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Sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and dig in. In an effort to see whether taking online surveys to make money is worth the effort, we asked a few writers to test a few apps.
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The results weren’t impressive: it was a lot of time for very little pay. We now assume this was in 2017, but a recent survey of App Store user reviews found that things haven’t changed much. Nobody gets rich – but surprisingly few people complain about it.
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Making money taking surveys cannot be the goal. People can easily express their opinion while spending time, with little rewards just an added benefit.
While researching the most popular iOS apps to get paid to take surveys, we found that these are the leaders in the field:
They all have over 100,000 reviews and 4 star or better ratings at the time of writing.
While most reviewers of these apps admit that the payout is not huge, many users enjoy taking surveys while earning some pocket money.
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In 2017, the three of us spent a total of over 50 hours taking paid surveys, and our combined income was a little over $90.
So, no, online surveys were not an effective way for us to make money. (Go through the list or continue learning about our experience.
The truth is that taking paid surveys used to be easy and can be done securely at home if you have an internet connection. The sites we tested were free and didn’t require any training or skills. Depending on the website, surveys can be an easy – if boring – way to earn a few bucks or a frustrating chore that doesn’t cost much.
Some sites pay more than others. We value sites that reveal the monetary value of each survey that is relevant to us. We dread sites that compensate us with a confusing points system and send us surveys we hardly qualify for.
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Keep in mind that your demographics and other characteristics will largely determine whether or not you qualify for a survey. All three of us surveyed in 2017 were single women in their 20s living in urban areas. Depending on the survey, we may or may not be the ideal partner. Your profile may generate different results than ours.
Here are the results we got from trying to spend an hour every day for five days on each site. Some days there weren’t enough surveys for some sites to fill the hours. (We didn’t count this time in our total review hours.)
We’ve listed these US locations based on the average hourly rate they earned in 2017, from our highest earners to our lowest earners.
This site is a survey aggregator with an efficient screening process. Its dashboard is very informative and includes useful sections like your activity and customer support form. The site was above average in selecting the surveys we were eligible for. In terms of points awarded per survey, 500 or 1000 points may seem like a lot at first, but when you convert them into real rewards, you’ll get 50 cents or a dollar. Also, you can’t cash out until you reach 25,000 points, which is equal to $25. Read more in our OneOpinion review.
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This site is a small survey aggregator, but it is different. The site has a clean and easy-to-use dashboard and offers a high point value for each survey you complete. The points system is straightforward and shows you the dollar value of your points directly on the dashboard. But before you can cash out, you need to reach 500 points. Check out our Survey Junkie review for more details.
Some survey websites provide users with information and opportunities – but not opinion outposts. Its simple and intuitive website allowed us to run survey after survey without much thought. As a beginner, I also appreciated the site’s straightforward points system, which works out to 10 cents per point. Most importantly, we have already made some money. We averaged $1.50 an hour at Opinion Outpost and we were able to cash in on Amazon. Check out our Opinion Outpost review for more details.
This site only presents surveys by Ipsos, the market research company that owns it. The site offers fewer surveys than aggregators, but you stay on iSay for each survey, making the overall experience smoother. Sometimes it shows surveys that you have already tried, which is confusing. For more, check out our iSay review.
The site offers 75 survey options, the most of any site we tested. But it also had the lowest success rate, 9.33%, and the lowest average hourly rate. Furthermore, the reasons for survey ineligibility were often unclear. We were disqualified once after being asked to spell the word “purple”. (Yes, we spelled that right.) Check out our full review of MyPoints.
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The site offers many opportunities to take surveys, but exclusion is common. Sometimes we are ineligible to click on a survey link. Swagbucks collects third-party surveys, so some sites that send them to you are better than others. Earning points takes time, but the site’s extensive Rewards Marketplace has hundreds of options to choose from, including gift cards, sweepstakes and PayPal payments. Check out our full Swagbucks review.
Unlike many other sites, Toluna allows users to choose their survey topics, such as electronics or travel, which made the job even more interesting. However, this advantage did not make up for his low salary. Converting points to cash, we earned just 71 cents per hour—one of the lowest rates of all the sites we tested. Our five hours of points weren’t enough to redeem the cheapest gift card. Learn more in our Toluna review.
New users get a $5 bonus after verifying their email address with InboxDollars. But there was no reason for how little money we made an hour when taking the survey — 41 cents, the lowest rate of the 12 sites we tested. Sometimes, instead of sending us surveys, the site directs us to promotions that require our address, phone number, and date of birth. Read our InboxDollar review.
Regardless of location, income from surveys can be small compared to other business opportunities. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, for example, and our hourly earnings range from 41 cents to $2.03. Most survey sites require a minimum number of points before redeeming for rewards. On many sites, we were unable to hit the minimum after five hours of work. (You can consider other hobbies to earn money.)
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Apart from current time, we also provide valuable personal data on these survey sites. We often disclose date of birth, zip code, income, health status, ethnicity, living arrangements and more. And after spending hours putting together the questions and answers, we rarely give much thought to providing these details.
“The biggest risk is not knowing how this data is being used,” says Eva Velazquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “You’re really putting yourself at the mercy of these sites and saying, ‘Okay, I trust you to be a good steward of the information I’m giving you.'”
Our information could be used in questionable studies or sold to health insurance companies, says Velazquez. Or it could be stolen, which is a risk for any website that stores personal data. Much of the information we provide them with appears harmless – for example, our shopping habits and travel plans. But information like your date of birth can be used along with other stolen data to identify you. So keep this in mind while answering the questions.
Despite the drawbacks of online surveys, some people may still consider surveys to be an attractive option. After all, there is no barrier to entry, and they can be done from anywhere with an internet connection.
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Don’t overshare. If you are asked to provide your Social Security number, bank account number, or driver’s license number, skip the questionnaire. Velasquez recommends against “knowingly” sharing it with survey sites, along with other personal information. Answering questions about a TV commercial is probably a good thing, but giving medical information may not be worth the risk.
Create an email address just for survey sites. Most survey sites send us several emails per day. Registering on these sites with a separate email address prevents survey offers from cluttering up your main inbox.
Install anti-malware software. We recommend this step if a survey site directs you to an unwanted third-party client.
Take a break We often went through long survey sessions with our faces glued to the computer screen