January 29, 2021

Do Online Surveys Really Pay You

Read more about Best Survey Sites
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Want to make extra spending money with paid online surveys? Find out what you'll earn in an hour and the best companies to sign up with.

Online surveys really do pay you, but it's not going to be a ton of cash. In fact, most surveys pay between $1 and $5. But survey sites can be a good way to make the most of your downtime.

Keeping reading to learn which online survey companies pay the most and how to identify a survey scam.

What Are Online Surveys?

It's basically market research. Companies need to know what you like in order to attract potential customers. And they're willing to pay for consumer feedback.

Before the internet, companies would use focus groups to get this information. You would earn anywhere from $50 to $200 per session (~2 hours).

Moving the process online saved companies a lot of time and money. Now, big brands partner with survey sites and pay them every time a user responds to a survey.

Survey sites will then pass along part of the money to the survey-taker. Essentially, you're taking a cut of their commission.

You do need to qualify for surveys by fitting the right demographic, such as:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Marital status
  • Geographic region

Qualifying for surveys is usually the hardest and most time-consuming part of this side hustle. Official survey sites have a limited number of survey opportunities to go around.

And since you won't qualify for every survey, most sites offer other paid tasks like watching movies, playing games, reading emails, scanning receipts, etc.

How Much Money Can You Earn

If anyone's making bank, it's the middlemen survey companies rather than the survey-taker. That's because most surveys don't pay a lot of money.

Surveys will not cover rent or replace a full-time day job. They can, however, net you a few extra dollars, gift cards to popular stores and sometimes, product freebies.

But not all survey sites are worth your time. To figure this out, calculate the dollar-per-hour earnings and research the cash-out minimum.

  1. Dollar-per-hour Earnings: Multiply the average earnings per survey by the number of surveys you can complete in an hour.

    This can be tricky. Many sites award points and you need to convert them into dollars. Usually, 1 point = 1 cent. This means a survey with 100 points is just worth a dollar.

    Here's a quick breakdown of average dollar-per-hour earnings on popular survey sites:

  2. Minimum to Cash Out: Learn how much money you need to earn before the money can be deposited in your bank account.

    You can quickly find this information in the FAQ or help center. Some sites have a cash-out minimum up to $50 and others let you cash out with just $3-$5.

    Consider how soon you need the cash before signing up for a survey site.

Pros and Cons of Survey Sites

Online surveys can make the most of vegging out on the couch or waiting at the doctor's office. But no side hustle is perfect. Let's take a deeper dive into the good and the bad.


  • Welcome bonuses: Some apps offer $5-$10 just for signing up

  • Free to join: Real survey companies will never charge you a membership fee.

  • Referral bonuses: Most sites will offer you money for each friend you refer.

  • Variety of payment options: Depending on the site, you can get paid with gift cards, cash cards, mailed checks, PayPal or even a donation to the charity of your choice.

  • Sweepstakes: Most sites hold regular sweepstakes with cash prizes of $5+.

  • No qualifications: There's no educational background required; you only need your opinions. Most sites let 13+ year-olds join with parental consent.


  • Hard to qualify for surveys: Surveys are area-specific, so if you live in California, you can't take a survey for Wyoming residents.

  • Survey earnings are modest: Most likely, you'll need to supplement with other paid tasks, like watching movies and reading emails.

  • Cash-out minimums: Some sites require up to $50 in your account before you can cash out.

  • Time-consuming: Some surveys and paid tasks take longer to complete than the estimated time frame.

  • Need to watch out for survey scams: Unfortunately, there are copycat scammers that impersonate actual survey companies (more on that below).

If online surveys aren't for you, check out other ways to make money:

How to Spot a Survey Scam

Most of the time, you'll run into legitimate market research companies. But you need to keep an eye out for survey scams.

Scammers promise tons of money for working from home, whereas real survey sites will never suggest that you can make a living off of surveys.

Real sites are paid by market research companies that want to expand their response pool and gain valuable customer insights.

Fraudsters make their money off of you directly. They'll flood your email inbox with tons of enticing survey offers, huge sweepstakes (like a $1,000 gift card), or free samples.

If you encounter any of these false promises, run away and do not click anything. Dangerous scam sites might be trying to install malware onto your computer.

Be careful. Review this checklist and avoid any "survey" with the following:

  1. Big checks that make you return a portion of it back: Otherwise known as an "advance fee fraud." The check will eventually bounce after appearing successfully cashed for a few days.

  2. Lots of money: This is unrealistic. Real survey sites only pay a couple of bucks an hour.

  3. Upfront payments: Never pay a membership fee to join. Sites that ask for money will never send you real, paid survey opportunities.

  4. Requests for personal, sensitive information: Never share your Social Security number, credit card info or full address. Legit companies only ask for demographic information like age, sex, income, ZIP code, etc. to qualify you for a survey.

  5. Pressure to sign up for services for products: Do not buy anything off of a survey site.

  6. No privacy policy: ALWAYS look for this. It's usually found in the footer of a page.

  7. Email messages from a @gmail or @yahoo account (or another free service): Super sketchy. If you come across this, mark it as spam and delete. Real survey companies would use their own official business email domain.

Legit & Real Survey Companies

There are plenty of trustworthy and safe online survey sites worth checking out. To maximize earnings and get daily survey opportunities, you should sign up for at least 5 sites.

That said, there are tons of online survey companies out there. Which is the right fit for you?

Here are the top five picks:

  1. Swagbucks: Aside from surveys, you can earn points for shopping online, watching videos and surfing the web with their own browser extension.

    They've paid out over $480,000,000 in rewards to their 13 million members. You can redeem points for gift cards to big stores like Amazon and Walmart or get cash via PayPal.

    • Average Payout: $0.40-$2 per survey (40-200 points)
    • Payout Method: PayPal or gift cards
    • Minimum to Cash Out: $3

  2. MyPoints: They're known for generous sign-up bonuses as well as big sales, coupons and deals from thousands of stores.

    If you use their app, you can get up to 40% cashback on every purchase. MyPoints also pays for watching videos, playing games and referrals.

    • Average Payout: $0.36-$2.85 per survey (50-400 points)
    • Payout Method: PayPal, gift cards and travel miles
    • Minimum to Cash Out: $10

  3. InboxDollars: Unlike other sites, they do not use a points system, so it's much easier to keep track of earnings.

    InboxDollars has strict survey requirements but in addition to surveys, you can earn cash for playing games, reading emails and online shopping (with their cash-back program).

    • Average Payout: $0.50-$5 per survey
    • Payout Method: Check, Visa cash card
    • Minimum to Cash Out: $30

  4. LifePoints: They have many more survey opportunities than other sites. You can also get paid for writing about your day in "diary entries," or with mini-polls, product testing, and more.
    • Average Payout: $.50-$1 per survey
    • Payout Method: PayPal and gift cards
    • Minimum to Cash Out: $5

  5. Survey Junkie: They've been in business for over 9 years and have over 10 million active members.

    The site automatically takes your demographic information (sex, age, ZIP code, etc.) and only suggests surveys that you qualify for. This can be a huge time saver.

    Survey Junkie even gives you points for surveys that disqualify you - another perk!

    Other paid activities include: earning points through their affiliate program, focus groups, and product testing.

    • Average Payout: $0.50-$3 per survey (50-300 points)
    • Payout Method: PayPal, gift cards and direct bank deposit (for U.S. members)
    • Minimum to Cash Out: $10 (1,000 points)

Bottom Line

Consider downloading a survey app while you're getting your next oil change. You really can make money by filling out online surveys, albeit at a slow pace.

Just be sure to research how they pay out (gift card, PayPal, etc.) and the required cash-out minimum before you start. And always avoid sketchy third-party sites by referring to the 7 tell-tale signs of scam (above).

Well-known and reputable survey companies include Swagbucks, Survey Junkie and InboxDollars.

Amber Kong is a content specialist at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Amber Kong at amber.kong@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.


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Online Surveys: Get Paid for Taking Surveys

By Holly Zorbas - Tips for I Need Money
Online surveys are a legit way to make extra cash. Find out which ones pay the most. Plus, get the pros and cons of each site.
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