Looking for ways to earn beer money for minimal effort? Offering your opinion online through paid surveys is definitely an easy way to earn fast cash.
Taking surveys may not offer as high of a per-hour return as other top side hustles. But what's so nice about them is that they give you the opportunity to make money while you're waiting in line at Starbucks or sitting in the parent pickup queue at your child's school.
Sound interesting? If so, keep reading to learn how paid online surveys work, what you can expect to earn, and where to find the best-paying online surveys.
What Are Paid Surveys?
Online paid surveys are exactly what they sound like. You sign up on a survey site, and you complete online surveys. The online survey company pays you a small amount for completing the survey. In most cases, you'll earn less than $0.25 per survey completed, and surveys take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes to complete.
Paid online surveys are legitimate, but they aren’t a get rich quick scheme. In fact, they aren’t even a get rich slow scheme. See our 10 rules to get rich and grow wealth.
Paid surveys are really tasks to complete when you’re bored working at the library circulation desk, putting in hours as an RA, or between rounds on security duty. By survey-taking, you can earn a little cash during these "dead" times that pop up all throughout the day.
Can I Earn Real Money From Paid Surveys?
It depends. If by "real" you mean actual cash (as opposed to only points or credits), then the answer is yes. But if by "real money" you mean a lot of money, the answer will most likely be no. In my experience, most paid survey apps and websites have low payouts which result in earnings of around $.05 per minute ($3 per hour) when your internet is moving quickly.
Even when I was in the “most sought after” demographic of a middle income mom with babies, I rarely earned more than $0.20 per minute with the surveys. However, a few companies (most notably L&E Opinions) prefer survey participants when selecting focus groups for market research. And when I’ve been selected for focus group research, I’ve typically earned around $50-$100 per hour and enjoyed a few free samples.
That said, my paltry earnings should not necessarily dissuade you from taking surveys. One friend makes a game of online surveys. She takes them whenever she's at the doctor’s or dental office for one of her kids. And for the past several years, she’s paid for Christmas presents solely with money from paid surveys and market research.
Is There Any Fine Print Associated With Online Surveys?
One of the most annoying parts of many of the most popular survey and rewards sites are their minimum payout requirements. Many have minimum payouts which range from $5 to $20 or more.
Often, you can earn a $10 bonus for signing up, but you have to reach the $20 payout before you “realize” the bonus. Unless you’re willing to grind through a few hours of surveys, you’ll never get paid. Meanwhile, you’ve given up a bunch of valuable demographic information for free.
I’ve also found that several survey sites have poor pre-screening. That means you end up spending 3-4 minutes filling out demographic information only to be turned down for the survey. Aside from these downsides, these survey companies offer a legitimate way to earn a small amount of money. While you won't get rich, the reputable companies will pay you as agreed.
Where Can I Find Paid Surveys?
Does the ideas of earning money online by giving your opinion still sound appealing to you? If so, these are our top survey sites right now.
1. Survey Junkie
Compared with other survey companies, Survey Junkie tends to offer slightly higher payouts (think $2-$3 per survey). However, these surveys can take 10-15 minutes to complete and may involve watching a few videos. Survey Junkie has a mobile app, but I prefer to only use it when I have a strong WiFi signal as it can chew through data quickly. Survey Junkie’s minimum payout is $10.
InboxDollars offers the opportunity to earn money through surveys, online tasks, and location dependent tasks (like scanning items in stores). With relatively low payments, and a minimum payout of $30, I typically don’t recommend InboxDollars. However, it does have a sort of “daily” gamble which is a nice little bonus (think $.25 to $1 most days) which could make it worthwhile.
Get a $5 bonus when you sign up!
Swagbucks has been around since 2005 and it offers survey-takers the opportunity to earn a few bucks per month. I found it difficult to multi-task and take surveys while watching TV. But the Swagbucks mobile app makes it easy enough to take surveys on a morning bus commute. Earning potential tops at around $5 to $10 per month. The minimum cash out is $25.
Get a $5 bonus when you sign up!
4. Branded Surveys
While most survey sites are set up for users to earn a lot of points when they first join, Branded Surveys offers more incentives for involved survey takers. The site offers opportunities to level up, which means users earn more points for every survey. It also offers decent “streak bonuses” for completing a daily poll or completing surveys for 7 to 10 consecutive days.
Pinecone pays $3 per survey. And the payouts can be higher the longer you’re on the site. With Pinecone, you are pre-screened so the opportunities are legitimate. This is the type of survey site, where you may actually be able to out-earn your part-time job. People outside of the 18-24 age range can sign up but they aren’t likely to receive as many survey opportunities per month.
MyPoints is a “points” rewards site with a survey component. Based on the low payouts, I am not quick to recommend MyPoints as a primary survey site. However, the cashback opportunities could make it signing up for MyPoints alone. And when you’re setting up an account, you may find a few surveys that can boost you towards your next reward sooner.
Toluna is one of the more innovative survey companies. If you love social media, you may be excited about the ways you can interact with people as you try to learn more about your next big purchase. In terms of surveys, you’ll earn around 100 points for 10-20 minutes of work. Unfortunately, a point only translates to about a quarter of one cent.
8. L&E Opinions
Unlike the majority of other sites, L&E Opinions is more of a “focus group” site rather than a paid surveys site. However, it does allow for some online surveys and it allows users to sign up for fairly lucrative focus group sessions. You usually won’t be able to earn money in your pajamas with focus group opportunities, but the payout is a lot better.
9. User Testing
UserTesting isn’t a formal survey site. But you do complete tasks and provide feedback. In exchange for the feedback, you earn around $10 per 20-30 minute test session. All payouts are done via PayPal.
10. Amazon MTurk
On Amazon Mechanical Turk, you can earn money for completing tasks such as surveys. And compared to most survey sites, the amount you earn per survey on MTurk is fairly decent. Payouts begin at around $5-$7 per hour, with the potential of higher earnings for more complex surveys.
11. Opinion Outpost
Through Opinion Outpost you can earn money for completing surveys. It has an annoying habit of forcing users to complete a number of “pre-survey” surveys before telling you that you aren’t eligible for the real survey. That said, the earnings on a per survey basis can be decent, and the cashout limit is just $5 (50 points) for an Amazon gift card.
12. Nielsen Digital Voice
Nielsen allows you to download a browser extension and browse as you normally would. It collects data from you, and enters you into an opportunity to win $10,000 (each month). And members may also occasionally be invited to take surveys to earn rewards or bonus entries into the Sweepstakes.
Hannah is a wife, mom, and described personal finance geek. She excels with spreadsheets (and puns)! She regularly explores in-depth financial topics and enjoys looking at the latest tools and trends with money.
Editor: Clint Proctor