By Teri Olsen
How would you like to get a free gift of your choice every month or so just for searching the web? No subscriptions. No downloads. No ads to click. No captchas to enter. No junk mail. Just search! I know the concept of earning points and rewards without having to spend any extra time or effort is hard to imagine. But the BingRewards program started by Microsoft will give you free stuff just for using their search engine to do your usual internet searches.
Now some people may be thinking Microsoft’s search engine must be really bad if they have to pay people to use it. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth! For everyday searches Bing is comparable to Google, I don’t notice much difference. I did however notice a difference when doing academic searches, because Bing doesn’t find the scholarly sources that Google does. So when I’m doing scholarly searches I just switch over to Google temporarily. Bing’s image search function isn’t quite as good as Google’s, either, but again you can switch back and forth between them as needed.
I’ve been using Bing for one whole month now and love it. But it isn’t just the free rewards that won me over. I also love the beautiful imagery AND it’s educational! Read on to learn more…
How to Earn Credits
For every two Bing searches you are rewarded one credit. The maximum number of credits you’re allowed to earn in one day is usually restricted to 15. For me that’s an average day’s worth of searches, except when I’m doing some serious research and then I can use that up in one morning! But they frequently raise the limit to 30 points on weekends, which is a great way to rack up some extra credits. In addition to earning credits on your PC, you can earn 1 credit per 2 Bing searches on your mobile device, up to 10 credits a day. Bing also offers special daily rewards for a whole credit each. Just click on the link and you’ll get it automatically!
The rewards that you earn are in direct proportion to the amount of time you spend on the internet, but it also depends on what status level you’re at. The perks get even better when you reach a higher status. Currently there are 3 levels:
Every member starts out with the status of “member” before being awarded the status of Silver and finally Gold. Silver and Gold members receive more benefits and credits. You will gain Silver status as soon as you earn your first 200 credits. At that time you will be given a 50-credit bonus reward.
You will gain Gold status once you’ve earned 750 lifetime credits. At that time your limit is increased to 20 rewardable searches per day! To maintain Gold status, you only have to do 150 searches each month, or else your account will revert back to Silver. You can also earn referral credits if you refer a friend who then reaches Silver Status within 60 days.
One credit is worth approximately one penny. (Slightly less at Member and Silver Status, slightly more at Gold.) Gold members can receive up to a 10% discount when redeeming rewards, which means that they are able to redeem the same rewards with fewer points. For example, an Amazon gift card worth $5 would require redeeming 525 credits for a regular or Silver member, but a Gold member can get it for just 475 credits.
How to Redeem Credits
BingRewards is a great way for teens and adults to earn a few extra dollars in spending money. Once you have earned a sufficient number of credits, just click “Redeem” and complete the checkout procedure. You will need to provide a phone number at which you can receive a text or recorded message with your claim code. I don’t have a cell phone so I gave them my land line and it rang instantly with the code number. I left the screen up and just typed it in. Rewards are sent to the email address you provide while confirming your order.
Redeem your points for gift cards from popular brands such as Amazon.com, GameStop, Xbox, HuluPlus, Burger King, Domino’s, Applebee’s, IHOP, Starbucks, Xbox, ToysRUs, Shutterfly, Skype, iTunes, Fandango and more. You can even donate your credits to your favorite charity, or enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win Microsoft products. BingRewards does not offer a cash option, but they do let you exchange your credits for SwagBucks points which you can then deposit into your PayPal account. Even though you won’t get rich quick, it does add up if you consistently search over time.
How to Get Started
It’s free to sign up for BingRewards, but you must be age 13 or older. You will need a Microsoft account (Hotmail, MSN, Outlook, etc). If don’t already have an account with Microsoft, you can create one. Or you can simply sign in with your Facebook account. As soon as you’ve registered, you can start searching and earning credits.
By the way, there is no need to install the Bing search bar. If you want to make Bing your home page without downloading anything, just go to the top bar of your browser (mine is Firefox) and click on Tools → Options, and under the General tab type in http://www.bing.com as your home page.
The Beauty of Bing
One of Bing’s advantages is that it has the prettiest and most interesting landing page of any search engine I’ve ever seen. I actually made Bing my home page for this reason! There is a “filmstrip” of news clips along the bottom, but it’s not obtrusive or obnoxious. Every day I look forward to seeing the featured photograph, and I appreciate being able to click the “Info” button on the lower right side to find out where the photo was taken. You can view all the breathtaking images from previous days at http://www.bing.com/gallery. See an image you really like? You can even download it as desktop wallpaper.
Can’t think of anything to search for? All you have to do is explore Bing’s photo of the day. Click on the suggested searches beside the four squares that appear when you hover over them. Then keep clicking on the related links, related searches, related topics, and related images. As you do so, watch your points go up! Before you know it, you will have been awarded all of your credits for the day, and you may even learn something along the way.
Bing for Homeschoolers
Bing even provides lesson plans to accompany Bing’s home page image of the day, tailored to three different age groups (elementary, middle and high school), made possible through the Bing in the Classroom program. These short fun activities give both teachers and parents another tool they can use to increase their students’ digital literacy and web research skills.
Anyone can freely access the lesson plans through the Bing home page. In the lower right corner of the home page photo, just click on the “Info” button. On the results page you’ll see a copy of the image, a short description of the image, and underneath there is a link to the lesson plans. These lesson plans are available for many but not all of the images.
Is Bing Rewards Worth it?
Definitely! You won’t get rich but why not earn a few extra bucks simply for being online? I highly recommend BingRewards as an easy way to get paid for doing something that you are probably doing anyway.
If you generally do a lot of web searches, you should at the very least be able to earn an Amazon gift card worth $5 every month without even giving it a second thought, and that’s free money you wouldn’t have received otherwise.
So do your internet searches the same way as you normally would, but from now on, instead of using Google or other search engines, sign up for BingRewards (and stay signed in) so you can earn rewards at the same time. It’s as simple as that!
Note: If you use the above referral link to sign up for BingRewards, I will earn extra credits if you reach Silver Status in your first 60 days. Thank you. 🙂