How to win text competitions

Text entry (or SMS) competitions have always been a good source of prizes for me, and also for a lot of SuperLucky readers! Over the years I’ve won cash, vouchers and even holidays by sending off a standard rate text message. I’ve won over £2,000 of prizes by texting in to the Heart FM and Capital XTRA Breakfast shows.

Mention text competitions to most people, and they immediately think of the big cash radio competitions, or the ITV promotions to win £100,000, a brand new BMW and the obligatory once-in-a-lifetime trip to the USA! But for these ‘big ticket’ prizes, the entry texts will usually cost you £1.50 or £2 each, in addition to your standard network rate. As well as being pricey. these widely advertised prize draws get a huge number of entries so are incredibly hard to win. In all my years of comping I’ve only known of three TV text-to-win competition winners – but I’ve also heard of three winners who took the cheaper option and sent in their entries on a stamped postcard, so make of that what you will!

Anyway, I wanted to share a few tips with you about winning text comps – I focus on standard network rate (SNR) text promotions. These will usually cost you around 15p depending on your phone network, and will be sent to a 5-digit shortcode number. However, most shortcode texts using ASDA Mobile (my affiliate link) cost just 4p!

For a guide to the best networks and SIM deals for text competitions, see my post What’s the cheapest way to enter text competitions?

When you enter a text competition, you usually get a bounceback message (reply) to confirm your entry was received – but this isn’t always the case, so don’t worry if you don’t receive confirmation of your entry!

Sometimes you might get a reply with a link to upload a receipt, or to enter your details on a website. On a smartphone you can tap the link to open it up in your web browser, but if you use a basic handset, you will need to type the full link address into a web browser address bar on a computer or tablet. Be alert though – scammers target people by including links in text messsages, so check the number that the message has been sent from. Read my tips on how to spot a scam text message.

If you win, you’ll either receive a text message with the good news, or a phone call. Sometimes the congratulations message includes an email address for you to contact, or a link to a claim form online for you to complete. The winning notification sometimes doesn’t even tell you what you’ve won until you’ve got in touch (see example below). You will need to include your mobile number in the email or on the form to validate your win, and if a purchase was necessary you may also need to send/upload a photo of packaging or receipt.

Here are my top tips for finding, entering and winning text competitions…

1. Look out for text comps advertised in shops

You’ll find most text entry prize promotions advertised in store, usually on big cardboard display stands or attached to the shelves. The T&Cs will be there somewhere – usually in very small print. See the below examples – whereas the Lucozade instructions are big and bold, the Pringles instructions are tiny and right at the bottom of the stand, so would be missed by most customers walking past! It’s really important to check all the details to ensure you enter correctly. Sometimes it says you only need to text a keyword, but the small print states you must include your name too. The Lucozade example here is actually a purchase necessary prize draw, and you need to buy the product before you text – but this isn’t clear until you read the tiny information at the bottom of the stand! It’s best to take photos of the displays and then only enter when you’ve checked the online terms and conditions, so you don’t send an invalid entry.

As well as cardboard stands, look out for signs attached to shelves, and even pads of tear-off flyers. In the Co-op, you’ll see prize promotions advertised on the checkout screens (take a photo of them when they pop up, as they don’t stay on screen for long!)

  • Tesco competition T&Cs are featured on their website, but it’s usually at least a few days after they start so I have collated my own list of current Tesco text competitions for easy reference.
  • You can find in-store text comp T&Cs (especially for Walkers & Pepsi) on the PromoVeritas website, use the search function to search for keywords, dates or even common shortcode numbers like 60777. The latest comps should be at the end of the search results pages.
  • Co-op have lots of text comps – try a search for ‘text to win’ on their website, although this will also show expired comps too!
  • Check Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Co-op magazines too, as text competitions are advertised in those.

Check out my list of current standard rate UK text-to-win competitions. for details of all current text comps advertised in the shops!

2. Stick to standard rate text competitions

I recommend you avoid the £1.50 or £2 premium rate text comps, which are expensive and addictive. They’re incredibly well promoted and easy to enter, so of course they get thousands of entries – plus you will usually get the irresistable bounceback message inviting you to text again to get 3 or 4 entries for the prize of 2! The cost can certainly rack up quickly.

If you like the look of the text comps advertised on TV, send a postcard entry for less than half the price of a text (find out more in my blog post Enter ITV comps for free). And If you enjoy radio competitions, skip the premium rate triple play or mystery voice comps and listen out for the standard rate text comps – these are usually on the Breakfast or Drivetime shows and sponsored by a brand such as SKY or WICKES. Check radio station websites and listen in for details of current and upcoming sponsored competitions – these are usually advertised a lot less energetically than the premium rate entry ones!

Bauer Radio offer FREE ONLINE ENTRY for their big cash text competitions – look for a tiny entry form at the bottom of the T&Cs. You can usually enter four times for free, and you can find current big cash comps listed in my blog post Win cash prizes online in free competitions.

3. Always answer your phone

Lots of new compers tell me they won’t answer a private or withheld number – but a lot of winning telephone calls come from withheld numbers! And if you don’t answer the call, they might move straight on to the next person on the list. Promoters and agencies will usually try and call the winner a few times, but most of them aren’t keen to leave voicemails – they’re more likely to move on to a reserve winner after a few failed attempts to reach you! Of course, with the big cash radio station competitions you absolutely MUST answer the phone within five rings.

4. Enter text competitions where you need to buy a product

Text comps where you need to buy a particular product and keep hold of a receipt will get fewer entries than the ‘no purchase necessary’ prize draws. Make sure you buy the correct product at the correct shop – and keep hold of the packaging and receipt. I usually take a photo of these together as soon as I get back from the supermarket! Sometimes you will need to upload your receipt after texting in order to validate your entry, and you’ll receive a bounceback message with a unique link to do this – see the Tesco example below.

Validating receipts on entry is expensive for promoters though, so most of the time only the winners will be asked to upload or email a photo of their receipt. For some prize draws that are advertised as purchase-necessary, winners are not asked to provide any evidence of a purchase at all. These comps usually require you to text a barcode number – some promoters think this is enough evidence that you’ve made a purchase! However, if the T&Cs state a purchase is required then it’s a BIG risk to enter without making one – I’ve heard of several winners who didn’t get their prize as they couldn’t produce valid receipt(s).

Several of the purchase comps featured on my Compers Shopping List are SNR text entry, and they are also included in my list of current standard rate UK text-to-win competitions.

5. Enter as many times as you can

More entries = more chance of winning. Check the terms and conditions carefully – most text entry promotions clearly state ‘one entry per person’ – but for some you can enter daily or weekly for more chances to win. If it’s a purchase necessary competition, you might not even need to make a new purchase for each daily/weekly entry if it’s not explicitly stated in T&Cs that winners will need to provide photos of a receipt and packaging corresponding to every entry they made. Read more about this in my blog post Purchase-necessary promotions: just one receipt, or one receipt per entry?

Use alarms or reminders in your phone calendar app to remind you to enter daily and weekly competitions. I use Asana and have a recurring daily task that’s a list of daily entry comps, including text entry, online instant wins and prize draws (see screenshot of the text comps below). When I tick Completed, it moves from today’s tasks to tomorrow’s tasks.

6. Don’t spend more than you can afford

Even standard rate texts can stack up if you’re texting daily, so using a Pay-As-You-Go SIM is a good idea to keep track of your budget. Many compers have a spare phone dedicated to sending competition entries, and will use an old or cheap handset with a PAYG SIM card. You can get free PAYG SIMs online for most phone networks, but there are extra benefits and chances to win prizes if you choose one of the major companies.

Recommended deals for compers are:

  • ASDA Mobile* (affiliate link) – shortcode texts cost just 4p each and there’s no requirement to top up a certain amount. Choose the ‘No thanks, I just want a free SIM’ option on the Order SIM page.
  • 1pMobile* (affiliate link) – some shortcode texts (including 60110 for Tesco comps) only cost you 1p, but you need to top up £10 every 3 months which is an expensive commitment

For a full guide to the best networks and SIM deals for text competitions, see my post What’s the cheapest way to enter text competitions?

It’s also worth remembering that sending a text message always costs you the standard network rate – it’s the reply you get from a premium number that’s expensive. 

7. Save numbers in your phone

If you enter radio comps, save the numbers in your phone so you can quickly find them to call or text in. Here’s the most popular:

  • Heart FM – 81222 – Studio 0845 605 1062
  • Radio X – 83936 – Studio 0330 33 33100
  • Capital 83958 – Studio 020 7484 8958
  • Magic – 61054 – Studio 03 444 777 888
  • Kiss – 64100 – Studio 08448 11 22 33
  • Absolute81215 – Studio 0330 123 1215
  • TalkSport – 81089 – Studio 08717 22 33 44
  • Virgin Radio – 87222 – Studio 0333 00 333 00

Most text messages to radio stations are SNR, but some cost 50p + SNR, or even more depending on the competition. They will tell you if it’s more expensive than SNR on air or in the T&Cs. When I’ve received a call from any company related to competitions I save the number in my phone – it’s helpful as a few times I’ve had Heart FM or Magic Radio call back about an on air competition and it’s super exciting to see it flash up as an incoming call!

8. Use an extra handset or SIM card

Check the rules – if it’s one entry per person (rather than one entry per household), then ask your family members to text entries in too. It’s a really quick way to enter a competition, and they will only get a call back if they win so there’s no need to worry about them getting unsolicited calls. Remember to tell them what the prize is, so if they get the winning phone call they will know what it’s about!

If a text competition asks for a single keyword without any personal details (eg. text CADBURY to 60777) then some compers use extra SIM cards and phones to send off multiple entries. T&Cs do usually state that it’s one entry per person, so although the promoter can’t prove someone entered on multiple handsets, if an entrant sends multiple entries then they would be breaching the T&Cs. I don’t condone this behaviour, and I find this type of single keyword promotion infuriating because you see the same compers’ surnames cropping up multiple times on a winners list. Agencies have told me that they’ve called competition winners and they suspect it’s the same person answering different phone numbers and giving the name of a different family member each time – but this is impossible for them to prove. A promoter could easily prevent multiple wins from the same household by asking for full name and postcode in the entry message (in fact, this is what Tesco do for all their competitions!). Unfortunately, brands think that requesting extra information puts people off entering which is why you’ll still see single word text-to-wins.

Having a spare phone can give you an advantage when ringing up for radio competitions – put both phones on speaker and then keep redialling until hopefully you get through! For some radio comps you have to text in and guess which of the DJs will win a game, so if you have two phones you can always text A on one phone and B on the other so you’re covered.

Your spare phone doesn’t need to be anything fancy – you can pick up a ‘burner’ phone for less than £10 and even get one with a dual SIM function so you can have two phone numbers on one handset.

Having a spare phone is also really useful as an emergency phone for camping, festivals or going somewhere that you don’t want to take an expensive iPhone.

If you do use multiple SIM cards make sure you’re checking your inbox and voicemail regularly in case you miss a call or text. And put a sticker on the back of the phone with the number on if you can’t remember it!

9. Enter instant win text comps overnight

Occasionally, text competitions use a ‘winning moments’ format. This means that the first entry received after a randomly assigned time will win a prize. This means you have an advantage if you enter overnight, as fewer people will be taking part – so you have more chance of hitting that winning moment! Read more in my What is a winning moment competition? blog post.

10. Enter charity text comps – and check for a free entry option!

There are a few text entry charity competitions that ask you to donate £3, £5 or £10 to enter – but the donation is optional. After texting you will be given a timeframe to opt out (usually an hour) by responding to the message with the word CANCEL. Examples are the Comic Relief and Sport Relief text competitions, and the Global Radio ‘Make Some Noise’ promotions. There will be a limit to the number of text entries you can send – it’s usually 8 or 10 – and you will need to opt out after each message you send. Keep in mind that if you do donate, 100% of the text cost goes to the charity. Entering a competition or buying raffle tickets is actually a great way to donate to a charity, because as well as making a donation you have a chance to win a prize – but make sure you know exactly what percentage of the entry cost actually goes to the charity! You could always do one paid entry and then ten free ones, so you’re still making a donation but also increasing your chances of winning.

What’s the best prize you’ve won in a text competition? Have you got any more tips? Let me know in the comments.

12 Responses

  1. Su says:

    Asda mobile (uses Vodafone network) doesn’t accept every short code number I notice. Some are sent others are not. Annoying.

  2. George Williams says:

    Hi Di
    Can you tell me what were the two Nivea products that you bought at Boots?
    I’m going to order them online, and enter the camera competition.

  3. Mr George Williams says:

    Hi Di

    It was lovely to see you give your Mum a hug in your recent photo 🙂

    Thanks for the tip about Asana, I’ve downloaded the app.
    Enjoy Bank Holiday Monday

    George x

  4. Jan Evans says:

    This may be a stupid question, if you have a phone contract with x texts included, does the competition text get deducted from those, or is it charged.

    • Di says:

      Your free texts don’t include 5-digit shortcode numbers I”m afraid, so you’ll have to pay extra – usually between 8p and 12p!

  5. Jayne Adams says:

    The best prize I have ever won with a standard rate text was £6000 of tesco gift cards paid as a £500 gift card each month for a year. Fantastic prize!

  6. Tricia Ross says:

    The best prize I ever won with a standard text was with Coca-Cola in 2012. It was during the Olympics and it was a trip to Australia for 4 ! Unfortunately my husband passed in March that year. I went with my son daughter in law and grandson in April 2013. We visited my brother in Perth instead of going to Sydney. It was wonderful.

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