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I’m probably the last person on Earth who would willingly give up my personal information to a marketing or advertising company. Would it surprise you to know that using Swagbucks changed my mind?
Well, maybe not completely. Swagbucks is an interesting way you can earn some moola on the Internet, and the cool thing about it is that you don’t really have to change your usual habits while using the Internet, you just need to alter where you go to use it. Areas where you can turn your online actions into financial rewards includes web searching, watching videos, shopping, and more.
Signing Up and Earning Points
The moment you sign up with Swagbucks, you immediately start accumulating points or SB. 4 SB for starters, and a few other bonus SBs if you’re willing to add the “SwagButton” to your browser, or use the Swagbucks search engine as your default search engine whenever you open your browser.
The Swagbucks search tool is powered by Yahoo!, and the search results are formatted pretty much how you’d expect to see them if you were using Yahoo! as your search engine – so you’re using a high quality search tool here.
Also, the points (SB) will pop up under your search query, at seemingly random intervals.
So really it’s like playing a lottery. Every time you run a search, you’re submitting an entry to get points, and if you’re lucky you’ll land a winning search. I’ve seen this message pop up after 4 searches, and after 20 searches, so it’s hard to see any pattern. However, considering how long it would take to accumulate 1-4 SB by doing things like watching videos or taking surveys, this is a fantastic way to accumulate points, especially if you use search a lot anyway.
The SwagButton allows you to easily earn SB when shopping online, plus a few other benefits. Couple things to keep in mind here, just so you know what you’re getting into: If you do add the SwagButton, pay careful attention to the permissions that you’re providing to the Chrome add-on. You are essentially volunteering yourself to marketers to measure online preferences and habits of people within your demographic.
Honestly, there’s nothing terribly dangerous about doing this if you like to be a part of what drives online advertising and product development, but if you do consider your browsing history or data that you copy and paste to contain sensitive or private information, then you may want to forgo installing this add-on. It’s completely up to you, and not required in order to use Swagbucks.
Get Paid to Watch Videos
The first area of Swagbucks that I was personally most interested in was “Watch”, which is basically an area where you can click on video playlists to watch. If you watch all of the videos, then you get a certain number of points.
For example, I watched 17 news headline videos – things that I’d normally be interested in watching on YouTube anyway – and earned 4 SB.
To put this in perspective, about 100 SB are the equivalent of $1. Each of these videos took just under a minute to watch, so the total time to watch all of these videos was roughly 17 minutes.
The good thing is that the playlists play on their own, so if you use two screens, you can actually set up a playlist to run while you’re doing other work while watching the news or whatever other playlists you’re interested in.
There are also plenty of categories to choose from, so there are likely to be videos that you’ll enjoy watching anyway.
My only complaint here is how hard it’ll be to earn much money. If you try to do so just watching videos, in order to earn a $50 gift card, you’d have to watch a 4 SB playlist 1,250 times. I’m actually not sure there are even that many videos on Swagbucks to watch.
So, obviously you can’t do everything in the videos section. It’s good for earning a few cents doing things you enjoy doing online anyway, but the real money to be earned on Swagbucks is elsewhere.
Make Money Taking Surveys
Case in point, taking surveys. This is a whole different ballgame. You could spend the same amount of time it took to watch 17 one-minute videos, to instead take a single survey that can pay out anywhere from 20 to 300 or more SB. Now you’re talking about being able to earn actual dollars rather than pennies, with an investment of your time.
However, there are still some considerations to keep in mind in this area as well. The “Gold Surveys” are the best ones to take. They appear to be tailored toward your demographics when you registered your account, so you’re more likely to actually earn the SB amount that’s promised when you take them.
You’ll notice though, that there are different types of surveys along the left navigation bar, Gold Surveys, Partner Surveys, Peanut Labs Surveys, Polls and Tasks.
I personally tested taking 5 Partner Surveys, spending about 10-15 minutes on each one. In every case, after answering at least half a dozen to a dozen demographic questions about my age, gender, occupation and interests, I received an “Over Quota” warning.
You do get 1 SB every time this happens, but that’s little consolation for wasting 5-10 minutes on a survey that ultimately didn’t pay out what it promised. If I were to use Swagbucks over the long term (which I am planning to do), I would avoid Partner Surveys until they’ve done a better job only offering surveys that are not already over-quota for your specific demographic (which is already collected as part of your profile anyway).
The areas that I do think are worth your time are the Polls, where you can just answer some fun questions and accumulate points quickly.
And definitely the Gold Surveys. These are a bit more time intensive, and you’ll find that you have to answer the same demographics questions (age, gender, occupation) over and over again, but the “Time to Complete” estimates are pretty accurate. The payouts here also seem very fair – 20 to 300 SB for 10 to 30 minutes of your time equates to up to $2 or $3 for half an hour just answering some fun questions about your purchasing habits and activities.
Gold Surveys are probably the best activity in Swagbucks to take part in if you don’t want to actually have to invest any of your own money in order to receive rewards. This is a direct payout for your time.
Peanut Labs Surveys are a mix and match of activities and sign-up options where you can also build up a lot of points, but in this case most of the activities involve “signing up” for things like magazine subscriptions, free recipes, coupons or more.
The trade-off that you’re making here is that in order to get some really good deals, you have to share more of your personal information than just demographics. You actually have to provide your home address and phone numbers.
You may be fine with this, or you might consider doing what many people do and put together a unique mailing address, phone number and email address just for the purposes of taking part in these promotions. The benefit of this is that you can take part in all of these promotions without littering your mailbox, getting email spam, and getting constant cold calls from marketers.
Discover Cool Stuff and Get Points
Another area of Swagbucks to explore is Discover in the navigation bar. Here’s variety of offers and activities to explore for a variety of SB rewards.
An interesting area is the Mobile Apps category, where you can get points for installing and using a variety of apps on your mobile device. In most cases you get points for purchasing and installing an app, but there are a few free apps that you can install for points as well.
Under the Discover section, there are also Printable Coupons, an area that I highly recommend. If you think about it, by printing and using the rewards in this area, you’re basically getting rewarded with points for simply printing coupons and saving money. You’re getting paid to save money!
You won’t get bored in the Discover area, with free trials, charity contributions and of course a large area for shopping, where you’ll find discounts and deals off stuff you’d probably end up buying anyway – so it only makes sense to save money and get points in the process!
Cash In On Your Points
One thing I will say is that no matter what method you choose to accumulate points as you use the Internet, cashing in on them couldn’t be easier (or more rewarding) — just check out some of the big name gift cards you can order.
There are Amazon and eBay gift cards, cards for various big brands, or shopping centers like Sam’s Club. Or, if you can’t decide on a specific card, you can always go for a VISA gift credit card that you can use anywhere in place of cash.
Truthfully, cashing in on big gift cards will take time. It isn’t easy to earn a ton of money, but it isn’t really impossible either – especially if you make using Swagbucks a regular part of your Internet experience, from searching the web and watching videos, to taking fun surveys and shopping.
Give Swagbucks a try and let us know what you think. Did you find it hard to earn a lot of cash, or did you have so much fun you earned a big value gift card before you even knew it? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!