depends on how much you value your data and privacy.
However, keep in mind that the company provides no details about how much you’ll be paid for sharing that data. Our estimate is based on two weeks of testing, but the lack of details about how the app compensates users means we can’t guarantee you’ll earn at that same pace in the future.
Ultimately, we think there are better passive income apps available.