A Guide to the Different Types of Sweepstakes to Enter

You might think that all sweepstakes are basically alike -- you enter, and you get a chance to win, right? Well, there are many different types of sweepstakes. And each sweepstakes type has its own entry methods and winning strategies. Plus, some people just like some kinds of giveaways more than others (my personal favorites are instant sweepstakes, for example). 

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What Kinds of Sweepstakes Can I Enter?

Enter to Win
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Here, you'll find a guide to the different types of sweepstakes that are available to enter. Use it to find the giveaways suit your preferences. Plus, if you are experiencing some sweepstakes burnout, trying new ways to enter can reinvigorate you, making you feel more motivated and have more fun entering.

So use this list to find something new to try. You can also score more points in my sweepstakes scavenger hunt by trying new sweepstakes types.

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Sweepstakes Organized by How Winners Are Selected

One thing to consider when deciding which giveaways you want to enter is how the winners will be selected. Will winners be chosen at random, by judges, by public vote? Does your entry time affect your chances of winning?


Many people use the terms "sweepstakes" and "contests" interchangeably. This is not correct, however. A sweepstake is a giveaway where the winner is drawn at random. Every entry has an equal chance of being drawn as the winner.

For sweepstakes to enter see the BIG Daily Sweepstakes List.


On the other hand, contests, also known as skill contests or creative contests, are giveaways where the winner is selected by judges (or sometimes by random vote). They always have an aspect of skill to them. For example, the winner might be the person with the best essay, photograph, or recipe, or the winning entry might be drawn from the pool of all people who perform a specific action, such as correctly answering a trivia contest.

See the Current Creative Contests list for skill contests that you can enter today.

Instant Win Sweepstakes

Instant Win Sweepstakes work a little bit differently. Before the sweepstakes start, winning times are selected at random, with one winning time per prize. The first person who plays the instant win game after that moment is the prize winner. So the winner selection method is not quite random, but not selected by judges, either.

Check out the Instant Win Sweepstakes List for instants that you can enter today.

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Sweepstakes Organized by Entry Method

How you enter sweepstakes affects the cost of your hobby as well as your chances to win. Some common entry methods include:

  1. Online Sweepstakes

    Online sweepstakes allow you to enter using your computer and your internet connection.
    • Advantages: Easy to enter, free of charge.
    • Disadvantages: Because online sweepstakes are free and easy to enter, there is usually more competition for the prizes, and therefore a lower chance to win.

    Email Sweepstakes

    Email sweepstakes are a type of online sweepstakes where you send the sponsor an email with your entry information.
    • Advantages: Free to enter, better odds than other online sweepstakes
    • Disadvantages: Usually more time-consuming than regular online sweepstakes.
    • More info: Should You Enter Sweepstakes Online and By Mail?
  2. Mail-In Sweepstakes

    Mail-In sweepstakes involve sending your entry to the sponsor by postal mail.
    • Advantages: Fewer people tend to enter mail-in sweepstakes, so the odds are higher.
    • Disadvantages: Time-consuming to enter. You must pay for postage.
  3. Call-In Sweepstakes

    Call-in sweepstakes have a phone number that you use to give your entry information to a representative.
    • Advantages: Less well-known than online sweepstakes.
    • Disadvantages: Must be careful of hidden phone charges. More time-consuming than online entries.
  4. Drop Boxes

    Drop boxes are often found at supermarkets, malls, conventions, and local businesses. You fill out an entry form and drop it in a box.
    • Advantages: Free and easy to enter. Often, dropbox sweepstakes are local entry only, meaning your odds of winning are significantly higher.
    • Disadvantages: You must be at the location of the drop box to enter. It can be difficult to tell if the sweepstakes are legitimate.
  5. Text Message Sweepstakes

    Use your cell phone to enter sweepstakes. Some sweepstakes use text sweepstakes as an alternate entry method, while other sweepstakes can only be entered by text.
    • Advantages: Entering text sweepstakes is as easy as sending a text message to a shortcode.
    • Disadvantages: By entering, you may be agreeing to receive marketing messages by text. You may also be subject to standard and premium text message charges.
    • More info: All about Entering Text Message Sweepstakes
    • How to Send Texts to Short Codes
  6. Radio Contests

    Many radio stations offer giveaways with prizes ranging from concert and movie tickets to cars and cash.
    • Advantages: Many of these giveaways are local, so you aren't competing with sweepers from around the country.
    • Disadvantages: You have to be alert as well as lucky to win.
    • More info: How to Win Radio Contests
  7. Blog Contests

    Blogs are a powerful voice on the internet, so companies are turning to them to offer giveaways promoting their products.
    • Advantages: Fewer people enter blog contests, raising the odds of winning.
    • Disadvantages: Not all blog contests are fair about giving away prizes. It can be hard to sort through all of the blogs.
    • How to Win Blog Contests
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Sweepstakes Organized by Entry Frequency

Entry frequency is another common way to organize sweepstakes. How often you can enter can have a large impact on your chances of winning. Sweepstakes entry frequencies include:

  1. One Entry Sweepstakes

    Each person (or household, or computer, or IP address) can enter one time only. It means that everyone who enters has the same chances to win. These are great sweepstakes if you don't have much time to sweep, or to enter for prizes that you'd like to have but aren't wild about.
  2. Daily Sweepstakes

    These sweepstakes allow you to enter daily. If you enter daily sweepstakes every day, you can increase your odds of winning over other people who don't enter regularly. However, entering daily takes time and dedication.
  3. Weekly Sweepstakes

    Sweepstakes that you can enter on a weekly basis are rarer than either one time or daily sweepstakes. Because their entry period is more irregular, it is harder to remember to enter these weekly. It does, however, increase your odds over people who enter them once or twice.
  4. Monthly Sweepstakes

    Monthly sweepstakes can award a prize every month, or they can allow monthly entries for a grand prize that is given away at the end of the entry period. Either way, they tend to be ignored by many sweepers, and therefore to have better chances of winning for people who enter regularly.
  5. Unlimited and Odd Sweepstake Entries

    Unlimited entry sweepstakes allow you to enter as often as you want. Unless you have an awful lot of time to dedicate to entering these sweepstakes, these will have high odds against winning.
    Odd entry sweepstakes are sweepstakes with irregular entry periods. For example, an odd entry sweepstakes might let you enter every two weeks, or it might have entry periods of varying lengths, where one entry period lasts for a week and the next for 12 days.
  6. Ongoing Sweepstakes

    Ongoing sweepstakes can fall under any of the above categories, but they have no set expiration date. They continue indefinitely until the sponsor announces that the sweepstakes are over. They usually award prizes at set intervals throughout the giveaway, such as weekly or monthly.
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Sweepstakes Organized by Prize

Just about any imaginable prize can be won by entering sweepstakes. Some prizes are universally attractive - after all, who wouldn't want to win cash or a new house? Others might not interest some people - international vacation sweepstakes for people who don't like to fly, or car sweepstakes for people with no driver's license. Therefore, sweepstakes organized by prize make it easy to find exactly the prizes you want to win. Some common prize categories include:

  • Car Sweepstakes

    It is one of the big sweepstakes prizes that just about anyone would love to win. Car sweepstakes give you the chance to win a new car, truck, boat, or another vehicle. To enter some today, check out the Car Sweepstakes List
  • Cash Sweepstakes

    The most flexible of prizes! Enter to win cash or other forms of money like gold coins and credit card gift cards. If you're ready to get started, check out the Cash Sweepstakes List.
  • Vacation Sweepstakes

    Win a trip to an exotic destination or a getaway closer to home. Get your chance to win a dream vacation with these lists:
    • US Vacation Sweepstakes
    • Sweepstakes to Win a Trip Abroad
    • Disney Sweepstakes List
    • Win a Free Cruise
    • Go to Las Vegas for Free
    • Win a Free Hawaii Getaway
  • Electronics Sweepstakes

    If you love staying on top of the latest gadgets, these sweepstakes are for you. Enter to win everything from big-screen Smart TVs to laptops, iPads, and more.
    • Electronics Sweepstakes
    • Win Free iPad Tablets
    • Win Free Computers and Laptops
  • Sweepstakes Organized by Prize Value

    Want to win a life-changing prize? Big sweepstakes can fall under any prize category. What sets them apart is that the total ARV for the contest is very large. Find big sweepstakes to enter on these lists:
  • Just Started or Ending Soon?

    Sweepstakes can also be organized by how new they are, or whether they're going to be expiring soon. Here are some lists to help you find these sweepstakes:
    • New Sweepstakes
    • Sweepstakes Ending Soon

These are just a few of the sweepstakes prize lists that I offer. Visit the Sweepstakes Directory to see all of the sweepstakes lists.

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Sweepstakes Organized by Who Can Enter

It doesn't make any sense to comb through sweepstakes if you are not eligible to win. On the other hand, if you belong to a group that a sweepstake is targeting, then your chances of winning are much higher. That's why another popular sweepstakes organization method is to separate the contests by who can enter. Examples include:

  1. Eligibility Based on Country

    Most of the sweepstakes on this site are targeted toward U.S. residents. However, every country has its own contests and giveaways. Listings of sweepstakes by country is the broadest way to help you find sweepstakes that you can enter. For example:
    • Top Sweepstakes for Canadians
  2. Eligibility Based on Entrants' Age

    While the majority of sweepstakes are targeted toward adults aged 18 and above, there are also sweepstakes for other age ranges. For example, there are sweepstakes for kids, sweepstakes for teens, sweepstakes for seniors, and more. 
  3. Local Sweepstakes

    Some sweepstakes focus on very small geographical areas, like states, counties, or even towns. The drop boxes you find in your local grocery store and the contests held by your local radio station are examples.
  4. Eligibility Based on Your Line of Work

    Sometimes there are also sweepstakes that target people in a specific line of business. I've seen sweepstakes for advertising executives, technology professionals, teachers, and more.
  5. Other Sweepstakes Restrictions

    Sweepstakes can also restrict entry to other groups, like smokers, diabetics, and more. Read the sweepstakes rules for details.
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Types of Contests

Contests can also be broken down into categories, depending on what you have to do to enter them. Some examples include:

  1. Writing/Essay Contests

    Writing contests judge entrants on their essays, blurbs, poems, fiction, or other pieces of writing. Here are some tips on how to win writing contests:
    • How to Win Essay Contests
    • Qualities of Great Writing Contest Entries
  2. Video and Photography Contests

    Photography contests judge entries on the quality of the submitted photos. Some have a specific theme or ask you to take a picture with a product. Video contests ask you to film commercials, songs, or other videos to enter. Here are some tips on winning photography and video contests:
    • How to Take Prize-Winning Photographs
    • How to Win Video Contests
  3. Cooking/Recipe Contests

    Submit your favorite recipe, often including the sponsors' products, to win. For more information on winning cooking contests, see:
    • How to Win Recipe Contests
    • Get Inspiration for Creating Original Recipes
  4. Trivia Contests

    Answer trivia questions to enter the pool of eligible winners and see Where to Find Answers for Trivia Contests for winning advice.
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Social Media Sweepstakes

Social media websites are becoming the most popular way for people to communicate online. It's no surprise, then, that more and more companies are running their sweepstakes on social media platforms. If you want to enter many of the big giveaways going on today, you need to become familiar with these sites and how to use them safely.

  1. Twitter Sweepstakes

    Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that lets people communicate in short messages of 140 characters or less.
    • Advantages: Not all sweepers have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon yet, meaning that your odds of winning are high. Entry is usually very easy. Most of the time, you just need to send a short message with a specific hashtag attached.
    • Disadvantages: You have to be careful that the sweepstakes you are entering are legitimate. There is a learning curve for using Twitter, and it might seem difficult to use at first (though it's very easy once you get the hang of it).
    • More Info:
    • How to Enter and Win Twitter Contests
    • Twitter Review for Sweepstakes Fans
  2. Facebook Sweepstakes

    Facebook is a very popular social media website, where you can follow friends, family members, and your favorite companies and share photos, comments, and more.
    • Advantages: Fewer people tend to enter sweepstakes on Facebook than online sweepstakes, so the odds of winning may be good.
    • Disadvantages: To enter Facebook sweepstakes, you usually need to "like" the company's pages, and sometimes you need to allow applications access to your Facebook account. Be sure to Remove Facebook Applications that you're not using anymore.
    • More Info:
    • How to Win Prizes on Facebook
    • How to Protect Your Privacy While Entering Facebook Sweepstakes
    • How to Share Facebook Sweepstakes without Annoying Your Friends
    • Avoid Sweepstakes Scams: Fake Facebook Pages
    • Facebook Contests and Sweepstakes to Enter
  3. Pinterest Sweepstakes

    Pinterest is a social bookmarking site where you can "pin" images from websites for inspiration and to remind yourself to return to the site. Unsurprisingly, many companies are hoping that you'll pin their images to buy later or to come back and visit again -- and they're rewarding you for pinning their images with sweepstakes prizes.
    • Advantages: Pinning images is quick and easy, and you don't have to worry much about privacy issues.
    • Disadvantages: You need to be careful what you pin. Some people and companies do not want their images shared without permission, and doing so can violate copyright law. You're pretty safe sticking with images that you have taken yourself, companies that have "Pin It" buttons on their sites, and the images that sweepstakes sponsors make available for entering their sweepstakes.
    • More Info:
    • How to Enter (and Win!) Pinterest Sweepstakes
    • How Pinterest Can Help You Win More Sweepstakes