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Swagbucks: Yeah, it's still a thing

The service continues to offer rewards -- real ones -- for things you already do online, like searching the Web and watching videos.

Swagbucks offers you lots of ways to earn points, and some darn good prizes once you've earned enough.

Swagbucks offers you lots of ways to earn points, and some darn good prizes once you've earned enough.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

It was just over three years ago that I first encountered (and wrote about) Swagbucks, a service that rewards you for completing various online activities.

I used it pretty hot and heavy for about a year, eventually accumulating some downright decent prizes, but then it dropped off my radar. Way, way off -- I kind of forgot it existed.

Come to find out, though, that Swagbucks is alive and well -- and still a rather interesting way to score freebies just for doing stuff you might already be doing anyway.

For example, you can earn points ("swag bucks," natch) for things like Web searches. You can search via the Swagbucks site, or install a toolbar or plug-in for your browser, thus saving you the extra step of heading to the Swagbucks home page.

You can also score bucks by shopping online, same as you normally would. This works not unlike cash-back services such as Ebates: just start your shopping at the Swagbucks portal, then earn x bucks for every dollar you end up spending. If you're headed to Amazon, for example, you can score three bucks per dollar just by clicking through Swagbucks first. At six bucks per dollar spent.

Other earning options include watching videos (which you can also do via Swagbucks' Android app), playing games, completing surveys, and even clipping (and using) grocery-store coupons. How much time you want to devote to all this is up to you. But if you spend, say, 5 to 10 minutes per day on various activities, your bucks will definitely start to add up.

Once they do, head to the Rewards Store to exchange them for things like tech gear (Kindle Fire, anyone?), gift cards, and charitable donations. For example, 500 swag bucks gets you a $5 Starbucks gift card. For 2,500 you get $25 in PayPal cash.

Not huge prizes by any means, but fun freebies that I find kind of fun to earn. I've used Swagbucks enough to confirm that it's the real deal, and definitely worth a try if you like free stuff.