Swap Tiles in Words With Friends Without Losing Your Turn?

Click here to see our current list of word game events, including tournaments for Words With Friends, Word Chums and Trivia Crack .

UPDATE – August 17, 2017

This post was originally published in October of 2016. The original text is down below the line. Words With Friends’ rollout of its coins feature has been a long, confusing ordeal which has left many players searching for answers. I’ll try to answer those questions here as best as I can. As of this date, the new features are still being rolled out. Even if you have the latest version of the app, you still may not have them. The determination of who gets these features first seems quite arbitrary.

Players are accumulating coins by completing little challenges within the game. And these coins can also be purchased. Players can trade in these coins for “Power Ups.” The first Power Up is called Hindsight. It shows you a good move on the board that you could’ve played on your previous turn. While that seems quite harmless, it can and often does reveal a place on the board where a player can move on his/her next turn. So there’s definitely some advantage in that.

Word Radar

Word Radar is a Power Up which highlights all the squares on the board where you can potentially play a word. In other words, if you’re wondering if you can reach a TW with the letters on your rack, the Word Radar will definitively tell you whether or not it’s possible. The highlights are a little darker in squares where a stronger word can be played. Although the Word Radar doesn’t tell you which words can be played in that spot (as cheating apps do), there is certainly a big advantage in knowing where words can and cannot be placed.

Lastly, and most controversially, is the Swap+ feature which enables you to swap tiles for new ones, but without losing your turn. I wrote the post below when this feature was only a rumor. Well now it’s clearly a reality as several players in our word game community currently have it. I personally think it fundamentally changes the dynamic of the game. That’s the basis of the following post.


If Words With Friends begins to allow players to swap out their letters without losing their turn, there’s no telling what kind of insanity will follow;

– You can eat ice cream without getting fat.
– You can drink whiskey all night and feel great the next morning.
– You can jump off buildings and fly.

In other words, there are no consequences anymore! Until now, swapping tiles (exchanging your current letters for new ones) has been a heavy decision to make during a Words With Friends match. The plus side is that it refreshes your tile rack with new letters, which is helpful in those moments when your rack looks like this:

iaioooy

But the downside of a swap is that it has always resulted in the loss of your turn. So let’s put that into perspective: Your tile rack sucks. You’re either loaded with vowels or with consonants, Also, at this point of the game you’re likely being crushed by your opponent and the swap is a last-ditch effort to turn your luck around.

In boxing, this would be the equivalent of giving your opponent a clean shot to your face in the hope that…after his punch, you’ll be in position to uppercut his jaw. It’s a desperate move but it just might work. Zynga, the company behind Words With Friends, apparently wants all the punches thrown in their game to be uppercuts.

In some versions of the game, Zynga is slowly rolling out a feature in which players can use coins to swap out tiles and not lose their turn. Coins are earned by playing games with Smart Match and other regular games.

Luck, Risk & Fairness

I’m not sure what I think about this feature. But I do know that it certainly changes some key dynamics of the game, namely luck, risk and fairness. Instead of working with the letters you’re given, creating your own luck and dare I say it…learning new words, you simply swap your unwanted letters with no consequences.

And if your opponent has no coins, defeating him will be like shooting fish in a barrel. It brings up the same issue from a few years back when some players were using the Word Meter (because they paid for the coins to use it) against opponents who were not using it. That’s what we call an unfair advantage.

Change is good and Zynga has certainly made some good changes, especially the free Word Meter, the Tile Bag and the Fast Play version. And let’s not forget that Words With Friends itself was a drastic change for all us former Scrabble players. We were tired of dominating the few friends who were still willing to play us on a physical board. Words With Friends came along and enabled us to play at any time with people all over the world.

But when will Zynga stop trying so hard to make their game so easy to play? At what point do they back off and say “THIS is our game. You gotta be a little smart to play it. Learn it or leave it.” It already allows you to try invalid words, test the strength of your word and see what’s left in the tile bag. Try any of these in a Scrabble tournament and see what happens.

And now you can swap tiles willy-nilly without losing your turn. At this rate…we can expect Zynga to roll out the following features in the next few years

LETTER REQUEST – “Just tell us what letters you want and we’ll give them to you.”
ANAGRAM MAGIC – “See a list of all the words you can play…and where you should play them.”
COIN CONVERTER – “For every 10 coins you buy, we’ll add 100 points to your score!!”
SKIP THE GAME – “It’s no longer even necessary to play the game! Buy our coins and we’ll just give you the win.”

I probably need to cut Zynga some slack. They created a game that we all love to play. They’re fully entitled to monetize it and make it appeal to a big audience. Just imagine how difficult it is nowadays to market a word game to the younger generations. I saw a group of teens the other day…all on their phones, not talking to each other. I don’t know what they were looking at, but I doubt it was improving their vocabularies.

As it pertains to us, we’ll continue organizing WWF tournaments that are frequent, fair and fun. We’ll keep an eye on this new WWF feature and we’ll update this post with anything we learn about it.

We love our word game community and we want to hear your thoughts about it. Please comment below.

2017-08-17T15:00:34-04:00

69 Comments

  1. Gloria January 12, 2017 at 4:40 am - Reply

    Thank you. I assumed two weeks ago when i received this new function that my friends received this too, and I did use it. I then noticed a friend swapping, and missing a turn. When I asked, they did not have the function. I found out most of my friends did not have the function, so honesty and memory has become a new component of the game. I need to remember which friends have the function, and which don’t. That’s crazy.
    I’ve been playing for at least three years. What is the word meter?

    • Joseph January 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm - Reply

      Hi Gloria…thanks for commenting. Yes we also think this new feature is a little problematic…creating some imbalances in the fairness of game. The fact that you don’t know about the Word Meter is a perfect example of how the creators of this game are creating advantages for some players while other players have no idea about it. The Word Meter has been in effect for a long time. If you place a word on the board, it will show you the strength of that word…in comparison with all the possible moves that could be played on that board with the letters you have. So if you find the best possible move on the board, the meter will be full at 100%. If you have the latest version of the game on your phone, you should see this feature in your game options. It’s free. Best of luck 🙂

      • Bob September 3, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

        It asks me if I want to buy more swaps/coins. I am hoping I am not getting billed I never gave my charge card

      • Marlene J Urnovitz October 11, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

        Help…..my icon shows 3 games are waiting, but when I click on it, I have no moves.
        Also, sometimes when it is my move, the games show up under “their move” section.
        Please, it’s so frustrating….about to give up playing altogether.
        And yes, I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling, but that doesn’t work.

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      the word meter when turned on is a really cool tool that gives you a meter on the value of your word. it can help you look further for a better score. i love it. and i have the problem also that some friends don’t yet have swap +. i guess it’s just a matter of time as it rolls out. love that, too!

    • Joe bartlett November 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      I think at a minimum there should be notice to the other player.

      My friends and I don’t use swap (my brother doesn’t have it) and we tell each other what we are using (usually we agree on using radar only). I don’t like free swaps for the reasons noted in the article, primarily because it tilts the emphasis away from finding nooks that work to swapping for seven letter word plays. Hindsight (though to a lesser extent) takes away from the mental challenge as well,

  2. Gloria January 13, 2017 at 8:07 am - Reply

    PS- I am not using the swapping function anymore, even though I have it, until my friends have it too.

  3. Aimee Wise January 19, 2017 at 12:55 am - Reply

    I’m wondering why some people can access it and some cannot. I can go to the store and collect coins but my husband cannot. He cannot even find the store. Do you know how to rectify this?

  4. marilynne January 31, 2017 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    how do you get this function of swapping some tiles and keeping your turn

    • Joseph February 2, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      I haven’t used it yet but I think it’s only available if you’re playing via facebook. But I’m not sure. Let me know if you figure it out.

      • Joe bartlett November 10, 2017 at 4:34 pm - Reply

        I have it without Facebook. I don’t know if it will work but you could sign up under new name and see if you get it that way. Or erase application and re-download.

  5. Gloria February 3, 2017 at 11:41 am - Reply

    I have not used the function in weeks- It is not fair, and yesterday the function disappeared so I am no longer tempted.

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      it didn’t disappear. it changed. hit on the red circle with the plus sign in it. you buy power ups with your coins. when you swap, also do it hitting that same spot above your game board.

  6. Cheryl Folston February 18, 2017 at 10:41 am - Reply

    I dont understand why the game is not the same for everyone? I just got the coins to swap letters and I loved it. All of the sudden it was gone and they said they were working on it. I then found that I could get the coins by completing weekly challenges, although when I did, I didnt get the coins. That made me very angry and they wont respond to my questions concerning this. Needless to say, although I love the games, I dont like the games zynga plays by not responding to complaints and this will certainly cause me to give the game up. There are too many games on Facebook to play that I dont need this type of aggravation.

  7. Cedric Perry April 3, 2017 at 1:44 am - Reply

    I am surprised that no one has called Words With Friends a ‘dumbed down” game of scrabble. This is indeed is what it is. For example, when the board game was in vogue, words attempted that were not words resulted in a loss of turn. This testing of words is a feature that I do not like because one can play a word and not even know what it means or how to use it in a sentence. Words that one plays should only come from the existing knowledge of the player. I only play because this is the only thing available online approaching the old game of scrabble.<

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      it’s 100% better than scrabble. the added tools makes for a very smart game experience. love it.

      • Johnny October 15, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

        You have to be a dumb dumb with comments like that. Why don’t you just flip a coin. The cheating features are ruining a great game.

  8. Vida May 6, 2017 at 11:19 am - Reply

    How do you use hindsight and the radar features? When you get the coins, does this generate an extra charge or is it a free service?

  9. Cashmere June 4, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Have now noticed that when I swap tiles the game gets stuck on my turn and the only way out is to resign…frustrating

  10. Carol June 6, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

    The swap option keeps appearing on my screen and. How do I remove it? Does this option cost money?

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      use it. hit the icon to the left on the white ribbon above your game. follow directions from there. once you’ve powered up, be sure to hit that new icon instead of the old swap option.

  11. Anne June 9, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Please get rid of the swapping tiles without losing a turn. It is so unfair to buy this advantage!!!

    • Cathy July 21, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      I agree. What kind of gamesmanship does this show? I think I am playing against someone using this feature. If I had it, I would give them some of their own medicine, It takes the fun and challenge out of the game.

  12. Elaine June 13, 2017 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    I just got notice of this function and I hate the very idea of it. Coins (virtual or no) should not enable one person to change the rules of the game so that they differ from the rules their opponent is playing by. I’ve generally liked the Words app better than the Scrabble one, but this might make me go back to Scrabble.

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      guess what…it’s fabulous! what a genius idea! believe it or not, the game can be improved. don’t be an old fuddy duddy. you’ll miss all the fun.

    • A July 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      100% agree. The EA Scrabble is awful. I left it multiple times and came back to find it hadn’t been improved. And now Zynga is making this a nightmare. Cheaters are hard enough to beat when they don’t have this, but when they can groom their racks until they have idealized letters.. they’ll put up 500+ a game and we stand helpless

  13. Mary July 9, 2017 at 11:48 am - Reply

    I had this feature for a while, now it is gone.

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      look on your new white ribbon right above your game.

  14. Patricia July 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    This last week I was given the option to swap tiles without losing a turn, and I was earning coins so that I would be able to use this function. But I wasn’t able to use it will all of my friends and now I have accumulated 497 coins and I now can’t use the coins with any of my friends. Why is this happening, I liked this function. It is also now giving me the ability to buy coins for this function but why would I want to buy coins when I can’t even use the coins that I have.

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      it’s in a new place. hit the icon on the new white ribbon. you can buy a power up for 30 free swaps with your coins! and you must hit that icon before you swap to not lose a turn. fun! 🙂

  15. Wilma Miedema July 11, 2017 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    I have the option to swap without losing a turn, but I want to get rid of it, since most of my opponents have not exercised this option, and I am losing like crazy!!!! Not fair!!!

  16. Wayn July 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    I, too, had the options of in-turn swap and available playing locations… and now they’re both gone!!

    WTF?!?

    • Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      they’re in a new place. hit the icon that looks like a red circle with a plus sign in it. it’s on the white ribbon above your board.

  17. Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Heads up! You didn’t “lose your app.” It’s in a new place. You now can buy Power Ups that let you swap without losing a turn. Just click on the icon found on the new white ribbon above your game. Be sure to click there, once you’ve purchased swaps, to swap letters in the future (not the old way from the menu).

  18. Sharida Cox July 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Zynga, for the new Power Up option. Having the Swap + tool is sheer genius! That, along with Wordfinder (google it) turns this into the best word game on the net! Kudos to you for this awesome innovation!

  19. Lu August 1, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Someone please help me get this feature! My friends have it, but I don’t even see it on my ribbon. I just have hindsight and word radar…. I have restarted my phone, deleted and re downloaded app…. what is the issue ????

    • Lovly2008 August 27, 2017 at 1:46 am - Reply

      I have it on my laptop but sine I’ve been playing on my tablet, my laptop won’t allow me to use it. I collect the coins but it does not allow me the option to swap without loosing my turn. Strange huh?

  20. Jennifer Dashiell Reed August 17, 2017 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    When are these updates going to appear on th e iPad.

    • Joseph August 17, 2017 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Not sure. The rollout seems very random. It’s on some devices but not on others. Some players have it on one device but not on another.

  21. Jim August 25, 2017 at 9:56 am - Reply

    It seems that allowing folks to buy advantage in any game will ultimately destroy the game. What is the point in playing any game if folks can legally cheat, without the opponent even being aware that it’s happening? The purchased Swap feature enables this situation which results in competition being effectively removed, and without competition WWF is no longer even a game…just a pointless activity not unlike flipping a coin. Sad that Zinga seems to have lost their way on this one. Oh well, it was fun for awhile anyway.

    • Lovly2008 August 27, 2017 at 1:43 am - Reply

      It seems to me that everyone I play with is using some type of cheat or another, even if its looking up a word in the dictionary before you play it. Is that destroying the game? I think not. It seems to make it even more exciting, what with all the high scores and all. If I can swap letters and my opponent can swap letters, I don’t see the problem. Scrabble is a difficult game, with all its limitations. WWF makes it far more exciting. Its my favorite game of all!

    • Maddie September 4, 2017 at 9:00 am - Reply

      I totally agree with Jim. It truly is no fun knowing your opponent is cheating. The only good news is I have more time for more enjoyable activities.

  22. Maddie September 4, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

    I think two of my “friends” are using this feature and it definitely has taken the enjoyment out of the game. I won’t be playing any more games with them.

  23. Francine September 7, 2017 at 7:29 am - Reply

    It seems I am not able to accumulate more than 99 swaps, even if I buy more.. Is that a glitch

  24. Anne September 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Well, is this costing me real money or what? No one has answered that question? Don’t recall giving zynga my credit number.

    • Joseph September 16, 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      No, seriously doubt it. They couldn’t charge your card without your clear permission to do so.

  25. Diane McElhaney September 21, 2017 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    I’ve been using the swap feature with no problems, but now when I go to use it while playing my hubby, a red bar comes across the top of the screen that says “ask your friend to update their app to enable swap+”. My husband says his app IS completely updated, so why am I unable to use this new feature anymore? Thx!

    • Joseph September 21, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      The determination of who gets the new features seems a little arbitrary…no rhyme or reason to it. I just got them last week. I didn’t do anything to get them. One day I just had them.

  26. Tammy September 24, 2017 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Just because you use the swap feature without losing a turn doesn’t mean your going to get good tiles back. They Could be worst ! It’s a gamble. And it’s just a game. I like it

  27. Tammy September 24, 2017 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Whst I would like to know is How many coins are you allowed. I never get my coins from my challenges!!! Says I have too many! What is the maximum?

  28. JM September 29, 2017 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    I have the SWAP feature but refuse to use it. Actually feel guilty even having it available. It would be nice if WWF would offer a toggle feature so opponents can choose which power ups to turn on or off. That said, I love the hindsight feature, and it is making me a better player. Verdict still out on Radar…it does speed up the game which is probably redeeming in itself.

  29. Ann Strosnider October 8, 2017 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I have to admit I love the new swap feature. But I liked it too much and quickly went through the hundreds of coins I had accumulated. Now I try to save them up until I can “buy” a number of them at once, but it takes a long time. In the “store” there seems to be a way to buy coins for actual $$$, but so far I haven’t been able to make it work. Probably a good thing!

  30. Laura Walsh October 16, 2017 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I don’t have any of th new features. I’d really like the hindsight one as I think it will help me to improve.it doesn’t really bother me if my opponents cheat, as long as I know I’m not cheating that is good enough for me.

  31. Doug October 27, 2017 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    This is totally absurd. These new features are literally just sanctioned cheating. Total pay-to-win garbage.

  32. JB November 21, 2017 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    I don’t like these new features as they totally change and corrupt the game. I’ll stop playing if they don’t go away.

  33. Hollee Pierce November 24, 2017 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    What does it mean when it says you have earned 3 lost tiles?

  34. Tricia A December 6, 2017 at 3:22 am - Reply

    When new features are added to the game, INSTUCTIONS ON HOW TO USE IT IS A MUST.
    I see shaded squares that dont make sense to use as I am not a walking dictionary. Very frustrated with game developers!

  35. Becky Klein January 17, 2018 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Let people have the original version! Some of us want to play without cheats because the more you play the more coins you get and so people who play all day long have the most coins and therefore it is not even playing field. Lots of people would prefer the game without the new coins.

  36. Herb larson January 24, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I just deleted the app, have played more games, than 95 per cent of your users last four years. You have completely wrecked your game.. how many changes have backgammon, monopoly, checkers made in the last 100 yrs. answer none. You have destroyed a potentially iconic game

  37. Bridget February 14, 2018 at 2:27 am - Reply

    I don’t like this feature one bit. My friend that I was playing thought the only reason I was winning is because I was swapping out my letters. I don’t even have this feature but he does. Now I don’t want to play. Who knows how many other games I have been losing because I don’t have it. Even when I do get it I won’t play because it takes the challenge out of the game. Too bad because I’ve been an active player for over 8 years.

    • nancy April 1, 2018 at 10:23 am - Reply

      just a thought, when i looked to swap my coins for letters, i accidentally discovered that one could actually buy coins…. i have no idea where or how. i still haven’t figured out how to get one tile swapped for the 15 coins it took.

  38. nancy April 1, 2018 at 9:46 am - Reply

    I tried to swap 1 tile for 15 coins. I clicked on the swap first, and then it took the coins, but it never let me tell it what tile i wanted to swap. could you do a step by step order of how to actually swap? thank you

  39. Linda August 27, 2018 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    When I try to buy tiles, I get an “oops: Try again:” I click the OK button but again and again I get that message. I’ve previously been able to purchase swaps. Can’t find any help on the Words Support site. Help?.

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  41. Maritza November 9, 2018 at 3:09 pm - Reply

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  42. John Kremer December 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    A play with my wife. She can swap and not lose a turn. I can not. The option to do this does not appear on my apt

  43. Janet March 24, 2019 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Why has my cost to use coins for swaps increased to 125 for 5 swaps while my friends still can buy 5 for 75 coins?

  44. Joanna I April 12, 2019 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    My swap icon has vanished. Have hindsight. How to retrieve swap? as I have many.
    I have uninstalled, upgraded the game, forced close and played solo game. Icon still missing. Thx.

    • Joseph April 12, 2019 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      Hmm that’s strange. You’ve already tried everything I would recommend to fix it.

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