Prepaid Contests Coming Soon!

September 26, 2008

There has been a hive of activity here at 99HQ! Based on feedback from you guys—and a lot of careful thought—we have decided to make all contests prepaid. We believe this will reduce risk for designers and make the contest payment process simpler for new-comers.

Starting early November, all contests will be prepaid. This means all contest prizes will be paid up-front (and held securely by us). Contest holders may still withdraw from prepaid contests and receive a refund (given a good reason). However, we believe proof of prize will give designers peace of mind, and will assist contest holders and designers alike by automating payments; as an extension of our Design Handover tool.

We’re making guaranteed contests a standard option, available to all, and will encourage more and more contest holders to guarantee their contests for the very best results. Guaranteed contests are prepaid, cannot be withdrawn/refunded and are always awarded (even if the contest holder disappears—more on this in a future blog post).

As part of the prepaid prize system, 99designs will be handling all payments to designers. We hope this will result in a more reliable, seamless service for designers and contest holders. We will be offering PayPal, Moneybookers, Xoom and our latest addition: Prepaid 99designs MasterCards® (powered by Payoneer).

Payoneer is a wide-reaching payment gateway offering a more secure and robust alternative to some other gateways we’ve dealt with (without mentioning names). Your Prepaid 99designs MasterCard will work anywhere credit or debit cards are accepted, making receiving prize money easier, regardless of where you live.

And, we’re holding we held a contest for you to design the cards! Enter now!

Update: Congratulations, Emi (ulahts)!

99designs Prepaid MasterCard® (powered by Payoneer)

Stay tuned for further updates.

66 Responses to “Prepaid Contests Coming Soon!”

  1. C Says:

    Let me the first to say, good job, and great choice making all contest prepaid. I think it will drastically decrease the amount of contests abandoned. Along with encouraging CH’s to select a winner with-in seven days after the end.

    Although I was wondering if you could provided more information about the payoneer payment option.

    Thanks, and great job.

  2. ZZZzzz Says:

    Great job guys, can’t wait :D

  3. Inspiredgs Says:

    Awesome, this is great news!!!

  4. Vectizine Says:

    Great news , but what about Western Union ?

  5. Rodney Says:

    *Very* nice move guys. I think this will help both contest holder’s like myself and designers. Way to take the high road (even though it’s probably not the easy road)!

  6. Matt Says:

    This is great news!! Well done guys – it nice to see that our feedback has been heard and this should prove to be a great result for both CH and designer.

  7. amokana Says:

    great guys this is a fantastic news , no more wasting time

    it’s just so unfortunate for guys like me who can’t use any of the payment methods you said …. so it’s like the end of the road for me then …

  8. #Everyone: Thanks for your kind comments.

    @amokana: Are you sure you won’t be able to use any of the above-mentioned payment methods? Moneybookers provides International Bank Transfer (split option) for a small fee (currently $2.70 USD per transfer), and Payoneer allows you to use your future 99designs card anywhere that accepts debit MasterCard – online and offline shops, restaurants, and ATMs. According to MasterCard’s website, Casablanca currently has 482 ATMs.

    @Vectizine: You should also be able to use Moneybookers to send/receive payments.

  9. Psygn Says:

    Wow, I thought this would never happen. Way to surprise us again with fantastic news yet again, 99Designs!

  10. grumpzzz Says:

    great idea…you may wanna penalize the CH like 15% of total in case they withdraw the contest..and give it to the most requested revision. i dunno how you do it but just a thought.

  11. amokana Says:


    thanks for your concern …… i’m gonna try to “invest” in some of the payment methods …. as i have some bank difficulties, but anyway this decision will make a lot of people happy and am one one of them … designs will just get better and better as the quality is connected with motivation ( knowing that your time will be at least worth it ) ….. again i thank you for taking this decision because i’m such a “bad contest” magnet ( 35% of my contests the CH’s didn’t even bother look at it after all that time i spent on my entries let alone if i didn’t even get a proper feedback )

  12. Mare Says:

    Can not belive what im reading BRAVO GUYS!!!
    I was just thinking leaving this site and BOOM i saw this!!! :)
    Thank you thank you thank youuuuuu!!!

    All best,

  13. lynrite Says:

    WOW… this is such great news!

    It can only improve things for all involved – contest holders, designers, and 99designs. For me this decision really proves that 99designs is where I want to be :)

    You guys are soooo awsome!!!!

    Thank you!

  14. Jo Says:

    That will be great for all of us. Also you should make a withdrawal acceptable according to their feedback in contests, so we can protect from “abandoned” contests.

  15. amokana Says:


    well i think that 99designs staff will not accept to give a refund if the contest holder didn’t give a pretty good reason why he withdraw his contest … otherwise this whole decision will change nothing … so even if he abandon the ship he still won’t gets his money back and the prize will go to the first design that got the more star rating

    i mean for exemple if he didn’t gave enough feedback ( let’s make a rule that says if he don’t give more than 60% of the feedback needed he can forget about his money ) … that’s his fault then so byebye money

  16. stardiver Says:

    WOW! I suggested this idea on uservoice but honestly didn’t expected that much votes and that 99design guys will consider it…

    Anyway I’m prety much sure that prepaid contests are the way to go here.. it will make CH’s more serious about projects and feedback – after all design is two way process, designers will also have a peace of mind now.

    great news for payoneer card as well ! :)

  17. easywebworks Says:

    Hmm.. i think this is a great idea, but would be nervous about the Guearenteed option. What if not many designs are submitted or are of a low quality, or just don’t match what the CH wants. A lot of us CH’s are creating contensts for our client bases, so have to get approval from clients about design choices. THis invarioubly can and does take longer than 7 days, and sometimes they don’t like any of the designs. What then? The CH chooses a winner even though there wasn’t one and has to pay for the trouble?.. more thought please guys! Great Site.. Great Designers.. Dont Spoil It!!!

  18. Triplefour Design Says:

    @ amokana

    I think it would be wrong to penalise CH holders for not giving feedback of 60% or higher.

    One contest I held had over 200+ submissions. I cannot give meaningful comments on 120 of them. I prefer to comment on the designs that I think are heading in my direction and whon have read the breif in its entrirety. I eliminate with no comment any entry that I feel has not taken the time with reading the breif. I then have more time to comment the entrys that deserve my time.

    I like the new changes and think there is an added benefit. Although this has not happened to me yet I was concerned that If I made a payment to a designer but they did not send me the files . I would then lose out this way the funds wouldnt leave 99 designs till all parties were happy. Thumbs up 99 designs.


  19. @easywebworks: Just to clarify, while all contests will soon be prepaid, the contest holder has the option to guarantee a contest, or not. However, I wouldn’t worry about receiving too few designs—or low quality designs—in a guaranteed contest. I would think the opposite is true: guaranteed contests are inherently more attractive to designers.

  20. amokana Says:

    @Triplefour Design

    well at least you eliminate them … some guys don’t bother look at them … even the most beautiful designs created by the most professional designers and yet they don’t care … i would prefer something like “sorry this is not what we’re looking for” and eliminated than nothing at all … and we keep waiting for some little consideration from the contest holder but nothing … it’s like a spit on the face for me

    please contest holders … consider the time and the effort we make we designers … we most deal with inspiration that takes us even more time than the actual work … then we must create what we have in mind with our skills … skills that we didn’t get easily … we even do twice the job by presenting new versions … we all look for new techniques and new styles so that we present you what you want … and i think we deserve a little thing in exchange even an elimination is good than ignoring us …

  21. Says:

    Nonetheless as a member of the design community here in 99designs, this is great news for me! WTG 99designs!

  22. Designer Says:

    +1 for Payoneer cards.

    Also, the CH should have a limited time to choose the winner. Say, as most 4 days (in addition to the time the contest is open and the CH can already start to look at the entries).

  23. John Says:

    Awsome! Been waiting for this for a long time now! Good job guys! Can’t wait.

  24. mozi Says:

    Great News!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks for your great efforts, 99 design team you are rocking! As you guys are going to start guaranteed/prepaid contest it’s great but you should also consider on the feedback issues of the designs also. Almost every contest have some issues regarding the design or copying or feel and look. I think the Star rating for the design can work, and the feedback should be provided private so the contest holders can get the different designs.

    Everybody (contest holder and designer) here what’s your advice on private feedback !


  25. Steve Says:

    since the contests will be prepaid, what fees age then applied to the winner as a result of a prepaind contest

    when a CH choses a desgin how long before the designers get paid days weeks month or shortly after (several hours) the ch chosing.

    or do file have to be delivered first then paid..I can see issue with this already…

  26. yanne Says:

    thank you guys, this site really cares about the designers. hopefully we’ll have that changes implemented soon. thanks again!

  27. sandydesigns Says:

    Wow finally, I for one was getting tired of abandoned contest, we do all this work and then the holder disappears, which personally made me quite upset.

    Great job!

  28. Priyanka Mukherjee Says:


    I have recently submitted some designs and have not received enough feedbacks… while the idea of prepaid contests is really great but I wonder how much percentage of prize money will be charged by 99designs for this service that they are planning to provide from November!

    Has anybody got any clue??

  29. #Everyone: Thanks again for the positive responses!

    @grumpzzz, @Jo, @amokana, and @mozi: Thanks for your feedback: we’re listening! Don’t forget to post your thoughts over on our UserVoice feedback forum, too.

    @Steve and @Priyanka: More on fees and timeframes in a future blog post. Rest assured we take design handover very seriously and don’t want contests on 99designs to be cost prohibitive.

  30. Oh, and a BIG congratulations to Emi (ulahts) on winning our Prepaid 99designs MasterCard® contest! Thanks again to all involved!

  31. entz Says:

    awesome!! finally a really good news! It was just a matter of time before this got implemented. Hail 99!! and goodbye to those abandoned contests!!! hooooray! :)

  32. Bob Says:

    I do not agree with prepaid contest, here are some cons:

    -it take severals days to get paid

    -Paypal fees are higher because 99designs are base in Australia so if your are in the USA you will pay more fees.

    -99designs teams is too small, so this will be hard for them to do everything in time.

  33. birdbrain Says:

    This is the future, in terms of designing for a global market. I applaud your efforts in trying to develop 99designs into a more professional atmosphere by your new approach.I am certain there are many people (CH’s) out there who are trying to rip off the designers and this needs to stop!!Many of us are talented and many of us have gone to college and have to pay for degrees. Many of us put our blood, sweat and tears into our ideas and if you can stop any deceitful persons out there from stealing, I am very happy. I do wish, however, that the price for the efforts put into the contests, would start at a higher price point.

  34. @Bob We will be using a US-based PayPal account, so the fees will be as low as possible. At any rate, the difference between the two is 1% :)

    That said, payouts will take around 14 days to process for reasons of fraud prevention (we are still working on the specifics with the suits), but you will be able to count on being paid on a specific day. These payouts are largely automated, we aren’t worried about not being able to do them on time, breath easy!

  35. C Says:

    @Lachlan – I don’t understand why the turnaround time is 14 days. To me it sounds like the new system will work like this…

    1 – CH pays 99 prize amount and fees. Prize amount goes into 99s paypal account.
    2 – Creatives join contest and hopefully feedback is given.
    3 – CH picks a winner.
    4 – Winning Creative uploads files vial interface on 99. CH instantly has files.
    5 – CH starts to use files off 99.
    6 – Creative eats rice for 13 days.
    7 – Finally 14 days later Creative gets the prize money in their paypal account.

    …it just seems silly that we have to wait so long to receive what would be an instant transaction. I can understand it taking longer for anything else but paypal. But with paypal I think that we should receive the payment when we send the files.

  36. Psygn Says:

    That is one sexy looking card, ulahts!

  37. pezza Says:

    Firstly, great to hear that contests are going pre-paid. I’m sure it’s eagerly anticipated by all designers here.

    Secondly, lovely work by Emi on the card – it’s gorgeous.

    Thirdly, I have to agree with C (above). 14 day turnaround on payments seems way excessive. I was actually shocked when I saw that number. A few days delay is to be expected, but 14?

    Contest runs for 7+ days. Often wait seven + days for winner to be announced. Wait another 14 {+?} days for payment, in the meantime, CH has the use of the files.

    This doesn’t happen in the real client/designer/developer business world. Clients don’t receive files until final payment has been made.

    Many designers here participate for various reasons, one being personal financial circumstances and having to wait so long for a payment just doesn’t seem fair.

    The current Design Handover system is ideal. Designer gets paid as soon as contest is over, notifies that payment is received, files are sent to the contest holder. No delays, everyone happy.

  38. simonbun Says:

    I don’t mean to be negative all the time, but 14 days strikes me as rather high as well. Add to that another +-5 days for the PayPal funds to actually be transferred to my bank account, and it quickly gets a bit silly.

    Isn’t it possible to do some fraud prevention checks on the first payout to a designer, and from then on assume they’re legitimate? Or even better, for a designer to get cleared before his/her first win. I for one wouldn’t mind sending a scan of my ID card. Also, a transfer of a symbolic $1 to a 99designs bank account could establish identity. I’m sure you guys can think of something even better.

    All negativism aside, prepaid contests are definitely a great step in the right direction. I suspect most of the bogus contest holders will be weeded out from amongst the serious ones. Keep up the good work!


  39. Simon: The problem is actually contest holders. Think what happens when a stolen credit card is used, or a PayPal transaction from the contest holder gets reversed after we have already paid a designer. Getting PayPal payments to designers as quickly as possible will be a priority, leave it with us, we know how important it is to get paid quickly! :)

  40. jfryl Says:

    how can we apply for that 99designs PREPAID CARD?

  41. nadia Says:

    Lachlan says:
    “Think what happens when a stolen credit card is used, or a PayPal transaction from the contest holder gets reversed after we have already paid a designer.”

    So if payments are held up for this reason (which I can understand now that it’s been explained), will the files be passed onto the contest holder after the same length of time for the exact same reasons?

  42. Gandecruz Says:

    Hi Adam or Lachlan.. can we get back the displayed “member since when” ? it’s really helpfull. :) or are there any reasons not to display it?
    AND.. GREAT NEWS about the prepaid contest!! thank you guys.. for the GREAT WORKS.


  43. Bob Says:

    Waiting 14 days to get pay!!!!

    No way I will wait that long to get pay and no way I will transfert copyrights and files before I get pay.

    You will loose good designers and serious contest holder…..

  44. ritchie_100203 Says:

    is everyone can get thier own card?

  45. Vikito Says:

    What’s all the fuss about, the most important is that you’ll get paid for the work you’ve done. I see this all to be to the benefit of designers.
    As of when will we be able to apply for the cards?

  46. Vikito Says:

    How long does it take for you to answer my question

  47. Lox Says:

    Hopefully soon. In the order of weeks, not months, we are hoping.

  48. KimKiyaa Says:

    I agree with a few people above.

    14 days is a very extreme time to wait for payment. I could see possibly a week, but two weeks? Way too much.

  49. Tommy J Charles Says:

    Very very very good!!!! Thank you!

  50. Tommy J Charles Says:

    Wait..what’s this about 2 weeks to receive payment? No, that’s way too long. I wont give the files over before I receive payment.

  51. Tommy J Charles Says:

    This must be a squeeze for us to get their pre-payed card. It has to be. No way it should take 14 days. If it does I’ll leave the site.

  52. Tommy J Charles Says:

    Sorry about the gripe,its just that Contest holders already take up to a week to make a decision, so your talking a maximum of 23 days before we get paid. You can’t just say 14 because it isn’t 14 altogether.

  53. @Tommy J Charles: Thanks for your feedback. We’re certainly not lightly considering an extension to the payout process; we get that it may upset some designers and we’re also looking at other options. To be clear, the main reason we’re discussing it is to protect designers from recalled payouts (predominantly due to credit card fraud). As for your comments regarding our future prepaid cards: you are mistaken. 99designs will actually be covering the cost of each card issued and, while we think they’re going to be great for anyone who wants one, we will not be forcing them upon you.

  54. […] 2008 We are hard at work on automating the guaranteed contests and prepaid contests system that we recently blogged about. In the meantime we will be paying out designers on tuesday mornings (Melbourne, Australia time), […]

  55. pinoyjobstrabaho Says:

    I like it, I like it :D

  56. jeiru Says:

    “As for your comments regarding our future prepaid cards: you are mistaken. 99designs will actually be covering the cost of each card issued and, while we think they’re going to be great for anyone who wants one, we will not be forcing them upon you” …

    Will you be sending them to contestants outside of Australia and U.S. ? Will this cost us from the outside? Just wondering. Thanks.

  57. Julius- Says:

    @Adam Schilling
    How will we apply for this 99designs debit card?

  58. Popcorn Says:

    This is a good idea but….

    1) 14 days is way too long. Will the payments be quicker if we have a 99designs card?
    2) When and where do we sign up for the cards
    3) Will this result in less people wanting to host a contest here?

    Either way I guess a guaranteed winner is better than no winner at all or abandoned contests.

  59. @jeiru: We’re still considering the costs involved. However, I can say ‘yes’, we will be sending Payoneer cards to designers outside of Australia and the US.

    @Julius-: When the cards are ready to go (don’t worry, we’ll let you know when they are), we’ll announce a co-branded Payoneer/99designs micro-site where you will be able to apply for and order your card.

    #Everyone: Thanks again for your feedback.

    Oh, as an aside: if you happen to live in a country that is not covered by any of our preferred payment gateways (see original post, above), we will continue to offer you Western Union payments (but only where there is absolutely no other way).

  60. raden bagoes Says:

    i do love it…nice job

  61. meadow Says:

    it’s a big leap for 99 designs, I definitely agree to the new system (prepaid). But is it possible to make it less than 14 days? I think it’s waaaaaay too long..

  62. vikito Says:

    Is there any news regarding Payoneer??

  63. Marco Says:

    What happened with Payoneer? This would be my dream come true :)

  64. Logobility Says:

    Is there any news regarding the prepaid cards??

  65. eshcol Says:

    please introduce payoneer
    The best option for Indians..

  66. adsense website Says:

    ohhh nice info, keep it coming, let’s all get wealthy

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