Free stuff for just searching the web?

January 12, 2010 3:54:19 PM PST
There's a new kind of 'digital dollar' out there for anybody who uses the Internet to search for stuff. It could mean a lot of free stuff for you. There are several websites where you literally earn points just for looking up something on the Internet. Those points translate into prizes or gift cards and if you like shopping online, you can even earn cash back.

A brand new Compaq laptop, a pricy Canon camera and a Nintendo DS. Would you believe Super Saver Erin Libranda got all of them for free?

"Just by searching," she said.

That's right. Erin says just by surfing the web using the site Swagbucks.com, she was rewarded with points that she then used to redeem prizes.

"It doesn't cost anything," said Erin. "You don't have to give credit card information."

Here's how the site works. First, sign up for your free account at Swagbucks.com. Then use Swagbucks.com as your main search engine. By the way, the search results are provided by Google and Ask.com.

Once you start searching, Swag Bucks are periodically awarded as you search the web. Erin says she earns about one point for every five searches.

"There we go, so I just earned one," Erin showed us.

When you are ready to redeem your points, head to the Swag store and choose from different prizes or gift cards. For example, 45 Swag bucks gets you a $5 Amazon gift card. So at the very least, if you earn one point a day, you'll get a gift card in about a month and a half.

"If you use it consistently as your search engine, or as your home page and go to that first before going to another site, you can earn enough points in four to six weeks for a $20 gift card either Starbucks or Target," said Erin.

Erin says if you really want to rack up points, get your friends to sign on. Social networking sites like Facebook are a great way to get the word out.

"People see that and they will click on to get started because they're wondering, 'What's this?'" said Erin.

Now there's another "digital dollar" website for those of you who shop online a lot. It's called eBates.com. This site allows you to earn cash back from your purchases. Ebates.com has hundreds of online retailers and each retailer gives you back a percentage of your total purchase.

"If you are online shopping anyways, you might as well go through something like eBates to get a rebate back on it," said Erin.

The site also includes coupon codes to use along with your purchase. In two years, Erin has earned almost $3,000 cash back. It's money she used to pay for a family vacation to Disneyland.

You may be wondering how can these sites afford to give money and prizes away. Think of it as one big marketing tool. Companies like to keep track of your surfing and shopping habits. So if the idea of big brother watching makes you a little uneasy, then these sites might not be for you.


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