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If you’ve been looking for ways to make money online, chances are you’ve heard of Swagbucks. The rewards site has more than 20 million registered users who can earn points by taking surveys, playing games, shopping and watching videos. These points can be redeemed for cash or a variety of gift cards.
But frequent disqualifications made it hard to earn points and take advantage of the site’s expansive marketplace.
Here’s more of what I found after trying out Swagbucks for a week.
How Swagbucks works
The survey section of Swagbucks is an aggregation of other sites, which gives it an edge over competitors in the sheer volume of surveys it offers. You’ll be sent to sites such as Ipsos i-Say, GlobalTestMarket and Qualtrics, among others.
““A company may be looking for a specific subset of your demographic that doesn't fit you.” ”Hal Lublin, director of referral marketing at Swagbucks
Swagbucks offers an extensive profile survey that claims to help the site find better matches for your demographics. Despite this, I qualified for only a few of the surveys I tried. And because the surveys were third-party, I still had to enter basic demographic information each time.
“In terms of surveys, while your pre-qualifications give you surveys that you have a high likelihood of completing, there's no guarantee, and a company may be looking for a specific subset of your demographic that doesn't fit you,” Hal Lublin, director of referral marketing at Swagbucks, said in an email.
A lot of surveys — and rejection
I qualified for seven of the 65 surveys I tried to take, giving me a success rate of 10.8%. Sometimes Swagbucks will send you to the site of a partner that has its own point system and survey flow. This means you can get caught in a survey qualification loop on another site for several minutes, only to get kicked back to Swagbucks with no points to show for it.
It was difficult to tell exactly what disqualified me from each survey. Sometimes it took only a click to the survey before I was disqualified. As with all survey sites, it could be something as simple as my demographics. I’m a woman in my 20s who’s single and living in an urban area. Sometimes surveys are looking for people who aren’t like me.
If you do get booted directly back to Swagbucks, the site gives you one “SB” point for trying. However, after five disqualifications, you won’t get any more compensation for failed surveys until the next day.
89 cents an hour
Swagbucks lets you redeem SB points for gift cards to different businesses, such as Amazon, Hulu, Olive Garden, Starbucks, Steam and Target. You also can donate to charities. At the time I was using the site, there were 586 reward options.
The conversion rate for SB points is comparable to other sites. For most rewards, one SB point is worth 1 cent. Swagbucks sometimes offers discounts on certain rewards, which can bring the value of an SB point to about 10 cents per point.
“The conversion rate for SB points is comparable to other sites. For most rewards, one SB point is worth 1 cent.”
At the end of my five hours, I made 444 SB points. Assuming a value of a penny per SB point, this means I earned a rate of 89 cents per hour. I redeemed most of my points for a $3 Amazon digital gift card, which I was told would be delivered to me in 10 to 14 days. My gift card arrived by email in seven days.
Nice rewards, if you can get them
Although Swagbucks is popular among survey takers, I found the disqualification rate to be as high as at many similar sites. On top of that, the dashboard wasn’t intuitive and problems with third-party partners caused confusion.
But Swagbucks did offer a wider range of rewards, both in terms of price and content, than any other site we tested. So if you don’t mind the survey grind, Swagbucks may be an attractive option. You also can check out our roundup of other sites that allow users to take surveys for money.
Taking surveys is easy, but making a lot of money from it is hard. You could spend hours on these sites and see little in return. If you decide to try, consider setting up an email address specifically for survey sites so offers don’t clog up your personal inbox. Also, install anti-malware software on your computer, just in case you land on a spammy website. And take regular breaks to give your eyes and brain a rest.