Ten years ago, during my CAD design class in high school, I tried to convince all of my classmates within five seats of me to sign up for Swagbucks.
Everyone was seated at a computer, and all were computer savvy.
They were hot prospects; how could I resist a pitch?
My pitch was simple: “Do you use Google? Well, instead of using Google, use Swagbucks as your search engine, and you’ll earn free money. Don’t forget to use my referral code!”
My classmate loved the pitch, and I got a couple of Swag Bucks for referring them.
I was a big fan of Swagbucks. I’ve earned over 263,659 SBs, which is good for $2,630 in cash!
I don’t use Swagbucks much anymore, and it probably isn’t useful for a majority of people. Most of my earnings were from referring friends, rather than using the platform.
That doesn’t mean Swagbucks is a scam. It’s legit! But there are better ways to get rewards.
First, let’s talk about how Swagbucks works and the things I like, then I’ll talk about other rewards options.
How does Swagbucks work?
Swagbucks is a search engine combined with a shopping portal that provides rewards.
The search engine operates similarly to Google. You ask a query and it populates related results.
Swagbucks is different from other search engines because it provides rewards (Swag Bucks) for searches. You won’t earn Swag Bucks (SBs) on every search, but if you use Swagbucks as your default search engine, you’ll earn some throughout the day.
Swagbucks offers SBs for shopping online too!
Before you shop, search for the store you want to shop at on Swagbucks. Click on the link to the store, then shop as usual, and you’ll receive SBs after your purchase. For example, Walmart offers 2 SBs for every $1 you spend. If you buy a $500 speaker, 1,000 SBs will be added to your account in a few days.
How is this legal and what’s in it for Swagbucks?
They want to make more money, so they give incentives (SBs) to their users for shopping and searching on the site. Basically, Swagbucks splits their affiliate and advertising revenues with you.
The stores benefit because, in theory, it brings them more customers. You win because you get free cash.
It’s a win-win-win.
- You get paid for searching the web.
- You get cash back for shopping at your favorite stores. With one extra step of clicking through Swagbucks’ link to the store, you earn free money. There are better options for cash back, but if you like Swagbucks for other things, you might as well get your cash back there too!
- You can redeem your SBs for an Amazon or PayPal gift card. 300 SBs gets you a $3 gift card.
- There’s a browser extension “SwagButton” that alerts you to cash back opportunities if you’re on an eligible site. You can conduct web searches with the button as well.
- You can get SBs for eating at local restaurants if you link your credit card. There’s a random restaurant, The Pub, that offers 7% cash back in my small town of 30,000 people. That was surprising! If my town has a local restaurant listed, yours is guaranteed to have an option too. Swagbucks Local only works with Visa and American Express cards, but it’s a great feature.
- There are a few easy bonuses for extra SBs. You get one SB for answering the Daily Poll, 50 SBs on your birthday, and 300 SBs if you sign up through a friend. (We’re friends, right? Use mine.) And if YOU refer friends, their earnings will trickle down to you too.
- Swagbucks uses Bing’s search results. Bing is not a good search engine; don’t let anyone tell you differently. I use Google all day, every day, so getting the best search results is important to me. (Here’s an example of Bing’s latest issue).
- Swagbucks got stingy. I used to get 30 SBs per day with 10 searches. Now, the SBs are given out less frequently and in lower denominations. For this review, I performed 30 searches in a day and was only rewarded with five Swagbucks.
- Swagbucks uses a currency called Swag Bucks. 100 SBs is the equivalent to $1. It makes it seem like you have more currency in your account than you actually do. It’d be better to keep the currency in dollars.
- The surveys and videos are trash. You can answer 20-minute surveys for a whopping 100 SBs. That’s $3/hour. That’s terrible pay for anyone in a developed country. I thought it may be decent pay for people in developing countries where the cost of living is substantially lower. But unfortunately, Swagbucks is only available in US, UK, Ireland, Australia, India, Germany, and Canada. I haven’t tried Swagbucks from India, but I’m assuming there are fewer offers and lower payouts on surveys, so it’s probably not useful there either.
- I’d love to tell you about how their mobile app works, but I can’t log in with my same desktop credentials. Just from the mobile app login page, it looks poorly designed and still hasn’t been optimized for iPhone X (three months after its release). That’s not a good look.
- Cash back is great, but there are two things that I don’t like with Swagbucks’ system:
- You’re paid in SBs, rather than money.
- The cash back percentages seem lower than Rakuten.
Who is this for?
Please don’t waste your time with the surveys, offers or videos, unless you like being paid less than half the minimum wage for your work or you live somewhere with a low cost of living.
You can’t game the Swagbucks search engine as you once could, by just making a couple of searches per day. You’ll have to use the search engine as your primary option to get rewarded.
If you’re not concerned with your search results (you don’t mind Bing), Swagbucks is a no-brainer. Make Swagbucks your default search engine and add the extension to your browser.
You’ll get paid for your searches, and there’s nothing to lose.
Getting cash back for online shopping is great, and you need to do it because it’s free money. But you shouldn’t do it at Swagbucks.
If you’re already using Swagbucks as your search engine, you might as well use Swagbucks for your cash back too and stay in the same ecosystem.
The only thing I’ll use Swagbucks for is Swagbucks Local (local restaurant cash back).
If you sign up through my link, you’ll get a bonus 300 SBs.