Free Books? What’s the Catch?
[Photo by Jayel Aheram.]
When I first read about Swagbucks, I figured there had to be a catch. How could they give away $5 Amazon.com gift certificates just for using their search engine? But over the past 12 months, I’ve collected $45 worth of free books, just for doing searches I would have done anyway. I bought a couple of Christmas gifts and an Ed Zaccaro book to supplement Kitten’s schoolwork.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself:
A Few Observations
- Friday is Mega-Swagbucks day, which means I’m more likely to win a large prize for searching then. That makes Fridays a good time for researching future blog posts.
- Swagbucks are handed out at random. If I don’t win on the first page of my search results, sometimes I will get one on the 2nd or 3rd page. Therefore, even when the result I was looking for is right there, I will often check at least one more page.
- The SB search engine doesn’t seem to go as deep as Google does. When I want something beyond the top 20-30 results, I switch back to G-search.
- I support the SB company whenever I can. If what I was looking for offers a sponsored link, I’ll use that one. Otherwise, however, I avoid clicking advertisements.
- The SB home page carries annoying Flash ads, so I use the Firefox search toolbar instead. Or you can click Search in the SB page sidebar to go to a cleaner search page.
- Most of the other prizes SB offers are no great deal. It’s cheaper to get Amazon certificates and then buy whatever I want than to save up for a specialty Swagprize.
On the Other Hand
If you’re in a giving mood, you might want to try this instead:
Update: Swagbucks Inflation
This week, SB inflated everyone’s old bucks times 10 (and, of course, also inflated the prize prices). They claim this will give them freedom to hand out bucks more frequently, in larger denominations. It’s yet to be seen whether or not this means it will take longer to win Amazon gift cards, which are the only prize I’m interested in.
They also changed their software so that you have to be logged in to win the bucks. It used to be that you could log in after winning, to collect your buck, but now you need to stay logged in whenever you search.
One advantage of the inflation: You can get up to
4 3 guaranteed Swagbucks every day, in exchange for a few minutes’ hassle. Click the Earn menu and visit Trusted Surveys (1 SB for the visit [this hasn't rewarded me the last few weeks, and I've never had any success with the surveys themselves, so I no longer bother], Daily Polls (1 SB for voting), and NOSO (you can click “Skip” until you reach the end, then get 2 SB for answering the Gotcha clue).
If you use grocery coupons: Be sure to check out the Printable Coupons page. Each coupon you redeem earns you an additional 10 SB.
Final note: As I mention in the comments below, I highly recommend the Firefox browser with the AdBlock Plus add-on and Element Hiding Helper, whether you are using SB or not. The Internet is a wonderful place to be when you get rid of all the ads!