After reading TONS of personal finance websites, almost ALL of them recommend taking online surveys as a legitimate way to make money online. One of the most popular recommendations is a platform called SwagBucks, which advertises itself as a way to “get free gift cards and cash for the everyday things you do online.” Curious, I decided to test it out and write a SwagBucks review to help you decide if this is the right side hustle for you!
With millions of active accounts and an advertised total payout of $300M+ to users, SwagBucks seems like a legitimate way to earn some cash on the side. However, I was somewhat skeptical about how viable of a side hustle it actually is. I don’t really play games or take surveys online just for funzies, so their introductory hook of paying cash for “everyday things you do online” seemed like a lofty sell. (Can someone plz pay me for scrolling through Instagram and liking photos of puppies? KTHANKS.)
So, I decided to try out SwagBucks for a few days to see how much money I could actually make on the platform. In this SwagBucks review, you’ll hear my honest reviews of my experiences with the site, as well as my recommendations for how to maximize earnings on the platform.
Our Swagbucks Review: Is This A Legitimate Way to Make Money?
What Is SwagBucks?
SwagBucks is an online platform where you can earn rewards taking surveys, playing games, signing up for newsletters, and doing some online shopping. Basically, it’s kind of like an online playground where you can complete certain tasks to redeem “SwagBucks,” which is their internal currency system. You can then exchange your SwagBucks for rewards like PayPal payouts, gift cards, and more.
There are a few different ways you can earn money on the SwagBucks platform:
- Taking surveys
- Signing up for email newsletters
- Playing paid games
- Other miscellaneous bonuses
In this SwagBucks review, we’ll focus primarily on the survey portion of the SwagBucks platform, since that’s one of the main ways to earn money without actually spending any.
Signing Up for SwagBucks
Signing up for SwagBucks is pretty simple. All you have to do is head to the SwagBucks website, where you will be asked to sign up and confirm your email.
On the homepage, they’ll sometimes advertise a $10 bonus for signing up. However, upon closer inspection, it seems like the bonus is actually only if you spend money on their platform. I don’t really believe in spending money to make money, so I disregarded that call to action (see fine print below).
Then, once you’ve gotten your account set up, you’ll end up on your own personalized dashboard. To get to surveys, you’ll need to go to “Answer” on the left-hand navigation area. It looks something like this:
They may also ask you if you want to download their browser extension to maximize you rewards. I didn’t do this because it seemed like they use it to track your shopping, and I prefer to use eBates to get cash rewards for online purchases.
Taking Surveys on SwagBucks: How It Works
Once I got signed up for the platform, it was time to start earning my first few “SwagBucks,” or SBs as they like to call them. In general, 1 SB = $0.01, so I’d have to earn 500 SBs to get a $5 PayPal payout. They also have other gift cards you can buy for slightly lower rates in their payout area, but I wasn’t really interested in any of them.
First, I took the preliminary survey so that they knew my profile/demographics, and then it was off to the races. I was fed a long list of potential surveys to take, which varied in length (# of minutes) and SB payout. As you can see in the image below, you can earn anywhere from $0.01 per minute ($0.60 per hour) to $0.05 per minute ($3.00 per hour). Some of the surveys I saw while scrolling paid up to 500 SBs for completion.
When I clicked into the surveys, many of them were hosted by respectable sites like Samplicious and Qualtrics. And, I’ll be honest, the few that I took were actually pretty interesting and (dare I say it) kind of fun.
How Much Money Can You Realistically Make On SwagBucks?
I quickly realized after a few hours attempting to take surveys on SwagBucks that it’s really, really hard to qualify for them. In fact, I only qualified for 3 out of the first 40 surveys I took. That’s a 7.5% qualification rate.
To make matters worse, you usually have to go pretty far into the survey to figure out if you qualify or not, so you’ve already wasted several minutes of time before you realize you’re not going to make any more. SwagBucks does give you a consolation prize of 1 SB for each disqualified survey, but that’s literally $0.01 for at least 5 minutes of wasted time. If you don’t qualify for any surveys in one hour, you’ll only earn $0.12 per hour flipping through screening questions.
Let’s think about this for a minute: if I could earn anywhere from $0.60 to $3.00 per hour taking surveys every minute, I can now only earn $0.12 to $0.23 per hour with the disqualification rates I got. I’d make over 30x more working a couple hours a week at a local fast food chain. If you’re hoping to use your free time in a way that actually makes decent money, try one of these side hustles instead.
So, in summary, you can make money with SwagBucks, but not much at all. The pros are that SwagBucks is easy and straightforward to use, you can do it from your bed or couch, and sometimes it’s even a little fun. The cons are that, with disqualification rates, surveys pay less than peanuts and you’d be better off spending your money-making time elsewhere.
How to Maximize Earnings on SwagBucks
If you do decide to try out SwagBucks, be sure to have realistic expectations on what kind of money you’ll be earning. There’s a chance you’ll end up being a super qualifier and get accepted into every survey you take, but it’s pretty unlikely. However, after testing out the platform to write this SwagBucks review, I’m confident that if you consistently spend short bits of time taking surveys, you can make a few bucks here and there.
So, with that, here are some of my main tips for making money on the SwagBucks platform:
- Cap the amount of time you’re willing to spend on it each day – In my opinion, it is absolutely NOT worth treating SwagBucks like a side job. It’s more like a “play around on your computer while watching Netflix” kind of activity. Limit your use of the platform so you won’t get frustrated when you get disqualified 15 times in a row.
- Only take high-earning surveys – I decided I’d only take surveys that paid out over 100 SBs, and that didn’t take more than 30 minutes. This seemed to be the best use of my time, given that the disqualification rate was so high.
- Snag the low-hanging fruit – If they have email signups and other bonuses that you can enter to make some easy SBs, snag them! For example, when I was on the platform there was a magical survey taking bonus that added a few extra SBs on top of the normal payouts (see below).
Overall Thoughts and SwagBucks Review Conclusions
So, can you actually make money on SwagBucks? The honest answer is yes. Just not very much. However, it’s a worthwhile way to spend small bits of time that you’d otherwise use to scroll through Instagram or watch Hulu. I ended up taking enough surveys and signing up for enough email offers to get myself 500 SBs, which got me a beautiful $5 Amazon gift card (after 3+ hours, and it won’t arrive for 10 days, but that’s another story…).
My main advice after testing out the SwagBucks platform? Don’t expect to become a millionaire from taking surveys online. If you want to make the big bucks, try a different side hustle or start your own business instead.
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