Ultimately, it is very unlikely that participating in online surveys will provide you with a steady, livable wage. However, if you enjoy participating in online surveys (especially if you like the prizes, coupons, and other more typical non-monetary earnings), be sure to avoid questionable third-party sites. Look for real paid surveys online that don’t require you to invest money.
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.
Ultimately, it is very unlikely that participating in online surveys will provide you with a steady, livable wage. However, if you enjoy participating in online surveys (especially if you like the prizes, coupons, and other more typical non-monetary earnings), be sure to avoid questionable third-party sites. Look for real paid surveys online that don’t require you to invest money.
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.
Surveys can be super quick and take just a few minutes to fill out, or require around 15 minutes of your time. Five minute surveys pay $0.50 and surveys range from $0.40 up to the higher – and rarer – ones at $10.Paying out by the usual methods, Crowdology does PayPal and also vouchers. Most importantly, the minimum reward threshold is low so when you’ve earned $8, you can cash it out, unlike other sites which make you wait until you have earned much more money. The site offers prize draws from time to time for things like cinema tickets and surveys can be expected weekly.
While surveys vary widely in how they are conducted and used, there are a number of components that are common across nearly all surveys. Many of these common features have been studied in extensive detail by survey methodologists, psychologists, statisticians, and many other fields of research. The general process of survey research is outlined in the figure below.
To take surveys, you need to qualify. This means answering a battery of questions up front—before the paid portion of the survey. Page attempted a variety of side hustles to pay off her debt, and says that taking online surveys was the “least helpful” side hustle she tried, mostly because she simply couldn’t even get to the surveys themselves. “You can spend almost 10 minutes just trying to qualify for a survey, and then [get] declined,” she says. “It takes way too long to determine if you’re eligible to take the survey, just to make $5,” she says. Short of magically being the right demographic for every survey, you’re looking at getting turned away more often than not, and wasting time answering questions that don’t come with a pay off.

Allan Liwanag is a personal finance blogger who paid off at least $40K debt in 3 years by adopting simple and extreme saving techniques while ensuring his family's needs were taken care of. An analyst by day and dedicated blogger by night, he loves to share his thoughts - based on his research, personal knowledge, and experience - on topics related to family, life, and money. Allan lives with his family in Maryland, USA.
One example would be that a brand like Coke or Pepsi wants to know more about what kind of people are buying their beverages. They might want to learn more about the age, gender, income, or location of the people who like or dislike their products. They might use this for marketing purposes or to make decisions about their future products. Brands like this spend a lot of time and money investing market research to get your feedback. You just get money for doing them a favor – it’s a total win-win!
By filling out your user profile thoroughly, you’ll be able to make sure you get invites to surveys which are actually suitable for you. There are basic qualification questions at the start of each questionnaire too, to ensure you are suited to filling it out before you get going. And you can make the most of the huge Toluna community yourself too – if you want, you can create your own polls on the site to ask people about anything and everything! It’s a nice addition to be able to get involved and have in-depth conversations with fellow users.
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Just like the other survey sites, every time you complete one of the surveys, you’ll receive anywhere from 35-250 points, which equals about $1.50 to $1.75 per a survey. Once you rack up enough cash to payout (which you’ll have to accumulate at least $50), you’ll have several different options to receive your money. You can get your money through a check, through your PayPal account, or redeem it for gift cards.

I’ve had bad experiences with iPoll. I’ll answer the “screening” questions and am told I qualify to take the survey, then once the survey is around 90% complete, I’m told the survey is “closed”. My guess is this is how they’re getting their data without having to pay participants. I’ve also gotten “invalid website” in the middle of some of their surveys as well, of course, after answering 15 minutes of questions.
First, thank you for providing this extensive list. I wanted to offer a quick follow up. After reading your post I decided to give Survey Junkie a try and I’ve already closed the account. Yes, I can tell it’s well organized and it is definitely a user-friendly platform. The problems I experienced were first that not one of the surveys they emailed me about were available. I did, however, complete several surveys from the site itself and I found them to be lengthy – in itself, not a problem, but 3 out of 5 told me I didn’t qualify after I’d already invested 10 – 12 minutes filling out the forms. They got more than enough information from me to be useful which is an old and highly unethical trick in market research – which happens to be my background. All in all, it was a LOT of wasted time.
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.
But the most important factor that makes these better options is the fact that these gigs can bring in thousands. Web developers charge an average rate of $75/hour, copywriters make $60/hour, and QA testers make $47/hour. The reality is that if you want to bring in serious money, you might need to consider upskilling a bit—a worthy investment that will pay off massively. While mindless side hustles sound appealing, they often times simply don’t pan out and end up being a mega time waster. Don’t fall for it. Your time is too valuable, and you deserve to be paid well for it.

Some pay with points that are redeemable for cash or goods and typically you must rack up a bunch to redeem them for anything of significance. Others may give you a gift card, discount, or another token of appreciation for participating. Many others pay nothing or only offer sweepstakes entries for completing screening surveys to determine your eligibility for other, paid surveys. A few don't pay much of anything, unless you recruit others, as in a pyramid scheme.
Design and pre-test questionnaires: Designing the questionnaire carefully and then pre-testing it before fielding it to your entire sample is crucial to getting data that are valid and reliable. For example, careful questionnaire design and pre-testing can help reduce the chance that respondents may interpret the meaning of questions differently. Future posts in this series will tackle these important steps in much greater detail.
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