Sometimes survey invitation links direct you to other survey companies, rather than keeping things in-house, which can feel a bit like spam. As is common in the industry, you can sometimes get stuck filling out lengthy qualifying questions which take up to 30 minutes just to see if you’re eligible for a survey. Needless to say if you find out you are not then this is extremely frustrating.
Amanda Page had serious student debt—$48,000, to be exact. She was working as an adjunct professor at a couple of different colleges, trying to piece together a full time teaching career, and she wasn’t making enough to tackle what she owed. So she started supplementing her income with side hustles like freelance writing, working as a temporary receptionist, and grading math exams online. As she dove into debt and frugality blogs, she came across a new gig: taking paid surveys online.
Joining isn’t as straightforward as merely signing up, because you need an invite. However it’s not as tough as it sounds, as there are plenty of links doing the rounds online if you look hard enough, and Pinecone also advertises on websites, so you might get lucky by keeping an eye on banner adverts. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be vetted to see if you qualify – based on whatever demographics their clients want at that point – and if so, the fun begins!
This is where it can all go downhill quickly. In the pressure to make as many pennies out of a nickel, a lot of research corporations will not just sell your answers but the data associated with it. Details that you provide when taking paid surveys such as your name, address, age range can all be attached together quickly to fulfill a lot of larger companies' requests for information (RFI).
Don’t overshare. If you’re asked to give your Social Security number, bank account number or driver’s license number, leave the survey. Velasquez recommends being “intentional” with sharing other private information with survey sites. Answering questions about a TV commercial probably is fine, but giving medical information may not be worth the risk.
OneOpinion. This site is a survey aggregator with an effective screening process. Its dashboard is informative and displays helpful sections, such as your activity and a customer support form. The site was above average at picking surveys we qualified for. As for the points awarded per survey, 500 or 1,000 points may look high at first, but when converted to actual rewards, you’d get 50 cents or a dollar. Also, you can’t cash out until you reach 25,000 points, equivalent to $25. Read more in our OneOpinion review.
How It Works: Swagbucks is a favorite of mine, as well as a favorite of many readers here. Not only do they offer a wide range of surveys that pay cash, but you can also earn points for the everyday things you do online like searching, shopping, and watching videos. In total, Swagbucks has paid out over $187 million in rewards. Even if you’re not interested in doing surveys, it’s still easy on the platform to earn decent money with what you’re already doing online today.
Cashback shopping: Who doesn’t love getting cash back? It's a great incentive for shopping because it feels like you're being paid to do so. It's usually best to use the offers only when you were already intending to buy the product. If you love saving money at discount stores or at places that offer cash back, there are a lot of survey sites out there that will open a lot more offers to you. Survey sites can offer cash back because they're paid a portion of the profit for referring you.
About that money: Survey companies typically don’t pay you for each and every survey—you have to meet a payout amount to earn your reward. Page says it took her months to reach the $30 payout on one survey site—time she could have easily spent on more lucrative side hustles. This presents a problem if you need money fast or if you decide to change course and try something else—you might end up answering tons of questions and never actually see that money.
With one of the lowest cash limits in the industry, you can get $10 out when you have accrued just 100 points. If you want to take your earnings in the form of a giftcard, the threshold is even lower, as you just need 50 points, equivalent to $5. Many other survey sites will only pay out after you earn much more, like $50. As with all good survey sites, Opinion Outpost allows you to take your earnings away in vouchers for big firms like Amazon or iTunes, or if you prefer money, to do so through Paypal. As well as paying out early Opinion Outpost also pays extremely quickly, often the same day or in some cases, immediately.