In order to win any sweepstakes, contest or giveaway, you must be in compliance with the rules. The rules vary from sweepstakes to sweepstakes and except for a few things pertaining to their lawful operations they can vary considerably. Below I listed the things that I usually check in the rules before I enter.
1) DATES: The dates the sweepstakes are valid. Both starting and ending dates are important. If you enter outside of either of these dates, you will be disqualified – basically your time and effort in entering is wasted.
2) FREQUENCY: The number of times you can enter. While there are many people who only enter once no matter what, you increase your odds of winning by entering more often, if allowed. So check and see – if you can enter daily and then do it. Be careful not to enter more than the stated limit however because to do so, in some sweepstakes makes you totally ineligible to win!
3) ELIGIBILITY: Make sure you qualify to enter. They will tell you in the rules, how old you must be to enter, which states residents do or do not qualify, if there are any professional limitations or other criteria which you must have to enter. For example AARP sometimes only allows those over 45 to enter, Kellogg’s often sponsors contests are geared for children 6-13 and if you are not be eligible to enter, you are obviously not eligible to win. So don’t waste your time on ones you cannot win. If the sweepstakes says you must be a welder or a professional bowler for example, don’t enter if you aren’t.
4) PRIZES: While winning is absolutely fun – it can turn into a nightmare when you find out you won something you cannot use. Doesn’t matter if you are not going to use the item, if you accept it, you do have to pay taxes on it – so check first and see if the prize is something you would like to win! I’ll admit in my years of entering, I have turned down several small prizes and quite honestly was suprized to even see I had entered.
5) DETAILS AND ARV: Check to see if the prize is only valid on certain specific dates, or has other restrictions (like you must be 21, or your guest must be 21), if you have to pick up the prize (in the case of a car, for example) and if there is any money you will have to pay. I know on certain trips you have to pay the airline taxes and for any baggage fees. On some vehicle prizes, you must be a licensed driver, and have insurace – and in some cases pick the car up at a certain place. Most prizes include most of the fees, but some do not. Know in advance by reading those rules! And when checking details pay attention to the ARV, the Average Retail Price of the prize. Likely it will be the amount you get a 1099 (Miscellaneous Income Tax Statment) and will need to pay taxes on that year. Make sure you can afford to pay those taxes, and that you “want” the prize at that price. Over the years I have been entering sweepstakes, I have seen many overpriced prizes. It’s not a given that they will reduce that amount to the actual amount they spend to give you the prize – sometimes the stated value is the value you will pay taxes on, even if the trip could have been obtained for 1/4 of that price. IRS does allow fair market pricing valuation of any prize, but you have to have the proof the same trip, car, gas grill or iPad was selling for a lesser price on the day you were awarded yours.