22 Expert Sweepstakes Tips to Help You Win More Prizes

A Quick Guide to Being a Regular Winner

Want to win more prizes more often? My 22 best sweepstakes tips ever will put you on the path to winning regularly and having more fun with sweepstakes.

Don't Expect to Win Quickly

Image of a man waiting for the phone to ring.
Patience is one of the keys to winning sweepstakes. Enter it and forget about it!. Image (c): Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

The best sweepstakes tip I've ever heard is to not give up too quickly. To win, you need patience, patience, patience... and then a little more patience. Keep in mind that winning your first prize can take months, and that the only way around a dry spell is to keep entering until you win. Here are some articles to help you stay patient:

Get an Email Address Solely for Entering Sweepstakes

Image of a hand holding an email from a pile of spam.
Using a sweepstakes email can help you tell the difference between wins and spam. Image (c) Tim Robberts / Getty Images

Setting up an email to use just for sweepstakes entry is a huge help in recognizing wins, avoiding spam mails, and detecting scams. Using a separate email address just for sweepstakes entry is definitely one of my best sweepstakes tips.

Download Roboform and Texter

Roboform and Texter are two programs that I find indispensable when it comes to entering sweepstakes. Roboform saves my entry information so that I don't have to type it in by hand (which is slow, boring, and potentially harmful to my hands and wrists!), and Texter allows me to make shortcuts for long text snippets.

Unlike Roboform, Texter also works with Flash sweepstakes, greatly speeding up my entries. Read my reviews of these great sweepstakes tools for more information:

Note: Unfortunately, Texter doesn't work with the most recent Windows versions. You might want to try PhraseExpress for Windows, TextExpander for Mac, or search for a text expansion program that works for you.

Set Aside Time to Enter Daily

Woman relaxing with a computer and breakfast.
Entering sweepstakes can be a relaxing way to start the day or wind down before bed. Image (c) Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images.

Entering sweepstakes consistently is the best way to get a large number of entries over time. Set a goal for yourself to enter sweepstakes every day. If you're short on time, enter only a few of the ones you most want to win, but try not to let a day slip by without any entries.

Best of all is if you can set aside some time for yourself, maybe first thing in the morning or before going to bed, and focus on sweepstakes entries during that time.

Enter as Quickly as Possible

The less time you waste with your entry forms, the more sweepstakes you'll be able to enter in the time you have available to you. This doesn't mean that you should rush -- especially the first time you enter a sweepstake, you should read through the rules, and it's always a good idea to visit the sponsors' websites if they have interesting products. But the more you can streamline your entry routine, the higher you can raise your odds.

Daily or One Entry Sweepstakes?

I often receive the question, "Should I enter daily or one-entry sweepstakes?" Ideally, the answer would be "both," but really the correct response depends on your sweeping habits.

If your time is short, focus on entering sweepstakes that only allow one entry per person - no one will have better odds than you do, and you can enter a bunch of these sweepstakes in a limited amount of time. If you have more time, enter daily sweepstakes. Most people don't enter every single day; if you do, your odds will be higher.

Use a Sweepstakes Strategy

A sweepstakes strategy helps you cut down on wasted time, while avoiding duplicate entries. Here are some tips on setting up a strategy that works for you:

Read the Rules Before You Enter

Before you enter a sweepstake for the first time, be sure to read through the rules first. The only thing worse than wasting time entering a sweepstake that you can't win because you're not eligible is losing a prize because you didn't follow the rules correctly. Even when you're trying to enter sweepstakes as quickly as possible, going through the rules pays off in the long run.

Don't Get Disqualified

Are there terms you still don't understand after reading the rules? Could you be making a mistake that could get you disqualified? Get to know some of the top reasons for disqualification, so you can avoid making them yourself:

Use Sweepstakes Referrals

Many sweepstakes give you the option of multiplying your entries by telling friends and family members about the giveaway. Using referrals is a great way to get much better odds of winning the prizes you want the most. 

Prioritize Sweepstakes

One of the basic facts about sweeping is that there are always more sweepstakes to enter than time to spend entering. That's why it's a good idea to narrow the field and focus only on the best sweepstakes. When I'm picking sweepstakes, I consider the prize first. Do I really want to win it? Secondly, I look at the odds of winning. Is there something about this sweep that gives me an advantage? The sweepstakes with the prizes I want to win the most and with the best odds of winning are the ones that I enter first. If I have extra time, I can spend it on entering less attractive sweepstakes.

Don't Count on Winning Any One Sweepstake

Some people get their hearts set on winning one particular sweepstake, and when that win doesn't come through, they feel disappointed and discouraged. But there is always another sweep to enter, another great prize to win. I advise sending in your entries and then forgetting about them. If you win, you'll be pleasantly surprised and if you don't, you won't feel badly about your entry. Always be looking ahead when you enter sweepstakes.

Stay Motivated

The third key to winning sweepstakes is a positive attitude. You need to keep entering even when you're afraid that you'll never win, or that your luck has worn off and you'll never receive another prize. An optimistic outlook will keep you going through the dry spells that every sweeper experiences. Find more information about increasing your motivation:

Improve Your Luck

Luck really is a matter of attitude, not something that you're born with (or, as I often feel, are born without!). Here are some things that you can try to be even luckier:

Make It Easy for Sponsors to Reach You

If the sponsors can't get in touch with you to tell you about your win, all of your hard work entering sweepstakes will be for nothing. Make sure that you use a telephone number that will reach you easily, and answer even if you don't recognize the caller (it could be a fulfillment agency). Check your sweepstakes email daily, and make sure that you check your postal mail carefully, too. Some sweepstakes need a quick answer, or you'll forfeit your prize.

Learn to Recognize Scams

When your hopes of winning are high because you are entering a lot of sweepstakes, and you are waiting to receive that winning phone call, letter, or mail, you want to be sure that you won't be tricked into falling for a scam. Luckily, scams have some factors in common that will help you distinguish them from real wins. Here are some tips about how to recognize sweepstakes scams:

Respond to Wins Quickly

Once you've received your first win notice, act quickly to return it to the sponsor in plenty of time to process it. If you have to mail an affidavit, it's a good idea to request a return receipt, as proof that you sent it on time. If you have missed a deadline for responding to a win notice, contact the sponsor anyway. Sometimes they can make an exception, and you can return your paperwork late. Here is some guidance about how to claim your wins:

Track Your Wins

There are three important reasons to track your wins - first, to remind yourself of the prizes you've won in the past, helping you to stay more motivated through dry spells. Secondly, records of your wins help at tax time, if you are required to list wins on your taxes (as US residents are). Finally, tracking your wins can help you notice patterns that to win more consistently. Do you win more daily sweepstakes or one-entry sweepstakes? Are instant wins luckier for you than regular sweepstakes? Do you have a lucky time of the day? Tracking your wins can help you find out.

Join the Sweepstakes Community

Many times, our friends and family members don't really understand much about entering sweepstakes. Being able to chat about your hobby with some like-minded people who have experienced everything from dry spells to the thrill of winning can provide a lot of support, and make the hobby even more fun. Plus, you can really learn a lot from your fellow sweepers, resulting in more prizes. If you're not already a part of the sweepstakes community, get started today!

Be a Considerate Sweeper

Businesses hold sweeps because spending marketing budget on prizes is a fun and effective way for them to raise awareness of their products (and make more money). However, when sweepstakes promotions fall flat, companies start spending their money elsewhere, meaning we'll be deluged with more television, radio, newspaper, and internet ads instead of getting more chances to win.

You're not obligated to buy anything or to do business with a company to enter sweepstakes. However, taking the time to review a company's offerings, to make your dealings with them polite, and to express your appreciation encourages more giveaways.

Get Inspired by Other People's Wins

We all want to be the one to win the big prize, but when we cheer on our fellow sweepers when they win, we raise our own motivation levels and become more excited - and more likely to do the work that it takes to win the big prizes ourselves. Here are some places where you can read about other people's wins.

Enjoy Entering

I've saved the best and most important tip for last, and it is: enjoy yourself. Entering sweepstakes is a hobby, not a job, and you should treat it like one. Have fun playing the instant-win games, learning about new products, meeting fantastic people, and dreaming about wins to come. Enjoying the prizes you can win, not just the prizes you have won, will help you have much more fun, which makes it easier to keep entering and winning.