Your Opinions for Money – Are Paid Online Surveys Worth It?

If you are looking for ways to make extra money (and aren’t we all?) then here’s an idea to give a try: paid online surveys. If you are anything like me, you have strong opinions and you spout them off at just about any opportunity that comes along. That might explain why I am not invited to a lot of parties? Hmm, that makes me think. But I just can’t help but throwing my two cents in whenever the situation arises. Having said that, you can throw your two cents in and it can actually result in you getting some cash thrown right back at you!

If you like to give your opinions, you can get money by completing paid online surveys. But before you get started, there are some important things to know. Here's what beginners should realize before they dive in.

 

Online opinion and survey sites have become a really popular way for some folks to cash in doing some pretty easy, mindless things in their spare time. The number of websites willing to pay you is growing every month. So, as Smash Mouth’s 1999 hit song says, “you’re an all star….get paid”.

Here’s the Warning Label

While there are a ton of sites out there to choose from, some are more reliable than others. You’ll want to make sure that they are really legit and you want to be sure you actually will get paid, so it’s good to check them out carefully before you jump right in the pool!

You Are Not Going to Get Rich But…

While a side gig is just that, side income won’t replace the steady cash flow of a regular job, but it can pad it a little bit. Paid online surveys are often mentioned as a way to earn extra dollars fast. But are paid surveys a legitimate way to make money? Or are they scams? The answer is that it depends on the survey company you are dealing with.

There are still marketing research firms that actually do pay consumers to take in-person surveys and to participate in focus groups. However, the internet has become a more efficient way for the money seeker and the companies who collect the data. So, many firms now conduct legitimate online paid surveys, virtual paid focus groups, and other types of paid online marketing research.

Then There’s the “Middlemen”

There are also many sites that are actually questionable “middleman” third-parties and they hype easy money for you to participate. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is” rings very true so be a little skeptical when you look around. There’s a lot of competition for your participation—which means great potential for exaggerations of earnings claims at the least, and at worst an outright scamola.

Avoid any sites that have had complaints documented against them. Look for and find companies that offer surveys directly on their website and avoid middlemen as if they were the plague.

Pay to Play?

The one rule to live by if you try surveys and opinion polls is: don’t ever pay to take a survey. There are sites that charge “membership fees” to get the “lists” of marketing research firms that you contact to be a part of the online paid world. That’s ridiculous since you can search online and find most of them totally on your own, so why pay?

There are even some sites that try to trick you into buying the same lists of their own membership sites under different names which they are using. Naturally, these sites have an incentive to exaggerate how much you’ll earn from online paid surveys. The truth is you have to carefully check and avoid the ones trying to scam you.

What You Can (and Can’t) Really Earn

If anybody is actually earning a living from online paid surveys, it’s probably only those middleman-site owners and not a participating consumer like you or me. Most surveys “pay” only small rewards in the form of goods, services, gift cards, coupons, or free samples. And of course, some cash.

Rewards or prizes at most of the sites range from $5-$200 in cash or goods. Some pay with points that are then redeemable for cash or gift cards and typically you must rack up a whole bunch of them to redeem for anything of significant value. Be wary of the sites that only offer sweepstakes entries for completing a survey that then will determine if you are eligible for other paid surveys. A few don’t pay much of anything, unless you recruit others, and that is a pyramid scheme. If it sounds a little deceiving, it is because there are many whose main goal is to get your opinions and make it very tough on you in the process. Getting you paid is not their priority.

But there are a few paid survey sites which do pay relatively well in cash. In the real world, the likelihood that you’ll often earn the higher of the hyped amounts is slim, but some money is better than no money as one who’s hurting may often say out loud! The online companies simply don’t pay you a whole lot.

You must keep in mind that you must fit some targeted demographics if you want to participate in these surveys. That limits your earnings right off the bat, because you can’t possibly fit into every demographic.

Privacy Issues

With all the talk about Facebook and its screw-up of personal data recently in the news, you may fear giving your opinions on the internet. Most paid survey sites effectively promise not to share personally identifiable information or not to share anything without your consent. It’s an industry standard by which legitimate marketing research firms are bound. But many survey sites don’t make any promises or do so only in a very limited or wishy-washy way. Make sure if you sign up that they offer a non-sharing of information about your “agreement”.

When joining a survey site, you might have allowed it or its “marketing partners” to solicit you. Your personally identifiable information is worth a small fortune to direct marketers, especially since the U.S. Federal Trade Commission limits unsolicited telemarketing calls and consumers can now sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry.

You should ask yourself if earning a few extra bucks, iffy sweepstakes entries, and other token rewards are worth the aggravation of dealing with potentially dozens of privacy invasions that offer nothing for your time. Before you sign up, review all of these tips for protecting your privacy online, so you don’t jeopardize yours for a little bit of extra money.

Direct Experience

My wife Suzanne used to use paid online surveys to make a little extra. Sites she belonged to included Pinecone Research, MySurvey, and InboxDollars. She received payment in the form of cash or gift cards from all three sites, but she found the effort to qualify for enough surveys to make it worthwhile was difficult. Your mileage may vary.

The “Payoff”

Like anything else you deal with, you have to consider opinion surveys carefully before you plunge ahead. But truthfully, if you do your homework, have a computer or smartphone and some time on your hands, it can be an easy, simple way to earn some extra cash.

This way of making a little extra cash has worked for some and not for others. I think that if done with other ways to earn extra money as a side gig, it can be a nice way to help you solve money issues. Just be careful when you do it.

Have you ever tried opinion surveys to make some extra cash? Have you ever considered it? Are you afraid to try because of the chance of privacy invasion and/or scam issues? Is it worth a chance to help solve money problems by working when you want from your home?

Disease Called Debt

About Gary Weiner @ Super Saving Tips

Over the last 45 years I've worked in retail (department stores and supermarkets) and financial planning. In addition, I am a shopper, born and bred, who enjoys the challenges of finding the best items for the best prices. When I'm not busy saving money or writing here at Super Saving Tips, I enjoy baseball, music, and classic movies. I am retired and live in New Jersey with my wife.
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14 Comments

  1. I’ve always thought that most of these online survey sites were promising much more than they could offer. You can read so many stories on how a single stay-at-home mom (always the same example :P) can make tens of thousands of dollars per month doing that. And when you start researching how much you can, it’s actually only a few bucks every month.

    Now, I agree that it can be a good side hustle. And there are probably a lot of honest websites to do it. It’s always nice to make a few bucks on the side without too much effort, but as you said: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is so true when applied to such sites.

    Thanks for your post 🙂

    • Thank you, TPS. Definitely take what is said about earnings with a grain of salt and don’t set expectations too high. Making some money this way is possible, but like I wrote above, you’re not going to get rich from it. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Hey Gary,

    Great post!

    I agree with the part where you say lots of survey sites are not legit. That’s mainly because I experienced a few such fake sites myself. I ended up moving from page to page doing these ‘preapproval’ tasks. In the end, I realized they were only forcing me to see ads.

    The really good ones can earn you some money but like you said, this is just side income. You really won’t make it to Forbes List.

    Cheers!

  3. I do Swagbucks surveys sometimes. I think surveys are really only worth it if you find it fun to give your opinion and/or you have down time at work. So that they really are a bonus when you’re already getting paid.

  4. Back in the day I used to do in person focus group sessions at ad agencies. The moderator would ask questions to get opinions from the group about a product while co-workers watched the session from behind a walled two way mirror. They’d feed you and pay you cash. It was a lot of fun for an hour of my time. I wonder of those still exist?

    • That’s interesting, Mrs. Groovy. Many years ago, I did the same thing, but the one I recall most vividly was with AT&T and giving my opinion about things like 3-way calling and caller ID. They paid quite well and provided a great lunch, but I kept thinking that with this high security that they had at their facility, was the federal government aware of this endeavor? 🙂 I do believe there are live focus sessions going on even today.

  5. I think it only pays around minimum wage? I find all those “make $80 an hour taking online surveys” websites to be unbelievable

    • I would go along with that assessment, Troy, perhaps saying 99% are unbelievable. You just have to be really diligent to find ones that are worth it. Either that, or do it when you’re killing time and have nothing better to do, say waiting at the doctor’s office or something like that. Thanks for your comment.

  6. I think if you do it while you’re waiting in the carpool lane or something, it’s a fine way to pass the time. But like you say, I wouldn’t depend on this money! I find it very hard to qualify for many surveys.

  7. Vivatic is a great site for you to start answering surveys for cash. Surveys take about 15 mins to complete so it could take you a little while to reach the threshold but the good news is that there’s plenty more extra money making opportunities that they have so well worth a sign up.

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