Can You Make Money from Survey Sites?

Taking surveys won’t make you rich, but they can pad an otherwise strapped budget by a few dollars here and there, making that time you spend browsing the web a bit more profitable.  Whether you’re looking to make a couple of quick dollars for your next vacation, or in serious need of some diaper money, we give some pointers for finding the cream of the crop – and how to avoid those that aren’t even worth visiting.

Survey Sites that Pay Cash

Ideally, you will want to earn cold, hard cash for your opinions.  Considering that focus groups and market surveys earn hundreds to thousands of dollars for the companies that put together, distribute, and compile them, don’t you think your input is worth something?  While companies can change their terms at any time, leaving a previously “gold standard” company with lower payouts than before, the majority of sites that pay cash seem to stay around for a while.

These sites are often hard to get into, sometimes by invitation only, and pay as little as $2 per survey (which can take 15 minutes or more to complete.)  Moreover, many of them force you to qualify for a survey by completing a screening survey, which offers no compensation and can take just as long as the “real” survey.  To find a list of sites that offer cold, hard cash for your opinions, browse blogs and sites that you trust for their recommendations.  (Just remember, many of them get paid for any referrals they send, making the act of getting signups a more profitable endeavor than actually taking surveys from these companies.)

Survey Sites that Pay in “Points”

Even more abundant than those that really pay are those that offer points, tickets, or other virtual currency to redeem for cash, merchandise and prizes.  Some sites seem to be pretty fair in their point economy, awarding enough points per survey to cash out for $2-5 per survey.  Others don’t offer anything that would seem valuable: discounts on memberships, percentage off on online purchases, or other “offers” that you could easily find by visiting deal sites – no survey required.  Many of the prizes you can cash out for cost a minimum level of points, requiring you to complete at least a dozen surveys before you can redeem for anything at all.

Survey Sites that Award Prizes

At the bottom of the totem pole are sites that don’t guarantee anything for your time and opinions.  Instead, they offer to enter you into a random drawing for cash or merchandise in exchange for your survey.  While some people have reported that this is a good way to get into low-entry giveaways with less competition than some of the sweepstakes entered online, it can take much of your valuable time to answer each survey and enter, something not everyone is willing to give up.  You may be better off using your 20 minutes to enter multiple online sweepstakes through blogs, national brand sites, or Facebook.

Ways the Survey Sites Can Take Advantage

In addition to offering abysmally low compensation, if any at all, survey sites have been known to make your time worth even less by doing any number of the following:

  • Requiring your earnings to reach a certain threshold (i.e. $50) before you can cash out
  • Requiring payment via PayPal or other online method, or charging a fee for paper checks to be issued
  • Enforcing an expiration date on points accumulated
  • Sending out survey invitations as infrequently as once or twice a year
  • Inviting you to a survey, only to have the survey fill up almost immediately, and having no room for your answers

There are many who have had the fortune to find quality survey sites, be qualified to answer a good number of surveys, and have been paid on time.  Earnings can range from a few dollars to around $50 a month for those who are diligent.  What about you?  Have you found survey sites to be a legitimate way to make some extra cash?

13 Responses to Can You Make Money from Survey Sites?

  1. I use You get points for reading emails, taking surveys and for purchases. I never purchase anything I wouldn’t have anyway. For example, I earned points for getting quotes on my homeowner’s insurance and ending up buying a State Farm policy for my home at a great rate. I don’t waste my time with the surveys any more as it seems I never qualify for them and they ask too many questions before they disqualify me. Two years ago I earned enough points to buy Staples gift cards which completely paid for a new laser printer for my husband’s home office. Last year I used my earned points to put toward an Amazon Kindle and only paid $39 for it. So is it worth it? If you want something (this year I want a camera) and you’re patient, you can earn enough points in a year to put a dent in the cost of something you would have bought anyway. It’s just more fun this way!

  2. I’ve used Opinion Outpost for about 2 years and earned a total of $170. Not a ton of money, but I think it’s worth it! Every now and then there are surveys that pay much more than the usual $1-2 for people working in specific fields.

  3. Thanks for the feedback! I, too, have used Opinion Outpost in the past, but due to my profession (I do some marketing consulting as well as social media strategy services), I am almost always disqualified if I answer honestly. Mypoints is legit, too, although recently I have been making purchases through sites that offer cash back. I do miss the “click here” emails for 5 points or more, though. I have yet to try e-rewards. I’ll have to check it out!

  4. I have get a $50 cheque (no extra cost), $50 in Paypal and 2 toys for my son (quite good ones I should say) in 3 years of completing surveys. Is it worth the time? Not really, you are probably being paid $2/3 per hour you take to complete them. But if you don’t have anything better to do during that time is some extra cash that you get from time to time.

  5. Fulano,

    You bring up a great point about what your time is worth. If you are taking time away from something profitable to do surveys, you probably won’t come out ahead. If you don’t have anything else to do, however, it’s better than nothing, right? Many of the people I know that do lots of surveys are disabled and can’t work, or are unemployed and use the surveys as a “break” from the 8 hours of job hunting they do each day. Every little bit helps! Thanks for your comments!

  6. I tried a few for a when in university, but being in Canada you have very limited choices so it wasn’t worth my time. Seems like being in the US has its advantages 🙂

  7. I have subscribed to–have redeemed several times for frequent flier miles and hotel loyalty program points…doesn’t require a ton of my time, and the points are welcome.

  8. I have used Opinion Outpost in the past also, and grossed a little over $100. It’s REALLY hard to make any kind of money from survey sites I have found.

  9. Taking online surveys is not a bad idea for making money online. I think I should also go for that. Already, I am earning money rather saving money online by shopping through cash back portals like Bing, AAfter Search, Ebates and FatWallet. I suppose money saved is money earned.

  10. From my experience, I have made extra spare money from survey-taking. The following offer a cash reward even if you don’t take the complete survey: Your Free Surveys Research, American Consumer Opinion Polls. I have earned over $200 from each of these in the previous two years.

  11. Since my job entails being on the computer, I use my time on the computer to look for free money on the ‘net which there are plenty. The survey sites that send me regularly are pinecone and viewpointforum. With just those 2, I earn an average of $350 to $500 annually and they don’t send me W2 because I don’t reach the threshold of $600 per company. Not a ton of money but good enough as ‘mad money’. I also do swagbucks a lot and have used it as my main search engine which makes it so easy to earn several amazon GCs in a week’s time. I save those GCs for big ticket items I want to buy on amazon and click thru ebates which give me another cash back for buying on amazon. All these earnings don’t make me rich but I have no guilt spending it since $$ doesn’t come from our income 🙂

  12. I’ve been doing Air Miles (Aeroplan specifically) based surveys here in Canada for a number of years and until recently and until recently have always been satisfied with them. “Asking Canadians” the company by the way. I’ve probably earned several thousand points with them which have gone a long way towards paying for a recent flight to Europe.

    In the past, they’ve had the 100 points for completing the survey or 5 miles if you don’t qualify. Usually, you know within 2 minutes of simple questions whether or not you qualify.

    Recently, however, they’ve started having me answer up to 10 minutes worth of very lengthy questions on things such as what kind of shops I go to, how often, how much do I spend before suddenly announcing, “sorry, you don’t qualify”. An awful lot of data has been collected for virtually no cost to the company (5 miles instead of the promissed 100+ miles at the start of the survey).

    No more. It’s become a scam and I refuse to play. Would hope others would do the same until they change their policy.

  13. While it’s true that some survey websites offer high payment thresholds and require members to have PayPal accounts in order to get paid, what you don’t address is why. Administration costs for cutting cheques is very high, and PayPal makes the delivery of thousands of small payments easy.

    Similarly, points are often awarded because many of these survey panels operate on a worldwide basis, with users from different countries with different currencies. They are no worse or better than those who offer straight cash, as their points are typically convertible into cash anyway. So points are often awarded in order to minimize the effect of exchange rates, especially when the same survey is conducted across borders.

    Survey panels who offer contest entries only to their panelists are not a waste of time. In fact, they do this to increase the quality of their data, as offering incentives for surveys adds bias to the results. One of the most reputable market research companies in the world runs an online panel here in Canada and offers members only the chance to win cash. Although the chance of winning is low, there is also something to be said for contributing your opinions to market research for that in itself, instead of always for a reward.

    SurveyPolice offers a free directory of a few hundred survey panels. Not all of them are available to Canadians, but it’s a good place to read review of what others have to say about a particular website.

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