I’ve always been fascinated by survey sites. Who can resist the idea of hanging out at home in your PJs or even your favorite coffee shop and getting paid $2, $5, and even $10 bucks for taking a 15 minute survey? In theory, it sounds pretty darn cool.
But what about in reality? Is it truly that easy? I have to say, the short answer in all honesty is “NO” (just keeping it real). Well then what’s the point?
I’m glad you asked. 😉 I’ve learned it’s not impossible either. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you really can make easy survey money. Can you make a living off the earnings? Nope. Can you earn enough to take a mini vacation, pay for an unexpected expense or fund a few holiday gifts? Yep, absolutely!
Luckily for you, I’ve done a ton of research over the years on survey companies. I’ve signed up to dozens of survey sites. I’ve even attended a few conferences and interviewed survey companies directly. FYI… they like to be called “market research” organizations. This has helped me to quickly spot the legitimate opportunities, while avoiding survey sites that are worthless and potentially deceitful.
5 Questions You NEED to Ask
- Are members rewarded for every survey they complete? Some sites only reward their members by entering them in a sweepstakes for their efforts. Don’t waste your time!
- Are you given the choice of receiving dollar based rewards? Some companies reward their members with credits that can only be spent in a useless online shopping portal. Again, don’t waste your time.
- Does the company have a minimum 2-year history of verified payments to members? Survey sites pop up online all the time making fantastic promises. Don’t believe the hype.
- Does the company give you the option to set up a member profile? Your profile is key. The more detailed the better. Good companies use this info to match you to the right surveys. You can’t make money on surveys you don’t qualify for.
- Do they have a low cash out threshold? This is super important. I recommend a cash out of $10 or less. This gives you the option to get paid once you reach a $10 minimum. In some cases $20 is acceptable. The reviews below will give you insight into the very best options.
Our Top Picks – Updated Monthly
There’s a reason to celebrate at Swagbucks. They’ve given away over 300 million dollars in rewards since they were established 10 years ago. Surveys were a big part of that growth. What sets them apart from traditional market research organizations is they offer a variety of ways to earn cash. Beyond surveys, you can watch videos, search the web, sign up for free trials and more.
If you sign up with Swagbucks, be sure to take the first survey offered. This gives you the option of getting your demographic profile set up and unlocks all the available surveys you can qualify for. Without it, they won’t offer you much. I’ve highlighted it with an arrow below. There’s so much going on when you login, this can be easy to miss.
Swagbucks – The Good…
- Low cash out of $5 with nice rewards (gift cards and PayPal).
- Lots of surveys to choose from.
- Alternate ways to earn like watching videos or cash back.
- Very solid history of verified payments to members.
Swagbucks – The Bad…
- With so many ways to earn, the variety can be a bit overwhelming.
- Some of their tasks have very small rewards relative to the amount of time invested. This is always known before you enter a task, however.
Swagbucks is a great option for anyone who wants to earn easy money taking surveys. They have a huge variety of opportunities. They even have instances where you can be invited to participate in targeted “interest communities”. In fact, I received an invite while writing this post that involved a one hour online discussion. It paid 3000 Swagbucks ($30)! Not a bad way to earn some extra spending money in your spare time.
2. Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie is a solid example of a company that attempts to match you with highly specific survey opportunities. When you sign up, you’ll get 25 points right away. You will also get an additional 75 points for completing the demographic profile and confirming your email address.
Honesty is the best policy when filling out your profile and taking surveys. I noticed that they do ask you to reconfirm some of your answers, but they ask the question in a slightly different way. This is good because they’re actively attempting to keep people from setting up fake profiles. You want your survey company to care about the quality of their panel. This is ultimately a benefit to you, the panelist.
In addition to their surveys you can opt-in to Product Testing. This is where they send products to your house to use and then you review at a later date. You can choose to get invitations to Online Focus Groups as well. These can pay as much as $100 per session if you qualify.
Survey Junkie – The Good…
- Low payment threshold of $10 with attractive gift cards, plus PayPal.
- Very simple interface to navigate when you’re logged in.
- Detailed demographic profile for better survey matching.
- Opportunities for online focus groups.
Survey Junkie – The Bad…
- The number of surveys available is somewhat limited.
- They give you options to sign up with other survey companies, which I found a bit confusing.
Survey Junkie is a solid option to have at the ready, should you want to take surveys for some easy money. I wish they had a higher volume of available surveys for me to take, but I believe this is because they’re focused on keeping their disqualification rate low.
3. Pinecone Research
Pinecone Research has been a heavy-hitter in the market research arena for many years. They are a favorite of a large number of surveys takers. The thing that originally set them apart from other companies was that they give you a minimum of $3.00 for every survey you complete. They don’t mess around with $0.50 or $1.00 surveys.
Your first 300 points ($3.00) is automatically redeemed as a check that is mailed to your address. This helps Pinecone Research verify that you are who you say you are.
Once you sign up, Pinecone will want you to confirm your account. You will need to look for an email from “Karen Scott”. This seems kind of strange, but I can only assume this is the person who manages their customer support. It’s one of their peculiarities that I like to point out.
Pinecone Research has high quality survey options, but it does require some patience. It took about two weeks after I signed up to get invited to my first survey.
Pinecone Research – The Good…
- All their survey payouts are at least $3.00 – very cool.
- You get highly targeted surveys based upon your profile.
- They have a long history of on-time payments.
- Rewards included gift cards, PayPal, or a straight up check.
Pinecone Research – The Bad…
- Their user interface is not as user friendly as some other sites.
- You might have to wait a while to get your first survey invite.
Pinecone Research is an old established market research company. It’s easy to recommend them. They have the experience to ensure you’re sent surveys you have a good chance of qualifying for. Because their panel is so large, they sometimes limit the number of new members that can sign up. If you are accepted, be sure to keep your account current. You’re more likely to receive new survey invites if you do.
I really like the sign up process with E-Poll. Your initial profile is very easy to fill out. You will need to confirm your email after signing up. Once you do you are taken directly to your first survey and will receive 100 points.
There’s a low $5 minimum to cash out. You will need 3750 points to get to $5. In other words, 750 points is worth $1. If you allow your points to accumulate to 18,750 you can cash out for $30 which is 625 points per $1, giving you a little more money for your efforts.
Most surveys that you take are worth 350 – 1000 points. If you get invited into more specialized topics, you’ll earn even more. You can exchange your points for gift cards or PayPal, which is my favorite because it’s basically cash.
The first survey I completed was long, but it had a brief second part I easily qualified for the following day for 500 points. Most of their surveys range from 5 to 15 minutes in time spent. They do give you the option to get text alerts when they find surveys available for you. The email alerts are good enough for me.
e-Poll – The Good…
- Their sign up process was simple and easy to follow.
- They do very well at pre-qualifying you for surveys.
- Their cash out minimum of $5 is excellent.
- Account management tools are easy to navigate.
e-Poll – The Bad…
- Some of their payouts are too low, given time spent.
- You may have to wait 6 weeks to get paid; although that’s very typical with a lot of survey sites.