HQ Trivia Review – Live Quiz Game Show For Real Money Prizes

How and where to use your general knowledge skills to make some extra cash

There are many ways to play games to win real money prizes, but it pays to sit up and take notice when one comes along that’s free and fun to play, can be played pretty much anywhere whether on iPhone, iPad, other tablets or Android smartphones, and offers a test of skill in order to get in the prize money.

That game is HQ Trivia, the latest and greatest of a number of real money trivia games. Arguably this is not just a game – it taps cleverly into some important elements of human nature by fostering collective achievement, our need to be right and not wrong, and the desire to compete.

It’s rapidly become the most well known live cash prize trivia contest, thanks in part to an enticing format, at least one charismatic quiz host in Scott Rogowsky, and some good value jackpot prizes.

Whether you’re in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, if you haven’t heard of HQ yet you’re either totally not a trivia fan or you will be playing soon.

With significant interest being generated though social networking sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, new records in the numbers of contestants are continuously being set. Christmas Day of 2017 saw a record 730,000 and Sunday 7th Jan attracted the highest ever at 1.2 million, mainly due to additional players after the introduction of the Android HQ Trivia app. Prior to this the app had only been available to Apple/iOS users.

Here we’ll carry out an in depth review what HQ Trivia is all about, including how and where to play, the cash prizes you might be able to win, and a bunch of other info that’ll help you decide if playing the game is likely to line your pockets with some extra $/€/£s. 

What Is HQ Trivia

HQ Trivia is a live Trivia game that you play on your iPhone or Android device. There are two contests held at the same scheduled times daily. You can win real money without having to pay to enter.

Each game is held live, with a host asking the questions. All players see the same  general knowledge questions,  delivered in multiple choice format.

Contestants who fail to answer a question correctly or within the time limit are eliminated, with those who answer correctly progressing to the next question round.

There are 12 questions in all, and all players who make it through to the last question (and get it right) are awarded equal shares of the prize money for that game. There are some limited options for playing with extra lives.


Jan 8th 2017 – Although available to play globally, the HQ questions list has up to now had a US focus. Now there’s a UK version accessed from inside the app which poses questions more suited to a UK audience.

You’ll see questions on UK politics, sport, music, media, and culture. The number of contestants is of course lower than the global game, it’s hosted by Sharon Carpenter rather than Scott Rogowosky, and the cash prize is much lower with the pot for the first game set at $500 or around £370.

This UK version is available to play every Monday and Wednesday at 3pm and 9pm UK time. You’ll need to be over 17.

Winning Money

HQ Trivia is all about the chance to win some money. It’s one of a number of real money trivia games. You can play quiz games at a number of alternative places if it’s just the question and answer part of trivia or quiz games that grabs you, but for most of us the prospect of winning some cash with our general knowledge skills is going to be the driver to play.

Sounds easy right?

Well clearly it’s not. You will need to be highly clued up in general knowledge to be successful.

So how do you win, and perhaps more importantly how much money can you win?

How Do You Win at HQ Trivia?

Clearly you’ll need to answer all the 12 questions correctly. For each question, any other players who get it wrong or fail to answer within the time limit are eliminated. You’ll need to still be in the game after the last question.

Whatever the prize pool total is for any particular contest is distributed equally among the remaining contestants after the last question. In a fairly easy round of questions this is likely to be a high number resulting in a fairly low payout, if you’re the last participant standing at the end of a round you could win a nice sum.

OK, so that’s how you win. Now how do you win?

The answer here is you’ll either need a very strong grounding in general knowledge, play as a team with other equally strong players so you cover as many knowledge areas as possible, or find ways to cheat the game.


How Much Money Can You Win At HQ Trivia?


In the early days, HQ Trivia kicked off with prizes of between $100 and $250. As its popularity has exploded, contests with $10000 prize pools are becoming commonplace. The Christmas Day 2017 quiz ran with a prize pool of $12000.

As of mid November 2017 the most that any single player had won in a contest was $535, although with recent increases in player numbers (and those answering all questions correctly) the payouts have been significantly lower, sometimes even in single figures or tens of dollars.


For Australian players the prize pools equate to roughly $A1,300 to $A9,500.


How Do You Withdraw Winnings?

An original rule that stated you need at least $20USD or $A25 in your HQ Trivia account before you can withdraw has been superceded and now any amount can be withdrawn straight into PayPal.


How Easy Is It To Win?

In December of 2017, most contests attracted in excess of 300,000 active players. That’s up from an average of 60,000 in the preceding month. The record number of players was on Christmas day 2017 with a reported near 750,000. Now that Android users are playing as well, you can expect those numbers to rise significantly.

So higher numbers of players doesn’t necessarily make it harder to win, but it is likely to reduce payouts because more will get through all the question rounds. 

It’s certainly not easy to win, however many players there are.

How To Enter

Entry is easy. Just install the app, make a quick registration, and load up prior to the start of each contest – they’re held daily on weekdays at 3pm and 9pm Eastern time, and weekends at 9pm.


Download The HQ Trivia App

The iOS HQ Trivia app can be downloaded here.

The Android HQ Trivia app can be downloaded here at the Google Play store. 

How To Play

Once each Trivia HQ show starts, you’ll be facing a series of multiple choice questions. Easy at first, but getting progressively harder.

You’ll need to be choosing the answer to each question that you think (or know) is right, and you only have 10 seconds to do it starting from the time the host starts reading.

It’s that simple. Answer each one quickly enough and correctly, and you’ll still be in the game for the next one.

You can get an extra life that will allow you to get one wrong. This is allocated when someone uses your code.


The HQ Trivia schedule is a straightforward one and is easy to remember, no problems here for knowing when the next game is:

Weekdays there is a game at 3 PM Eastern.
Every day there is a game at 9 PM Eastern.

Essentially that means there are two chances to play each day in the week, and one on weekends.

Occasionally you’ll find an extra game on special occasions (example Christmas) or when one of the normal scheduled contests doesn’t run for whatever reason.

What Do You Need?

So what do you need to play?

Again the answer is pretty straightforward:

  • Download the app
  • Set up a user account
  • Connect with a suitable device (android or iOS smartphone)

After that, it’s your abilities/knowledge that will keep you in the game.

Who Can Play

Anyone who has signed up with the app can join each contest and answer the questions. You’ll need a Paypal account to get any winnings.


Quiz questions start out easy and get progressively more difficult, with those of a difficult nature being labelled as ‘savage’ by the host. Examples of subjects range from pop music to celebrities, geography, history, literature and sports. The list of questions can include just about anything else you can think of.

An example of an early question might be “Which of these is a real U.S. state?” — with an example of “Which a more difficult one being ”Which of these NFL players scored in the 2007 Superbowl”

To get a really strong idea of the types of questions normally asked (and the types of answers you’ll see as multiple choice options) or get some practice questions, you can either play in a few contests or just check out some old ones on Youtube. 


Wherever there are real money prizes concerned, there will be attempts to develop a hack or hacks to help win in underhand ways. So let’s have a look at some of the ways you might be able to beat the system.

First off (and this of course is not really underhand) remember that you can get extra lives by sharing your referral code. But there is another ‘cheat’ way of generating an extra life too…..

  • Open the app
  • On the main screen place two fingers on the display slightly apart
  • Swipe up with both fingers repeatedly very fast

You only get 10 seconds to make an answer, so looking it up on google is not an option. It may be possible to get some answers quickly enough with a voice search, and there are already some HQ Trivia bots being developed that will help with this too. This article explores how using Google assistant on an Android phone to get answers might be a viable option.

If you do want to find a way to win without actually knowing the answers, you definitely won’t be alone. There’s already proof from Google Trends that contestants are trying to search for answers.

Aside from these – and again it’s not really a cheat – you could try teaming up with friends and/or family. If you were all on a conference call for example, it should be easy to get collective answers and use multiple thinking heads to get the right ones.

With all cheats remember there are risks, mainly that you could win and end up being disqualified.  The terms of service, published within the HQ Trivia app, state that the company reserves its right to, “disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated means or scripts. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void.”

Is It Really Free?

The HQ Trivia app is absolutely free to download and to play. There are no in-game purchases on offer or ways you can get ahead of other contestants by spending real money. You can’t even buy extra lives.

Eventually HQ Trivia will look for ways to make money, but the most likely outcome of this will be you’ll start seeing paid-for ads. No problem of course unless you’re drawn into spending money through clever advertising.

Business Model

It won’t help you with answering trivia questions, but many players want to know the answer to the question ”how does HQ Trivia make money?”

You don’t pay anything to play, there are no ads. So where do the cash prizes come from?

The answer is in funding. Big money funding. Some big investors saw the potential for the quiz app to grow in future, and they’ve put in significant sums to fund it. As of early 2018, a reported $8 million has been raised, with further venture funding being sought on the back of a market value of around $100 million.

Chat & Comments

Chat features in apps like HQ can be annoying, offensive, funny, or hugely entertaining. This one is no different. If you leave it visible while watching or after you’ve been eliminated you’ll get to see what goes on in the chat stream.

Many comments are of course directed at the host, mainly of admiration although occasionally some might be a bit rough in nature. You’ll get the odd profanity too, but one strange term you might not have heard before is ‘dink.’

So what does ‘dink’ mean?

In fact this term is referring to a weekly podcast known as the “Jenna & Julien Podcast.” It’s hosted by Jenna Marbles and Julien Solomita, who may be well known to regulars on Youtube. Jenna Marbles became a Youtube sensation with a series of viral Youtube videos a few years back. 

In the podcast, the hosts sing ‘dink’ along with the beat to the intro music. Listeners of the podcast became known as the “dink fam.”  

During an episode broadcast in November 2017, the hosts discussed HQ Trivia and how great it was. This encouraged fans to check out the quiz, and hence the term ‘dink’ is now used as a kind of ‘secret community’ message between podcast fans. 

Pros & Cons

The pros of playing HQ Trivia are obvious – free, straightforward gaming, play anywhere, good fun, win money, no ads (currently) to interrupt the games. Plus the inherent nature of friendly competition and the bringing together of office or family teams to try and beat it. What’s not to like?

As a competitor, navigating your way through all 12 questions successfully can result in some serious elation. Plus doing that in a team fosters a real sense of collective achievement.

There are some drawbacks though, with those around the technical performance perhaps being the most noteworthy. You’ll rarely find the app just not working (unless it’s related to connectivity on your device or network), but some users have experienced lags and dropouts. As the popularity of the game grows these are expected to become less noticeable.

Some of the questions might be considered to be US centric. Not so much a problem for US residents, but potentially more of an issue for non US players. Plus the difficulty of some questions may eventually cause frustration and lead to a loss of interest. The nature of some of the more difficult questions can call on instinctive responses rather than knowledgeable ones.

There’s an in-game chat feature which can lead to some trolling incidents, although if you feel you’re likely to be distracted by that you can hide it.

The last negative may be a slighly surprising one – the cash prizes! That’s because, although some of the pools may seem worthwhile, when they’re split multiple ways the amount you actually win can end up being fairly small.


Checking out real user reviews is a useful way to get the lowdown on the reliability and trustworthiness of any product.

In the case of HQ Trivia, most of the info you’ll need is here on this page. However there’s always some value in getting other viewpoints, so here are a few of the more interesting/alternative review articles I’ve found…..


This whole page is a fairly in depth resource for anyone who wants to know what HQ Trivia is all about, so there’s not much value in pointing you towards similar pages elsewhere with perhaps the exception of the HQ Trivia section on the popular gaming website Kotaku.

The best additional resources then are going to be those that might give you pointers on how to win, and given the nature of the contests – where there’s a time limit on how long you have to answer – there’s not much you can do to improve chances other than improve your ability to answer questions.

For general knowledge you can obviously spend time reading Wikipedia pages and keep abreast of world news, but practice is very important and the trivia app known as Sporcle can give you plenty of opportunity to hone your answering skills.

If you want any additional info on the game, there’s a whole dedicated section on Reddit, plus of course the social network pages on Facebook and at Twitter will offer good sources of news and views. Crunchbase has a useful list of various recent news articles.

Finally, keep an eye on the Wikipedia page. It needs a lot of work but the Wiki encyclopedia site is well know for being a great source of deep information so no doubt the page will be improved in future.


There are a few names associated with the operation who are worth noting:

Scott Rogowsky – compere/quiz master. The charismatic face of HQ Trivia.   Scott’s Twitter page.

Rus Yusupov and Colin Krol, the makers of HQ Trivia and previously the video app Vine

Sharon Carpenter – compere/quiz master. Sharon originates from England and has a background in high profile journalism.   Sharon’s Twitter page

From a contestant perspective, the main name in the frame is that of Allan Gibbons who has won 9 contests at time of writing and held pole position on the leaderboard for over two months until overtaken by a winner of one of the high prize value games.

In November of 2017 there was an incident involving Scott Rogowsky and Rus Yusupov, an incident referred to in some places as the ‘HQ Trivia’ meltdown.

Scott had agreed to an interview with the Daily Beast, with Rus reportedly threatening to fire him as a result and if the article ran.

The Future

The near future will see the release of a much-anticipated Android version, which if successful has the potential to exponentially increase the number of players.

Further ahead it’s a near certainty that we’ll see improvements in technical performance, alongside introductions of contests on specific subjects. That definitely would increase player volumes, although maybe at the risk of diluting the numbers playing the ‘main’ game. There may also be some scheduling problems.

We may see some changes in the way the contests are played, for example introducing points and enabling more valuable scores for quicker answers.

If the initial success of HQ Trivia continues, we should expect bigger and bigger cash prizes…. and bigger prizes will certainly be a by-product of any introduction of advertising. There is potential for sponsor advertising between questions, or even the possibility of advertisers sponsoring whole contests.


Interest in real money trivia games is on the increase, not surprisingly for a type of cash gaming which has skill at its core. HQ Trivia is one of the leaders in that field, offering valuable cash prizes that are only likely to grow in value.

If you’re strong in general knowledge, or can pull together a team that’s collectively strong, the HQ app offers a fun and social way of enjoying online trivia quizzes at no cost.

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