Becoming a comper: how to find and win competitions

November 2, 2023

There are few better feelings than winning a competition or prize draw – but with such an overwhelming number of competitions out there, many of us rarely end up entering any at all.

However, if you have some time on your hands and like the idea of winning prizes, you could have a go at comping. This is basically when you make a hobby out of entering as many free competitions as you can in order to boost your chances of taking home a prize.

In this article, we’ll go through how comping works, how you can get started, and some tips for first-time competitors.

How does comping work?

You might have entered the odd competition or two here and there and had nothing to show for it. Maybe you even forgot that you entered them!

Comping is very different, and involves putting in the time to enter dozens – or even hundreds – of free competitions on a regular basis, with the aim of hopefully winning at least a few prizes.

While nothing is guaranteed, you are far more likely to win a prize from entering hundreds of draws than just one or two, and the rewards can be great – from cash to gadgets to luxury holidays.

You don’t always realise until you go looking, but competitions are absolutely everywhere, as most companies see them as an easy and relatively inexpensive way to advertise. Best of all, any prizes you win from a competition will be tax-free, so you don’t have to declare them to the taxman.

How do I get started comping?

Before you get started entering competitions, there are a couple of key things you can do to prepare.

Getting prepped

First, you should strongly consider setting up an email address specifically for comping, so that your main inbox won’t be flooded. Try to make the address short and memorable, so that it’s easy to type out quickly. Remember the password too, as you’ll need to check your inbox regularly to find out if you’ve won anything.

Similarly, if you don’t want to give out your mobile phone number and be bombarded with texts, consider getting a cheap pay-as-you-go SIM card just for comping use. You can swap it out with your usual SIM card if you ever need to check your comping texts.

You may also want to consider setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok, as plenty of competitions are held on social media. It’s fine to set up an extra account on most of these sites to use exclusively for comping if you don’t want your comping activities on your main page, but Facebook forbids having two accounts, so you’ll need to stick to just one there.

Finding competitions

One of the most overwhelming parts of starting comping is knowing where to look for competitions to enter.

The good news is there is a passionate community of compers out there willing to pool their resources and spread information on competitions, which means there are actually a few great websites to help you get started.

The MoneySavingExpert forum, for example, has a board for competitions, where you can meet other compers and view a selection of recent competitions that they’ve posted, or you can search for competitions on Loquax, either by using their own forum or selecting one of the categories in the grey bar at the top of the homepage. Bear in mind you’ll have to make an account on these websites to access all of the features.

For social media competitions, make a point of following companies or accounts that regularly post competitions. On sites like Instagram and Twitter that use hashtags, try searching #competition or #giveaway – if you see one you like, make sure it’s UK-based and hasn’t ended already. It’s often worth following other avid compers too – most social media giveaways are conducted by having people repost something, so word can spread quickly.

Bear in mind that it will usually benefit you to be a bit picky when comping – don’t just enter things willy-nilly. There’s no point entering a draw for a book that you know you’ll never read, tickets for something you don’t care about, or a device you have no use for, and spending time entering these extra competitions will just burn you out. Some prizes are non-transferable, so you won’t necessarily be able to give them away or sell them either.

You might be put off entering competitions that require a bit of extra effort too. This includes ones where you have to solve a quiz or puzzle, write or create something to submit, or share or comment on a post. However, the fact that these competitions put people off is exactly why you should have a go as there tend to be fewer entrants, meaning a greater chance of winning.

Local competitions are another kind that tend to get fewer entrants, meaning they can be great options as well. Check flyers in shops, libraries and gyms, read local magazines and newspapers or tune into your local radio. You can check these lists of local Facebook groups and comp clubs in the UK too to meet more compers in your community.

Entering competitions efficiently

Try to be systematic about entering competitions. It might slow you down a bit, but keeping track of which competitions you’ve entered in a document or notebook will prevent you from accidentally entering anything twice. This can be useful as entering the same competition twice can sometimes get you excluded from the draw. Consider taking note of the end date and, if it’s listed, the method they will use to contact the winner, so you know when and where to check.

When it comes to filling in online forms, there are plenty of ways to speed up the process. You could, for example, keep your details in a document on your computer and have this window on your screen next to your internet browser, allowing you to quickly copy-and-paste information into the form.

Most browsers also support some kind of auto-fill function. This means that, when prompted, they can automatically fill in fields such as your name, address, email and phone number, though you should carefully check each field before submitting to make sure that all the information is correct and in the right place.

For competitions that require sending off an email, have an email template saved containing your name and other details. This way, all you need to do is enter the answer or other relevant information for the competition in question and send the email.

If you don’t already, you should also be sure to install some free antivirus software. Comping involves clicking on a plethora of new websites, and there may be some dodgy ones mixed in there, so you want to protect against anything malicious.

Check your wins

Once you’ve got into the swing of comping, you’re likely to have a deluge of messages flooding your email inbox. It can be helpful to set up filters in your inbox to pick out any emails informing you of a win. Most email services will allow you to do this in the settings – set it up so that any emails featuring words like “win”, “winner” or “congratulations” get sent to a designated folder.

Check this folder regularly and if there’s good news, read the email carefully to find out what you have to do to claim your prize. For example, you may have to message them back in order to claim it.

Don’t be afraid to complain

If you win a prize but it doesn’t arrive or comes in faulty condition, don’t be shy about politely nudging the company to try and get it sorted out.

If you don’t hear back or aren’t satisfied with their response, consider contacting the Advertising Standards Agency to make a formal complaint.

Be wary of paying to enter

You should be very careful about competitions that ask you to pay a fee to enter. One of the best things about comping is that it is free to do, and while some competitions offer fantastic prizes for small entry fees, you should be cautious about getting into the habit of paying for competitions. Paying to enter means that you are essentially gambling, which will quickly become expensive if you do so consistently, and you still may not win anything.

Nothing is guaranteed - so have a positive attitude

One of the pitfalls of comping is that you can put the hours in and sometimes end up with nothing to show for it. It’s important to go into it with a positive mindset and think of it as a bit of fun that might see you win big. Getting overly invested or feeling entitled to wins will make the whole process less enjoyable and make it feel like a thankless task.

Stop if you’re not enjoying it

Treat comping like any other hobby: there might be a tough learning curve, and you’ll have worse days than others, but if you find the process consistently unenjoyable then take this as a sign to stop.

Don’t fall for the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ – this is where you spend so much time or effort on something that you feel like you have to keep going until you see some gain from it.

Avoiding comping scams

Many seasoned compers are quick to reassure that only a small percentage of UK competitions turn out to be scams – but you should be on your guard all the same. Always read the terms and conditions of a competition before entering, and if anything seems fishy to you, steer clear.

If a giveaway is on social media, check the account that posted it. Does it look official and trustworthy? If it’s claiming to be a certain well-known brand, check if it’s verified or has the amount of followers you would expect it to. 

If a giveaway is coming from an unknown company that only posts giveaways and appears to have nothing to promote, this should ring some alarm bells. If a giveaway doesn’t have any terms and conditions, this can be an immediate red flag too, although they may be listed on the host’s website rather than on the post itself.

If an email informs you that you’ve won but you need to pay in order to “claim” your prize, this is almost certainly a scam and you should ignore it. You should never have to hand over any money if you’ve won something.

In general, it helps to have strict rules about which personal details you are willing to give away and which you are not. Sticking to this will serve you better in the long run and help you avoid scams.

Stay up to date on which scams are doing the rounds right now with our guide Latest scams to watch out for in 2023.

Other ways to make money online

Comping is not the only way you can make money from the comfort of your computer. Check out our article Cashback websites: how to earn money when you shop online to learn about the benefits of shopping via cashback websites.

Additionally, our article on ways to make extra money and boost your income contains a multitude of simple ideas for making a bit of extra cash in these difficult times.

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