When the topic of making extra money comes up, taking online surveys is often one of the ideas that is put forward. This is something that I do myself after I read about it on an online forum, but it’s by no-means a “get rich quick” scheme. If you’re thinking about signing up for a host of survey websites, it’s best to know what you’re getting involved in so you can decide if it’s going to be worth the effort.

What Are The Reward Options?

For the most part, you’ve got the choice between cash and vouchers. Cash may come in the form of a Paypal payment or in some cases, a transfer straight to your checking account. Vouchers tend to be of the gift variety and can be either a paper voucher that you hand over in a store or an e-voucher to redeem at online retailers like Amazon. Some survey sites only offer one or the other so be sure to check this out before you sign up. Some survey sites make it easy to work out how much you’ll get by paying a designated amount (say $0.50) per survey. Others pay in points, so it’s a case of earning so many points and having that converted into earnings (for example, 5,000 points may equate to $5 in cash or a voucher worth the equivalent of $5). Again, read the help or FAQ sections to see how easy (or otherwise) it is to redeem your earnings.

How Much Can You Make?

There’s no easy answer to this question because a lot will depend on whether you fit the demographic for the surveys that you’re invited to participate in. You’ll get survey invitations, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re eligible to actually complete the survey. For example,  the people behind a particular survey may be looking for views from a thirty-something woman with multiple kids, and if you’re a single guy (with or without kids), you’ll be “screened out” of the survey once this becomes apparent and won’t earn anything. Don’t automatically assume that just because a few surveys out there screen you out that there are no options for you. There are a lot of surveys out there and you’re bound to fit the profile for some of them.

If you’re interested in my personal “earnings,” here they are. I earn around $80 worth of vouchers over the course of a year, which I put towards birthday and Christmas gifts or spend on treats for myself. In terms of cash, it’s more like $60 per year. Before this year, I did earn more from paid surveys but I decided to become more picky about which surveys are worth my time. I might be making less but I’m happier that I’m not spending a disproportionate amount of time for what I get back.

So, are these figures good? Considering that I’m not signed up to every survey site out there and I don’t spend every waking minute completing surveys, I see this as being pretty good reward for the time I do spend on surveys. To give you a rough idea, I complete (by that I mean, I get all the way through a survey and have points or earnings credited to my account) 2-5 surveys a week on average and never spend more than twenty-five minutes on any particular survey (25 minutes is on the very high end), purely because the rewards rarely match the effort required for those. If you’ve got more time to spend or you fit the profile for more surveys, you could potentially do better than that.

Survey Sites With Good Reputations

Global Test Market. I know some people who have had good success with this survey site but it's one that I ditched early on. I didn't qualify for many surveys so the high number of points needed to cash out seemed a lifetime away. If you do decide to join, they have an excellent reputation for paying out.

Pureprofile. This survey does pay out by all accounts, but it takes forever to build up your earnings enough to get there and that's the main reason why I stopped using this one. If you've got the willpower to persevere, I've never heard complaints about this company in terms of getting your money.

Survey Sites With Poorer Reputations

Surveyhead. I used to really like this survey site despite the fact that it had some less than stellar reviews. I got a lot of survey invitations for good rewards (up to $4 for a single survey rather than the $1 offered by a lot of survey sites) and qualified for around three-quarters of them. I cashed out in a Paypal transfer a few months after signing up and it didn’t take long to get near to a second payout. Then the problems started. I have enough in my account to cash out but one particular survey has been “pending” for months. I can’t request my money until it’s approved and repeated emails have failed to get the situation changed. On this basis, it’s moved into the “one to avoid” category.

Toluna. This survey site has had a poor reputation for sending out vouchers and often takes far longer than the two months it claims that this process will take. I received two vouchers from them (both of which took three months to arrive as an e-voucher) and who knows what happened to the third, because it never arrived at all despite me emailing them four times about it. Needless to say, I can't recommend this one!

The Bottom Line

Doing paid surveys isn’t an easy way to make lots of cash, so you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting that to happen. It’s also hit-and-miss due to the fact that you need to fit the profile for a particular survey and if you don’t, you usually get nothing or perhaps a small number of points as an appreciation for your time. It can be a good way to get some extra help towards Christmas, birthdays, other celebrations, or just for a little extra spending money for treats and luxuries, but it's best not to expect any more than that.

Have you had any experience with survey sites? Any thoughts or feedback?


  1. Beth // August 18, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

    Thanks for posting an honest and thorough account of these sites. I've been looking for ways to earn some extra cash on the side, but I don't think survey sites are for me! (Thank you for saving me the trouble!)

  2. shana // August 19, 2010 at 1:08 AM  

    I use Lightspeed Consumer Panel for surveys. That was the only one that I found to be semi-worth my time. I've done 36 surveys and earned $30.

    They qualify/disqualify you for surveys within 2-4 questions so you don't have to waste time answering things only to be told you don't qualify. There's also not a ton of surveys available so you're not going to make much - I've qualified for 36 surveys in a 7-month time span. But it's a decent way to earn a small bit of side money with close to zero effort.

  3. MFO // August 19, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

    Like Beth said, thanks for the honest review. I always wondered about these, but never really delved into them to see what they were all about.

    Looks like I will be staying away as well!

  4. Connecticut Blogger // August 22, 2010 at 3:58 PM  

    I've been doing surveys regularly for the past few years after reading about so many other people who do it.

    I was skeptical that you could make much money, but I'm registered with Pinecone and Toluna and now that I'm out of work, i stepped up my survey work, trying to do 1 to 3 each morning, most days.

    I average $40 to $60 a month, so to me that's real money that can pay bills.

    Yes, it's tedious and there's nothing more annoying than spending 10 minutes answering questions only to learn you don't qualify.

    I've never had a problem getting paid. Toluna does take 3 or 4 weeks, but the check always comes. Pinecone also has sent me lots of new products ideas to evaluate, which is fun.