Win Prizes on Your Phone with Text-to-Win Sweepstakes

How to Enter and Win Text Sweepstakes

Woman text messaging on smartphone at home
Text message sweepstakes give you a fun way to win, at home or on the go. Hero Images / Getty Images

Have you ever wished that you could do something fun and productive while waiting in line or stuck between appointments? Instead of playing silly games on your cell phone, you could be winning prizes. Text-to-win sweepstakes are a quick and easy way to win exciting prizes in your extra time. If you haven't tried them before, here are some tips on how to get started and the pitfalls you should avoid.

What Are Text Message Sweepstakes?

Text message sweepstakes, also known as SMS or text-to-win sweepstakes, let you use your cell phone to enter sweepstakes on the go. They're convenient, easy, and a lot of fun to play.

If you're at your grocery store and see an interesting giveaway that you'd like to enter, you can do it on the spot rather than waiting until you get home to enter online or by mail. All you have to do is whip out your cell phone, send a text, and you're done. All that's left to do is to find out if you've won.

If you're standing in line at the bank or grocery store checkout, you can simply jump on your phone and use the time, which would otherwise be wasted, to win some prizes.

If you enter instant sweepstakes by text, you can even find out immediately that you've won a prize. A simple grocery store run could turn into something amazing if you turn wasted time spent waiting in line into a fabulous prize!

Text sweepstakes are a fun and easy way to enter sweepstakes on the go, as long as you have a phone that's capable of sending text messages — and a data plan that doesn't make them prohibitively expensive!

How Do Text Message Sweepstakes Work?

To enter text message sweepstakes, you'll need a type of telephone number called a shortcode and a keyword to text to that number.

You then simply use your cell phone to send an SMS Message containing the keyword to the shortcode, just as you would text any other telephone number.

For example, the rules might tell you to "text the word 'SEC' to 567890." In this case, 567890 is the shortcode, and SEC is the keyword to enter.

You'll find the keyword and the shortcode for the giveaway you want to enter in the sweepstakes' rules or in advertisements for the giveaway.

How Do You Send Text Messages?

In general, you only need to compose a text message containing the keyword and use the shortcode as the recipient's phone number. It's that easy to be in the running to win.

If you're not familiar with sending text messages on your phone, this Lifehacker article can get you started: How to Send a Text Message.

How Will You Know When You Win Sweepstakes by Text?

Once you enter text sweepstakes, how will you find out whether you've won? In most cases, you'll receive a text message letting you know that you've won and telling you how to claim your prize.

How long does it take to find out? It depends on the kind of giveaway. Instant sweepstakes notify you within minutes if you're a winner, whereas regular giveaways wait until the end of the sweepstakes entry period to notify their winners.

Be sure to check your text messages regularly to make sure you don't overlook a prize notification.

Does Entering Text-to-Win Sweepstakes Cost Money?

Legitimate sweepstakes never charge you money to enter. But just as entering mail-in sweepstakes costs the price of a stamp and envelope, entering text sweepstakes may carry costs from your cell phone provider.

Depending on your cell phone plan, sending and receiving text messages might carry a fee. In some cases, texting is totally free. In others, you have a certain number of free texts you can send every month. And some plans charge a few cents for every text you send and receive.

Before you enter any text message sweepstakes, determine whether your plan includes free SMS messages and how many you can send before you need to pay for them. If you have a per-text charge, you'll need to consider whether the chance of winning is worth the cost. 

In addition to the fees your cell phone plan charges for text messages, some sweepstakes charge "premium fees" to enter by SMS. These can be quite expensive. Be sure to read the rules carefully to find out whether you have to pay to enter by text.

For more information, see Standard and Premium Text Message Charges.

Avoiding Pitfalls With Text Message Sweepstakes?

When you register for sweepstakes by text, you might also agree to receive advertising messages texted to your cell phone. These advertising texts are not only annoying, but they can also be expensive if your cell phone plan charges for received texts. Be sure to read the rules and the privacy policy before entering.

Many times, you can easily unsubscribe from these advertising texts by sending another keyword to a shortcode. Commonly, you have to text "STOP" to the same shortcode you used to enter the sweepstakes. Check the rules or the ads themselves for details about how to unsubscribe.

Furthermore, there are scams that play on your hopes of winning by text message.

For example, a common text sweepstakes scam involves sending victims a text telling them that they've won a prize. To claim the prize, they need to click a link, which then installs malware on their phone. That malware might gain access to personal data or spam their friends. Or it might try to trick victims into spending money to receive their "prize" or have other negative consequences.

To avoid these, read the FTC's tips on recognizing text scams.

Entering SMS Sweepstakes Daily

Some text sweepstakes let you enter repeatedly. In this case, you raise your odds of winning by entering daily.

If you're having trouble finding the time to enter text message sweepstakes every day, Sweepstakes Ninja has a YouTube video showing you how to schedule your text entries in advance so you don't miss any chances to win.

How to Run Text-to-Win Giveaways

If you're a small or large business that would like to drive engagement through text messages, SMS sweepstakes could be a good choice for you.

If you'd like to learn more, sweepstakes administrator Marden Kane offers guidelines for running your own text sweepstakes.