After seeing a number of other bloggers talking about it, I recently decided to see what all the Swagbucks fuss was about. I wasn’t really sure what a Swagbuck was, but it seemed to be an option to earn a little on the side without doing surveys or making much of a change to your routine. That sounded interesting enough for me to give it a go.
What are Swagbucks?
Swagbucks are points. One swagbuck isn’t equal to one dollar. Swagbucks can be redeemed for all kinds of things through the Swagbucks store. Swagbucks have different values based on what you redeem them for.
At the time I’m writing this, you can get Season 5 of The Office for 60 Swagbucks, you can get a $5 Amazon.com or Amazon.ca giftcard for 45 Swagbucks, you can get $5 cash via Paypal for 70 Swagbucks, you can get an 8GB iPod Touch for 3000 Swagbucks. The price is based on the item’s value to Swagbucks, not its regular market value.
How can you earn Swagbucks?
1. Swagbucks Search. The primary way of earning swagbucks for yourself is to use the Swagbucks search engine. When you search, you win periodic Swagbucks in various denominations. I used the search for two weeks before writing this and it’s not something I can predict but you do win them.
To make searching with Swagbucks easier, you can add Swagbucks search to your browser’s search options. They support Firefox, IE7, Safari, Opera, & Chrome (though for some you have to follow short instructions vs. just installing a plugin, in Firefox it’s instant). There’s also a Firefox toolbar for the more committed.
2. Swagbucks Referrals. You can also refer others to Swagbucks and earn matching search points for up to 100 points per person. I was a bit worried at first that this was some sort of pyramid, but it’s a simple one-level referral with a cap on matching points.
You don’t get points if people who sign up through you sign up more people. Points are only matched for searches, not for shopping, swagcode, or referrals.
3. Swagbucks Shopping. You can also earn one Swagbuck for ever $5 spent through the Shop & Earn section (different from the Swagbuck redemption shopping area). Swagbucks also shows deals that certain stores are offering. I’ll share more thoughts on this below.
4. Swagcode. As you spend time on the Swagcode site, blog, etc, you may get pieces of Swagcode, similar to the Swagbucks that show up when you use their search. These can be redeemed for Swagbucks, but cannot be shared.
Another way to earn swagbucks is trading in old video games or cell phones through the go green program. I haven’t looked into this since I have neither old video games nor old cell phones.
Which methods of earning Swagbucks are worthwhile?
So, are any of these worthwhile? I’ll offer my thoughts on them in the same order.
1. Swagbucks search is pretty good for general searches. It’s powered by Google and Ask and it’s like a younger sibling to them both. I’ve been using it the last two weeks to search for things which don’t require too much specificity. That’s maybe 95% of searches, though I haven’t remembered to use it for all 95%. Like Google, there are sponsored search results–which they mix in, but label.
If you sign up, I recommend using it for most general searches where you just want a piece of information, or finding the url of a company website (e.g. “Comics Curmedgeon” which you can’t remember is at joshreads.com), or for the old Google spellchecker, or as a way of locating the Wikipedia article without searching at Wikipedia (which I normally find more annoying). If you think you’re going to have to sift through pages and pages of search results looking for the one result you need because it’s so rare, then use Google.
2. Swagbucks referral has potential. I wouldn’t (and didn’t) sign up expecting to make all your money via referrals. Referrals depend on whether other people sign up and whether they actually use the search option. If you’re lucky, you may have referees who find it fun and earn you the full hundred matching points. If the people you refer don’t search, then you’re out of luck.
3. Swagbucks shopping, hmm. I haven’t made up my mind on this one. My advice is to comparison shop and ignore the Swagbucks you’d earn when making the decision where to buy. Since Swagbucks can’t be quantified because they’re worth different amounts depending on how you redeem them, it’s hard to include them in your comparison unless you only redeem for one thing.
4. Swagcode I wouldn’t go out of my way for. If it’s worth your time to visit the site, read the blog, stay up to date on new ways to earn and look for things you can spend your Swagbucks on, go for it. But unless you’re already planning on it, I wouldn’t spend time lurking on the site in hopes of Swagcode. I see if as a fun little perk.
You can also get swagcodes by following them on Twitter and Facebook, which may be more your thing.
My Take on Swagbucks
So, will I continue to use Swagbucks? What will I spend them on?
I’m not going to pursue Swagbucks as some big moneymaking scheme. However, I’m going to keep using the search engine for all those easy searches because–why not? It returns the results I need and I can add up the Swagbucks little by little. When I buy items online, I’ll try to run a quick price comparison and see if it’s worth earning a few Swagbucks on the way.
The Swagbuck redeeming store doesn’t have too much at the cheaper level that I’m interested in, but I can redeem them for Amazon gift cards…which I can redeem for books. And I do love books.
I appreciate that you can redeem Swagbucks without amassing a thousand points first. If I have enough, I can also save up some for buying Christmas presents on Amazon and elsewhere. We’ll see.
If you’d like to try Swagbucks yourself, you can sign up here.