When I first heard about the Sweatcoin, I thought it sounded like a scam. The app rewards you for walking. You earn points in the form of digital currency (“Sweatcoins”) for every step you take. You can redeem these Sweatcoins for real-life rewards.
I used Sweatcoin for a month to try and rack up some points. Admittedly, I had pretty humble goals going into this. I figured if I can make $5 or swing a free Starbucks latte out of this, I will count the experiment a success.
I’ll share my experience from using it and let you know which reward I decided to get.
How Does Sweatcoin Work?
You simply sign up for an account with your phone number. For the app to track your steps properly, you need to share your location. And that’s it. It immediately starts working.
You don’t need to open the app to get it to start recording your steps. It runs in the background. The downside is, it does drain your phone battery.
On my first day, I managed 5,865 steps, which converts to 4.81 Sweatcoin. That’s roughly 1,200 steps per 1 Sweatcoin. For context, it takes about 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps to walk 5 miles.
On average, Americans walk between 2,000 – 4,000 steps a day. So if you are like the average American, you can expect to earn 2 to 3 Sweatcoin a day or 60 to 90 Sweatcoins a month.
At the end of 30 days, I racked up 156,420 steps. Not too shabby (having an energetic puppy helps get those steps in!). This translated to approximately 130 Sweatcoin.
Of course, I’m not just collecting these Sweatcoins for fun: I was promised rewards! Fortunately, there is a rewards center in the app where I can redeem my Sweatcoins. We’ll dive into this in the What Can You Get section further below.
Is Sweatcoin a Scam?
Let’s get the biggest question of the way: no, Sweatcoin is not a scam. It is not a ponzi scheme or an MLM.
It Doesn’t Cost Anything
The app is free to use, as in completely free. It’s not a freemium model where you pay to “unlock” other levels. Even the upgraded memberships are paid for in Sweatcoins. You can’t buy the Sweatcoins, you can only earn them by walking.
They don’t sell your data
The app tracks your GPS data to make sure you aren’t faking your steps, but they don’t sell or share this data with other companies. In fact, they explicitly state this on their site many times. Could they be lying? Sure, but that would get them into legal trouble.
Sweatcoin is not a scam. That said, is the marketing is a bit deceptive. Do you actually get paid to walk? Not really.
Can I Redeem Sweatcoins for Cash/Paypal Cash?
No. This was my biggest surprise because other bloggers reported they could “buy” Paypal money with their Sweatcoins.
Apparently, this was the case when Sweatcoin first debuted. In the good old days, they were literally paying you to walk.
Alas, those days are over, probably because they lost too much money this way. You can no longer redeem your Sweatcoins for cash/Paypal Cash. Now you can only get Paypal cash by getting your friends to sign up through your link. And even that is capped to $20 maximum for 20 sign-ups through your invite code.
Can You Use it at the Gym?
Thinking about getting on a treadmill and killing two birds with one stone? Bad news, you can’t use the app indoors. Apparently, it is too easy to fake steps when you are in place, so the developers need to use your GPS data to verify you are actually moving. If you want Sweatcoins, you’ll need to go outside and enjoy the fresh air.
You also need to take physical steps. For example, the app won’t count bike pedaling as “steps.”
What Sweatcoin Rewards Can You Get?
So you can’t redeem Sweatcoins for cash, what can you get?
The app has “Daily Offers” which change every day and “Marathon Offers” which are permanent rewards you can buy (though the app developers can decide to take them down whenever they want).
To be honest, I was less than impressed with the daily offers. The offers are typically one free month of a monthly subscription box.
It seems like Sweatcoins partnered with some brands/e-commerce companies to bring users discounts.
The rewards are hit or miss. Sweatcoin has over 200 partnerships, so expect a lot of variety. The worst offers feel more like promotional offers you can find anywhere instead of actual rewards or freebies. The best rewards (and keep in mind, they rotate) are:
- Free subscription to Calm, a meditation app
- Free trial to Scribd
- $10 to invest with Stash, a micro-investment app
That said, we are talking about a free app, so maybe my expectations were out of line.
Sample of Daily Offers
- First bag of coffee free from Trade Coffee, a coffee subscription box (24 Sweatcoins or one week of walking)
- 50% off your first month of Barkbox, a monthly subscription box for dogs (12 Sweatcoins or 3 days of walking)
- $15 Cash into Twine account if you fund a savings account through them (100 Sweatcoins or one month of walking)
- 3 Months of Free Music with Tidal (7 Sweatcoins or 2 days of walking)
- Wireless Headphones (6,500 Sweatcoins)
- Ember Wave, a personal thermostat (8,500 Sweatcoins)
- iPhone XS (20,000 Sweatcoins)
- $1,000 cash (20,000 Sweatcoins)
The Marathon Offers are much better, but are they attainable? On the low end of the spectrum, you’d need to accumulate 6,000 – 9,000 Sweatcoins. Great! I’ll train for a marathon and collect a new iPhone in the process.
Not so fast. The app limits the amount of Sweatcoins you earn to a maximum of 5 SC a day or 150 SC a month. One hundred fifty SCs a month averages to walking over a mile a day, so I can’t imagine that you need much more than. But maybe I’m just a couch potato.
For the super-walkers among us, you can “pay” (in Sweatcoins, not in real life money) to increase the maximum daily and monthly threshold.
- “Mover”: Max 5 SC/day; 150/SC a month [Everyone starts here]
- “Shaker”: Max 10 SC/day; 300 SC/month [Cost: 5 SC]
- “Quaker”: Max 15 SC/day; 450 SC/month [Cost: 15 SC]
- “Breaker”: Max 20 SC/day; 600 SC/month [Cost: 20 SC]
At 150 SCs a month (the maximum SC per month at the base level), it’ll take you between 3 to 5 years to accumulate that.
To get to 20,000 on the free you need to use the app consistently for 133 months, or 11 years. Even if you unlock the highest earning potential membership: Breaker, it would still take you almost 3 years to get an iPhone.
Suffice to say, the Marathon Offers are a brilliant marketing move, but us plebeians likely won’t be getting an iPad anytime soon.
What is a Sweatcoin? It is an Alternative to Bitcoin?
Unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you can’t trade your Sweatcoins for money. It’s a digital currency that only means something in the world of the Sweatcoin app.
Here’s an interesting development, in January 2018, Sweatcoin creators announced that they are working on a blockchain cryptocurrency that would allow you to sell your Sweatcoin tokens on a cryptocurrency exchange.
If they pull this off and if there’s still demand for this currency, you will be able to sell Sweatcoin for cash. Some Sweatcoin “investors” are hoarding coins and even buying them off other users in case they go up in value. It goes without saying, we don’t recommend going online and buying Sweatcoin. Earn them the old fashioned way.
The jury’s out on whether Sweatcoins will be a real cryptocurrency. In the meantime, these coins don’t have any real market value. Users are beholden to the app developers setting the value of the coins. The developers might decide one Starbucks reward dollar is worth one Sweatcoin, or they might decide it is worth 1,000.
How Does Sweatcoin (the Company) Make Money?
The rewards are thinly disguised advertisements. I’m guessing brands pay Sweatcoin to advertise with them.
Conclusion: My Experience
I’m disappointed by the quality of rewards you have to choose from, but the app is by no means a scam. Unfortunately, the days of Paypal Cash are long over.
Still, I have mostly positive things to say. I think it’s pretty cool that these guys are gamifying a healthy activity like walking. The app itself is like a more fun (and free) version of Fitbit.
That said, you’ll be disappointed if you try to make money or “get” anything out of it other than the fun of tracking how much walking you do.