Swagbucks: Sweet Earner or Swindle?

These days, we’re always being told to work smarter not harder and, the internet is awash with sites offering ways to make some cold hard cash just by leaving reviews or filling in a few surveys.  Some of these sites offer free products, others offer cash and gift cards and, one or two offer all of this with a cherry on top.  In order to get to the bottom of how these sites work and, most importantly, if they’re worth the time and effort, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most popular sites out there, starting with internet favourite, Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is, essentially, a one stop shop for making and saving money online.  With offers including cashback on shopping, games, paid surveys and more, Swagbucks seems almost too good to be true – but is it?  In this article, we’ll explain the ins and outs of Swagbucks and explore whether it’s a good place to earn a little cash or a great place to waste your time and energy.

How does it work?

If you want to take advantage of the benefits of Swagbucks, you first need to join up (also known as handing over your precious data) – this is free, quick and easy and you can join using either your email address or your social media accounts.  Once you’ve verified your account, you’ll be credited with 15 SB points to use on the site. If you so, choose you can now add a ‘Swag button’ in order to get access to your Swag account even quicker.

Swagbucks works through a reward system known as ‘SB Points’ which can be redeemed for gift cards at major stores and establishments such as Marks & Spencer, Mastercard and Amazon.  Alternatively, these can be swapped for Paypal credits.

You can also use Swagbucks to earn cashback on your online shopping – giving you another incentive to get clicking through to that checkout.  There are two ways to shop with Swagbucks – the first, most straightforward is to browse Swagbucks for coupon codes which you can then use at the checkout stage when shopping online at your chosen store.  The second method is the cashback option – this works in a similar way to other cashback sites whereby you click onto your chosen retailer on the Swagbucks site and then browse and shop your retailer as normal.  Once your purchase is complete, your Swagbucks account will be credited with up to 20% cashback in SB points for every dollar you spend.  Although it is possible to get 20% cashback, most stores pay from 5% upwards.  Stores featured on the Swagbucks site include Boohoo, Starbucks, Amazon, Groupon, Kohls and many many more.

How do I get my hands on SB Points?

As a Swagbucks member, you can earn SB points by filling in surveys, signing up to partner schemes and shopping.  For example, you can sign up to Tails Dog Food and receive 600 SB points and two weeks of dog food for free (with a $2 surcharge for post and packing).

Alternatively, you can earn points by filling in surveys for a number of different companies, most of which only take between two and five minutes to complete.

As a rule of thumb,  surveys will pay 5 SB points and a £10 Amazon gift card will ‘cost’ 1440 SB points.  Activities like joining the Tails Dog Food scheme, however, will earn considerably more points.  Once you’ve completed each assignment correctly, your Swagbucks account will be credited with your new points.

Finally, you can actually earn SB points just by watching videos on the Swagbucks site!

My Swagbucks

The following is an account of what happens when you sign up to Swagbucks:

Sign up to Swagbucks was really quick and easy.  I opted for the email method and received my verification email immediately and was up and running within seconds.

The Swagbucks site is really user-friendly, making it easy to navigate to your chosen section.  After receiving my 15 SB points for joining, I took a few seconds to earn another 60 SB points by adding the Swag button to my browser via Chrome extension.  I then chose to activate my ‘Daily Goal’ for the promise of earning another 9 points.

Next, I scored another 5 points by filling out a survey which, as promised, took around three minutes to complete and was mainly personal information such as address, age, occupation – you know the kind of thing.  This brought my points total to 70.   I now decided that it was time to set my sights on the bigger points.

I chose to take a survey which claimed to take about twenty minutes and, which would bag me 105 SB points and, was promptly directed to a different website.  After answering the first few test questions, it appeared that I was not eligible for the survey and was credited with one point instead of the 105 to be earned by completing the task.  I now had 71 SB points – and needed a total of 480 for a £3 Amazon gift card.  At this point, I had spent approximately twenty five minutes using Swagbucks and decided to check out the shopping coupons.

I navigated to the coupon section by clicking onto ‘Shop’ and was then presented with a list of coupons available.  I chose to ‘reveal’ the Boohoo coupon which was for 25% discount off knitwear, jackets and boots and included, three SB points.  Having been directed to the Boohoo site, a pop up message told me that ‘it may take up to seven days for my purchase or cashback to show in my account’.  At this point, I decided not to continue with the purchase.

At this point, I still only had those 71 SB points and, so, I  decided to boost my points by watching videos.  I clicked onto ‘watch’ and then onto ‘sponsored videos’ and chose a random video about retirement – then hit play.  Instead of a video, I was directed to the retirement company’s website.  I was, eventually, directed to one video which stopped halfway through without giving me the opportunity to review it and earn reward points as promised.  I had now been playing with Swagbucks for around forty minutes and was still left clutching those 71 SB points.

Earner or waste of time?

There are those who suggest that Swagbucks is a scam – which isn’t entirely fair.  For each activity listed on the site, you are told clearly how long it is likely to take to complete and, how many SB points / rewards you are likely to earn.  Each activity that I completed promised a certain number of points – most of which were delivered straight to my account and were waiting there for me to redeem – should I ever earn enough points to actually be able to redeem them.

In my opinion, it’s true that you get nothing for nothing and, success with Swagbucks depends largely on how much time you have to commit to the site.  Most of the surveys on the site offer five or ten SB points, meaning that you would have to put in a significant amount of time in order to earn enough points to actually redeem for anything at all.  Here are my pros and cons of Swagbucks:


  • Free and easy to join
  • Features some big name stores and brands
  • You can earn points easily which can eventually be turned into store cards
  • You can earn cashback / coupons for great stores


  • It can take a reaaaalllly long time to earn enough points for just a £3 gift card
  • The cashback ‘7 days’ message is vague and did not fill me with confidence
  • It can also be really frustrating to take the time to start on a survey only to be told that you’re not eligible


Although you can get hold of cash and gift cards with Swagbucks, it’s by no means a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.  Earning enough points to actually get your hands on something worthwhile is a marathon – not a sprint and, can sometimes involve an initial financial outlay (such as an online shopping purchase).

Points to note:

The objective of sites like Swagbucks is to get their mitts on your data – so expect your inbox to suddenly get busy with spam.

When earning cash back from online shopping, be aware that the cashback is not instant – and that you may have to wait a week or so for this to be credited to your account.

Don’t make any plans – if you’re serious about making cash from Swagbucks, you’ll need to put in a huge amount of time.

Finally, always read the terms and conditions carefully before embarking on any offer or deal.

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