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Top 10 Sweepstakes Mistakes

These common sweepstakes mistakes can prevent you from winning!


Whether you are new to the hobby or an experienced sweeper, you could be making some of these common mistakes. Learn to recognize and avoid them so that you can avoid disqualification and enjoy the sweepstakes hobby even more!

1. Not Reading the Rules

Sweepstakes rules can be lengthy and full of legalese; you should still read them, however (here are 5 good reasons why). After you get the hang of the terminology and typical layouts, checking the rules will go much faster, and you will not waste time entering contests you can't win.

2. Not Following the Rules to the Letter

Sweepstakes sponsors are very serious about their rules, and they will disqualify any variation from their guidelines. If a mail-in sweepstake says to send an entry by postcard, don't mail it in an envelope. If an online sweepstakes demands a code, don't assume that your entry was accepted just because the form went through without one.

3. Lying about Eligibility

Sponsors offer sweepstakes to their target audience, to increase the success of their marketing. If you lie about fulfilling the qualifications, such as non-smokers entering a contest for smokers only, or saying that you own a small business when you don't, the sponsor will catch and disqualify you. Even worse, you have made it less likely that the sponsor will make the effort to offer sweepstakes in the future. There are plenty of great sweepstakes out there; if you don't qualify for one, find another to enter.

4. Entering for Prizes You Don't Want

Many sweepers get carried away and enter every contest they can find. The result: they are deluged with prizes that they can't use, that clutter up their houses, that boost their sweepstakes tax burden, and which waste the sponsors' advertising dollars. Concentrate your efforts on sweepstakes with prizes that you'd really like to win. Here is more information about why it pays to be picky entering sweepstakes.

5. Expecting to Win Too Soon

Sometimes people get lucky and hit a sweepstakes win shortly after they start entering. For most, however, it takes much longer. Think about it: before you can win a prize, the sweepstake usually has to end (which can take months). Then the sponsor has to check the entry data, remove duplicates, and draw a winner. This process can take four to six additional weeks.

Finally, the sponsor has to notify the winner, which can take another few weeks. If the winner is unreachable or declines the prize, the sponsor has to draw another name and try again. You may be the tenth person the sponsor attempted to contact.

Sweepers have shared their experiences with how long it took to win to give you an idea of the range of time it can take to get that first win.

6. Complaining about Wins

Sponsors put a lot of time, money, and effort into running sweepstakes. If the winners complain about their prizes, sponsors are far more likely to stop running sweepstakes and use their marketing budget in other ways instead. Unless there is something really fraudulent about a win that you received, be gracious, thank the sponsor, and hope to win a better prize next time. Do not expect sponsors to substitute cash or other prizes unless they specifically state that they will in the rules. Read how to be a courteous sweeper for more information.

7. Not Reviewing Entries Before Submitting

As entering sweepstakes becomes routine, it's easy to fill out a form, hit submit... and then realize that you made a mistake, forgot to fill out a required field, or opted-in for a newsletter you diddn't really want. Taking just a second to look over your entry before hitting the submit button can save you from mistakes.

8. Not Keeping Track of Your Wins

Getting into the habit of keeping a log of your wins will not only help you at tax time, but it will also help you realize if you have not received a prize that you were expecting. Sometimes sponsors make mistakes, so be prepared to send them a friendly reminder if your win does not arrive within a few months of notification.

9. Giving Up Too Quickly

The secret to winning sweepstakes is having three important qualities: patience, persistence, and a positive attitude. It's easy to get discouraged when the wins aren't coming in, but if you keep entering you'll be sure to hit some nice prizes soon. Read about beating sweepstakes burnout for tips on how to stay motivated.

10. Not Having Fun!

Remember that sweeping is a hobby, not a job! Have fun entering, dreaming about the prizes you'll win, and chatting about your hobby with friends in the Sweepstakes Forum. Enjoy yourself, and don't take entering too seriously!

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