I know what you’re thinking. “I can’t make any money at taking surveys!” While you will not be able to make a living at taking surveys, you can take surveys for cash and other rewards as a way to earn a side income. It can be tedious, though, as you will often get surveys for which you are not qualified. But when you do qualify, you will get paid either in points toward rewards like gift cards or cash, depending on the company. To help you streamline the process and therefore maximize your income potential, I have put together a basic guide to taking surveys for cash and rewards.
Before You Begin
Get a PayPal account
I can’t stress enough how important this is, if you don’t already have one. A lot of these survey panels will only pay you via PayPal. Very few will send out checks or do bank transfers. I’m not sure how I could make a living online without PayPal, to be honest.
Sign up for a Free E-mail Account
When you sign up with these panels, you will be inundated with surveys and survey invitations. I’d hate to see your in-box overflow because you decided to give taking surveys a try. Any of the free e-mail services such as Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo will do.
If you sign up for reputable panels, you should not get inundated with junk mail. However, notice I used the word “should.” I wish I could promise you that it won’t happen, but it might. Having a dedicated e-mail address should help you sift out the important e-mails from the spam.
Register with Survey Panels
Each survey panel operates differently, but the basic signup process involves giving them your e-mail address and filling out a demographic survey about yourself and your family. This will help them target surveys specifically for you. If you are not comfortable giving out information such as your age, income, family size, etc., then perhaps you should rethink the idea of taking surveys for earning extra income.
I’ve noticed that a few of these companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon, and offer a Facebook login option. I really like this, because it cuts down on some of the registration process. If you do sign up with Facebook, just be sure to note the privacy settings, such as letting the app post for you. I always set it to “Only Me” because I like having control over my Facebook feed.
Some of these panels also have smartphone and tablet apps, so that you can take surveys on the go. They usually have iPhone and Android download links on the front page of their website to make it easier for you.
There are also hundreds of panels to choose from…and I’m not exaggerating. I have tried to narrow down the number for you a bit by breaking down survey panels by their method of payment, cash or points for rewards (which often include PayPal cash!). You can find a list of panels that pay in both cash and points here.Surveys that Pay in Cash and Rewards
Okay, so you’ve signed up with a few panels, and you’re waiting for the invitations to begin. It is hard to tell when you may start getting invitations, because it all depends on the types of surveys they have available as well as your demographics. That is why it is a good idea to sign up for a number of survey panels so that you have a steady stream of surveys available. Once you get the invite, just click on the provided link. It should take you to the survey.
I should note that some of the survey panels don’t send out invitations. They require you to check in with their website to see if you have any surveys available. If you aren’t getting many e-mail invitations, then perhaps you should give these a go.
If you do get an invite, don’t wait to open it! Sometimes you will miss out on a survey because they have all the applicants they need.
So you got an invitation for a survey. Wonderful! However, this invitation is most likely going to lead you to a series of screener questions as another step in the survey qualification process. It is rare for a survey panel to totally prequalify you, unfortunately. Survey screeners are probably the biggest source of frustration for those looking to earn extra income from surveys.
Most reputable survey panels will have short screeners that will only take you a few questions to complete so that you know right away if you qualify. If you end up spending more than a few minutes of your time answering screener questions only to be disqualified, then I’d contact customer service to see if they might compensate you for your time. If they don’t compensate you, or worse yet, don’t respond, then perhaps it’s best to leave that particular panel on the back burner.
Hooray! You actually passed a screener test, and you were able to take the survey from start to finish. You will now get paid for your time and effort. Survey panels pay in one of two ways: cash or points for rewards such as cash, gift cards, merchandise, and sweepstakes entries.
For obvious reasons, the panels that pay in cash are in high demand. There’s no guessing at how much you have actually earned! This is where having a PayPal account comes in handy. While a great deal of survey panels have a cashout limit requirement (i.e., you can cash out your earnings once you have a certain amount in your account), some will put the cash promised in the survey directly into your PayPal account upon completion, or when the survey closes (can take a few weeks).
Points for Rewards Panels
The other type of payment involves earning points that you can exchange for rewards, some of which include PayPal cash. The other types of rewards are gift cards or electronic gift codes (usually available immediately) for retailers.
The one drawback of getting paid in points is the sometimes confusing point systems. Each panel will have its own conversion system, such as 1 point being worth one penny, or 5 points being worth one penny. Plus, you will have to accumulate a certain amount of points before you can convert your points into rewards. However, don’t let this discourage you, especially if these panels offer PayPal cash as an option. It’s almost like getting paid cash for surveys! And if you’re like me and like to shop on Amazon.com, most of these panels offer Amazon.com gift codes as a reward.
Be careful of panels where points can expire! Don’t let this happen to you. Read the fine print before signing up.
Other Types of Survey Sites
There are other websites that host surveys, mainly “get-paid-to” (GPT) sites that I have mentioned before. These are a great way to earn extra spending cash all in one place. The only caveat I have with the surveys on the get-paid-to sites is all of the survey screeners you’ll have to take and not get compensated for. Unlike survey-only websites, you won’t be able to request any sort of compensation because they are not the company running the surveys. They only host them.
With that said, I have earned both points and cash from taking surveys on these sites. Any cash or points you earn from surveys on the GPT sites will be added to your totals from performing other tasks, such as watching videos, reading e-mails, shopping, and the like. Some of the more popular GPT sites are as follows:
Amazon mTurk Surveys
You can also earn cash on surveys hosted on Amazon’s mTurk service, which I have previously written about here. You must be careful with these, however. I will only take surveys from HITs (mTurk’s term for the short tasks they host) that have been posted on Reddit’s HITs Worth Turking For. These pay at least $0.10 per minute, and they are surveys/studies from businesses and universities that are conducting market research and other types of studies. There’s no need to give out your e-mail address, unless you want to be contacted for additional surveys/studies. Any other surveys are not really worth your time, and may end up being scammy.
Some Things to Consider
If you are still interested in taking surveys for money, you need to remember that it’s not going to be a steady source of income. I can’t stress that enough. But if you play your cards right, it could be a good way to start a rainy day fund, help pay grocery bills (PayPal has a debit card you can use to access your funds on the spot), have a fun night out on the town with a gift card to a movie theater and/or restaurant, or help keep your Amazon.com spending sprees under control (like me!).
Also, be careful when it comes to panels you have never heard of before. It pays (pun intended) to do your own research. There are sites like Surveypolice.com where you can look for information about survey panels before signing up. Otherwise, you could open yourself up to at the very least a ton of junk mail, or at the worst fall victim to a scam to get your personal information.
All of the panels I have listed are legitimate, so don’t worry about falling prey to scams from any of the panels linked to on this blog. As with any program, people will have better luck than others with getting qualified, getting paid on time, and someone will always have a complaint. I have yet to see a survey site where someone isn’t happy with something…even if it’s a little thing like having a high payout. If you don’t like it, don’t sign up for it!
In any case, I hope you find this guide useful. Let me know about any of your experiences with these panels in the comments!