Making Money

How to enter – and win – a sweepstakes contest

Woman examines whether money is real or fake with a magnifying glass as she learns how to win a sweepstakes contest (illustrated)
Written by offers three quick and profitable tips for finding the most lucrative and honest contests online, plus advice on how to win them.

Some sweepstakes contests sound too good to be true. Others? Truth is, they’re really good! 

So how do you tell the difference?

“You have to spend some time investigating,” says Michelle Bryan, who helps run a quarterly sweepstakes for “Luckily, that time can be measured in minutes – no more than three of them. That’s all it takes.”

Bryan says a lightning-fast Internet search can tell you all you need to know…

1. Who’s putting up the money?

Is it a company you’ve never heard of? That’s OK because a legitimate sweepstakes is one way a new business gets the word out. In that case, does the company’s website look professional? Are people actively posting on it? What business is it in?

If the website looks dated, has no activity, and the business seems to be nothing more than sweepstakes, that’s a warning sign. Don’t forget: Identity theft is a big business.

Example: has been helping Americans get out of debt for nearly five years, we write every day about debt news and advice, and we have an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau.

2. Have they done sweepstakes before with people you know?

Nothing is more reassuring than a track record. Even better: Do they have a celebrity spokesperson? Let’s face it, if someone is putting their face on a sweepstakes, they don’t want to be associated with anything but a reputable contest.

Example: has done five sweepstakes so far, some of them with Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte as the spokesman.

3. Do they tell you who won before?

The gold standard is: Tell me who won the gold. Show me faces and names, and let me hear them talk about winning.

Example: has profiled a past sweepstakes winner, and you can read more comments from them below.


Our winners…

Cathy Gibson, sweepstakes winner (illustrated)Cathy Gibson, California

This is great. I like to try my luck every now and then, especially when the lotto jackpot has built up or interesting sweepstakes. Thank you for making me a winner in your sweepstakes.

Brittany Gamble, sweepstakes winner (illustrated)Brittany Gamble, Florida

The only sweepstakes I really enter are the HGTV ones, so this one was kind of different. I entered because I received an email that you guys were having this sweepstake, and I was like, “This is good because of my credit card debt that I need to pay off.”

Evelyn, sweepstakes winnerEvelyn, New York

Thank you for picking my name. I enter sweepstakes as a hobby. As they say, you never know. I don’t think we’re serious enough about our personal debts.  

About the author