Rockstar Review: Swagbucks (Cashback & Rewards Program)

This is part of our Rockstar Reviews series. Be sure to check out all previous products we’ve reviewed!

Who it’s for: Those who want to earn gift cards and cash simply for being online. Ease of use: Some ways to earn are more lucrative than others, but all are pretty simple. What I liked about it: The variety of earning options and the giant roster of rewards. What I didn’t like about it: Not all Swagbucks earning options are created equal.

Where to find it: || FREE (Get $5.00 at sign up)

[Welcome today, Donna Freedman - personal finance blogger and one of Swagbuck's biggest fans and users. She's earned over 220,000 "Swagbucks" since signing up herself, and stops by to share her insights with us today. Hope it helps!]

Swagbucks: A Ridiculously Simple Way to Earn Gift Cards and Cash

Swagbucks is my favorite rewards program. The gift cards I earn pay for most of my birthday and holiday shopping each year. They also help me buy expensive specialty items – like quinoa, vitamins, olive oil, flaxseed – for my frugal household. When I visit family, I cash in my Swagbucks for restaurant gift cards and treat my hosts to dinner. And recently I’ve been using them to send diapers and other items to a family that is going through some tough financial times. Swagbucks opened for business in late February 2008. Since then, they have paid out more than $180 million in free gift cards and cash! Want to get some of that? Of course, you do.

How to Earn Swagbucks

Signing up for Swagbucks is simple. Just go to the website, enter your email address and a new password, and you're in. That's it! Once your account is set up, the site offers multiple ways to earn points (Swagbucks, or SB for short), such as playing online games, taking surveys and watching videos. You can also earn points by using the Swagbucks search engine* (powered by Yahoo!), and shopping through the site portal. Some other ways to earn:

  • Swag Codes - During the day, at least one code will be released. Enter these codes on your landing page to earn anywhere from 2 to 7 SB.
  • Collector’s Bills - The site regularly features sets of themed bills, such as “Valentine’s Day” or “fall foliage.” (They’re often connected to seasons or holidays.) If one appears on your screen when you search, you’ll earn anywhere from 6 to 32 SB apiece. Collect the whole set and you’ll get a bonus!
  • Swag Code Extravaganzas. - At least six codes are released in a single day during these themed celebrations.
  • SB Local - The app lets you earn points for making purchases at local restaurants and shops.
  • Referrals - In my opinion, this is the very best SB source. You get 10% of the SB earned by all of the people you refer. As in, 10% of their SB forever.

Swagbucks also regularly offers special bounties, such as “300 SB per referral this month”. Inviting even a few friends who are really into earning free points means your own SB totals will steadily rise. Earning SB is like being a triathlete in that if you’re not super-talented at one sport you can make up for it in others. For example, I don’t play video games but I use the search engine a lot. I also rarely shop online but I have a lot of referrals. And if you’re good at all the "sports"? You’ll be a Swagbucks monster. What are you waiting for? *Note: You aren’t guaranteed SBs for searching; the search engine randomly awards these, anywhere from 4 to 100 SB at a time.

How to Cash in Your Swagbucks

One of the great things about Swagbucks is that you can cash in your points as often as you like (once you reach the minimums required), and for one of two things: gift cards or cash. To cash in, hover over the number of SB you have, scroll down and click on "Redeem SB".

Gift Cards

The most popular cards* start at 500 SB (for $5). This might not seem like a lot, but if all you're doing is using the Swagbucks search engine, it's going to take time to earn that many points. You're definitely better off taking advantage of more than one of the earning options. . Pro earning tip: If you regularly buy gift cards as presents, another way to earn more SB is to order them through the “My Gift Cards Plus” section. So you're not redeeming points here, but simply earning more SB for money you already would've been spending, which you could then turn around and use to redeem for more gift cards... see how that works!?

Cash Money

If gift cards aren't your thing, Swagbucks also offers a PayPal option. In other words, you can trade in your SB and have them deposit cash into your PayPal account. Who couldn't use a little extra moolah!?

What I Like About Swagbucks

Swagbucks is (ridiculously) easy to use and has multiple ways to earn points. If you don't enjoy watching videos, take the surveys. If you don’t like doing surveys, shop online. And no matter what you do, try to get those referrals in. Aside from being easy to use, Swagbucks offers a huge array of rewards in categories like electronics, food, gaming, house and home, gas, health and beauty, entertainment, music, sports and outdoors, travel and department stores. There’s even an “on sale” category. A $25 gift card typically costs 2,500 SB, but Swagbucks has an offer where the first $25 gift card you purchase each month costs only 2,200 SB. You can also donate SB to charities.

What I Don’t Like About Swagbucks

There's not much to dislike about Swagbucks, since it's a free way to earn gift cards/cash. But some things to note:

  • Aside from not always earning SB when using the search engine, the payout for watching videos is pretty low.
  • Sometimes I get kicked out of surveys partway through, because the survey partner has obtained enough responses or because I don’t fit the demographic.
  • All the gift cards are e-codes vs. physical cards. Maybe that doesn’t bother you, though.


Swagbucks lets you earn anywhere from a few bucks to a few hundred dollars per month in gift cards or cold, hard cash (via PayPal).

Try them out here: (New members get $5.00 at sign up!)

***** About the author: Donna Freedman has been writing about personal finance since MSN Money hired her to create the Smart Spending blog back in 2007. She writes about money and midlife at All Rockstar Reviews include affiliate links to the companies being featured. Thank you to all those who support our site by going through them when you find them helpful!