Alamy
By Kim Owens / Wise Bread
May 8, 2015

Junk mail. It’s the bane of my postal delivery existence. Chances are you hate it too, what with the insurance offers, vacation brochures, and more. It’s a waste of paper, annoying, and you wish your mailbox had a chute that sent it directly to the recycle bin. That will all change, however, thanks to a company named Small Business Knowledge Center (SBKC).

Why? Because, SBKC will pay you for your junk mail. You read that correctly. This company will pay you to send them your junk mail.

Why would a company pay you to send them your most reviled pieces of mail? Because they conduct market research that focuses on direct marketing (junk mail) in an effort to spot trends and provide “competitive intelligence” to their clients. In other words, they need your mail to do their research and reconnaissance. That’s great for people like you and me because it means that we can literally turn our junk mail into cash.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Kind of Junk Mail Does SBKC Want?

SBKC is looking for specific categories of junk mail. Lucky for most of us, what they want is very common and stuff we all probably receive multiple times per week.

  • Insurance: Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Auto/Property Insurance, etc.
  • Investments/Annuities: IRA/Rollovers, Mutual Funds, 401(k), Pensions, etc.
  • Mortgage and Loans: Auto, Home Equity, Mortgage, Personal Loan, etc.
  • Banking: Checking, Savings, Money Market, Certificates of Deposit, Rewards or Loyalty Programs, etc.
  • Credit Cards: General Use Credit Cards and Charge Cards, Retail/Department Store Cards, Affinity/Rewards Cards such as Airline, Hotel, Alumni, Club/Association Cards, etc.
  • Telecommunications: Wireless (network providers such as Verizon, AT&T or manufacturers such as Samsung or Motorola), Wire-Line (Landline/Home Phone), TV/Cable, Satellite, Internet, IP/Internet Phone.
  • Travel and Leisure: Hotels, Cruise Lines, Airlines, Car Rental Services.

How Does Someone Earn Money From Their Junk Mail?

SBKC members, called panelists, accrue points which are redeemed for rewards. Points are earned several different ways.

  • Direct mail: Once accepted into their program, panelists will receive postage paid envelopes. Simply place the junk mail in an envelope and mail once a week.
  • E-mail: Forward any qualifying e-mail to SBKC.
  • Bonus opportunities: From time to time, SBKC will offer additional opportunities such as surveys and secret shopping.
  • Referrals: Current members can earn additional points by referring others.

How Much Can You Earn From Junk Mail?

When panelists accrue 2,000 points, they can redeem those points for a $20 Visa prepaid gift card. SBKC sends out a monthly newsletter which includes point status and any bonus opportunities available. Each person’s point accrual rate is different and depends on many factors, but according to SBKC’s website, on average, panelists who participate frequently can expect to earn $20 worth of points every six to 10 weeks or so. That comes to about $100-$170 a year for junk mail.

How to Join SBKC

SBKC requires the completion of a short application. Applicants will first choose whether they want to apply as a consumer panelist or a business owner panelist (business owners have different opportunities to earn). The application, which is called a “panelist profile,” is simple and straight-forward. It asks for your name, address, date of birth, and income range.

Applicants will receive a confirmation e-mail thanking them for submitting their panelist profile and a notice that SBKC will contact them once their application is processed, usually within one to two weeks (two to three weeks for Canadian residents). Once approved, new panelists will receive a welcome kit with program details and information to get them started.

What Else?

  • There is no limit to the number of qualified pieces that can be forwarded to SBKC to earn points.
  • Not everyone is accepted into their program, so take the simple application process seriously. If they run out of space for applicants in certain geographic locations or they are at capacity for a specific demographic, you may be placed on a wait list.
  • SBKC takes steps to protect the privacy of their panelists by scrubbing any identification from pieces that are forwarded, shredding documents when done, and promising no solicitation.

This won’t make you rich, but every dollar helps, especially when the money comes with such little effort. It looks like junk mail just became valuable.

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