Common Sweepstakes Mistakes You DON'T Want to Make

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!

Not Reading the Rules

Image of a person reading a contract.
Not Reading Sweepstakes Rules Is a Quick Way to Get DQ'd. Image (c) Simon Battensby / Photographer's Choice / Getty images

 Sweepstakes rules can be lengthy and full of legalese but it's still important to take the time to read through them. Reading the sweepstakes' rules can help you find new ways to get entries, improve your odds of winning, and avoid disqualification.

After you get the hang of the terminology and how the rules are laid out, reading them will be much faster and less frustrating. Plus, they will save you time that you might have spent entering contests you couldn't win.

Not Following the Rules to the Letter

Image of Cubes Spelling Out "Bad Idea"
It's a Bad Idea to Not Stick to the Letter of the Sweepstakes Rules. Image (c) Larry Washburn / Getty Images

Sweepstakes sponsors take their rules very seriously, and they can disqualify you for any deviation from their instructions.

If you don't follow the sweepstakes' entry restrictions, some or all of your entries can be disqualified. If mail-in sweepstakes say to send an entry by postcard, don't mail your entries in an envelope. If an online giveaway demands a code, don't assume that your entry was accepted just because the form went through without one.

Following the rules will prevent you from wasting time entering sweepstakes, just to be disqualified over a technicality.

Lying about Eligibility

Image of Fingers Crossed Behind a Liar's Back
"Little" Lies Can Prevent You from Winning Prizes. Image (c) Barbara Taeger Photography / Moment Open / Getty Images

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 harder for companies to reach their target audiences, thus making their giveaways less profitable. That could make 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.

Entering for Prizes You Don't Want

Image of a woman with too many bags.
Winning Prizes You Don't Really Want Is a Waste of Time. Image (c) Image Source / Getty Images

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.

If you do end up with prizes you don't want, don't just throw them away. You can either decline the prize or find it a good home.

Expecting to Win Too Soon

Image Showing a Woman Holding Up a Clock Impatiently
Winning Doesn't Happen on a Schedule. Image (c) Peter Glass / Photographers Choice / Getty Images

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

If you're feeling impatient, you can try playing instant-win sweepstakes, which notify you immediately when you win. Otherwise, reminding yourself that you may have already submitted a winning entry (and just don't know it yet) can help you to be patient.

Complaining about Prizes

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Not Appreciating the Prizes You Win is a Bad Idea. Image (c) Tim Robberts / The Image Bank / Getty Images

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.

Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't say something if a prize arrives damaged, or if a portion of the prize mentioned in the rules doesn't arrive.

But if the prize is as described in the rules, and you just don't like it as much as you hoped you would 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

Not Reviewing Entries Before Submitting

Image of a stopwatch on a computer keyboard.
Time Is of the Essence, but Entering Too Quickly Can Cost You Prizes. Image (c) RubAn Hidalgo / E+ / Getty Images

As entering sweepstakes becomes routine, it's easy to fill out a form in a few seconds, hit submit... and then realize that you made a mistake, forgot to fill out a required field, or opted-in for a newsletter you didn't really want.

None of us want to waste time; entering sweepstakes faster can help us improve our chances of winning. But there is such a thing as entering too quickly.

Taking just a second to look over your entry before hitting the submit button can save you from mistakes.

Not Keeping Track of Your Wins

Image of a Woman Looking at a Spreadsheet
Using a Spreadsheet to Track Your Wins is Quick and Easy. Image (c) Image Source / Getty Images

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.

Giving Up Too Quickly

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Winning Sweepstakes Seems Like an Uphill Climb Sometimes. But Persistence Pays Off. Image (c) / DigitalVision / Getty Images

The secret to winning sweepstakes is making sure that you exhibit three important qualities when you enter: patience, persistence, and a positive attitude.

There's a good reason why patience and persistence are on that list. When you are entering without any prizes in sight, it is easy to fall prey to sweepstakes burnout ​and give up. But giving up would be a huge mistake. You'll never win if you don't enter.

Instead, keep at it. Remind yourself that it's possible that you've already submitted a winning entry, you just don't know it yet. And when you enter sweepstakes regularly, the prizes will start coming in more regularly as well.

Not Having Fun!

Reminder: Sweepstakes Are Play, Not Work
Remember that Entering Sweepstakes Is Play, Not Work. Image (c) Jon Boyes / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

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 on Facebook, in forums, or wherever else you like to hang out. There are lots of great reasons to love sweepstakes, beyond imply racking up prizes. Enjoy yourself, and don't take entering too seriously!