Swagbucks is a cash-back rebate app that combines features from all my favorite savings apps. Seriously, from taking surveys to getting points for my in-store purchases, Swagbucks helps me save money from my couch or while I’m out and about.
To show you how to use Swagbucks the right way, I’ve written up this guide and broken it up into two sections:
- Getting started with the Swagbucks app
- Learning how to earn through Swagbucks
Here’s everything you need to know to get saving fast.
Getting started with the Swagbucks app:
1. Create a Swagbucks profile and get five points.
To get started, you need to download the Swagbucks app and create an account using your primary email address. Once you do, Swagbucks will send you a confirmation email for your account and award you five points, which are called “SB.”
2. Exchange your SB for gift cards at major retailers.
SB points are worth $0.01 apiece (100 SB = $1) and can be cashed out for gift cards at your favorite stores, like Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks. Prices for gift cards vary (check the Swagbucks gift cards store for the latest deals), but you’ll usually need a minimum of 140 – 300 SB to cash out (I saw a $1 Amazon gift card going for 140 SB).
3. Or, exchange your SB for cash back from PayPal.
Like other rebate apps (such as Checkout51), Swagbucks claims they give you the option to cash out through PayPal if you’d like. But, it’s a process. You have to purchase a PayPal gift card through the SB Shop first, which you can then load onto your PayPal account. You’ll see the amount in your PayPal balance a few days later.
While this is well and good, it means the amount you can cash out is limited to the PayPal gift card amounts on the site. In other words, you can’t just cash out your total point value at any given time.
Last I checked, I saw PayPal cards ranging from $5 – $250.
4. Get a $10 Welcome Bonus, but it’s kind of a pain to redeem.
I’m not sure if sign-up bonuses are always available, but I got a “free” $10 Welcome Bonus when I signed up on the website, not the app.
Getting the $10 (or 1,000 SB), however, requires you to activate the bonus in your account and spend $25 at a vendor featured in the Swagbucks Shop (more on shopping through Swagbucks in the next section). The purchase must earn you a minimum of 25 SB, and you have to make the purchase within 30 days of registering.
It’s not a terrible way to earn $10 off a future purchase, but it’s pretty involved if you’re new to this sort of thing.
How to earn through Swagbucks:
5. Earn easy points just for completing your profile.
On the app’s homepage (the little house icon at the bottom), you’ll see a To Do List. You can complete items on the list every day to earn SB, but you’ll notice some low-hanging fruit if you’re new to the app, like:
- Choose a Swagname and complete your profile and earn 5 SB
- Answer Today’s Poll for daily SB
- Enroll in the Daily Goal and automatically get 3 SB (literally just tap the offer — you’ll get SB)
6. Complete Daily and Total Goals to stack up points faster.
Enrolling in the Daily Goal is easy; completing it isn’t. Tap on “Daily Goal Enrollment” in your To Do List.
Each day, you’ll notice a Daily Goal meter at the top of the app displaying how much SB you’ve earned and how much you need to complete it. If you’re starting out, 30 SB is your goal. As you keep earning, the app will set new goals for you based on your earning behavior (you’ll also notice a daily countdown timer showing how much time you have to complete a goal).
If you complete daily goals, you get a winning streak. Winning streaks contribute to your “Total Goal,” which will get you a big bonus at the end of the month depending on how many streaks you get. Below are the streak “badges” you can earn and their SB bonuses:
- 7 Day star – 25 SB bonus ($0.25)
- 14 Day Fanatic – 100 SB bonus ($1)
- 21 Day Triumph – 200 SB ($2)
- Monthly Master – 300 SB bonus ($3)
It’s a nice way to gamify the process and provides an easy means for regular Swagbucks users to stack SB on top of their purchases, so why not take advantage of it?
7. Shop online through Swagbucks.
Swagbucks partners with merchants like Walmart and Amazon. If you shop through the Swagbucks app or online, you can earn SB for select purchases through those vendors. But it doesn’t work the other way around.
Here’s how it works:
- Go to the Swagbucks Shop to see all their partner merchants.
- Under each store, you’ll notice a percentage-based cash-back amount, like up to 2% cash back (earn up to 2 SB per $1).
- Click the store you want and look at the “Special Terms” for that store (for example, clicking on Walmart shows you eligible departments like baby or beauty for cash back).
- Click “Shop Now” and you’ll be redirected to the vendor’s website.
Once you’ve checked out and paid, any cash back you receive will show up in your SB balance within seven days of your purchase. Online shopping (via desktop) is also how you can unlock that free $10 Welcome Bonus I mentioned earlier.
If you want to unlock that $10 fast and cheap, look for high cash-back percentages on mid-priced items. For example, right now you can get 4% back (4 SB / $1) at Amazon for Amazon security and home devices. I found an Amazon Ring Chime for $29.99 — that’s roughly 120 SB ($1.20 value), plus you hit the 25 SB threshold to unlock that $10 (1,000 SB value). Cha ching!
PRO TIP: Download the SwagButton browser extension if you prefer to shop on your computer. It will notify you of any SB cash-back opportunities if you visit a SB partner site while shopping, so you can shop through the Swagbucks site and get the cash back.
8. Use the Magic Receipts feature and Swagbucks is a cash back app.
Swagbucks also works like a typical cash back app, but better because it’s not store or product brand specific. You get SB for items like “milk” or “eggs,” which you would pretty much buy anyway. Here’s how it works:
- Tap and load offers to your list before you shop.
- Purchase the qualifying products anywhere — no need to be store specific.
- Then take and upload a pic of your paper receipt.
You can earn up to 200 SB just for buying any brand of milk, anywhere! That’s all you gotta do!
9. Shop in store and earn SB with a linked credit card.
Swagbucks wants your receipts, and that’s awesome. To earn SB for receipts, you first need to link your American Express, Mastercard, or Visa credit card to your Swagbucks profile. Once you’ve linked an eligible card (you can link more than one), you can claim offers in the app and pay with your linked card.
To claim deals in the app, follow these steps:
- Tap on “Shop” (bottom menu), then tap “Magic Receipts” — any grocery item or product under “Offers” is eligible.
- Tap the item you want, and check the “Conditions” and “Fine Print” sections to see deal details.
- Be sure to check the “Eligible stores for redemption” as well.
- Tap the “+” icon next to the deal to add it to your Shopping List, which you can see at the top of the Magic Receipts section.
- Make your purchase and look for the “Upload Receipt” button at the bottom of the screen.
So you know, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 business days for your purchase to appear as “Pending” in your Activity Ledger. Once you see a purchase is pending, it can take anywhere from 32 – 75 days from the date of your purchase for your SB to show in your account.
You can upload up to 60 receipts a month, and receipts can’t be more than 10 days old. Lastly, Swagbucks doesn’t accept online receipts, so you have to submit in-store receipts.
PRO TIP: Download Shoply from Swagbucks to scan and save more.
10. Refer your friends and earn 10% of their SB, for life.
All you gotta do is email and text your friends a unique sign-up link. If they click and sign up, you get 10% of their total SB earnings forever! (That doesn’t mean they earn 10% less. You just get an additional 10% of their total.)
11. Answer surveys (or just attempt a few a day) to get more SB.
If you’re new to the app, you can take a Get Started survey, which takes three minutes and earns you five SB. From here, you can take more surveys. Swagbucks will indicate how long each survey may take, and how much SB you’ll earn after completing each survey.
The catch is that some surveys will disqualify you based on your answers, so you can’t complete them. That’s why Swagbucks will compensate you if you just attempt certain surveys.
Earning money from surveys can be tedious and a bit redundant, so be sure to knock these out while you’re binging Netflix and don’t sweat it if you get disqualified.
12. Get SB for discovering offers from Swagbucks’ partners.
Swagbucks calls this “Discovering,” but it’s really a way to get you to sign up for subscriptions from their partners. If you’re shopping for a service Swagbucks has listed (like investing through Stash, Acorns, or Chime), then it’s a win-win: You’ll get anywhere from 3,000 – 15,000 SB on average (a $30 – $150 value).
13. Watch or read mobile and online advertisements or read articles to earn SB.
Swagbucks will pay you to sit through digital commercials or read Yahoo News articles. It’s spammy at worst, and informative at best. I really didn’t mind. I could skim articles while watching TV, or sit through a commercial on mute for 30 seconds.
14. Use the Swagbucks search bar to earn SB.
So, the very first time you search on Swagbucks‘ in-app or online search bar, you’ll get one SB. That’s just a way to suck you into the service. What Swagbucks has done is created their very own micro search engine, which they use to collect information about how you shop.
They encourage you to type in queries as if you’re using Google, but the goal is to nudge Google out and get their hands on your data.
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