If you’re searching for ways to make money online, you’ve probably come across Swagbucks.
The online rewards portal awards you points for filling out surveys, watching content and other actions, which you then redeem for cash or gift cards.
Table of Contents
- What Is Swagbucks and Is Swagbucks Legit?
- How Swagbucks Works
- How Much Money Can You Make Using Swagbucks?
- Swagbucks Review: My Experience With Surveys
- Swagbucks Review: My Experience With Games
- Ways To Make Money Using Swagbucks
- Is Swagbucks Worth Your Time?
- Swagbucks Pros
- Swagbucks Cons
What Is Swagbucks and Is Swagbucks Legit?
Founded in 2008 in El Segundo, California, Swagbucks is an online rewards site that gives you points for answering surveys, shopping, watching content and more.
Swagbucks is essentially a large-scale, gamified, arbitraged affiliate program. It connects consumers with third-party services to generate qualified leads. Then Swagbucks incentivizes you to answer, sign up, buy, play or watch, and gives you a share of the revenue that generates.
According to the Swagbucks website, it has paid out more than $589 million in its history. Swagbucks is legit in that you can earn cash or gift cards. But it may not be worth your time due to what, in my experience, is an excruciating hourly pay rate.
How Swagbucks Works
If you’re at least 13 years old and you have an email address, you can sign up for Swagbucks for free.
The rewards system is based on “SB points,” which are each equal to 1 cent in value. You can earn SB points in a variety of ways including responding to surveys. The Swagbucks website makes it easy to discover all the ways you can earn money and shows the corresponding SB points reward for each task.
Swagbucks Rewards: Can You Make Cash?
Swagbucks offers 593 different rewards options. There are three main ways to use your SB points for rewards:
- Reedeem points for gift cards.
- Use points to claim money via PayPal.
- Donate points to charity.
There are occasional “sales” that offer you discounted rewards rates. But for the most part, 1 SB equates to 1 cent in rewards.
Charity donations start at 5 SB points. Gift card rewards start at $1. Note that, if you want to get your money through PayPal, you have to amass a minimum of $5 (500 SB points) before it will pay out.
Swagbucks offers plenty of gift card options including those for companies such as Amazon, Apple, Starbucks and Walmart.
How Much Money Can You Make Using Swagbucks?
I spent about 21 hours within the Swagbucks ecosystem over a two-week period. During that 21 hours, I earned 2,708 SB points — the equivalent of $27.08.
That comes out to $1.29 an hour.
I spent most of my time taking surveys and playing a specific game, which I’ll discuss more shortly.
My process for figuring out the most efficient ways to earn SB points was mostly trial and error. I didn’t come close to testing every possible way to make money online via the Swagbucks platform.
But it’s fair to say that I’d probably get better at identifying the best opportunities the more time I spent on the platform. Each person’s results will vary.
Just to reiterate, though, I spent half a work week logged in on Swagbucks and actively trying to make money. And I earned less than $30.
Swagbucks Review: My Experience With Surveys
Swagbucks surveys are featured as the first way to earn SB points on the website, based on the menu as well as the horizontal scroll at the top of the homepage.
I don’t mind sharing opinions. But I got extremely frustrated working through the Swagbucks surveys.
I attempted to respond to 25 different surveys and got disqualified from 17 of them, sometimes three or four minutes into the survey. In other words, my success rate in qualifying for the surveys was just 32%.
You get 1 SB point for trying a survey even if you fail to qualify. Swagbucks caps its “thanks for trying” compensation at 5 SB points per day (5 cents).
My biggest survey reward was 125 SB points ($1.25). I reviewed car advertisements in great detail for nearly 30 minutes.
Swagbucks aggregates surveys from third-party companies, so it offers a good variety and volume. You know how many SB points are on the line with each survey. Swagbucks also estimates how long it will take you to complete each survey (in minutes). You can sort the list of available surveys by any of those factors.
Because Swagbucks provides surveys from other research companies, I had to enter and re-enter basic demographic information every time I attempted a new one. In many cases, I spent several minutes entering my age, income, location, marital status and other basics only to fail to qualify.
Swagbucks also asks you to fill out an extensive profile that’s supposed to help match you with surveys you’re qualified to answer. Perhaps Swagbucks would get better at identifying surveys for me over time, but all the failures led to a lot of penny payments.
Swagbucks Review: My Experience With Games
I got tired of the tedious SB points march via surveys. I wanted a way to earn a larger amount of SB points in a more guaranteed fashion.
That led me to download the game “myVEGAS Bingo.” After all, Swagbucks was offering me 2000 SB points if I unlocked the Mirage Casino and reached Level 20.
How hard could that be, right? I downloaded the game. That turned out to be an ill-advised choice.
The bingo-based game depends almost entirely on chips and diamonds, which you can exchange for “powerups.” It’s virtually impossible to succeed without these powerups. I misunderstood the redemption process and accidentally chewed through my initial allotment of diamonds.
I managed to work my way to Level 10 within two or three hours. However, getting to Level 20 was a painstaking process.
It involved claiming a small number of extra chips every few hours, playing numerous low-stakes bingo games hoping to secure tickets, which I could use in the in-game slot machine to secure more diamonds, which I could then exchange for powerups.
Since I had just 10 days to reach Level 20 from when I started playing the game, and since I had already invested a good number of hours, I felt compelled to forge on, having no idea just how long it would take.
I avoided making a single in-game purchase with real money. But it took 14 hours to get to Level 20. I had no way of knowing that when I saw the offer within the Swagbucks ecosystem.
Also, once I reached my reward, I had to wait 10 more days before Swagbucks would release it to me. During my Swagbucks review, I found that to be common practice for the more “lucrative” rewards.
Ways To Make Money Using Swagbucks
Swagbucks gives you at least 10 options to earn SB points.
1. Answer Surveys
I wrote about my experience with Swagbucks surveys earlier in this article. Expect frequent disqualifications when you attempt to take surveys, among other frustrations.
You can earn 1-2% cash back on most Swagbucks deals. You can also take advantage of “Magic Receipts,” adding a product to your list within Swagbucks before you purchase it at the store. Then you can upload a picture of your receipt. Some of the “Magic Receipts” offers are worth $1 or $2.
3. Sign Up For Services
4. Sign Up For Email Offers
I earned 15 SB points for signing up for Domino’s Pizza email offers. I highly suggest creating a separate email account for all of your Swagbucks dealings so you can avoid the equivalent of electronic junk mail in your daily inbox.
5. Download And Play Games
Don’t be fooled by the high SB points that Swagbucks offers. It may take untold hours to advance far enough in the game to receive the SB points allocation. You also will need to wait for Swagbucks to release your SB points from a sort of purgatory.
6. Donate To Charity
If you donate a monthly minimum of $25 to Save The Children, for example, you can get 3,200 SB points.
7. Watch Content
It appears that some big media sites are paying Swagbucks to drive traffic to their videos and to watch for long enough to trigger a “view” on their advertisements. Of course, Swagbucks is paying you, creating a double arbitrage situation. Needless to say, the rewards for this are tiny.
8. Refer Friends
Earn 300 SB points if you refer someone who earns 300 SB points themselves within 30 days. Get another 100 SB points if they add the “SwagButton” to their computer.
9. Complete Daily Bonuses
Swagbucks gives you some bonus SB points if you complete a certain number of daily tasks or earn a certain number of SB points.
10. Buy SB Points
For example, you can pay $2.99 for 200 SB points, which are worth $2. I’m not sure why you would, but that’s an option.
Is Swagbucks Worth Your Time?
It’s not my place to say what is or isn’t worth your time. However, I can say unequivocally that Swagbucks is not worth my time.
After reviewing Swagbucks, I’m convinced that if I want to make money online, there are a myriad of better options on a per-hour basis. And if I was interested in finding a hobby to pass the time when I’m waiting in line, there are plenty of more exciting options.
If you’re set on answering surveys for extra cash, Swagbucks probably isn’t a bad choice. It offers a low bar for payouts (just $1) and high volume of surveys and other earning options.
Here are the biggest disadvantages to trying Swagbucks:
- Low rewards requirements. Similar sites can sometimes feel like a trap or a scam because you have to accrue such a high number of points before you’re eligible to cash out. This is one area where Swagbucks gets a gold star. You can get a $1 Amazon gift card for just 100 SB points.
- Variety of ways to earn and redeem points. Don’t want to just respond to surveys? You have options.
- Established history of payouts. With more than 22,000 reviews on TrustPilot, dozens of media reviews and a 13-year history, no one disputes that you can get money or gift cards in exchange for your SB points.
- High volume of surveys. If you want to plant yourself on the couch and breeze through surveys to your heart’s content for hours on end, you can do that with Swagbucks.
- Choose your own adventure. Whether you want to spend five minutes or five hours on Swagbucks, it’s possible. The same goes for the time of day you want to make money online as well as how you want to earn SB points.
Here are the biggest disadvantages to trying Swagbucks:
- Extremely low pay. Swagbucks may not consider itself to be a job, but I’m not sure why anyone would participate if not to earn. And if your experience is anything like mine, good luck making even $2 an hour.
- Can lead to junk email. If you’re going to be aggressive about racking up SB points, you’ll need to accept that you’re going to be inundated with offers and ads, usually via email.
- Brutal survey disqualifications. Swagbucks can make you feel like Sisyphus, doomed to push a boulder up a hill for all eternity only to have the boulder roll back down at the top. You can spend good time working toward points only to realize you’re disqualified and need to start over. That’s not the only version of SB points Roulette, as I illustrated earlier.
- Opportunity cost. The low pay made me cringe, but it wasn’t the most painful part of my Swagbucks experience. I’m still thinking about everything I could’ve done instead with that 21 hours.
If you’re trying to make money online, Swagbucks is legit and safe. The biggest catch is that you’ll be lucky to make much more than $1 per hour. That was the minimum wage in 1956 — before adjusting for inflation.
You’ll get subjected to a boatload of advertisements. You may want to let out some choice words when your attempts to qualify for surveys fail over and over.
If your only objective is to make money online through a flexible side hustle, there are better-paying options.