Cash Options: How to Swap Prizes for Money

Does Every Giveaway Offer Cash Options for Prizes?

High angle view of an airplane flying
Would You Prefer to Be Offered Cash If You Win a Trip?. Medioimages/Photodisc / Getty Images

Winning a prize and not being able to use it is a common problem for sweepstakes fans. Maybe your plans have changed since you entered to win that trip and now you can't travel. Or perhaps you've moved and can't use that pool install or that new roof anymore.

Another frequent problem is that people enter because they love some of the prizes, but end up taking home something they don't really want or need. Or, as in the case of the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, for example, the prize is so big that the winners can't afford the taxes.

You always have the option to decline a prize, but if it's offered, a cash option lets you enjoy your success, even if you can't use the prize you entered to win.

Here, you'll find out what cash options are and when to use them.

What Cash Options Are

Cash options are a feature that some giveaways offer their winners. If the winner can't use or doesn't want a prize, they can choose to take cash prize instead.

Sometimes, the cash amount that is offered is the same as the prize's approximate retail value (ARV). In other cases, the cash option may be less than the value of the prize.

Cash options are great for sweepers; if you can't go on a trip or you have no use for the prize you ended up getting, you can still receive something everyone needs more of... money.

How Can You Get a Cash Option for Your Prize?

In most cases, if a cash option is on the table, it will be listed in the sweepstakes' rules. For example, the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes has been listing a cash option in their rules for years. The winners can either take possession of the house itself or they can settle for a lower cash value and not have to worry about selling a prize they can't afford to keep.

If a cash option is listed in the rules, everything is simple — you just need tell the sponsor that you want to take the cash option instead of the prize.

But what if the rules don't mention a cash option? In most cases, if there's no option listed in the rules, there isn't one available. You need to either accept the prize or decline it.

There's nothing wrong with politely asking, "Is a cash option available instead of my prize?" But pushing any harder for cash if the sponsor says no seems ungrateful, and probably won't get you anywhere. It's one of the things you shouldn't do when you win a giveaway.

Do Giveaways Have to Offer Cash Options?

There's no guarantee that a cash option will be available. Many people make the assumption that they can always receive cash in lieu of prizes, but unless it's stated in the rules, sponsors don't have to offer a cash option — and they usually don't.

There are good reasons why sweepstakes might not have a cash option. For example, the sponsor might have partnered with other companies to put together a prize package. For example, a hotel may have donated the room, an airline offered discounted fares, and a restaurant a free gift card in return for being listed as a partner on the sweepstakes page. That means that the sponsor isn't paying cash out of hand for the prize, so doesn't have that money available to offer the winner.

In other situations, the sponsor has already purchased the prize; they've already spent the money, so they're not offering a cash option.

Even when that's not the case, the sponsor may have other reasons for not offering a cash option for a trip prize.

If you are running a giveaway and want to know what you can do if a winner requests a cash option, the Thompson Colburg law blog has a good breakdown of your options for when winners request changes to their prizes.

What Can You Do If There's No Cash Option?

So if you can't take a trip you won, and the sponsor doesn't readily agree to a cash option, simply decline the prize. It's frustrating to turn down a ​prize you have rightfully won, but it means that the trip prize will go to someone who can use it well, and maybe you'll improve your luck with the good karma.

If you have won a physical prize that you don't need, you can sell it (eBay or Facebook Marketplace are good online sites to try). You could also give it as a gift or donate it to charity, depending on the type of prize you won.

Have more questions about winning trips? See these Vacation Prize FAQs for answers to the most commonly asked questions about vacation wins.