We’ve all come across our share of “earn money online” websites that make big promises but deliver limited results, so it’s easy (and reasonable) to be skeptical of Swagbucks.
After all, the web is full of sites that claim you can earn extra cash or free gift cards by taking online surveys, completing promotional offers, or doing any number of other random tasks in your free time.
And while there are some good options out there (see the links above), many sites just waste your time with absurdly low pay rates, have super-high minimum withdrawal amounts that make it hard to cash-out your earnings, or have so many obstacles and hoops to jump through that most people give up before they ever see a penny.
So let’s address the elephant in the room before diving into the rest of this review…
Yes, Swagbucks is legit. It’s a U.S.-based data research and marketing firm that has paid out over $400 million in rewards to its users since it launched in 2006.
It’s neither a scam nor a time-waster. And while it does have some pros and cons, it’s a site that I personally use and recommend as a way to generate cash-back and make extra money.
This comprehensive Swagbucks review will explain everything you need to know to get the most out of the service, including an exhaustive and up-to-date list of the different ways to earn.
We go into significant detail in this article, so if you’re looking for information about one specific aspect of the program, you can jump directly to that section using the links in the table of contents below (just click to expand it).
Swagbucks: The Basics
Many people think of Swagbucks as primarily a survey site. And while it’s true that participating in market research is one of the easiest and most popular ways to accumulate points on the site, it’s important to start this review by noting that surveys are only one small part of the platform.
The best way to think about Swagbucks is as an overall “get paid to” site.
Normally, “get paid to” sites specialize in one particular niche. For example, Rakuten offers cash-back for shopping through its portal, Survey Junkie pays you for taking surveys, and InboxDollars rewards you for reading emails.
Swagbucks does all of the above and more. In fact, there are so many different ways to earn points on the site that it can be overwhelming at first.
Ways to Make Money on Swagbucks
Here’s an alphabetic list of the main ways to make money on Swagbucks.
At the end of the article, we rank these methods based on their time required, their difficulty, and their overall earning potential. You can jump to that list.
- Answering a daily poll.
- Answering surveys.
- Booking travel.
- Buying gift cards.
- Completing microtasks.
- Completing various “to-do” lists.
- Donating to charity.
- Finding hidden codes on the site.
- Participating in “team challenges.”
- Playing computer games and making in-game purchases.
- Playing live trivia against other people (online).
- Playing smartphone games and achieving gameplay goals.
- Printing and using paper coupons.
- Providing additional demographic information.
- Referring the site to friends.
- Searching the web.
- Signing up for trial offers.
- Shopping in stores.
- Shopping online.
- Uploading receipts.
- Watching videos.
Swagbucks in a Nutshell:
- Members get points (called Swagbucks or SBs) by completing various online tasks.
- Each SB is roughly equivalent to 1 U.S. cent and can be redeemed for a PayPal cash deposit or for gift cards to major retailers like Amazon and Walmart,
- SBs are valid for two years from the date they were issued. After that, they expire and cannot be used.
- Swagbucks accounts are considered inactive after six months and closed, and all accumulated SBs are canceled.
How to Join Swagbucks
It’s free to join and use Swagbucks, and you can sign up quickly with just an email address and a password. You’re not required to provide a credit card number, residential address or phone number — although you will be required to provide a little bit of demographic information in order to qualify for surveys.
Additionally, while you don’t have to provide a phone number to join, most activities on the site require one — and virtual/VOIP numbers (like those from Google Voice) don’t work.
I always recommend signing up for “get paid to” and “make money” sites with a dedicated email address as opposed to your primarily personal email address. That’s because some sites are heavy-handed with their promotional emails, which can overwhelm your inbox and make it hard to find the offers you actually want to act on (not to mention your everyday email correspondence).
With that said, I’m happy to report that the test account we created for this review received just six emails over the first 10 days, including the initial “welcome” email.
Swagbucks is one of the few rewards sites open to teenagers, as the minimum age to join is just 13 years old.
Similarly, Swagbucks is one of only a handful of platforms available to people who live outside the United States. Unfortunately, the company does not publish a complete list of eligible countries, stating only that the service is “live in most countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia.”
With that said, members have confirmed being able to join from the following countries (although this is only a partial list):
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
About the Company Behind Swagbucks
In the world of cash-back and “get paid to” rewards sites, Swagbucks is both popular and well regarded. Its parent company, Prodege, LLC, is a U.S.-based firm that was founded in 2006. It also owns and operates the popular site MyPoints.
The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau:
And Swagbucks.com has an “Excellent” rating on Trustpilot:
Swagbucks Site Categories
Swagbucks is divided into six main sections:
There are multiple ways to earn within each of those six categories, as well as a few ways that don’t fall into a category.
Let’s take a deep dive into each.
Section 1: Answer
“Answer” is Swagbucks’ terminology for market research and data collection. This primarily means surveys, although there are also a handful of other earning methods. The screenshot below shows what the section looks like.
#1. Gold Surveys
In Swagbucks, Surveys are called “Gold Surveys” (presumably to distinguish them from other, smaller surveys and polls that appear throughout the site). They’re one of the easiest, most popular, and most consistent ways to earn points on the platform — although not always the most lucrative.
Still, one of the first things you’ll want to do after signing up is complete your demographic profile — you can’t access Gold Surveys until you do.
When you sign into the Answers section of your account for the first time, you’ll see a prompt like the one below. Click “Go Now” to complete the demographic survey.
This process took us about five minutes. We were asked for basic information like gender, as well as more specific information about profession and income level.
Before you take this survey, Swagbucks makes you check a box to signal that you commit to being truthful with your answers. It’s important that you keep that commitment for a couple of reasons.
First, providing false or incorrect information can get you kicked out of the program.
While Swagbucks doesn’t say how they verify the accuracy of user responses, most market research companies have rigorous methods in place to ensure that you’re responding truthfully. The ability to deliver accurate data to clients is their bread and butter, so they take data validation seriously.
Second, your demographic profile determines what kinds of surveys you’ll be eligible for.
Companies pay for feedback from specific groups of potential customers, and if you answer incorrectly — by just clicking things randomly to breeze through as fast as possible, for example — then you might end up with a profile that does not align with what advertisers and manufacturers are looking for.
Upon completion of the demographic survey, you’ll see the current list of Gold Surveys you have access to start.
Here’s a partial screenshot of what we saw via our test account, though you should note that these vary from person to person and change all the time (so the image below is just an example):
Here are two important notes about Swagbucks surveys:
- You’ll notice there’s one column titled “Guaranteed” and one titled “Completion.” Just because you see a survey in this list doesn’t mean you’ll actually be able to complete it. As you progress through the survey, your answers may disqualify you. If that happens, you’ll only earn 1 SB.
- You’ll also notice that surveys have different estimated “Times to Complete,” and that longer times don’t always line up with a bigger reward. Pay attention to this and use it to your advantage: a 10-minute survey that pays 100 SBs is a better use of your time than a 26-minute survey that pays 150 SBs.
How Much Can You Earn With Surveys?
1 SB is roughly equivalent to 1 U.S. cent. But knowing that doesn’t tell you much about your earning potential on a per-hour basis. So, for this review, we ran the math.
Our test user was a married 37-year-old male with no children and a household income of $85,000 per year. He qualified to begin 89 surveys.
- The total “Time to Complete” all 89 surveys was 23.38 hours.
- The total “Completion” reward for all 89 surveys was 7,186 SB ($71.86).
- With the “Limited Time Bonus,” the test user could earn an additional 3,605 SBs ($36.50).
That means our total earning potential was $108.36, or just under $5 per hour.
The figures above assume that the user actually completed all 89 surveys, which of course would not be the case as disqualifications are quite common. However, they’re still helpful for seeing how much a person might expect to earn on a per-hour basis.
While $5 per hour certainly can’t be viewed as a meaningful side hustle, it’s actually pretty good compared to the payouts of other survey sites. You can’t really view it as a money-making opportunity in its own right, but it can be a decent way to boost your SB balance in your spare time (like when you’re waiting for a doctor).
#2. Daily Poll
The Daily Poll is a quick, one-question survey that rewards you with 1 SB. It’s not much, but it also takes virtually no time.
The “Tasks” section still requires you to respond to questions, but it’s quite a bit different than traditional surveys. Here, you’ll perform microtasks for an Australian company named Figure 8 that helps refine and improve machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms.
That probably sounds more complicated than it is. As a microtasker, your job will be to read the specific instructions for the assignment and then answer a series of questions based on that outline.
For example, you may be asked to help train a computer to understand paraphrases. You’d then be shown a series of phrases, with the goal of identifying the ones that are very similar, somewhat similar and totally different.
Here’s a screenshot from the instruction screen for that type of assignment:
You may also be asked to do things like evaluate search terms and results, collect and/or review data from websites, and review text for errors and inconsistencies.
Here are a few things you need to know about Tasks:
- You’ll need to sign up with Figure 8 separately from Swagbucks (there’s a link in the Tasks section).
- Figure 8 has a fairly complicated user level system that takes into account how many assignments you complete as well as your accuracy. Certain assignments are only available to users of a certain level, so make sure you’re careful and accurate, beginning with your first assignment.
- You’re paid in SBs, and the amount varies depending on both the specific project and your user level.
Section 2: Shop
Swagbucks’ most lucrative features tend to be its cash-back shopping opportunities. While you can make a little extra cash here and there by taking surveys, you can rack up some serious savings by making an effort to fully exploit all the different shopping options offered on the platform.
Of course, the standard disclaimer applies: avoid buying items you don’t need just to chase points and bonuses.
#1. Online Shopping Portal
You can earn SBs when you shop online by starting at the Swagbucks shopping portal and clicking through to the merchant’s website. Then, just shop as you always do; Swagbucks will track your purchase and apply the points to your account (usually after around 30 days).
Specific offers change constantly, but examples of some recent cash-back rates include 3% at Nike, 2% at Sephora and up to 1,000 SBs for joining Disney+. On top of that, you’ll often find promotions for specific retailers that allow you to earn significantly more. (One recent promotion was 12% on Gap purchases.)
Online shopping is where you’ll rack up the most SBs in the least amount of time. Swagbucks often offers some of the best cash-back rates online, and their bonuses and promotions can be quite generous.
However, you have to keep in mind that this is still a strategy you need to implement over an extended period of time. 3% back on a $100 Nike purchase is still just $3. So if you want to reap the maximum possible returns, you have to use the site consistently — as in, every time you shop online.
Note: One way to help make sure you’re never missing cash-back opportunities is by installing the SwagButton, which is Swagbucks’ browser extension. It’ll alert you to activate cash-back offers whenever you’re on a participating site, and it’ll also check if there are any applicable coupon codes.
#2. In-Store Cash-Back
You can also earn SBs when you (a) shop in-store at a number of national retailers and (b) pay with a card you’ve added to your Swagbucks account.
The list of available offers can be accessed by going to “Shopping” in the left-hand site menu and then clicking “In-Store Cash Back.”
As shown below, recent offers have included 1.5% at Bed Bath & Beyond and 2% at Cost Plus World Market, although these change constantly.
Also, you’ll find that there are far fewer in-store offers than online offers. When we checked for this review, there were only 80 available.
Follow these steps to take advantage of in-store cash-back:
- Log in to your account on Swagbucks.com (in-store cash-back offers cannot be activated in the Swagbucks mobile app).
- Select “My Account” in the left-hand menu and then click “Linked Cards.”
- Enter and save your card details.
- Select “Shopping” in the left-hand site menu and then click “In-Store Cash Back.”
- Click “Add Offer.”
And keep in mind these two notes:
- You have to re-add an offer if you want to use it again in the future.
- When using a debit card, you have to choose “credit” at checkout and pay with a signature rather than a pin number.
#3. In-Store Grocery and Household Deals
With Swagbucks’ “In-Store Deals,” you’ll earn a set amount of SBs by purchasing a specified product. For example, two recent offers were 100 SBs for buying Dannon yogurt and 1,000 SBs for buying Aleve.
The rewards in this section tend to be quite generous, typically ranging from 50 to 2,000 points. That’s presumably because they’re sponsored by the brands being promoted.
However, to actually get those points, you need to pay attention to the offer details and follow the instructions to the letter.
For example, each promotion has specific terms and conditions that lay out the size, style, and/or retailer where the offer can be redeemed. That means the Dannon yogurt promotion shown above may be available at Kroger but not Publix, and vice versa. To find out, you have to click to review each promotion.
In this specific case, you can see in the screenshot below that the promotion is only valid at five grocery stores: BJ’s, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, Food Lion and Giant Eagle.
Follow these steps to take advantage of in-store deals:
- Log in to your account on Swagbucks.com or the Swagbucks app (in-store deals can be activated in the app).
- On the website, select “Shop” in the left-hand site menu and then click “In-Store Deals.” In the app, click the “Shop” icon and then select the “In-Store” tab.
- Click the product icon to open the offer details and make sure it’s available where you intend to shop.
- Click the “+” icon to add the offer to your “list” (i.e., to activate it).
- Purchase the item.
- Upload a photo of your register receipt.
And keep in mind these two notes:
- You must upload your receipt by the expiration date stated in the offer details. If you don’t, you will not receive your SBs — even if you purchased the item(s) within the allotted time frame.
- You do not need to use a linked card when you purchase in-store deal items.
Similar app: Ibotta is a receipt-scanning app that works almost exactly the same as described above, and it makes sense to take a few extra seconds to use both apps to maximize your savings. You may even be able to upload the same receipt to both platforms and double-up your rewards.
#4. Paper Grocery Coupons
You can also save money at the grocery store with old-fashioned paper coupons.
Swagbucks allows you to print up to 50 coupons per day, and you’ll earn 1 SB for each. Then, you’ll earn an additional 25 SBs for each one you actually redeem.
Here’s what the Coupons section looks like:
Using Swagbucks coupons is easy: just hover over each offer and click “Clip Coupon.” Then, when you’re ready, click “Print Coupons.”
Note that although the advertisement for the Swagbucks app shown in the screenshot above suggests that you can use it for digital coupons, that’s not the case. Coupons are only available via the website and can only be redeemed in paper form.
Also, be aware that it usually takes about 12 weeks after redemption for SBs to be credited to your account.
Related reading: If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries, check out our in-depth guide to eating healthy on a budget — it even has a sample meal plan and shopping list.
#5. Swagbucks Local
Swagbucks Local allows you to earn SBs passively by using a linked debit or credit card at participating local merchants.
Note that you have to specifically add a card via Swagbucks > Shopping > Local Shopping. While you can use the same card that you linked to your account for in-store cash-back, you are required to add it again if you want to take advantage of Local offers.
After you link your card, you’ll earn points based on a percentage of your qualifying purchase. There’s no need to activate the offers ahead of time.
The cash-back rates can be quite good (often in the 5-10-% range, as shown below). So in theory, this is an easy way to bolster your SB balance.
However, there are a few things that limit the feature’s value:
- These offers are almost exclusively for small, casual restaurants, like the Mexican restaurants shown in the screenshot above. So unless you happen to frequent those establishments, you have to go out of your way to take advantage of the available cash-back promotions (which means this isn’t really a passive way to earn after all).
- While there are usually a good number of offers available in major urban areas, there tend to be few or none outside of major cities.
More ways to earn: Another popular passive cash-back app worth checking out is Dosh. It works similarly to Swagbucks Local: just link your cards and you’ll earn cash-back whenever you shop at select merchants.
#6. Other Ways to Earn Via Shopping
Finally, there are currently two additional ways to earn SBs via shopping. Both can be surprisingly lucrative and are worth keeping in mind.
Travel. Swagbucks has a dedicated “Travel” section that pays some of the best cash-back rates at sites like Expedia and Travelocity.
- A recent cash-back shopping offer was 2% back (in the form of SBs) on Nike.com orders.
- At the same time, Swagbucks was offering 5% back (in the form of SBs) on the purchase of Nike gift cards.
- Therefore, if you buy the gift card and pay for your purchase with it, you’re earning an effective rate of 7%.
The one downside to this strategy is that it can take two or three days for Swagbucks to deliver the gift cards you purchase (they come via email), which means you’ll need to plan ahead.
Then again, that can be a good thing if it helps prevent impulsive spending.
Section 3: Discover
Swagbucks’ “Discover” category is the least clearly defined of its six primary sections. You’ll see featured offers from other parts of the site here (such as Shop), but it’s primarily a space for sponsored, third-party promotions — think of things like, “Earn 1,000 SBs when you try X Service for one month.”
Swagbucks breaks down its “Discover” offers into a handful of sub-categories, which you can view by clicking on their name (under the header “Swagbucks Offers”) on the left-hand side of the screen (just below the main menu).
Many promotions appear in multiple sections, but you can generally think of them as follows:
- Featured: A hodge-podge of promotions from all over the site — the ones Swagbucks most wants you to see and act on.
- Content Discovery: Websites, services and games that Swagbucks will reward you for checking out.
- Sign Ups: Earn SBs by signing up for trials and services — sometimes paid and sometimes free.
- Free Offers: Offers that do not require any out-of-pocket payment.
- Shopping: Cash-back when you buy select items.
- In-Store Deals: This link simply redirects you to the main “In-Store Deals” section.
- Donate to Charity: Earn SBs by making a charitable contribution.
- Mobile Apps: Earn SBs by completing tasks on various third-party apps. Sometimes it’s as easy as downloading and installing the app; sometimes you have to make an in-app purchase; and sometimes (as is often the case with games) you have to reach a certain level of in-game activity (such as leveling up or making it past a certain stage).
Below this sub-category list, you’ll see a heading titled “Sponsored Offers.” These are tasks offered by third parties, and they can sometimes be a good way to earn a small amount of points quickly (by answering a quick poll, for example).
How to Use Discover
There are many ways to earn SBs in Discover, but they’re not all good deals. As with online shopping, be careful to avoid chasing points by spending money on things you don’t need, because even tiny impulse purchases add up over time.
To get the most out of this category, you need to understand the concept of a “money maker.”
In the “get paid to” world, a money maker is an offer that costs you money out-of-pocket, but which rewards you with more money than you spent. These offers are hard to find, but they do exist.
For example, Swagbucks occasionally offers money makers in the “Donate to Charity” section — you’ll get more in SBs than the value of your contribution.
One money maker that I recently took advantage of was a Dollar Shave Club trial in which I paid $5 for a starter kit and earned 2,000 SBs ($20).
For the most part, when you’re browsing Discover, you want to focus on two types of offers:
- Free trials: offers that pay you SBs just for signing up for a service.
- Money makers: offers that require you to spend money to make money.
With that said, I would urge you to approach this category with caution. It’s easy to get tempted and pull the trigger to earn a big bonus, or to waste time sifting through offers only to walk away with a relatively small amount of SBs.
Also, keep in mind that for trial offers (even free ones) you typically have to provide your credit card details and agree to automatically renew your subscription after a set period. As such, make sure you keep meticulous notes of when and how to cancel.
And consider using a service like Privacy.com, which allows you to create virtual credit cards that you can limit, pause and close with a couple of clicks.
Section 4: Watch
When people describe or review Swagbucks, one thing they almost always mention is that you can make money (SBs) by watching videos. While that is absolutely true (we tested it), the process for doing so is more than a little difficult to wrap your head around, and much of the existing documentation you’ll find online is out of date.
For this review, we spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand how “Watch” actually works. Let’s start with a quick overview…
The basics of watching videos for SBs:
- Swagbucks pays you to watch third-party videos.
- Videos usually range in length from about 20 seconds to 2 minutes, and are sometimes organized into playlists.
- They cover genres including sports, entertainment, lifestyle, news and a few others.
- Most of the time, you don’t actually have to watch the videos — you can just let them autoplay. Sometimes, however, you’re required to rate them within a few seconds after they play — this is a control mechanism aimed at preventing the autoplay strategy I just described.
- You can’t make very much with this method. During our test, we earned 2 SBs for allowing videos to autoplay (with the sound off) on the Swagbucks iOS app.
Other options: There are a few other legit ways to get paid for watching videos.
Section 5: Search
Swagbucks rewards users for searching the web via its Yahoo-powered search engine. When you do, the platform collects your search data, and it also has the opportunity to show you targeted ads and offers.
For example, if you search for “new gym shoes,” you might see Swagbucks’ cash-back offers from Nike and Under Armour above the search results.
Unfortunately, just like with videos, the company doesn’t make it clear how much you can earn, or specifically what you need to do in order to be rewarded. Rather than offering a set number of points-per-search, SBs are awarded in random amounts at random intervals.
These so-called “Search Wins” typically pay out between 1 and 25 SBs each. Swagbucks does not say how many “Search Wins” a user can have in one day, but members generally report earning between one and four search-based rewards within any given 24-hour period.
When you search via your Swagbucks account, this is what a “Search Win” looks like:
Here’s what we know about how “Search” works, based on Swagbucks help files, researching the experiences of other members, and our own testing:
- Search wins are totally random and are not correlated with your search term. In other words, you don’t have to try and search for the right phrase in order to get a reward.
- Searching specifically to earn SBs is forbidden, and Swagbucks will warn you if it thinks you’re searching too quickly.
- While the upper limit seems to be four wins per day, most people only win once or twice.
- Wins tend to be fairly difficult to come by. For our testing purposes, we conducted 50 searches over a six-hour period and earned only 1 SB (as shown in the screenshot above).
Because search wins are so rare, the only way you’re likely to squeeze significant value out of this feature is by changing your browser’s default search engine to Swagbucks. If you do, every random phrase you type into your browser’s address bar will be run through Swagbucks/Yahoo rather than Google.
You can also install the SwagButton, which is a free browser extension that gives you easy access to Swagbucks’ search bar.
Whether the trickle of SBs you’ll earn from these methods makes it worthwhile to change your search engine and habits is ultimately up to you. Keep in mind that you’re sacrificing search quality, exposing yourself to more ads and offers, and giving the company access to virtually 100% of your search data.
That’s a lot to give up if your ultimate reward is 100 to 200 SBs per week ($1 to $2).
Section 6: Play
There are a couple of different ways to earn SBs by playing games on Swagbucks. We discussed the first one in the “Discover” section above: certain third-party apps reward you for achieving in-game milestones, like leveling up or making it past a particular stage.
Game publishers offer these rewards because they understand that you’re more likely to make in-game purchases the longer you stay active (and thus the more committed of a player you are). Additionally, many players will purchase in-game items specifically to make reaching the reward milestones easier.
Those games are only available via “Discover.”
By contrast, the games in the “Play” section — which are browser-based, not apps — are typically cash-for-points offers where you get a set number of SBs for each dollar you spend on in-game purchases. There are also a handful of free games where you can earn a very small number of SBs just for playing.
Related: Check out our complete guide to getting paid to play games, which runs down a variety of other sites and apps.
Other Ways to Earn
Here are some of the other ways to make money on the site.
Daily Goals and Daily To-Do List
Swagbucks offers two different ways to earn bonus SBs by completing tasks and offers from within the six categories listed above. These are called “Daily Goals” and “Daily To-Do List,” and while they sound similar they are completely separate features.
The Daily Goal requires members to earn a set number of SBs within a 24-hour period in order to claim a bonus. Each member’s daily goal is based on his or her activity history and changes daily. In general, both the daily goal and the bonus increase consistently over a period of days, and then occasionally reset.
You can see your current daily goal by hovering over the text in the Swagbucks menu bar, as shown below.
In this example…
- Our Daily Goal (“Goal 1”) is to earn 30 SBs.
- We’ve earned six so far, with about 13 hours left to go.
- If we succeed in hitting the target, we’ll earn an additional 3 SBs.
Take note of the blue and red bar (below the digit “6”).
- The dark blue on the far left of the bar represents our current progress towards our goal.
- The lighter blue represents the remaining progress that needs to be made.
- The red bar represents the day’s “Total Goal,” which is above and beyond the daily goal.
To view the Total Goal, just click on the red part of the bar:
In this example…
- Our Total Goal is to earn 106 SBs.
- We’ve earned six so far, with just under 13 hours left to go.
- If we succeed in hitting the target, we’ll earn an additional 7 SBs.
Keep in mind that even though one is called the “Daily Goal” and one is called the “Total Goal,” they must both be completed daily and they both reset every 24 hours. Thus, they are actually both daily goals.
Daily Goal Winning Streaks
You can earn additional bonuses by completing your daily goal on a consistent basis. Hitting these benchmarks is called achieving “Winning Streaks,” and you can monitor your current streak progress by clicking “Show My Winning Streaks” in the Daily Goals box.
Note that streaks are based on your Daily Goal (“Goal 1”) not your Total Goal.
As you can see, the bonus rewards are:
- Seven days: 25 SBs
- 14 days: 100 SBs
- 21 days: 200 SBs
- 29 days: 300 SBs
Your monthly Daily Goal bonus will be the amount of SBs for the highest winning streak you achieved, not the cumulative total of each. In other words, if you make it to Day 29, you’ll only receive 300 SBs — not 525 (300 + 200 + 100 + 25).
Daily To-Do List
In addition to your Daily Goals, Swagbucks gives you an eight-item Daily To-Do list.
Completing this list also earns you points, as follows:
- You’ll earn up to five SBs per day for completing six of the eight tasks (the exact number is randomly generated).
- You’ll earn up to five additional SBs per day for completing all eight tasks (the exact number is randomly generated).
You can view your daily goal progress in a widget on the left-hand side of the Swagbucks home page (below the menu):
Here’s how to check off each item:
- Daily Poll: Earn 1 SB by completing the Daily Poll.
- Daily Search: Earn 1 SB from a “Search Win” or click on “Daily Search” in the To-Do List.
- Deal Of The Day: View the “Deal of the Day” by clicking on the link from the To-Do List (you don’t have to actually complete the offer).
- Daily Activity: Log in to your account via either the SwagButton or the Swagbucks mobile app.
- Daily Discover: Earn 1 SB from any item in the “Discover” category.
- Daily Watch: Earn 1 SB by watching videos.
- Attempt a Gold Survey. Earn 1 SB by starting a survey.
- Complete a Gold Survey: Earn 1 SB by successfully completing a survey.
Note that your To-Do List bonuses do not count towards hitting your Daily Goal or your Total Goal.
Swago is a bingo-style game that’s essentially a combination of a weekly goal and a to-do list.
Here’s how it works:
- Each Swagbucks member has a Swago game card with 25 squares.
- Each square represents one Swagbucks activity or task.
- Your goal is to make “patterns” on the card by completing activities to shade in boxes. For example, making an “X” pattern earns you a set number of SBs.
- You have one week to work on your Swago card.
Here’s an example of what the Swago card looks like:
In addition to earning bonus SBs, completing patterns on your Swago card earns you spins on the “Spin & Win Wheel,” which is (as you might have guessed), a Wheel of Fortune-style game that gives you a chance to win prizes like more bonus SBs and various other Swagbucks-related perks.
As a result of testing the site for this review, we had four spins and won the following:
- Spin #1: One sweepstakes entry for a Chromebook giveaway.
- Spin #2: Five bonus SBs on our next Search Win.
- Spin #3: One sweepstakes entry for a 300,000 SB giveaway.
- Spin #4: Two SBs.
Occasionally (typically, once per month) Swagbucks will hold a “Team Challenge.” One example from last year was the April Showers challenge, during which members had four days to earn points by completing an array of tasks, including:
- Buy a gift card.
- Change your default search engine to Swagbucks.
- Complete a survey.
- Complete any Discover task.
- Play Swagbucks Live.
- Redeem a Swag Code.
- Watch videos within a specific set of categories.
- Watch videos on a mobile device.
At the end of the challenge, teams received rewards based on their placement in the content:
- 1st Place: 100 SB rebate.
- 2nd Place: 50 SB rebate.
- 3rd Place: 25 SB rebate.
- 4th Place: 10 SB rebate.
Notices about Team Challenges appear in your inbox. After the event is over, your SB rebate is only available for a limited time; you have to manually claim it within the stated window, or you’ll lose out.
Swagbucks periodically allows users to hunt for “Collector’s Bill,” which are a form of decorative virtual currency (i.e., “bills”) that can obtained via search wins.
Each set of Collector’s Bills has a theme, and each individual Bill has corresponding artwork. You can view all of your Collector’s Bills from current and past promotions by going to Swagbucks > Activity and changing the toggle switch in the upper right-hand corner from “Ledger” to “Collector Bill.”
Each Collector’s Bill is worth a set number of SBs, and you’ll earn an unspecified bonus for completing a set.
Swag Ups are special bonuses and offers that you unlock by completing certain activities on the site. For example, new users who sign up with our link can earn a $10 reward (in the form of 1,000 SBs) by completing a qualifying shopping purchase within a set period of time. This reward is technically considered a Swag Up, and it can be viewed (as per the picture below) by clicking on “Swag Ups” in the left-hand navigation menu.
The Swag Ups section shows you the value of each bonus, its expiration date, and its status. In our case, we earned the $10 bonus by making a purchase, but it takes a number of days for the bonus to hit our account balance, so it appears as “Pending.”
Note that sometimes you’re required to activate or redeem a Swag Up (by clicking a button) in order to actually use it.
Swag Codes are yet another way to earn bonus SBs. They’re limited-time codes that are hidden throughout the site (and elsewhere), and which are sometimes given away via other means (think Swagbucks’ customer support, social media, etc.).
Whenever you find a Swag Code, just enter it via the link in the “Promotions” section of the left-hand navigation pane:
Swag Codes tend to provide very small bonuses (e.g., a couple of SBs), so I wouldn’t spend a lot of time hunting for them. But if you happen across one, it only takes a few seconds to cash in.
The Different Swagbucks Mobile Apps
Swagbucks has a number of different apps, and sorting through them all can be a challenge.
This is the primary Swagbucks app. It allows you to manage your account, search the web, use the online shopping portal, take surveys, complete the daily poll, and watch videos.
A dedicated survey app. Gold Surveys are available in the main app, but this has a slicker, easier-to-use interface. It also allows you to sort surveys by popularity, time-to-complete and SB payout.
Additionally, if you elect to let the app use your background location, you may receive notifications for location-dependent surveys. These are called “Missions” and they’ll appear at the top of the Surveys list whenever they’re available.
Clicking on “Nearby Mission” will take you a map, where you can view the available in store surveys:
Each Mission has a specific set of requirements that may include scanning a list of item barcodes or other simple tasks.
Android users can earn SBs by with these content-specific apps:
- EntertaiNow: Entertainment and lifestyle videos.
- Indymusic.tv: Music videos from independent artists.
- Lifestylz.tv: Entertainment and lifestyle videos.
- MovieCli.ps: Movie trailers, TV news and celebrity gossip videos.
- nCrave: Mobile advertisements, videos and websites.
- Sportly.tv: Sports news and fitness how-to videos.
- Swagbucks Watch (TV): Movie, TV, comedy and video game content.
Most of the time, when using these apps, you’ll see a playlist along with the number of SBs you can earn by watching it.
Swagbucks Live is a free trivia game that takes place most weekdays (and sometimes multiple times per day). When you play, you’re competing in real time against real people for a grand prize that’s usually around $1,000 worth of SBs (with the caveat described below).
The premise is simple:
- The host asks a question.
- Players then have 10 seconds to select a multiple-choice answer.
- Choose correctly and you stay in the game; choose incorrectly, and you’re disqualified from winning the grand prize.
- If you choose incorrectly, you can still continue playing and earn SBs for every correct answer.
- The caveat: at the end of the game, the grand prize is split between all the players with a perfect record. So you’re unlikely to see a $1,000 payout.
One round of Swagbucks Live features 10 questions and takes around 10 to 15 minutes to play.
Swagbucks‘ free browser extension is called the SwagButton, and it comes with a few different features.
- It allows you to easily access the Swagbucks search portal (without having to change your browser’s default search engine).
- It allows you to redeem Swag Codes without navigating back to the Swagbucks home page.
- It will notify you when your SB balance changes.
- It will notify you when a new survey is available (which can be helpful, since many surveys have a participant limit).
- It provides quick access to your account settings.
Aside from all of the above, the primary reason to install the SwagButton is to make sure you never miss out on cash-back opportunities when shopping online.
Remember: as a Swagbucks member, you must activate cash-back offers by clicking through to the merchant’s website. But it’s difficult for even dedicated site users to always remember to start at the Swagbucks portal, and people don’t always plan ahead before making a purchase.
The SwagButton alerts you whenever a cash-back offer is available from a website you’re browsing, and then gives you the opportunity to click through to activate the promotion.
Here’s how it looks when visiting Nike.com:
After clicking the blue “Get 3% Cash Back” button, you’re momentarily redirected to Swagbucks:
The SwagButton also alerts you when there are coupon codes in its database that might save you money at checkout. However, in this particular case, the only Nike coupon it knew of was out of date and did not work.
Like most browser extensions, the SwagButton collects a good amount of your data and may slow down your browsing experience. In our testing, it did not noticeably affect the performance of Chrome (even with 35 tabs open).
Whether or not it makes sense for you to install it depends on how committed you are to absolutely maximizing your earnings on the platform. If you want to squeeze out every possible SB, then it’s a no-brainer.
Perhaps one of the most lucrative ways to earn SBs is via Swagbucks’ generous referral program. That’s because you’ll not only get a one-time bonus, but also a recurring bonus based on your referrals’ activity.
Here’s how it works:
- You’ll get a recurring bonus equal to 10% of your referrals’ total SB earnings for life. There’s no maximum, and this never expires (although Swagbucks does have the right the change or end this program whenever it wants).
- You and your referral will both get a one-time 300 SB bonus if he or she earns 300 SB within 30 days of opening their account.
Passive income: Because you keep earning based on your referrals’ activity forever, Swagbucks’ referral program can be a solid source of passive income. There are also other passive income opportunities you may want to take a look at.
Swagbucks Value and Cashing Out
It should go without saying, but SBs are a virtual currency completely controlled by the company that issues them. That company (Swagbucks) also sets their value.
Today, 1 SB is generally worth 1 U.S. cent.
However, it bears noting that Swagbucks could change the value of SBs — or discontinue the program altogether — at any moment. That’s true with all cash-back and rewards programs, and it’s unlikely to happen with a company of this size and reputation, but it is something to keep in mind.
Sometimes, 1 SB can be worth more than 1 cent.
For example, Swagbucks often has promotions where you can redeem your SBs for gift cards at a discount. In the screenshot below, you can get a $10 Bass Pro Shops gift card for 800 SBs. That’s a 20% discount off face value, making each SB worth 1.2 cents.
Cashing Out and Redemption Options
In addition to offering the widest array of ways to earn among “get paid to” websites, Swagbucks also offers the most choices for cashing out your points.
Technically, there is no minimum withdrawal amount. You can redeem your SBs as soon as you have the required amount for whatever reward you’ve chosen.
However, in practice, the lowest gift card values are usually $3 (300 SBs). Swagbucks has been known to offer a $1 Amazon gift card, but it typically costs 160 SBs rather than 100 SBs, which means you’re getting less value for each point you redeem.
Quick facts about redeeming SBs for gift cards:
- You can find gift cards from most major retail and restaurant chains, including Amazon, Starbucks, Target, Walmart and more. There are hundreds of options.
- Gift cards are delivered electronically via email and usually take about 10 days to show up in your inbox.
- Gift cards for retailers do not expire.
- In the past, Swagbucks has occasionally limited certain reward redemptions, and the rules change rather frequently. We reached out to the company, and a representative told us that, at the time of publication, there are no such limits. However, in the past, there have been rules such as “a maximum of two gift cards per day” and “a maximum of five Amazon gift cards per month.”
Other ways to redeem your SBs:
- PayPal cash and Visa gift cards. These allow you to essentially redeem your SBs for real money. Note that Visa gift cards expire six months after they’re issued, but you can get an extension by calling the 800-number associated with the card.
- Charitable contributions. You can use your SBs to donate to organizations like Save the Children and the Wounded Warrior Project. Each SB equates to a 1 cent donation.
- Swagstakes: Your SBs can also be converted into sweepstakes entries for prizes ranging from more SBs to gift cards to physical items (AirPods and a Nintendo Switch were recently offered).
When it comes to Swagstakes, remember that this is essentially gambling and your odds of winning are low. If part of your rationale for joining Swagbucks is to make a little bit of extra money, or as a way to save money on the things you already buy, then using your SBs for Swagstakes entries undermines your primary reason for being on the site.
Member Recognition Levels
As you spend more time on Swagbucks, you’ll level up your user account, unlocking an array of new benefits at each stage.
Here are the 10 different levels and their requirements.
|Level||Lifetime SB Requirement|
At levels one through five (from Pearl to Jade), the benefits are minimal. We’re choosing not to spell them out here because they change from time to time, but in general you’ll get:
- A small, one-time SB rebate on a gift card redemption.
- A small, one-time bonus for the completion of a Gold Survey.
- A small amount of bonus SBs on an online shopping purchase.
At levels five through 10 (Topaz to Diamond), things start to get more interesting.
- A large one-time SB bonus (at the top two tiers only).
- Immediate delivery of gift cards (limited per month).
- Immediate access to a certain number of shopping SBs per month.
Money Making Methods, Ranked
Based on everything contained above, here’s our top-to-bottom list of the best and worst ways to spend your time on the site.
- Online shopping. The most potential to rack up SBs quickly. A wide array of participating retailers makes it easy to save money on the things you already intend to buy.
- Buying gift cards. It’s hard to beat discounts of 5% and more on gift cards for the retailers you shop at. Stacked with the site’s cash-back offers, this can amount to huge savings.
- Booking travel. Travel is expensive, and Swagbucks offers some of the best cash-back rates around. That means you can often skyrocket your SB balance by booking just a few trips through the portal.
- Taking surveys. Swagbucks’ pay rate for surveys is among the best in the industry. They also have a fairly large inventory. Disqualifications are common, but they tend to happen early in the survey (so you don’t end up wasting too much time).
- In-store grocery deals. There’s a limited selection of offers, but they can be quite generous and are often for normal items that many households buy (which isn’t always the case with receipt-scanning apps).
- Paper coupons. A great feature because you’re stacking savings by combining the face value of the coupon with the SB rewards you earn for redeeming them.
- In-store cash-back. These are decent offers but there are limited options, and you can’t activate them from inside the mobile app.
- Free trial offers and money makers. These are some of the quickest ways to make money, but they’re difficult to find and require follow-through — if you don’t cancel your free trial in time, you’ll be charged for the next product shipment or period of service.
- Watching videos. Some users swear that Swagbucks’ videos are a great source of passive SBs — they just turn them on in the background and let them run with the sound off. In our testing, we were never able to get videos to work consistently or earn more than a few SBs here and there.
- Daily poll. It takes one second, but it’s also only worth one SB.
- Microtasks. The concept sounds intriguing: help a company train artificial intelligence by answering questions and verifying information. Unfortunately, the pay is quite low for the work that’s involved.
- Searching. Search rewards are random and small, and you’re providing a treasure trove of data. Plus, Yahoo’s search results are far inferior to Google’s.
- Playing games. The free games pay too little to be worthwhile, the selection of paid games are limited and not very enticing, and the mobile games — where you have to reach a certain in-game level to earn your reward — take a significant amount of time and are specifically designed to encourage in-app purchases.
Frequently Asked Questions About Swagbucks
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Swagbucks. If you’re wondering about some aspect of the site that isn’t covered here, just lease a comment below and we’ll both reply and add the answer to this list.
Your Swagbucks earnings will depend on how much time you spend on the site. In general, we think an everyday user could reasonably expect to earn between $10 and $50 per month. If you do a lot of online shopping or are able to build up referrals, you can earn considerably more than that.
Swagbucks allows you to redeem your points for PayPal Cash or Visa gift cards, but you can’t redeem them for direct deposit or an ACH transfer.
Not in total, although there are some limits to how much you can earn within each section of the site. For example, you can only earn 50 points per day by printing coupons.
Swagbucks does not issue 1099 tax forms. However, the value of any rewards you earn on the site still count as taxable income and must be reported to the IRS, so you’ll need to keep track of your redemptions. If you only earn SBs and don’t redeem them, there’s no tax liability because the points technically have no value — they’re only worth something once exchanged cash, gift cards or items.
No. Swagbucks only issues gift cards via email.
Swagbucks Review: Final Thoughts
We think most Swagbucks members can expect to earn $10 to $50 per month with moderate but consistent activity on the platform. Extremely committed users who are willing to refer the site to other people can earn significantly more than that.
$10 to $50 probably isn’t going to change your life, but there’s no denying that it can add up over the course of a few months or a year.
The big question to ask yourself is whether the time it takes to earn that amount of money could be better spent elsewhere — perhaps a hobby that pays, a side job with more upside potential, or just getting off the internet and spending time with the people and activities you love.
Swagbucks is an enormous site, and it can be both overwhelming and addictive. We spent hours researching and testing the platform for this review, and it always felt like there was more to discover.
On one hand, that’s what makes Swagbucks stand out from all the other “get paid to” sites on the internet: not only is it completely legit, it’s legitimately fun.
But that means it’s easy to spend a lot of time chasing SBs. And we think a few aspects of the site provide a much better return on your time investment than others.
- Starting your online shopping via Swagbucks is a no-brainer. The portal is easy to use, there’s no minimum withdrawal amount, and the cash-back offers are solid. I personally use this feature and recommend it.
- Buying gift cards before you shop can save big money. If you know you’re going to make a purchase at a particular retailer, skipping this opportunity is like walking away from free cash.
- You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better survey site. You’ll never get rich by doing surveys, but Swagbucks’ rates are some of the best in the industry and the low cash-out threshold means you don’t have to complete hundreds of them to actually see a reward.
On the other hand, activities like searching, watching videos and playing games feel more like distractions than serious ways to make money. You can earn a few SBs here and there, but the amounts pale in comparison to the amounts you can earn by starting your shopping at the portal.
With all of that said, if you’re looking for ways to make money online, and things like surveys and “get paid to” offers are up your alley, it’s hard to find a better overall option than Swagbucks. It’s a legit company with a good record of customer service and plenty of different ways to earn.
*Capital One Shopping compensates us when you sign up for the service using the links provided