Swagbucks has been around a long time, and that’s saying something for cashback sites. I remember using it ten years ago and pitching it to friends. Why use Google when you can do the same thing with Swagbucks and get paid for searching?
As you can imagine, my friends loved it and I got paid for referring them. I made $2,630 from Swagbucks then, but I don’t use it much now. It’s not that Swagbucks is a scam. Most of the money I made was from referrals rather than actually using the program.
It’s a legit platform and you will get paid, but I’ve found much better ways to get bigger rewards in less time. Let me start by telling you a little more about how Swagbucks works, what I like, and then what I’m using now to make even more.
How Does Swagbucks Work?
Swagbucks combines a search engine with a rewards-based shopping portal. It functions the same as Google by finding relevant pages for any keywords. However, the major difference is that you are given Swag Bucks (SBs) for searches. You won’t get SBs for every search, but setting it as your default search engine and using it throughout the day will earn some SBs.
You also get SBs for shopping through them. Just like with Google, you can search for a product and store. Click the link, buy the product as you normally would, and you’ll get some SBs as a reward. It depends on the store and item, but you can get lots of SBs with a small change. For example, shopping with Walmart gives you 2 SBs for every $1. If you buy a $500 product, then you’ll get 1,000 SBs added to your account within a few days.
Why is this Legal? What’s in it for Swagbucks?
I can assure you this is legal and Swagbucks is getting something in return, but they aren’t being exploitive or malicious. They get loads of money from affiliate marketing, especially when you shop, along with targeted advertisements on their search results.
For those who don’t know, affiliate marketing means that they get a commission whenever you buy something. This is a common way for marketers to make money (nearly all review sites use this), but the major difference is that they are splitting their commission with you.
They make most of their money from affiliate marketing, hence why you get so much more SBs from shopping than for anything else. However, they also split their advertising earnings with you, which is why you get SBs just for searching.
On top of that, the businesses you buy from also benefit because this brings in more customers (in theory at least). So it’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Things I Love
- You get paid for regular searching.
- Shop at your favorite stores and get cash back. It’s the same as buying anything else, it’s just that you’re using Swagbucks and clicking the store’s link. There are better options (which I’ll get to), but if you like Swagbuck’s other features, then you might as well shop through them.
- Easily redeem SBs for PayPal or Amazon gift cards. It just takes 300 SBs to get a $3 gift card.
- If you’d rather use your regular browser, then the SwagButton extension allows you to shop through Swagbucks whenever you’re on an eligible site with ease.
- One feature I love is getting SBs for eating at local restaurants. You just have to link your credit card to activate Swagbucks Local. This only works with Visa and American Express. The restaurants and deals depend on your area, but I was able to find one for 7% back in my small town of 30,000 people, so you should have no problem finding one in your area!
- There are some easy bonuses for more SBs. The Daily Poll gives you 1 SB for answering some questions, you get 50 SBs for your birthday, and 300 SBs for referring a friend. Plus, the earnings trickle down as you refer more and more people.
Things I Hate
- Swagbucks’s search engine is powered by Bing. It’s an awful search engine. Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise. Google is the best and I wish Swagbucks would just use them.
- Swagbucks has gotten stingy. Way back when I got 30 SBs for 10 searches. Now I’m getting 5 SBs for 30 searches. This seems to be progressive, so you might get even less when you try it.
- Swagbucks likes to make its currency seem bigger than it is. For example, when I brought up Walmart before and the 1,000 SBs, that seems like a lot. However, 100 SBs equals $1. I’d prefer if they didn’t try to trick me by making it appear that my account is worth more than it is.
- You can get SBs for surveys and videos, but I can’t suggest it. The payout is awful. The surveys take about 20 minutes and pay 100 SBs. That’s $3/hour. That’s terrible for anyone in a developed country. While I might support this for developing nations, they don’t offer Swagbucks anywhere but the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, India, Germany, and Canada. It might be OK in India, but I haven’t tested it and I imagine the payouts are lower.
- Getting cash back is great, but I don’t like that I’m paid in SBs rather than real money. The cash back percentages seem lower than Rakuten. Why not just make the domination in US dollars? Because they’re artificially inflating the appearance of your earnings to make you think you’re earning more.
Who is this for?
Please don’t waste time with their offers, surveys, or videos. Unlike the idea of being paid less than minimum wage is thrilling to you or the cost of living is extremely low and $3/hour is adequate pay. These are just a huge waste of time. You used to be able to game the Swagbucks search engine for some SBs, but now you need to primarily use Swagbucks to get any SBs from searching.
If you don’t mind Bing and their weird search results, then Swagbucks should be a fine replacement for your regular browsing. Consider adding the Swagbucks extension for SBs whenever you shop.
It’s not much, but you do get paid for searches and there’s nothing to lose. Now getting cash back for shopping online is great and I highly suggest it. Why not get paid for making regular purchases? While Swagbucks is one option, it’s not one I endorse anymore because there are better ones.
Rakuten is my #1 go-to cashback service with Honey being a close second. If you’re already a Swagbucks search engine user, then you might as well stay in the same ecosystem and use them for cash back shopping. At this point, I only use Swagbucks for their Swagbucks Local service to get money back from local restaurants.
That being said, if you do want to try Swagbucks, you can get a bonus 300 SB by signing up through my link.