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?

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