Healthywage Review: Bet on Yourself, Get Paid To Lose Weight

hw_logoIt’s that time of year, and since I eventually lost 50 pounds with the help of this and other weight-loss betting sites (and have kept it off since), and I wanted to share my experiences including both positive and negative aspects.

After reading academic studies which found that financial incentives were effective in helping people lose weight, I joined You tell them how much weight you want to lose, your current body details, how much time you want, and and they’ll calculate what prize to offer you based on how much you want to bet on yourself.

My overall HealthyWage bet was to lose 10% of my body weight over 9 months. My offered bet was to put up $50 per month for 9 months for a potential win of $50. You may like the sound of “winning $500”, but most of it will be your own money:


Honestly, risking $450 to win $50 didn’t feel like a very good risk/reward ratio, but I wanted the extra motivation. Perhaps my goal was too easy and that was why the payout wasn’t as high. You can put up your own numbers and calculate your own HealthyWage offer. Your payout may be better than mine. The quote is free, you just need to provide any e-mail address.

Initial weigh-in verification. There are three ways to verify your weight:

  1. Video Verification. Smartphone video using your personal scale. The most popular option, and the one that I chose.
  2. Verification by a Fitness or Health Professional – Bring a form to your “local gym, pharmacies, corporate wellness clinics, walk-in clinics, HR reps, nurses, your personal doctor, your personal trainer or your chiropractor.”
  3. Verification at a Weight Watchers Meeting.

I followed their directions carefully, uploaded my video, and both my initial and final videos were accepted with no issues or additional requests.

Warnings. Every month, I would see a $50 charge on my credit card bill from Healthwage. However, that was about it. There were no regular e-mail updates. No interim weigh-ins. No fun tokens or prize giveaways. No smartphone app. No encouraging quotes or success stories. No interaction at all.

Upon initial sign-up, I was given my 2-week window for final weigh-in. HealthyWage’s two-week window is definitely more generous than DietBet’s 48-hour window, with the important difference that I was never sent any reminders by HealthyWage when the time actually came. In comparison, Dietbet sent me multiple reminders beforehand. Now, I had the date marked on my digital calendar with several alerts, so I completed my weigh-in by the second day of the window. It is quite possible that if I waited until closer to the final deadline, I would have gotten a reminder. But I wouldn’t rely on it. I got the feeling that they wouldn’t mind if you forgot about that final weigh-in.

This brings me to the important structural difference between HealthyWage and similar service DietBet. DietBet collects participants into groups and then takes a cut from the pooled bets. The winners of each group then split the money from the losers, so that Dietbet makes the same commission amount, no matter how many people win or lose. Dietbet feels more like they want you to win. HealthyWage, on the other hand, makes one-on-one bets with individuals.

See my separate DietBet Review. You can do both at the same time.

Extra final verification hoops. Upon final weight verification, you’ll have to submit the verification video again (see above). But that’s not all. I also had to locate and upload a “before photo” and an “after photo”, which could be any photo from “around the time” of the start and end of the challenge. I also had to upload a scan of my driver’s license. Here’s a screenshot of their page asking for additional information.

Finally, I successfully referred a few people to Healthwage and received extra money added my “pot”. This referral program is nice feature to get some social support, but remember that you get the referral money if you win your own bet.

Final payout options. There are two options to receive your winnings. A mailed check takes 3-4 weeks to process, with no fee. The other “fast” option is PayPal, which charges a 3% fee. I picked the PayPal option because I didn’t want to wait around for a check. However, they later clarified that it would still take 3-5 business days for Paypal transfer. The 3% fee is actually taken out by PayPal, so HealthyWage actually sends the full amount (they just choose not to subsidize the fee). In retrospect, maybe I should have just waited for the check. Here’s a screenshot:


Bottom line. I committed to a Healthywage bet to lose 10% of my initial weight over 9 months. I lost the weight, completed my verifications without hassle, won the bet, and was paid my winnings. I also won a bit of extra cash due to referring others. Calculate your own HealthyWage offer here. I found the overall process very business-like. However, the added motivation to lose weight and he healthier was the biggest benefit, and worth more to me than the cash winnings.


  1. I don’t really understand the 1099 tax math — you would’ve “won” $100 even with the initial proposed bet. Why would that trigger a 1099? If they send you a 1099 with your bet + winnings payout, that seems like the wrong way to do it and wouldn’t it create hassle when tax time came and you had to adjust your 1099 and explain that $900 actually came from your own bet?

    • Yes, exactly, the extra hassle is why I don’t want the 1099. The way Healthywage operates, any time your winnings (even if return of principal in effect) meets or exceeds $600, they will send you a 1099-MISC for the whole amount. Example, you bet $500 and win $100, you’d get a 1099-MISC of $600 total gross income. It is then up to you to explain to the IRS that $500 of that $600 was your “upfront bet”, and your gain was really only $100. Not impossible, not unethical, just a pain in the butt and increases your chance of audit slightly in my humble opinion.

  2. Nothing wrong with blogging about tax evasion, right?

    Or wait, I guess maybe you report all miscellaneous income on your taxes like you should regardless and the only reason you want to avoid getting a 1099 is to save the environment?

    • I don’t understand what you are talking about. If I bet $500 and won $100, I’d have a 1099-MISC for $600. I feel that I should get a 1099-MISC for $100, not the $600 as is their policy. That is my true income, no? I don’t want the hassle of having to explain to the IRS my “gambling costs” as Healthywage wants me to. Why increase my audit risk over something so relatively trivial.

      Finally, I don’t want to have to provide my Social Security Number to yet another entity. But thanks for the anonymous accusations!

      • I agree Jonathan. I could not figure out how to “write off” my bet to Healthy Wage. I hope you can figure it out but, it definitely isn’t fair to be taxed on Misc. income that isn’t income. Tax me on the payout, not my initial “BET”. Mine was worse I had a 1099 for $1800, I bet $900 but ended up having to pay taxes on my $900 winnings and my $900 bet. This was for tax year 2014, and I actually filed an extension so I could research how to write off my bet, but never was able to and just ended up paying the tax. So my winnings actually were quite a bit less. Oh, well I AM healthier!

        As Mike mentioned in these comments. “Sucks but that’s how the IRS works.” Joe’s comments were also was informative and productive.

        Not sure what is up with MUD, but that’s one of the downsides of the internet. Anonymity…….

        Thanks again for a great blog. I look forward to all of you tips and experiences.

  3. Keith Lewandowski says:

    Hi Jonathon,

    I have also done participated in the Healthy Wage and Diet Bet programs and agree with your reviews about them. Diet bet definitely doesn’t hassle you, they get their 25% up front. I also had to fill out a 1099 for my Healthy Wage winnings, but what irritated me is that the 1099 that Healthy Wage sent me was for the total payout. They didn’t subtract the amount I paid for my bet. In your case you made $55, but the 1099 that they sent you, it was for the full amount that they paid back to you, right? I don’t think you should have to pay taxes on money that you put up. Paying taxes on your $55 of winnings seems reasonable, but not on the $500 that you bet on yourself. Maybe there is a way to write off your bet, but I couldn’t figure it out. Anyways, the great thing about the 2 diet sites is that they do motivate you to drop weight. Love your blog. I always look forward to your advice. Thanks!

  4. If they are operating similar to the way that gaming entities operate (though hard to imagine they went through the trouble and expense of getting a gaming license), they are required to send you a 1099 for the full amount. That’s because once you place the bet, the funds are considered to be spent on your end and issued in full when you win. It’s the same deal with most casino games, though the threshold varies depending on the game. Sucks, but that’s the way the IRS works.

  5. I believe that you can write the 500 as a gambling loss to offset the winnings that is reported on the 1099. So you would only pay taxes on the $55.

  6. Congrats on losing all the weight! I am totally jealous – 10% wow! Awesome.

  7. I imagine this should be reported the same as other gambling winnings.

    If you bet $500 and you “won” $600, you have $600 worth of income reported on Line 21 of 1040. In order to deduct your bet, you would need to claim it as a Misc Itemized deduction (not subject to the 2% limitation) on line 28 of Schedule A.

    There are some rules that allow the “netting” of wins/losses, but those typically involve one gambling “session” (normally the same day).

  8. I’m no expert, but isn’t this like a misallaneous contract job? Somewhat like uber? They report the whole amount that they pay you, and it’s upto you to report how much of that is actual income. (In your example, you paid $500; you may have paid for other items, such as treadmill, bottled drinks, electricity, outdoor gear, and other items for this income…so, maybe if you have saved receipts, you can claim $555 was cost of the 1099-misc income?)?
    -as a curiosity, has anyone used their credit card with them? If so, what kind of purchase was it categorized on their credit card statement?

    • On the 1099-misc, will they report the gross amount (795.56), or the net amount (772.19) after their fee (23.37) for your case?

  9. John Oswald says:

    I actually won a HealthyWage 3 years ago. I put up $1,500 to lose 40 pounds in 6 months to win $600. They sent me a check for $2,100 and a 1099. I contacted the IRS to ask how to handle it since I had only made $600, how do I deduct the other $1500. The IRS responded that I was required to pay taxes on the entire amount. I inquired about the possibility of using the gambling method of deducting what I put up and they said that if you look at the HealthyWage website, it specifically says that it is NOT gambling. The IRS went on to say that HealthyWage has no gaming license and internet gambling is illegal. So there is no basis for deducting the amount that was ‘wagered’. Luckily, my winnings were enough that I still didn’t lose money, but many people could end up losing money if they follow the law regarding taxes. I believe that HealthyWage should issue 2 checks to each HealthyWager winner. The first being a refund and the second being the ‘winnings’ and issue a 1099 only on the second one, if necessary. There is never a need to issue a 1099 on a refund.

  10. Keith Lewandowski says:

    Completely agree with John Oswald. The same thing happened to me. Very frustrating experience.

  11. Jonathan, congrats on your success!

    I’m the Community Manager at HealthyWage and I just wanted to let everyone know that we have an updated policy for how we handle 1099s now.

    Your 1099 will only have the amount of your actual win. The payments for that challenge are not included.
    If you receive a $1000.00 check but paid in $600.00 you would NOT receive a 1099. If you received a $1000 check and paid in $200.00, your 1099 would say 800.00.

    We appreciate the discussion in this thread. If anyone has any questions, just let me know.


    • Thank you for the notice about the updated 1099 policy. I’m glad it now changed, will update my post when I get the chance.

    • Keith Lewandowski says:

      Common sense finally prevails, but for a lot of us, we already got stuck with an inflated 1099 from HealthyWage.

      I wonder if there is anything that can be done retroactively by Healthywage. As mentioned earlier in this thread, I got a 1099 for $1800 of which only $900 was winnings. Totally turned me off to HealthyWage.

      Kate from Healthywage any chance of getting a revised 1099???

  12. Kristen Ford says:

    Finding motivation to lose weight can be very challenging. This motivation can be even more difficult during holidays, family dinners or a night out on the town with friends or coworkers. Now imagine having a financial motivator to lose weight! Yes, I thought it sounded too good to be true as well until I looked into Healthy Wage from the link on my employers intranet page. There are all kinds of challenges you can join simultaneously to earn money while you lose weight. I decided to do as many as possible. I gathered a team of five and each of us entered the team challenge for $70 to be entered in to win a grand prize of $10,000. I also decided to pay an additional $75/month to join an individual challenge for six months for a chance to double my money. I would join step challenges as well to help me incorporate walking into my weight loss routine. My team members still struggled with the team challenge and we didn’t win the $10,000 but I did win the individual challenge and lost seven additional pounds past the forty I had originally entered the challenge for! My prize was $1,050 which I spent on a mini vacation to show off my new six pack abs! 🙂 I also kept the weight off and got my $70 back from the team challenge. To read more about my daily meal plans and to see before and after photos of me in the same outfit, please visit the Healthy Wage site. I am success story #82 and my name is Kristen Ford. If you have trouble finding it, feel free to send me a message or reply to this one and I will send you the link.

    Thank you Healthy Wage for helping me surpass my goal and for paying me to do it!:)

    • Rebecca Carnahan says:

      I am thinking about playing Healthywage but am afraid I will bet money then lose it because I didn’t loose the weight. Also, I am confused about how 1 person is winning over $1000 and another only $55. I appreciate your time if you answer. Thanks.

  13. Wife and I lost a combined 130 lbs and won over 2,000 (which of course basically was used to replace our wardrobes… lol.

    This program gave us that little extra something and it made all the difference.

    FIVE STARS!!!!

  14. John Pauly says:

    I have done HeathlyWage. I found the financial incentive worked for me. Really the ability to make a little extra money while at the same time working towards small and large weight loss goals is a no brainer. I found the money easy to handle now with their HW Point system. I found that eventually I was able to participate in the challenges using the money I had earned from previous challenges. This is not a “get rich quick scheme” but it is a way to earn a monetary bonus for yourself while on your weight loss journey.

  15. Hi, I filled out the information and got to the last page. I stopped before I clicked on the part that says “Show your prize”. At which point am I officially committed to the program? Can I see my prize amount (which I assume is the balance after my initial monthly payments are subtracted) before committing to the program?

    • It’s been a while since I did this so I can’t say for sure, but I recall being able to see the prize before committing to the program. It should be before they ask you for credit card information.

      EDIT … This comes from Michael Halloran who works with HealthyWage

      **Jonathan is correct. After you click on on “Show your prize,” you’ll see one or more prize options for you to select from. You will also see the prize breakdown, including your ROI, on that screen. You are not committed until you enter your payment info.

  16. Stephanie says:

    Loved this website. So glad I found Healthy Wage. Got paid to lose weight! 8 months and 85 lbs down – $2905 in the bank. ($900 initial investment) So all and all I’m stoked. I’ve half way considered betting for the last 30 I want to lose, but I know the last 20 to 10lbs can be a bastard. Sooo….I may not. 🙂

  17. Can you do both sites at the same time ? I just registered with one of them can I register with the other one now ? Like for the same weight loss? Thank you !!
    P.s. Thank you for the article , very well written

  18. Christine says:

    Hi I’m thinking of doing Healthy Wage but really confused how you only profited $55? Thank you

    • When it says you can “win $500”, some of it is your own money being returned to you. So for example you might bet $50 a month for 9 months, and then win $50. So $450 was my own bet and $50 was winnings. Try putting in your own numbers and you may get a better payout percentage. I will try to update the review to clarify.

  19. This isn’t really all that great if you just have a few pounds to lose. You have to bet 10% of your current weight. So if you want to go from 130 to anything more than 117, it won’t let you.

  20. I am not a Tax Professional, but this definitely seems like a “Capital Gains” issue, which would require a 1099. It is up to you as the taxpayer to then prove to the IRS the “Cost Basis” (What you paid-in) and the “Proceeds” (What you Got out), by showing the IRS your bank-statements showing that you paid money in at certain intervals, etc.

  21. I bet $100 per month for 6 months that I could lose 50 lbs. (about 22% of my body weight). I found the verified weigh-ins to be very easy using the HealthyWage app. My payout, including the $600 I invested, was $1933. Being a very competitive person, I was inspired to win my bet. I would recommend HealthyWage to anyone interested in an extra incentive to lose weight.

  22. Jessica says:

    I tried healthywage, and my husband and I did research on a few different online weight loss bet programs. We saw a video on healthywage that made it to good morning America! We thought it looked legit, and there seemed to be no bad word of mouth on their program. I signed up and bet $100/month for 7 months, that I’d lose 65lbs. I did it!! I posted my results on feb 27, and they reviewed it all… and BAM! I got all my money back plus the $1600 earned (it was a little more, but I’m from Canada, so the exchange threw me off!)
    ! I didn’t believe it until the money was actually in my hands!! It was the best thing! They totally came through! I bet on myself, and it was the best incentive! Healthywage was awesome!!

  23. Kathryn Rice says:

    I am so glad I found HealthyWage. It was a great motivation to stick to my goal. I bet $50/month for 7 months to lose 50 pounds. I won and my profit was $1000. It was so easy. Just make sure your thoroughly read and understand the rules and FAQs before you sign up. The only people that complain are those that lose because the didn’t understand what they were signing up for.

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