A lot of reward sites have their own system of rewards. But what are these really worth?
Both MyPoints and Swagbucks have been flawless with delivering the gift cards I’ve earned. No issues, ever, and I’ve earned hundreds of dollars of gift cards through them.
Rewards for doing easy stuff
MyPoints is one of the older reward sites. A friend introduced the site to me around that time and I wish I had used it more back then.
MyPoints rewards actions on their site with these things called Points. (Yeah, crazy, huh?) Reading an email and visiting the site, for example, gives a reward of 5 Points. Shopping at Walmart currently results in a reward of 8 Points per dollar spent. I make a $50 purchase within the terms and conditions, and I just got 400 Points.
Similarly, Swagbucks (which goes back to at least 2008 according to Archive.org) rewards actions on their site with … Swagbucks! Some actions, like doing a one-question multiple choice survey each day, is worth 1 SB (think “Swagbuck” but Swagbucks doesn’t call it this anymore, it’s just “SB”). A web search could earn nothing … or it could net 6 SB, 11 SB, or even more, so it has more of a jackpot flavor to it.
Swagbucks also offers SB based on purchases from online stores. They’re currently offering 6 SB per dollar for qualifying purchases at Hotels.com.
What are these things worth?
OK, all well and good, but … what is a Point from MyPoints actually worth? What is 1 SB actually worth?
By themselves? Nothing. I can’t go to the grocery store with 4,500 SB and expect to buy groceries with them. I’d be foreclosed on if I sent in 50,000 Points for my mortgage payment.
But I can redeem them for gift cards. Each gift card “costs” me a certain number of Points or Swagbucks.
I usually save up for a $25 Starbucks gift card on MyPoints, because my wife loves her tall sugar-free vanilla half-caff whole-milk latte. Currently this card would cost me 3,700 Points. (We’ll use this amount in the example, but it’s actually a range of points for different merchants, and different denominations.)
From Swagbucks, it’s an Amazon gift code. They used to offer $5 gift codes for 450 SB; the one I’m aiming for now is a $25 gift code for 2,200 SB. Other amounts are 300 SB for a $3 gift code, and 1,000 SB for a $10 gift code.
The math part of reward sites
Now we’re in a position to calculate the actual US Dollar value of a Point, or an SB.
We’ll start with Swagbucks because it’s a bit easier. For most of the gift cards they offer, 100 SB gets you $1 worth of gift card. This means that each SB is currently worth about 1 cent. (The $25 Amazon gift code is a bit better than this, which is why I’m after it. 🙂 )
Similarly each 1 SB/dollar reward for shopping is like a 1% rebate in the form of gift cards. So the Hotels.com 6 SB/dollar I talked about above is like a 6% rebate.
The value of a MyPoints Point is a bit trickier. Some of the more popular cards are a tad more “expensive” in terms of Points. Also, the higher-value gift cards are usually a bit cheaper per dollar than the lower-value cards.
For this case, it’s best to go backwards from the rebate equivalent that MyPoints states, and match up the Points earned with what the cash rebate would have been given they percentage they stated.
Follow that? No worries. Here’s the calculation, and I’ll give the answer.
Magazines.com currently is rewarded at 50 Points per dollar spent. MyPoints draws the line in the sand and calls this a 34.0% rebate.
OK, awesome. We have what we need.
So let’s say I spent $1 at Magazines.com through MyPoints. MyPoints would reward me 50 Points for that purchase. If this represents a 34.0% rebate, then those 50 Points would be worth 34 cents (34.0% of $1).
Now, doing the division, 34 cents / 50 Points = $0.0068 per Point at MyPoints.
This matches pretty well with what I’ll pay for my $25 Starbucks card: $0.0068 times 3,700 is $25.14, so pretty close to $25 (within rounding error).
More transparency with rewards = Very Good Thing
Actually, both Swagbucks and MyPoints give the equivalent rebate percentage for each store their members shop through. I remember times when they didn’t offer up the equivalent percentage.
For my two cents (or 2 SB, or 3 Points) this was a smart move on their part. They’re not the only ones in town offering the equivalent of cash-back rebates and making the conversion for their members allows them to show that they’re competitive with the other sites out there. They’re saying, in essence, “Sure, compare us. See for yourself how we stack up. We’ll wait.”
Because if it’s not clear what you’re getting, you won’t come back, right?
More conversion factors for reward sites
There are a number of other reward sites that do the same things as MyPoints and Swagbucks. I won’t go through the math individually for these sites, but here are the conversion factors for a few more rewards sites that I use. If I’ve missed one you like, please let me know in the comments!
|Site||One dollar is …|
|Gift Hulk||1000 HC|
|Reward Shopping||1440-2880 Points|
|Prize Rebel||100 Points|
Did I miss any of your favorite reward site point conversions? Let me know!