Swagbucks.com is a Los Angeles based online rewards program. It enables users to earn virtual currency and real life rewards for their everyday web activity. As of March 2013, SwagBucks.com is ranked by Alexa Internet as the 115th most visited website in the United States and the 539th most trafficked website globally.
Swagbucks' website is powered by Prodégé, a provider of branded and incentivized reward portals. In 2006, Prodégé introduced its first product: private label search engines that allowed charities to fund raise by having supporters perform internet searches. In early 2007, Prodégé developed a second search loyalty product that allowed celebrities, brands and sports teams to engage fans through their own branded rewards program. Musicians including Kanye West and Kiss, and sports properties like WWE and the Indianapolis Colts are among the users of the platform. In February 2008, Prodégé launched www.swagbucks.com and introduced the Swag Buck as a digital currency earned for activity throughout its network of websites.
Members of the program are able to earn and spend Swag Bucks in a variety of ways.
- Searching- Swagbucks hosts a custom search engine that will periodically reward registered users with random amounts of Swag Bucks. The engine's layout is similar to that of Google's, though the results are compiled from multiple sources and are not necessarily the same. Theoretical payouts from searching are from 1-1000 Swag Bucks (SB). The selection of winners is completely random, and it is emphasized that searching more often will not necessarily increase the odds of winning. "Bots" that automatically search using the engine are banned, and if the system detects unnatural searching habits, the user can be blocked for a certain amount of time. Unregistered users can use the search engine, but no SB's will be awarded.
- Special Offers- This allows the user to complete offers made by various companies to receive Swag Bucks. The payouts can be virtually any number of Swag Bucks. It should be noted, however, that this is a particularly risky way to earn- most offers require the user to pay actual money, and certain offers are scams or do not pay. Special offers vary greatly, and the user is advised to exercise discretion when using this feature.
- Swagbucks TV- Here the user can watch videos, in a similar fashion to YouTube. Watching 10 videos (or a large portion of each) will earn the user 3 Swag Bucks. The user can only earn up to 75 SB from videos per day. Due to many users using auto-refresh bots and reloading the same video multiple times to gain Swag Bucks, more barriers have been implemented: the user can now only gain credit the first time they watch a video, and captchas sometimes appear. This feature requires Flash, and it is also available as a small pop-up window through the toolbar.
- Surveys- Through the Surveys portal, or through various special offers, the user can complete surveys from third parties to receive Swag Bucks. Generally, surveys take longer to complete than other activities, and consequently the payouts are on average larger.
- Shopping- Includes Coupons, Daily Deals, and Shop and Earn. Coupons allows the user to clip coupons (hosted by coupons.com) and upon their usage earn Swag Bucks. Daily Deals lets the user purchase certain products and receive Swag Bucks in return. Finally, Shop and Earn lets the user browser online shops (ex. Walmart, Apple, Kmart, etc.) and receive a set amount of Swag Bucks per dollar spent.
- Tasks- This gives the user an opportunity to perform simple tasks, such as collecting data, for various companies in exchange for Swag Bucks. This option is powered by CrowdFlower, a crowdsourcing company.
- Games- 2 Swag Bucks are periodically awarded for playing Flash games. Tournaments are hosted which award large amounts of Swag Bucks as prizes. At one point, tournaments were removed from the section due to rampant cheating; the feature has since been reinstated, along with the Games section receiving a general makeover.
- Trade-in- The user can trade in video games and consoles or books for Swag Bucks.
- Swag Codes- Strings of text can be periodically found on the Swag Bucks network, and can be entered into a box in the menubar or on the ledger screen. These can appear anytime, and can expire anytime.
- Referral Program- A current user can invite another person to use Swagbucks. If the other person signs up under the current user, the current user will earn matching Swag Bucks for every search win the new user receives, up to a maximum of 1000. Only search wins will be matched, though in special cases, this can be expanded to other categories.
- Daily Goals- A meter on the home page shows an amount of Swag Bucks that is the user's goal for that day. If the goal is reached, bonus Swag Bucks will be awarded at the start of the next month. These bonuses accumulate, and meeting the goal for many days in a row will earn additional bonuses.
- Hourly Random Winner- Users that are logged in to the site can check the SwagBucks homepage every hour. If their username and avatar is displayed in the "Hourly Winner" section, the user can click "Claim My Swagbucks" and earn 1,000 Swag Bucks. Unclaimed winnings are not distributed to anyone. This feature was removed in February of 2013 during an upgrade of UI. It may return in the future.
- Rewards Store- Users redeem their Swag Bucks for a variety of products. Notably, the Store offers many gift cards that can be delivered in an electronic format. These gift cards can then be spent on other vendors (Amazon, iTunes, Paypal, etc.) to receive a wider variety of rewards. There is a limit of 5 of a single type of gift card purchasable per month. The user can set up notifications as to when a product's availability changes or it goes on sale.
- Swagstakes- Sweepstakes that require the user to pay for entries in Swag Bucks. Depending on the usual price of the item being offered, the entry amounts change. Some of the rewards are Swag Buck giveaways, which if won, simply credit the user's account with more Swag Bucks.
- Local Deals- Similar to coupons, but require payment in Swag Bucks. This option is powered by Entertainment.com.
The exchange rate between Swag Bucks and US dollars varies; generally, a single Swag Buck is worth slightly less than 1 US cent (¢). However, exceptions exist, the most popular being the $5 Amazon gift card, which costs 450 Swag Bucks (in this case 1 Swag Buck is worth ~1.1 cents). SwagBucks has stated that their currency fluctuates much like real-world currency. Exploits can be made using this system, ex. purchasing enough Amazon gift cards to buy an equivalent product on Amazon, the overall result being fewer Swag Bucks spent. Gift cards have a different exchange rate system compared to other prizes, with a strict 1:1 ratio. This means that a $10 gift card costs 1,000 SB, $15 costs 1,500, etc.
A mobile version of the SwagBucks site is available for use on smartphones like the iPhone and Android devices. It is a stripped-down version of the regular site that contains very few features, but is optimized for use via touchscreen. It is also possible to use the site on a computer by changing the web browser's user agent to that of a mobile (ex. Safari's Developer menu).
- Searching: Just like the regular site, users can search using the mobile site and periodically earn Swag Bucks.
- Special Offers: A mobile version of TrialPay's offer wall.
- Daily Poll: Also available on the regular site, a new poll is posted each day, and answering it rewards 1 Swag Buck.
- Amazon $5, Walmart $5, or Starbucks $5 gift cards are currently the only available awards on the mobile site. The user taps on one of them and the transaction is confirmed. Note that this feature is only enabled if the user has registered their street address with SwagBucks, even though the cards are electronically delivered.
SwagBucks has released official apps on both Google Play and the Apple App Store for the SwagBucks TV feature. The mobile versions differ slightly from the desktop version in several ways.
- The mobile version pays 2 SB for every 5 videos instead of 3 SB for every 10 videos.
- Videos must be watched to completion before the meter fills.
- Videos automatically play in a sequence, eliminating the need for the user to manually choose each video.
- Different videos are available.
The iOS version is only compatible with iOS 6.
The site has given its users over $27 million in rewards to date. As of August 2011, the site has over 4 million registered members and projected close to $25 million in revenue for 2011. In July 2011 it was announced that SwagBucks.com was ranked #43 on the Inc 500 fastest growing company list and nominated for a Colloquy Marketing Award for excellence in loyalty marketing. In November 2011, SwagBucks.com was ranked by the Los Angeles Business Journal as the third fastest growing company in Los Angeles.