Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.
One of the most popular sites, and rightfully so, Swagbucks offers traditional surveys as well as a range of additional ways to make cash. Filling out surveys for money will reward you with points called Swagbucks which can be cashed out through PayPal, or redeemed as gift cards for shops including Amazon.com. As a sweetener, they’ll even give you $5 just for signing up.
Toluna. Unlike many other sites, Toluna lets users pick the topics of their surveys, such as electronics or travel, which made the work more interesting. However, this perk didn’t make up for its low pay. Upon converting points to cash, we earned only 71 cents per hour — one of the lowest rates of all the sites we tested. Our five hours’ worth of points weren’t nearly enough to redeem the cheapest gift cards. Learn more in our Toluna review.
No matter the site, the earnings from taking surveys can be meager compared with other work opportunities. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, for example, and our hourly earnings ranged from 41 cents to $2.03. Most survey sites also required a minimum amount of points before we could redeem them for rewards. On many of the sites, we didn’t reach that minimum amount after five hours of work.
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.
A few paid survey sites do pay relatively well in cash. However, many sites hype hypothetical, best-case scenarios that can't possibly apply to each and every consumer for each and every hour of participation. In the real world, the likelihood that you'll often earn the higher of the hyped amounts is slim. Most online paid surveys simply don't pay much, and you must be invited to complete them. To be invited, you must fit targeted demographics. That alone limits your earnings right off the bat, as you can't possibly fit every demographic.
There are also many questionable "middleman" third-party paid survey sites that hype easy money for participating in online marketing research from home. Here, the old adage is true: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Further, it’s worth knowing that there’s a lot of competition among these companies for your participation – which means potential for exaggeration, at the very least, if not outright scams.
Each of their surveys you complete will be worth between 100-5,000 points depending on the length and subject. There are a variety of different topics to cover like consumer goods, healthcare and travel, just to name a few. Once you reach 3,000 points you can start redeeming rewards. You have to call and redeem points over the phone, and it typically takes a month for the rewards to reach you.
If you run the numbers, Page says, online surveys simply aren’t worth the time. “If you’re spending 20 minutes to make $3 on a survey, do the math. That’s $9 an hour—maybe—if you qualify for the $3 survey every time,” she says. According to Page, “the survey side gig is just not sustainable. There are wiser ways to spend your time that will earn you more money in the long run.”
Rewards vary based on the survey type and the company conducting the survey. You may get paid online through PayPal or a Visa gift card, or get free products so that you can try them and provide feedback. To get the best out of online surveys, it is recommended you join several websites (10 to 20) so as to give you sufficient invitations daily at the best time frame. Regularly check your email and be honest while giving your opinion. Don’t give up if you don’t get selected for a survey after the first screening process, as it will take a while before you get selected based on your demographic.
Illegitimate companies and scammers have a simple objective. They're after your information in order to get your money. It's much more common for internet scammers to target hundreds of people for small sums rather than a single person for thousands. This is because demanding large sums for a product that is somewhat unclear is an obvious red flag to most.
**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) who are eligible to participate on a Survey Sampling International Panel and meet the minimum age requirement for the respective Panel. Quarterly drawings; enter by December 31, 2016 to be included in next drawing. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, mail-in method of entry, and prize descriptions, visit here. Void where prohibited.
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.
Rewards are paid out in cash and PayPal, but the catch of having short surveys is reflected in the pay, which can be miniscule per survey. As you need to earn $50 before you can withdraw anything, that’s a lot of low-paying surveys before you’ve made your money! Some people have complained online that once you get close to the withdrawal amount, the surveys dry up. One way around this is to refer a friend as you’ll receive a bonus when they sign up and you’ll hit your target to withdraw your funds. It’s a bit of a downside, but there are hundreds of very happy consumers who love the site, so it’s worth a shot, especially if you get fed up with the boring or repetitive nature of some of the quizzes elsewhere.