How Reading the Rules Can Help You Win Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes Rules Aren't Just Legalese. They Answer Important Questions

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You might know that you should read the rules before you enter sweepstakes, but do you really do it? When you're faced with a lot of legalese, it is natural to be tempted to skip right over it. But if you do, you could be costing yourself chances to win.

Reading the rules before you enter helps you be a more successful sweeper. For example, reading over the rules of each giveaway before you enter prevents you from being disqualified. They can prevent you from wasting your time entering a giveaway that you're never going to win because you are not eligible. And they sometimes contain hidden ways to receive more entries and boost your odds of winning.

To make sure you're getting the most out of the rules, ask yourself these six questions when you read through them:

1. Who Is Allowed to Enter the Giveaway?

Each sweepstake has restrictions about who is allowed to participate in the prize drawing. Restrictions can include:

Place of Residence: Very few sweepstakes are open to everyone in the world. Most restrict entry based on country, state, or even specific counties or cities within a state.

Age Range: Laws in the United States and many other countries around the world require that personal information collected from minors be handled differently than that of adults. For this reason, most sweepstakes restrict entry to people aged 18 or above. However, there are giveaways that are created specifically for children or which target age groups.

Gender: Some sweeps are open only to the guys, or only for the gals. Check to make sure your gender isn’t restricted before entering.

Affiliation with Sponsor: To avoid the appearance of impropriety, most sweepstakes prohibit entry from employees or family members of employees of the sponsor.

2. Can I Enter More Than Once?

Sweepstakes set a specific entry frequency, and will often disqualify anyone who sets a toe over these limits. Make sure you check how often you can enter before you have all of your hard work come to nothing. Common entry frequencies include:

One Time: Everyone has a single shot at winning, and sending in a second entry can get you disqualified.

Daily Entry: You can enter one time each day. A day is usually defined as lasting from 12 am to 11:59 pm.

24-Hour Entry: You can enter once every 24 hours. That means that if you entered at 10:00 am on one day, entering at 9:59 the next could result in disqualification.

Weekly Entry: You may enter once every seven days.

Monthly Entry: One entry is allowed each calendar month.

Unlimited Entry: There are no restrictions on the number of entries you may send over.

Numbered Entry: You may enter a certain number of times, and it doesn’t matter when those entries are sent. For example, you may enter 10 times over the life of the sweepstake.

3. Can My Family Members Enter, Too?

Oftentimes, sweepstakes will have restrictions about entry from family members or people living together. Some of the most common restrictions include:

Restrictions per Person: Each individual can enter a certain number of times.

Restrictions per Household: A household is all of the people, related or not, who share the same address.

Restrictions per Email: The same person can enter more than once if he or she uses different email addresses.

Restrictions per IP: People who share the same internet connection cannot enter the same sweepstake more than once. This could be people who live in the same house, or it could be everybody who enters from an office or a university computer lab.

Sweepstakes can also combine the above restrictions. For example: One entry per person/email/household.

4. What Do I Have to Do to Enter?

Some sweepstakes require that you answer trivia questions, fill out a survey, attach a photograph, or click on a link in an email to be entered. If you do not follow these instructions carefully, your entries will be discarded.

5. When Does Entry Period Start and When Does It End?

Make sure you know when each sweepstake starts and ends. Any entries sent outside of the entry period will be disqualified.

6. Are There Any Special Prohibitions?

Some sweepstakes will disqualify you for using form filling software, for getting to the entry form from any page other than the site’s homepage, or a number of other special prohibitions. Make sure that you read and follow the specific guidelines for every sweepstake carefully.

The most important rule to remember is never, ever try to cheat sweepstakes. Sponsors are extremely savvy, and will catch rule breakers. Not only will you get disqualified from the current sweepstake, but you could also have your name added to a blacklist, which would prevent you from winning from that sponsor in the future as well. It’s just not worth it. Enter clean, enter often, and your luck will soar!