I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of junk mail. My email inbox and my mailbox are both full of messages from my wireless provider, credit card offers, car insurance offers (although I don’t even own a car!) and more.
If you’ve ever wondered what you could do with all of that junk mail besides recycling it or sending it to your email’s trash folder, SBK Center has the answer. This market research company will happily accept your junk mail and email and, in return, give you Visa prepaid cards, which work just like debit cards.
(The SBK website states that they pay you in gift cards, but I contacted SBK directly and they confirmed that they have switched to Visa prepaid cards. It’s a great move because it means you can spend your hard-earned cash anywhere that accepts debit cards.)
What do SBK Center users have to say? We checked in with Abby Hewes at The California Coupon Diva, who told us:
“I earn five to six gift cards per year on average (in 2014 I earned five), so it averages out to be $20 every two to three months. Not bad, in my opinion, for something that was just going to be shredded or thrown away. I’ve been doing it for five years now, and it’s a super easy way to earn some pocket money or add it towards your holiday budget.”
How SBK Center Works
SBK Center (it stands for “Small Business Knowledge”) works as follows:
- Visit their website and sign up to be a Consumer Panelist.
- Once your application is approved, forward your junk email to SBK Center and put your junk mail in the self-addressed, stamped envelopes the company provides.
- For every piece of qualifying email or direct mail you send to SBK Center, you receive points.
- Once you receive 2,000 points, you can redeem your points for gift cards.
This is similar to the mail decoy job that we’ve written about before at The Penny Hoarder, although instead of scanning your mail or typing in codes, you forward your mail to SBK Center. You also use the mail you already receive, instead of signing up for new mailing lists.
How Do You Sign Up?
The sign-up is a simple process: just put in your name, address, date of birth, income and whether you rent or own your home, and you’re good to go. You can also earn bonus points with SBK Center if you are self-employed or own your own business.
How Quickly Do You Earn Points?
Individual rates will vary, but here’s what SBK Center has to say about earning points: “Frequent participants can earn as much as $20 in points every 6 to 10 weeks! Business owners and those who are self-employed can earn rewards even faster.”
Are There Any Other Rewards?
In addition to sending back junk mail and email, you also have the opportunity to participate in mystery shopping surveys as they become available.
You can also earn points by referring friends to SBK Center and by “participating in periodic bonus opportunities featured in our monthly Consumer Panelist newsletter.”
As Abby Hewes puts it: “They always have extra point bonuses going on too, so there is always a chance to earn extra points, bringing you closer to the $20 Visa gift card.”
What About Your Privacy?
If you’re going to be sending a lot of email and junk mail to a company, you’re probably curious about what it might do with your personal information.
SBK Center’s privacy information states “All personal information is deleted from materials prior to use in our study. We shred and recycle everything we receive and your privacy is 100% protected.”
What’s the Catch?
When a company says that their highest performers can earn $20 every six to 10 weeks, the odds are that the average user is going to earn less than that. You might earn $20 every 10 weeks, or you might find that it takes twice as long to get your necessary points.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
Here are a few more pieces of advice from Abby Hewes:
“It takes less than five minutes a day to prep mail for SBKC. When I open my mail each day, I set aside the types of mail they want, and drop it into my SBKC envelope. I keep my stash of SBKC pre-paid envelopes in a small basket on my desk. At the end of the week, I double check everything in the envelope and drop it by the post office.
For my junk email, I check my email at the end of the day and forward any junk emails they would want (I keep the list of what they are looking for in my desk for reference), and then hit delete.
There are times of year that you get more junk mail (around open enrollment for health care, beginning of the year for credit card offers), so when I need extra envelopes, I just shoot off an email and within a week, I have more. Other than that, the envelopes come after you have mail[ed] the last one.”
And what about you? If you decide to use SBK Center, do it from the mindset that every little bit of extra money helps, even though you probably won’t get rich off sending in your junk mail. Instead, think of SBK Center as a way to help you turn your junk mail into cash before it hits the trash!
Your Turn: Have you used SBK Center or any of the mail decoy companies out there? How did it work for you?