My Swagbucks Review: Is This Site a Scam?

by Spencer Mitchell on October 5, 2012

WARNING: I do NOT recommend Swagbucks.

I highly recommend that you join right now because it’s a MUCH better-paying survey panel.

It’s about time I discuss a paid survey site that may be the most popular on Earth (yes, even more popular than Cashcrate): Swagbucks. In fact, their homepage claims that they are “The Largest Free Online Rewards Program”.

Because this site isn’t your typical paid survey panel, I’m going to write my review of Swagbucks a bit differently than my other reviews. But the most important part will remain the same: I’ll join myself, give it a fair shake and report my findings to you here.

What The Heck is Swagbucks?

You have to give their marketing department some credit: they’ve come up with a memorable and unique name that’s hard to forget. And the site itself matches the name in the sense that they have one of the most unique rewards programs on the planet. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, you sign up at
  2. Then you use their search engine, which pulls results from Google and (two reliable search engines)
  3. Every now and again (it’s supposedly random) you get awarded what’s known as a Swagbuck during your search. If you’ve spent any time taking paid surveys then you probably already know how online rewards work.

I should point out that you need to be a citizen of the US, the UK or Canada and be at least 13-years of age to join. If that doesn’t describe you then you’ll find that the site won’t allow you to join when you try to sign up.

They’ve recently expanded their offerings an now offer several other ways of getting rewards, including playing games, watching SBTV (their personal online video channel) and filling out paid online surveys (more on all of these later). However, the meat and potatoes of the program is their search engine feature and that’s what I’ll focus on here. I’ll also tell you whether or not there’s truth to the “Swagbucks scam” you may have heard about and let you know if it’s a trustworthy loyalty program that you should join.

Make Money From Searching?

I know it sounds really strange that you can actually earn money (in the form of Swag bucks) just from searching for stuff online. And as someone that’s very skeptical about rewards programs I started my experience with this particular website waiting for the other shoe to drop…but it didn’t.

In fact, after searching for about 20 minutes for a new grill I wanted to buy I was awarded 5 Swag bucks:

Five Swagbucks

I earned this from about one hour of searching.

Pretty cool, huh? I should point out that getting this much from searching is fairly rare. Most of the time you’ll get 1 or 2 Swag bucks per day from searches.

Obviously, the first thing that entered my mind was the fact that I should now search all day and night so I can earn as much as possible. Sadly, that’s not how it works. While they’re a bit secretive on how their rewards are doled out, they have confirmed that the rewards you receive are mostly based on the time you spend searching, NOT the amount of searches that you perform.

So if you don’t use a search engine very often, you may want to consider some of their other rewards programs. However, if you spend time searching online you might as well use their program and get paid for it.

And one of the best ways to get in the habit of replacing your go-to web search engine with them is to install their nifty toolbar. Once installed, you have a dashboard that allows you to perform searches and get instant access to their other rewards programs with one click.

It’s important to note that you do need to register with them in order to receive rewards, even from searching.

Other Ways to Earn

Searching is pretty straightforward so I won’t spend anymore time discussing that. Now it’s time to talk about the many other ways to rake in rewards from Swagbucks.

Referral Program: One of the great things about this program is the fact that you can refer your friends to Swagbucks to they can get in on the action too. Importantly, you’ll get up to 100 Swag Bucks for each person you refer. However, it’s important to note that the people you refer to have to actually use the service in order for you to get rewarded. In fact, the amount you make is directly proportional to how much your friends (or whoever you refer) participate.

Swag Codes: Swag codes are basically digital solid gold. These codes allow you to literally earn rewards simply from finding them and pasting them into a field in your member’s area on the homepage. The best place to look for them is the site’s official blog where they post at least one per day.

Swag Code Image

After you put the code in the field you get the rewards right away.

Sweeptakes: These are yet another way of bulking up your Swagbucks “bank account”. Every now and again the site will offer a contest to its members, where they give away thousands of Swag bucks to whoever wins. The one catch with this is that you usually need to redeem some of your rewards in order to enter. So if you’re somewhat risk averse, then this feature probably won’t appeal to you.

Toolbar: I’ve already mentioned the toolbar as a great way to make sure most — if not all — of your searches use the Swagbucks search engine. But there’s an additional benefit of using the toolbar (which is compatible with Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer): you get guaranteed rewards just for opening your browser!

Offers: Like the popular discount site, offers daily deals and discounts on all sorts of items. If you take advantage of the deal you’ll be rewarded (and save some money along the way!). However, don’t go buying things just to earn rewards or else you’ll end up in the red really quickly.

Surveys: Honestly, I wasn’t impressed by this feature as the polls aren’t done for market research and don’t tend to pay very well. If you’re into surveys you probably want to stick to the big boys like Opinion Outpost.

What You Can Earn

Once you’ve “worked” hard enough to cashout, it’s time to get something for all those Swag bucks sitting in your account. Keep in mind that the payouts aren’t amazing so if you want to make money at home, this likely isn’t your best bet.

However, if you just want to get gift cards and video games for free, then you’ll be pleased with the selection in their store. They better have a good selection as they’ve given out approximately $27 million dollars, according to this page. In general, they have video games, gift cards, clothes, electronics and other gadgets. However you should keep in mind that you may need to wait a week or so after earning your rewards before you can redeem them (which is common with almost every survey panel and reward site). You can learn about them from the information on the Swagbucks homepage.

In summary, I think this site has a lot to offer but I wouldn’t use it in place of a legit survey panel as they tend to pay better per hour. But if you want to earn a small amount of rewards while searching then this panel isn’t a bad choice.

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