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How I’m Paying for my Black Friday Deals: Swagbucks! Fueling the Habit #3

So, we’ve talked about ways of getting deals or generating some extra scratch from your gaming swag.  Though, what if you don’t have any money in the first place?  Geeks gotta’ geek, but it requires cash!  We’re going to look at a relatively low-effort method of getting actual money, instead of just discounts.

Sw-w-w-w-wagbucks!  Awwwww yeah!

Swagbucks is an “Online Rewards” site that gives you money for completing various tasks; watching videos, completing surveys, playing games, etc.  Now, if you’re a reasonable person, you should be rolling your eyes about now.  At best, most of these sites are a waste of time and at worst, an outright scam.

I bet you thought my next line would be “But Swagbucks is different.”  I mean, it is different…kind of.  It’s a legit site and I’ve made some fairly easy cash; at this point, I’ve made about $250 in a little under 3 months.  It can be mildly lucrative, but you still need to “swag” with discretion.  Essentially you’re selling yourself in the form of content views/clicks, survey information, and allowing access to your content information.


If you go on the site, you’ll see these characters in like, random games and stuff.

To actually “use” your Swagbucks, you have to buy gift cards.  These aren’t BitCoins we’re talking about, so you can’t use them at an actual store.  It’s cool, though, there is a plethora of Gift Cards available, including Amazon, eBay, Starbucks, etc.  Even PayPal is an option, and as far as I know, the only way to extract actual “cash” out of Swagbucks.

Swagbucks is not only the name of the site but also the name of the “currency” you are paid in.  1 Swagbuck is essentially $0.01 USD; I say essentially because there are occasional opportunities to make it worth slightly more.  Now, when you think of it in that sense, it’s important to be efficient in your Swagbuck’ing.  Even the most diligent of Swagbuck’ers won’t make enough money to replace even a minimum wage job, though if you’re not careful, you’ll be spending just as much time at it.  Even though you’re being compensated, the amount is so minuscule that you are, without a doubt, being taken advantage of.  I’ll say that again..

!!! You are being taken advantage of !!!


It’s up to you to mitigate the extent of it.  As mentioned, if you have lots of free time, you’d be better off getting a part time job, exercising, or learning a new skill.  Swagbucks is valuable when you need to kill time; sitting at a bus stop, waiting for your oil to get changed, or twiddling your thumbs while your latest X-Wing unboxing video renders…stuff like that.

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Yeah…I’ll watch a 2 hour Katy Perry video for $0.02…sounds great!

It might sound like I’m being overly negative…I’m not.  In general, my opinion of Swagbucks is a positive one.  You just have to be careful.


What the hell do you do with Swagbucks?  I was mildly concerned I was simply collecting virtual Monopoly money that I could only spend on useless gift cards that are impossible to use.  I mean…that’s an option, but don’t do it!  Luckily, Swagbucks can be converted into lots of different gift cards.  For me, I always cash out to Amazon cards or Paypal, but you can get more specific and get cards for Old Navy, Walmart, etc.  Sometimes those specific cards are on sale and if you know you want to shop there, can get you a decent discount.

This is how I make my SB:
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Awwwww yeah, $88.88!!

Watch: Swagbucks has a huge library of videos.  Most are only worth 1-3 SB, but you can have several playing at a time.  If I’m at home blogging or at work checking e-mail, I’ll mute the computer and have 4 or 5 videos playing in the background (it helps to open them up in different windows).  Every few minutes, I’ll check to see if any have finished, then click on new ones.  Occasionally, they’ll get stuck on an ad or simply won’t play, so sometimes you just have to cut your losses and click on a new one.  There are some bad deals, some even getting past the two hour mark for a measly 2 SB.  In general, I won’t consider “watching” a video if it is longer than 6mins per Swagbuck.  Each video isn’t worth much, if you can make a decent amount of SB if you do several at once.

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I’d watch the Robot Video for sure…the Madden one? ehhh…maybe.

SBTV: To continue on the theme of videos, this is something I have only recently tried.  I have an old Galaxy S3 that still works great, but is no longer used as a phone.  SBTV is a mobile app that has it’s own library of videos that can be watched.  It’s supposed to cap out at 36 SB/day, but there are “bonus rounds” that allow you to earn more.  This one is super easy because you can add a few “favorites” (I chose a couple 10 second videos) and make it a playlist.  That playlist will repeat over and over (while occasionally getting stuck) and earn you SB.


Surveys: There are two places I go for surveys: the Answers sections, and Peanut Labs.  This is where I make the big money (haha, relatively anyway).  If I find myself with 15-20 minutes of time to kill, I’ll pull up one of the list of surveys and see what’s available.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 4.35.49 PM Most surveys take about 10-20 minutes to complete and are anywhere between 50-200 SB.  If a survey strays from those parameters, then I either ignore it, or do my best to get disqualified part way in.  Most of the questions they ask you a pretty loaded and it’s not difficult to figure out what they’re looking for.  If you do get kicked out of a survey, you usually get 1 SB for your time, which, compared to the videos, can net you a small amount of SB very quickly.  On rare occasions, you will encounter special surveys that want information about you; either they want you to download an app, or they want to do an extended survey, etc.  I generally stay away from anything that wants me to install software, but I did take part in a few multi-day “groups” that netted me 2000 SB (that’s $20) a piece.  Also, while you’re in the answers section, don’t forget the Daily Poll for an easy Swagbuck!

Searches: This one is weird; Swagbucks has their own search engine (which I think is just Bing, but I’m not sure) and will credit you random amounts of SB every now and then (I think I’ve received anywhere between 2-35 SB).  There doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason here…I’ve earned SB after searching William Shatner, California overtime taxation policies, Garven Dreis (Red Leader from Star Wars: A New Hope, duh!) and other random stuff.  There’s nothing you can do, aside from using it when convenient, to make it cash out more or less often.  It just sorta…happens.

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Not only did I score on this search, I scored a Collectors Bill. If you manage to get them all, you get an extra bonus.


Special Offers: Mehhh…yeah….these are hit or miss.  Some of these want you to spend money or sign up for something, like a free trial or something like that.  Generally, it’s only worth it if it’s free or something you would have bought anyway.  For instance, I did one where I had to spend $2.00 at a coffee shop to make 500 SB.  Luckily, it’s a coffee shop I go to on the regular anyway, so that one was a no-brainer.  Lots of them want your current contact info to a third party, which I give out freely…sorta…it was current…at a time…just not anymore!  Anything that wants me to sign up for a free trial of a paid service I tend to avoid.  It’s tempting because you’re thinking “oh man, I’ll just cancel this after I get the SB credited, but before my card gets charged after the free trial” but it’s ultimately a waste of time.  That, and giving out your financial information to these companies, especially ones you don’t intend on doing business with, can be sketchy.  Like I said before, you’re being taken advantage of already, don’t exposure yourself to wasted time and financial risk for a few extra pennies Swagbucks.

Other Bonuses: In the top corner you’ll see something called a Daily Goal.  There’s usually an easy one and a hard one, but each time you reach it, you get bonus SB.

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I don’t always reach them, but when it pays out at the beginning of the month, I usually get around 300-500 SB I wouldn’t have normally received.  There are also SwagCodes…usually stupid phrases you type into a box that give you a small amount of SB.  If you get the official Swagbucks app, you’ll get alerts on your phone.  If not, you’ll need to find them elsewhere (like Reddit!)

The 1 SB = 1 cent conversion here matters most, but on occasion can be worth more.  The first $25 gift card you buy in a month is only 2200, or $22.00.  It takes me 1-3 days to make 300 SB, so I definitely don’t mind the savings.  There will be other sweeteners as well, like sales (though not on anything good, usually) or special bonuses called “SwagUps.”  For instance, I received a $10 credit on a gift card because I had completed a bunch of surveys the previous month.

Referrals are also a good way of getting extra SB.  If someone signs up using a referral code of yours (*cough* like this one *cough*) you can make some sweet passive SB.  Generally, Swagbucks will match 10% of what your referrals make and credit you the amount.  So, you’re not “taxing” your friends, they still get their full amount earned, but you get an additional 10% of that amount.  If you get enough dedicated earners, you can make a healthy amount of cash.

How I Spend my ‘Bucks

So, I’m pretty limited in how I use my Swagbucks.  As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Amazon is my #1 source.

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Some $25 gift cards. Take note of the eBay gift card on sale!

At the start of every month, I always buy the $25 for 2200SB Gift Card for Amazon.  After that, I either keep buying Amazon cards in small chunks (between $10-50 at a time) or spend it on PayPal.  PayPal is great because so many places take it, plus it’s an easy way to toss money back and forth between your amigos.  If I wanted it as straight up cash, I could just link a checking account to it and pull the money out that way, too.  Unfortunately, PayPal cards are not eligible for the $25 for 2200SB discount.

There have been reports of people getting banned from Swagbucks after cashing out large amounts (like $100-200 worth) despite there being large denominations of gift cards.  I have a feeling these stories involve someone violating the Terms of Service then getting caught when they try to cash out, but who knows.  Just to be safe, I usually keep my transactions small.  I worked (mildly) hard for me free money, I wanna keep it!

So…yeah.  If you straight need cash, get a job.  And if it’s too good to be true, (like a 600SB survey that takes 3 minutes to complete), it usually is.  Don’t waste your time.  But if you’re obligated to be somewhere (work, in line, etc) then that’s a great time to get some extra scratch and get your swag on!

I mentioned Black Friday…here’s some of the things I have my eye on!

Star Wars Battlefront PS4 Bundle


Nintendo Wii U Mario Kart Bundle

XBox One


GoPro HERO 4 Session

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

500GB HDD for PS3


Cody C

Cody C