Fastest Way to Earn SwagBucks (and What to Avoid)

The fastest way to earn money from SwagBucks in exchange for the least amount of time is using their shopping portal or scanning receipts for their higher value offers.

For example:

  • $15 (1500 SB) for joining Amazon Prime via the SwagBucks Shopping Portal
  • $4 (400 SB) for buying any Clorox product and uploading the receipt via Magic Receipts

If you’re really bored:

If you’re really bored and want to earn ridiculously small amounts of money, here are the fastest activities you can do:

  1. Non-survey parts (6/8) of the To-Do List (1 min)
  2. Gifting SB to others via SwagIt (1 min)
  3. Daily Discover, Discover Web Click and Earn (3 min)
  4. Using Swagbucks (Bing) as a Search Engine (3 min)
  5. Daily Poll, Random Swag Codes (15 sec)

~15 minutes a day doing all of the above (including receipts) will earn you at least $25/mo via streak bonuses. Not bad for something you can mostly get done on a bathroom break.

What to avoid:

  • Most surveys. Over half don’t pay out. Although you can earn hundreds of dollars doing these, they’re major time sinks. One possible exception: Certain “higher” paid surveys that take less than 4 minutes and pay at least 50 SB. (That still only pays minimum wage.)
  • Swago boards. Too much clicking around for too little pay.
  • Games. Including Alu’s Revenge and all downloadable apps. Alu’s usually doesn’t pay out. Useless time sinks.
  • SwagIt Video Uploads – Unless you have a really popular video, you’re going to get 1 cent every couple of days for the average stuff people put up (cats, sunsets, nature videos, babies, dogs, decorations …)
  • SB Live Trivia – 15-20 minutes of rapt attention in exchange for 6 cents, no thanks.

Like this guy says, SwagBucks is really only worth your time if you were already going to buy something they offer on their site.

Best way to redeem:

For redemptions, the best deal is the monthly offer for a $25 gift card (to Amazon, Apple, etc.) in exchange for $22 worth of SwagBucks (2200 SB). (Note that it takes 3-5 business days to pay out.)

Doing this for 1 year gets you $300 (before taxes).

If you haven’t joined SwagBucks and need something to do when you’re on the porcelain throne, check out my referral link and get a $10 bonus for joining.

FedEx Charges $10 to Fax 4 Pages

There’s a reason FedEx doesn’t advertise their rates online. Their fax service, in my area, costs $2.49 per page. I wanted to fax 4 pages of healthcare information to my provider. FedEx would have charged nearly $10.

For that price, I can get 200 pages per month faxed at any time of day from the comfort of my home via Wirecutter’s recommended HIPAA compliant SRFax service. That’s 5 cents per page. Many other fax services charge even less.

FedEx fax: Not recommended.

Transferring WealthCare HSA to a better HSA Administrator

After my previous job, I decided to switch to from Alegeus’ WealthCare HSA to a lower-fee HSA provider. There were many reasons for this:

  • WealthCare charges over $6 per month in fees (not just $4 as this post says)
  • WealthCare’s site is incredibly slow (taking minutes to load, and often just fails to display a page at all unless you reload the page multiple times). (Other providers load up almost immediately, leading me to believe it might have something to do with Alegeus’ spaghetti code and reliance on some sort of ancient Microsoft active directory authentication process.)
  • WealthCare charges an (undocumented?) fee of $25 to transfer your money out
WealthCare stuck on loading screen forever (tried on multiple days from multiple networks and computers)

Here’s how I transferred the money out:

  1. Login to WealthCare’s portal. If you have a portion of your HSA money invested, sell the invested portion.
  2. Wait 2-3 business days for the transferred money to post to the cash portion of your HSA account.
  3. Close your WealthCare investment account to avoid any further investment fees.
  4. At your new HSA provider, fill out a trustee-to-trustee transfer form. In my case, it was all done electronically, but in some cases you may need to mail it in. Provide WealthCare’s routing number and your own WealthCare HSA account number, along with your new HSA account number, and sign.

Your new HSA provider will then contact WealthCare and transfer the money to your new account. This process will take 2-3 weeks to complete, after which you will have consolidated your HSA accounts. You can now re-invest the money or, if you need to use it for healthcare soon, leave it in your core account.

Tip: If you have a WealthCare HSA in your current job, don’t assume you have to use it. Ask your HR department if you can use your favorite low-fee/no-fee HSA administrator instead. This can sometimes be as simple as giving HR your favored HSA administrator’s routing number and HSA account number.

Apple Card: Not Great

I was considering Apple Card for the 2% cash back and for its $75-$100 signup bonuses (typically offered in December), but there are so many downsides:

  • No car rental collision damage waiver benefit
  • No extended warranty, or even extended AppleCare
  • You can’t easily or automatically export transactions to account aggregators like Mint, etc.

These are basic benefits that almost every other popular credit card offers.

To top it off, you can’t use it at Costco because it’s a Mastercard.

The built-in expense tracking isn’t useful if it can’t track all of your other accounts too.

I can’t figure out why Apple would offer such a limited product for so long of a time. It’s been almost 3.5 years since its initial launch in 2019 and it’s barely changed. (It took them 2 years just to offer joint accounts.) I own a lot of Apple products and enjoy a lot of them, but this one’s a stinker.

The Fine Print with ObamaCare

I was recently in a position to choose between a group health insurance plan and ObamaCare. When purchasing healthcare in the ObamaCare marketplace, you’ll see an appealing tax credit amount.  In my case, it was a $900 credit.  Sounds great, right? Here’s the fine print:

Even if you get tax credits now to help pay premium costs, your final tax credit amount is based on your year-end tax filing. When you file your tax return, you may need to repay some or all of your tax credits if the income you estimated was less than the income you actually earned, or if other changes in your circumstances affected your eligibility. 

The cut off in 2022 is $106K for a family of four:

Even harder to find is which doctors are included with various plans.  After digging through every plan, if I wanted just our family pediatricians included, but not my own doctor or my wife’s doctor, we had only one plan choice, and it was via a horribly-rated 1-star provider. There were zero plans available where we could keep all of our doctors. There were also zero HSA plans that had any of our doctors.

Because we couldn’t keep all of our doctors on ObamaCare, I decided to go for insurance via a group health benefits plan. Incredibly expensive, but worth it for decent service and doctors we trust.

How to get TurboTax to Import Last Year’s H&R Block PDF Return

I decided to try TurboTax 2020 this year after getting fed up with bugs in H&R Block’s software. It seems TurboTax’s quality isn’t great either. I kept getting unsuccessful import errors when trying to import H&R Block 2019’s PDF.

The trick, I discovered, is to prune down what H&R Block puts in the PDF:

  1. Open H&R Block and pull down the File menu.
  2. Click Print, and deselect everything except for Forms to Submit.
  3. Print to PDF. The PDF that’s generated will import successfully into TurboTax.

I guess the TurboTax importer was getting confused by the cover pages and/or supporting forms/worksheets. You’d think Intuit would test this. (and perhaps revamp their importer or at least include a useful error message)

Other annoyances I’ve found with tax software this year:

Presearch Search Engine Review

Today the news came out that the Brave browser team bought a search engine. This led me to find out about Presearch, a search engine that pays you in cryptocurrency, while keeping your searches private. Just do your normal searching in it (no excessive searching or bot searches), and you get paid. The catches seem to be:

  • You can only withdraw in 1000 PRE increments.
  • You can get up to 8 PRE tokens per day. Searching every day, that would mean 125 days (~4.1 months) until payout.
  • At first, you can only withdraw 50% of your tokens, but this percentage improves as your searches appear more legitimate. This is done to combat abuse of their system.
  • PRE is currently worth about 6 cents per token, so that’s $60 every 4-5 months. Not bad. (This assumes you search normally without trying to game the system.)

Search results so far are actually good. And on the rare occasion when they’re not, they offer one-click links to DuckDuckGo, Google, and many other search engines.

Presumably, Brave will be doing the same with their search engine, but since their engine isn’t released yet, I’ll stick with Presearch for now. Check it out and get a 25 PRE bonus (~$1.50, currently) for signing up through this link.

Update: The redemption requirements have changed so it basically takes almost 2 years to redeem $100. Not worth it, decided to switch to Microsoft Rewards via Bing instead, where at least you can redeem every month.

United Explorer Card: 60,000 Free Miles and Free TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

If anyone plans to travel in the next 5 years, this card is quite a deal:

  • Free TSA PreCheck/Global Entry for 5 years
  • 60,000 free miles (at least ~$480 worth of flights)
  • 2 lounge passes
  • Priority boarding – so you can board before all the overhead space is taken
  • 1 free checked bag per flight for both you and a companion
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • No annual fee for the first year (after which it can be cancelled or you can call their cancellation line and they might give you a second free year)

I rarely get new cards, but couldn’t pass this up. My wife and I recently used it to get through the TSA lines in under 5 minutes. We also used the free checked bags benefit.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with the card, but we got to the baggage claim late, and found United’s baggage claim workers actually guarding our bags and car seats for us.

One last nice thing: United’s miles no longer expire, so you don’t have to worry about that either. What a deal!

How to Compare Prices Between Doctors (in the United States)

It’s difficult to compare prices between doctors.  Insurance providers have estimator tools, but the prices they give are often for slightly different procedures than the one you’re looking for.  Even if they do have your exact procedure/test listed, the price ranges they list are usually outdated and nowhere near accurate.

One of my colleagues at work had a method he used to get more accurate price estimates.  I’ve slightly modified it to fit my needs, and am listing it here in case it helps someone else:

  1. Call doctor and get diagnosis and/or procedure/CPT codes.
  2. Call facilities, get routed to billing, and ask for estimates.
  3. Call insurance and also ask for estimates.
  4. Pick facility and schedule an appointment.  This may involve calling the doctor back to get a referral or move a referral.
  5. Once scheduled, call again and ask for an estimate (since facilities are sometimes better able to provide estimates once your visit is scheduled.)

This is a lot of work, but may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

cpt-professional-2020
CPT Professional 2020 (CPT / Current Procedural Terminology (Professional Edition)) – You don’t actually need this book to figure out what CPT code you need to reference, but the person in your doctor’s billing office probably will.

Also:

  • Even if you think you might not be eligible, apply for financial aid anyway.  Especially if you have a family.  You might be surprised that you qualify.  And apply before you pay your bill.  It’s much tougher to get retroactive financial aid for a bill you previously struggled to pay.
  • Ask what the uninsured cost is.  It can be cheaper than what would normally billed to your insurance, but then it doesn’t count towards your deductible either.

 

How To Get 3-4% Back at Walmart Using the Apple Card

If you spend a lot at Walmart, have an Apple Card, and are willing to deal with extra hassle at the register, you can get 3-4% back by using the Ibotta app with Apple Pay.  It works like this:

  1. At checkout, open the Ibotta app.  Hit Walmart and then Pay with Ibotta.  You will be asked to enter the total amount due at the register.
  2. Type that amount into your phone and pay with Ibotta using Apple Pay.  This buys you a gift card for that amount.  A gift card barcode pops up that you can scan with the scanner.
  3. You get 2% for using Apple Pay, and Ibotta gives you 1-2%, for a total of 3-4% cash back at Walmart.

paywithibotta
Ibotta cash back is actually not instant: You must accumulate $20 before cashing out.

If you’re not a Walmart shopper and Apple Card holder, Ibotta is probably not worth it.  Unless you’re someone who frequently:

  • Buys mostly brand name items at the grocery store (instead of mainly private label brands)
  • Purchases speciality alcoholic beverages

Ibotta just takes too much time for too little money.  As an example, after entering a couple of receipts per month for 1 year and 3 months, I earned a whole $20.  (That’s with a $10 welcome bonus + a $5 referral bonus.)

Because I don’t shop at Walmart often and don’t yet have an Apple Card, I cancelled my Ibotta account immediately after cashing out.