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Your Guide to Taking Online Surveys for Money

Last updated: September 28, 2020
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If you’re looking to bring in extra cash in your spare time, you might have stumbled across advertisements for sites that let you take surveys for money. People who participate in these online survey sites essentially act as digital focus groups, where companies can get your opinions on new products, product preferences, spending habits, and more.

And they do pay. While filling out surveys online might not work as a full-time job, they can be an effective side hustle to bring in some extra income in your downtime.

In this article we’ll look at online survey sites, and break down how they typically pay. We’ll also run down eight websites that offer paid survey opportunities, and answer some frequently asked questions about online surveys.

A Brief Intro to Online Survey Sites

Companies are always trying to understand their customers better. What do consumers want? What motivates them to buy something? Why do they choose one product over another?

To get this valuable feedback, companies conduct market research, which often takes the form of focus groups — the act of speaking directly to people to get consumer opinions. These companies would ask groups questions about product types, spending habits, and more. Back in the day, focus groups were assembled in person with companies paying people to get together and offer their opinions.

Then the internet, as it so often did, changed everything. Online survey companies could assemble massive focus groups — thousands of people — and get their feedback in hours.

It was a game changer. Market research companies once had to book rooms, find people locally, select a group that would represent the larger population, and ask them questions in person. They then had to understand how people felt, record those feelings, and analyze the larger trends.

With the internet, however, they could collect and process exponentially more data, and do it in a fraction of the time.

A new industry was born. The only trick was finding people online to take the surveys. To incentivize the act, companies started offering rewards for these surveys. And people looking to earn cash online found that taking surveys was a viable way to make money from home in their downtime.

How Survey Sites Pay

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Survey sites typically offer rewards, in several different forms, which you are eligible for when you complete surveys. Completing surveys can be a short task or a long one. Survey lengths vary widely — some can take a minute or two to complete, while other, more in-depth surveys can take up to an hour or more to get through.

Survey sites tend to take slightly different approaches toward how they assemble focus groups and function, but most that we’ve found online tend to use a points-based system for rewarding survey work.

With sites like Ipsos i-Say, Survey Junkie, and Pinecone Research — all of which we’ll dive into in more detail shortly — you earn points, which you can then cash out for PayPal cash, free products, or gift cards.

These gift cards can be Visa or Amazon gift cards, or gift cards that can be redeemed at popular retailers like Starbucks, Walmart, or Target.

Most of these sites are purely survey sites, though some will also offer reward points for signing up for email marketing campaigns, or for downloading apps on the App Store or Google Play.

8 Sites to Take Surveys for Money

We’ve talked about the evolution of market research and how online survey sites came to be. We’ve also discussed how these sites pay. Now let’s get to it: Below are some of the best survey sites to make money online.

1. Pinecone Research

Pinecone Research is a company that lets you learn about products before they hit the market and gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on those products. For every completed survey, they offer points that can be redeemed for cash or prizes, and they also offer regular prize draws.

2. Survey Junkie

Survey Junkie lets you build a personalized profile, which they then use to match you to surveys. You earn virtual points for every completed survey, which you can redeem for PayPal cash or e-gift cards.

3. Opinion Outpost

Opinion Outpost offers paid online surveys on a wide range of topics, including “electronics, medicine, politics, sports, advertisements, appliances, or even what you ate for breakfast.” Surveys are rewarded with points that can be redeemed for cash or gift vouchers to popular brands.

4. GlobalTestMarket

GlobalTestMarket lets you create an account quickly, and it’s totally free to start up. You answer a few questions about you and your household, which lets them pair you with surveys that are relevant to you. They reward you in points that can be redeemed for credit at stores like Amazon, PayPal, Macy’s, or Kohl’s. Or you can make a UNICEF charity donation.

5. Ipsos i-Say

Ipsos i-Say is a survey site that lets users voice opinions on global brands, entertainment, advertisements, and more. They will alert you directly in your inbox when there are new surveys, and reward completed surveys with i-Say points, which can be redeemed for PayPal cash or gift cards to Amazon or Walmart.

6. Survey Club

Survey Club is slightly different from the other sites listed here in that it acts more as a posting board for different survey opportunities around the world, and helps you find the highest paying research opportunities in your area. These can include online surveys, but also product testing, private panels, clinical trials, taste tests, and more. They’ve even had opportunities to play games and offer feedback. (Yes, you can make money online playing games!)

7. Vindale Research

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Vindale Research posts hundreds of paid surveys daily, and gives you the opportunity to cash out for real money. They offer payment in PayPal or check, though it may take serious time to earn more than a few dollars, and many of the higher paying surveys are looking for extremely specific demographics, which you might not fit.

Vindale Research also limits where participants are from, and only allows American, British, and Australian users to sign up.

8. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an online survey site with reward points that can be redeemed for gift cards and more in the Swagbucks Shop. They are also offering a 1000 Swagbuck point sign up bonus that can get you $10 to spend if you spend at least $25 at a store featured in the shop.

FAQs About Taking Surveys for Money

We’ve given you the background on online survey sites, and provided you eight different sites you can try out yourself. Let’s get to some frequently asked questions about online surveys.

1. How can I avoid scams?

If you’re concerned about a survey site taking advantage of you, you can check them out with Survey Police, a site that collects user reviews and feedback about survey sites. Survey Police will also let you know about sites changing or closing. (For example, the popular survey sites EarningStation and MySurvey both closed recently.)

Most of these survey sites pay in gift cards or Paypal cash, and thus don’t need access to your personal banking information. If a site asks for your banking info, pause, and do your research.

2. Is it free to make a PayPal account?

Yes! For many of these sites, they offer PayPal cash as a reward, and to redeem that you will need to make a PayPal account. To learn how to make an account, and how to bring in extra cash with PayPal, read our article on the subject.

3. Can taking online surveys work as a full-time job?

Almost certainly not. Online surveys can be a fun way to earn some cash in your downtime or as a side hustle. But most of the rewards are on the smaller side, and you would need to be extremely aggressive in taking as many of them as possible, constantly, to earn anything close to a living wage.

Making Money With Online Surveys

If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money online, online survey sites can help you earn a little cash in your free time. Companies are always looking for people to act as digital focus groups, and these survey sites will give you the chance to see products ahead of time, and offer your opinions on a wide range of topics.

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