Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Earning rewards with Swagbucks

Screenshot of the Swagbucks web site

Earlier this week I joined Swagbucks, a site which pays money in return for doing things on the internet. These things are mostly surveys, playing games, or as rewards for signing up to other web sites. Once you’ve earned enough ‘SB’ (the virtual currency used on Swagbucks), you can cash this out in a number of ways – either as money  in your PayPal account, or in gift cards for the likes of Amazon, M&S and iTunes.

In some respects Swagbucks is similar to the various survey sites out there but with a bit more variety. Some tasks can be quite lucrative, and I’ve heard that people can make up to £25 each month from it. Others… not so much. For example, you can get credit for watching videos, but it takes around 5-10 minutes to earn 3 SB. Each SB is worth one US Cent (100 SB is $1), so 3 SB is about two pence in British Sterling. It doesn’t make for a very good hourly rate, let’s be honest.

Another task I tried was a bit like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk – completing tasks in return for credit. One task took me around 5 minutes, and awarded me 0.4 of an SB. A rather exploitative level of recompense, in my opinion.

You can also get credit for signing up to other web sites, especially casino and gambling sites. Whilst some offer quote a lot of credit, you are also sacrificing your personal data in the process, and probably opening up your email inbox to many more emails. It’s up to you whether you think this is worth it or not, I suppose.

As mentioned there are plenty of surveys to take, although with many I would find I wasn’t eligible for them after the first few screens of questions. If you don’t qualify for a survey then you get given one SB, up to five times in a day. Whilst I’m used to not always being eligible for surveys on other sites, the hit rate on Swagbucks seemed much lower.

The site is rather hard to navigate, with some earning opportunities hidden away, and the design isn’t very consistent. I get the impression that Swagbucks imports a lot of third-party content, with some of it iframed in from other web sites, so a consistent look may be difficult to achieve. But in places it looked rather amateurish. There’s also quite a bit of American terminology in places (ZIP code rather than postcode) and you may get asked about when you plan to buy your next snowmobile, for example.

If you can put the effort in, I imagine you can make some money every day from Swagbucks. But some of the opportunities offered pay better than others, and it’s easy to spend a lot of time for a very low reward. It’s perhaps worth mentioning that the UK minimum wage, for those over 21, is £6.31 per hour, so anything that takes more than 10 minutes and pays less than £1 (around 170 SB) is essentially exploiting you for cheap labour.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the exchange rate on rewards varies. A £25 iTunes gift card costs 3699 SB, compared to 4125 SB for a £25 Amazon gift card and 4949 SB for £25 in your PayPal account. And some rewards, like Starbucks cards, are only redeemable in US dollars, so I’m not sure if they can be used in British outlets.

If I haven’t put you off, you can sign up to Swagbucks using my referral link and I’ll get some extra credit. However, until the 17th June, you can sign up via MoneySavingExpert, and get a 1698 SB (£10) bonus, provided that you earn 849 SB (£5) within 60 days. I haven’t tested this to confirm that it works, mainly because I’m not yet halfway to getting 849 SB and have only been signed up for a short period.


  1. Not that it’ll ever be high on HMRC’s radar (nor likely to break any thresholds at this rate…), but I would have thought the Mechanical Turk equivalent at least would be liable for income tax.

  2. I can confirm that the 1698 SB bonus via MoneySavingExpert does work… Though it’s taken me this long to earn enough to qualify.