Comping: how to win money from online competitions

What is comping?

Comping is a term used in the UK to describe the entering of competitions. A ‘comper’ is the name given to a person who enters competitions regularly. For some people, comping is a serious business and they spend hours finding and entering competitions. In fact, some compers enter hundreds of competitions every week.

Why do they spend so much time on comping?

Different compers have different reasons, but for many it’s about the prizes…

Can you make money comping?

Yes, it is possible to make money doing competitions. In fact, many online competitions offer cash as a top prize. Make sure you check what the prizes are before entering if you’re only interested in winning money.

But there’s so much more on offer. Different competitions offer different prizes and some are more unusual than others. Long-time comper SuperLucky, has won everything from holidays and shopping vouchers to a £15,000 24 carat Gold Brewdog can (plus £10,000 shares in Brewdog). Check out her prize portfolio to see what else she’s won over the years.

Other prize examples: https://www.compersnews.com/competition-winners

How to win competitions

Comping is a numbers game. The more competitions that you enter, the more success you’ll have. For example, if you only enter one online competition, the chances of winning are slim. However, if you enter 300, your chances are higher.

How do you win prizes in comping?

While there’s no way to make sure you win prizes in competitions, there are a few things to do to make success more likely. First of all, make sure your entry is eligible. The best way to do this is to read the terms and conditions before you enter and then follow them. Also, pick competitions that have different tiers of prizes on offer. That way, even if you don’t win the top prize, there’s still a chance you’ll come away with something.

Tips for getting started

If you want to give comping a go, here are a few tips:

Make a wish list

This is a bit of fun before you start. Write down a list of things you’d love to have. Things you maybe wouldn’t buy for yourself. Or things that you need, like a new washing machine, for example. It could be as fantastical or as mundane as you want. The idea of having a wishlist is to help you decide which competitions to enter and which to avoid. Plus, if you win anything off your list, it can be quite satisfying to tick it off.

Keep things separate

First thing’s first: before you do anything, it’s time to set up a new email account. You can use any free email service, such as Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo Mail. Think carefully about the name you choose because you’ll be typing it A LOT! Most online competitions ask for an email address as part of your sign up details. 

Once you’ve opened a separate account, check it regularly. Including the Junk folder. Keep an eye out for notifications of a win or invitations to enter new competitions. If you sign up to a competition site, you may receive emails throughout the day to let you know about new comps you might be interested in. 

Always read the T&Cs

This is an important tip when it comes to comping. Every competition comes with its own rules and guidelines. If you don’t follow them, your entry may not count. How frustrating would it be to think you’d entered something, only to find that you weren’t eligible? Here are some example terms and conditions:

  • Entry is open to residents of the UK.
  • Entry is not open to employees (and their families) of [brand], the suppliers of the prizes, and any other companies associated with the competitions.
  • The entrant(s) must be aged 18 or over or have permission of a responsible adult aged 18 or over.
  • All entrants must be willing to provide full name and contact details and to have these details passed to the suppliers of the prizes.

T&Cs can be quite extensive so it’s worth familiarising yourself with some of the standard ones. That way, you’ll soon know which parts you’ll get away with skim reading (from trusted brands) and which parts you need to read in detail. Depending on the competition, you may need to agree to special terms. For example, if you enter a competition for a radio station, you may be asked to appear on air. If that’s not something you feel comfortable doing, then it’s worth avoiding entering.

Look out for scams

Unfortunately, some things are too good to be true. And some competitions may be scams. In these cases, the advertised prize may never have existed. Or the advertised 5* resort holiday may really be to a B&B in a rundown seaside town. So how can you avoid scams?

One of the best ways to avoid scams is to only enter comps by brands you trust. If a well-known, trusted brand is advertising a competition, there’s a good chance it’s for real. Another way to spot a scam competition is that you could be asked to pay in order to claim your prize. Regardless of whether you paid to enter, the actual claiming of the prize should cost you nothing. A scammer may ask you to call a premium rate phone number or send you an official-looking letter asking for an administration fee. You can find more information about scam competitions on Watchdog.

If you’re ever unsure about whether an online comp is legit or a scam, just don’t enter. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Put in the time and effort

Be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for online competitions. And a lot more, filling in the entry forms. Especially when you first start. Don’t worry – you’ll get quicker as you get used to the entry process. Also, because of the volume of comps you’re likely to enter, there’ll be a lot of repetition. Inputting the same details over and over. Keep your contact information to hand so that you can reference it quickly. And always double check you’ve typed it right and filled everything in correctly. If you miss something out, your entry may not be eligible. That would be both a waste of your time and disappointing if the prize was something you really wanted!

In it to win it

Don’t dismiss anything. Look over as many competitions as possible. Even the smaller ones. Once you’ve decided if they’re safe or a scam, the smaller competitions could offer you a better chance of winning. For example,  smaller comps may have a lower number of entrants which makes your chance of winning higher.

Where to find online competitions

The obvious answer would be to look online, but the truth is, online competitions can be found just about anywhere. Let’s take a look at where to find online competitions:

Google search

Type ‘online competitions’ into any search engine and you’ll get thousands of results. No, you don’t have to trawl them all. On the first page alone, you’ll find competition directories which have already done the trawling for you. Click on any of the top results, such as Latest Deals, The Prize Finder, or Competition Finder and see what they have to offer.

Social media

As well as following the accounts of competition database sites, (such as @competition.finder on Instagram) you can also search hashtags. For example, at the time of writing (July 2021) Instagram has 14,844,294 posts in #competition and 80,901 posts in #winmoney. Again, not all of these will be relevant to you, and there will be some amount of trawling but you might find something that catches your eye. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out sites like Best Hashtags for inspiration.

On Facebook, you’ll find groups to join, as well as pages to follow. There’s so many options when it comes to finding online comps.

Product comping

Another place to find online competitions is in the supermarket. Lots of food and drink brands run competitions which they talk about on the packaging. Generally with an option to enter online. As always, check the terms and conditions before you enter because each comp will have different eligibility criteria. For example, some product competitions will require you to buy something whereas others will say “no purchase necessary”.

Magazines

Competitions are available in magazines on all topics. Pick almost any magazine up off the shelf, have a flick through the pages, and you’ll most likely find a page dedicated to comps. Alternatively, Compers News is a hub, gathering together UK competitions from hundreds of newspapers, magazines, shopping centres, and supermarkets. In fact, it’s the UK’s only magazine devoted to competitions and winning prizes. As always, look to enter online. That means you won’t have to pay postage on a postcard entry. Which makes the competitions free for you to enter.

TV and Radio

UK TV shows like This Morning, Saturday Night Takeaway, and Lorraine run competitions daily and weekly. You’ll find all current ITV comps here, where you’ll usually have the option to enter online, if you don’t want to call or enter by post. Search online for any comp you see on the TV to see if you can enter that way.

Both local and national radio stations often run competitions too, so either have a listen out, or again try online. Note in the terms and conditions that you might be asked to appear on air or in a recorded message.

Newsletters

This is where having a separate email account comes in handy. Sign up to as many product, brand, and competition database sites as you can. That way, you’ll get the latest online competitions delivered right to your inbox.

Are online competitions legit?

Isn’t that the million dollar question?! The short answer is that some are and some aren’t. And it’s up to you to find the legit ones.

One way to find legit online competitions is to check UK comping platforms and sites. The reason for this is that they have already sorted the comps. At least to some degree. If the comping site you look at is itself run by a legit person/company, they wouldn’t want to give you rubbish info. As always, check the terms and conditions yourself. Even if you’re working off a competition website you trust. Sometimes, wrong ‘uns slip through the net.

Some of the biggest online competition websites and forums will be ones you’ve heard of. For example, MoneySavingExpert has a dedicated Competition Time forum. You don’t have to register to view posts. Similarly, Hot UK Deals has a Competition section where members can submit comp information. Again, you don’t need to be a member yourself to look at the posts.

Which online competitions to avoid

But how do you know which online competitions to avoid? This is something that will become second nature, the more comps you look at. But there are also a few tips which we’ll look at in a moment.

The two main types of competition you want to avoid are scam and spam. We talked a little about avoiding scam comps earlier. Spam competitions, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily bad but they can be annoying. The aim of spam comps is to gather people’s personal details and then sell them onto other companies. The prizes on offer might be genuine, unlike in scam comps, but unfortunately so is the amount of spam.

Tips to avoid spam competitions

  • Stick to competitions run by brands you already know and trust.
  • Make sure you have up-to-date antivirus software installed on your computer to protect against hidden viruses. This is something you should keep on top of regardless of online comping.
  • Exclude yourself. This one’s important because it’s easy to get caught out. For example, sometimes you’ll be asked to tick a box to be excluded and sometimes not to tick it. What you’re looking for is something that says ‘do X if you don’t want your details to be passed onto third parties’. This shouldn’t affect your competition entry.
  • Don’t pay:
    • to enter an online competition. Remember that there are so many free comps out there.
    • to view ‘exclusive’ contest lists specifically aimed at compers. Again, there are free databases available.
    • Don’t call a premium rate number to enter or find out about a prize. Only enter competitions online.
  • If you come across something that looks off, report it to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). And avoid it.

Other ways to make money online

Comping goes hand in hand with online surveys and is a fantastic way to make money online. For more info on how to make money with surveys, check out our guide. Alternatively, matched betting is a great side hustle. With matched betting, you use the promotional free bets offered by bookmakers to make money. Find out more with our complete guide to matched betting.

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