If you follow personal finance blogs, you are probably familiar with Swagbucks, the website that awards rewards points for a variety of activities including searching, watching video clips, and completing offers. Those reward points (which themselves are called Swagbucks), can then be redeemed for different prizes, from $5 gift-cards up to a $750 LED TV.
I’m not going to bore you with yet another review of the program. Money Q&A, Add Vodka, and Master the Art of Saving all have written in-depth reviews on Swagbucks. Rather than re-inventing that particular wheel, I wanted to share a frugal hack that I stumbled upon.
Tips for increasing your swagbucks
First of all, if you use Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer, you should install the toolbar. Just having the toolbar active in your browser nets you a single swagbuck every day. After spending 5 minutes installing the toolbar, you get that SB credited to your account the first time you open your browser each day. Day in and day out. That’s the better part of a $5 gift card per year for a one-time effort. That counts as passive-income in my book!
Next, consider signing up for a service that tweets about new swag codes. Swag codes are limited time codes that can be entered into their homepage for 2-5 SB. It is against their terms of service to visit a site that reveals where those codes are, but they do encourage people to share when a new one is out and where to find it. Common places are their Facebook page, their blog, and even their Twitter feed. I follow @swagcodespoiler and have their tweets sent directly to my phone via SMS.
Earlier this week, Swagbucks celebrated their 5th birthday and posted 25 codes throughout the day of 5 SB each. On average, I gain another roughly 10 SB per week from codes. That’s another $5 gift card per year. Slightly more work, but I’m notified when I have to work which minimizes the hassle.
How to Get More Rewards for Your Swagbucks
For gift cards, swagbucks redeem pretty consistently at 100 points per dollar. A $10 PayPal or Amazon gift card is 1000 SB. $25 is 2500. The $500 Rolls Royce of gift cards is 50,000 SB. But there is one spot where this formula breaks down. The $5 Amazon gift card is only 450 SB. That’s a 10% savings.
Turn it around the other way for a second. A $50 Amazon gift card costs 5000 SB. You can get $55 worth of $5 gift cards for 4950! That’s an extra $5 for buying the smallest denomination. And that $500 gift card I mentioned earlier? For the same number of Swagbucks (well fifty fewer, actually), you can get $600 by buying the $5 card instead.
Sure it is extra work. Maybe you don’t consider $5 to be worth the time. But if you aim for that large payout, it should certainly be worth it. If you manage to accumulate 50,000 SB you’ve probably already sunk a fair amount of time with searching, codes, offers, and referring others. If you can buy one gift card per minute, it would take 2 hours to buy $600 worth. But you are getting an extra $100 for the effort. If your time is worth more than $50/hour, what are you doing reading a frugality blog?
Also, while you can redeem your swagbucks for a hundreds of different prizes, gift cards are the way to go. Like I said, gift cards redeem at a 100:1 ratio, making each swagbuck worth a penny. You can buy an iPad Mini or a Kindle Fire with your swagbucks, but the Mini costs 41,250 SB or $412.50. That’s 25% more than the retail price at the Apple Store.
The Kindle Fire redeems for 28,999 SB, equivalent to $289.99. Buy getting the gift-cards instead and buying the Fire directly from Amazon, you save $130.99 or 45%!
Do you use Swagbucks? What do you do to maximize your reward?