unbeknownst-to-me writes: "Bottom line: will anyone ever come up with an advertising supported free phone/data service for ordinary people? "
I actually think FreeUP is there, at least for those for whom coupon printing works reliably.
I thought CellNuvo was there, for low-end users, before the original direct-cell-service setup failed. (At least, it provided workable backup lines for us with so much earnings headroom that we stashed extra gold........)
One of the big questions is whether either of those, or anyone else, is likely to adequately budget for at least the minimal customer support needed to survive long term. Both are at the mercy of changes from outside vendors, of course.
Both of those schemes are/were self-limiting as far as going overboard in earning rewards, since there is/was no where else to spend the earnings.
If you have zero time to interact for earnings, the other option is "selling" tracker/user data. I'm a lot less comfortable with this, but it might suffice for a low-end cell user.
Wow... I'm glad this thread is about important philosophical and existential questions ("To swipe, or not to swipe... that is the question"). Just scanning the thread's title, for a moment there I thought CellNUVO might be adding Uber to their redemption menus!
Seriously, I am one of those frugal folks (my long suffering wife will vouch for that), and being retired I do have more time to swipe than those who are still working. Yes, I certainly could earn more by working for even minimum wage, but then it would be work, and swiping doesn't feel like work (at least it didn't until the issues associated with the latest CN updates). Throw in the bonus of getting my wife's phone bill paid in full for the past 10 months, compliments of CN, along with the thrill of "getting a deal", and my admittedly-at-least-semi-obsessive swiping has been worth it, for me. Of course, whether it's worth it is a personal decision based on each individual's priorities (some of which have already been mentioned on this thread), so I can only speak for myself.
I truly and sincerely hope that CellNUVO can right the ship, and soon! Otherwise I may have to abandon said ship, in which case it's every man, woman, and child for themselves.