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If you are thinking about online research for money, consider our experience from 2017: the three of us spent more than 50 full hours on paid research, and our combined income did not exceed $90.
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So no, online surveys are not the best way to make money. (Keep reading next to the list or about our experience.)
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To be honest, paid surveys are easy to find and can definitely be done at home if you have internet access. The sites we reviewed are free and require no education or expertise. According to the website, surveys are an easy – albeit flawed – way to earn a few bucks or do boring work. Payment.
Some places pay more than others. We appreciate the sites that showed the cash value for each study and compared us with the relevant. Sites reward us with a confusing scoring system and send us surveys we rarely qualify for, which scares us.
Remember that your physical and other characteristics largely determine whether or not you qualify for the survey. All three of us surveyed in 2017 were single women in our twenties living in the city. Depending on the study, we may or may not be good participants. Your experience may lead to different conclusions than ours.
Below are our findings from trying to spend an hour a day for five days at each location. Many sites don’t have enough research to fill a few days, an hour. (We did not count that time in the total number of review hours.)
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We’ve listed these US locations based on the average hourly earnings we earned in 2017, from our highest to lowest earnings.
This site is a search engine with a good search engine. Its dashboard is informative and displays useful features such as your activity and customer support form. The site is above average in getting the reviews we deserve. In terms of points earned in the study, 500 or 1,000 points may seem high at first, but when it turns into a real reward, you will get 50 cents or a dollar. Also, you can’t cash out until you reach 25,000 points, which equals $25. Read more in our OneOpinion review.
This site is a small search engine, but it is unique. The site has a clean, easy-to-use dashboard and offers a premium rate for every survey you complete. The points system is simple and shows how much your points are worth in dollars right on your dashboard. But you need to reach 500 points before you can cash out. Check out our Survey Addict review for more information.
Some research sites bombard people with information and opportunities – not opinions. Its simple, user-friendly website allowed us to research and explore without much thought. For starters, we also appreciate the site’s simple point system, which works out to 10 cents per point. Most importantly, we actually made money. At Opinion Outpost, we averaged $1.50 an hour and could get paid on Amazon. Check out our Opinion Outpost review for more.
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This website only contains surveys provided by Ipsos, a proprietary market research company. The site offers fewer surveys than aggregators, but you stay on i-Sai for all surveys, making for a smoother experience. Sometimes it shows searches you’ve already tried, which is confusing. For more information, see the i-Sai review.
This site offered 75 search options, more than any other site we searched. But it has a low success rate of 9.33% and a low hourly rate. Again, the reasons for canceling studies are often unclear. At one point we got fired when they told us to write the word “viola”. (Yes, that’s spelled correctly.) Check out our full MyPoints review.
This site offers many opportunities to explore, but cancellations are common. Sometimes we disqualify you from clicking on a survey link. Swagbucks aggregates third-party surveys, so some sites send you better than others. Earning points takes time, but the site’s growing rewards marketplace offers 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 search topics, such as electronics or travel, which makes it even more interesting. However, this benefit did not bring them a minimum wage. Converting points to cash earned us just 71 cents an hour – one of the lowest rates of all the sites we looked at. Our five-hour points don’t even come close to redeeming cheap gift cards. Find out more in our Toluna review.
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New members get a $5 bonus after verifying their email address with InboxDollars. But as we did our research, we weren’t happy with the small amount of money we were getting paid per hour – 41 cents, the lowest of the 12 sites we looked at. Sometimes, instead of sending us surveys, the site directs us to ads that ask for our address, phone number, and date of birth. Read our InboxDollars review.
Regardless of location, research income is small compared to other job 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 amount of points before we can redeem them for rewards. On most sites, we haven’t reached the minimum amount after five hours of work. (You might want to think of other fun things you can do to earn money.)
In addition to our time, we also provide valuable personal information to these research sites. We often disclose our birthdays, zip code, income, health status, race, lifestyle and more. And after spending hours on the Q&A process, we rarely think about providing that information.
“The biggest risk is not knowing how to use that information,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “You’re at the mercy of those sites and you say, ‘Well, I trust you to be good stewards of the information I’m giving you.'”
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Our information may be used for research questions or sold to health insurers, Velasquez said. It can be stolen, which is a risk on any website that collects personal information. Most of the information we provide seems innocuous – like our shopping habits and travel plans. But information like your birthday can be used by other identity thieves to steal your identity. So keep that in mind while answering the questions.
Despite the disadvantages of online research, some may find research an attractive option. After all, there is no barrier to entry, and it can be done from anywhere with an internet connection.
Don’t share too much. If you are asked to provide your Social Security number, bank account number, or driver’s license number, please complete the survey. Velasquez advises to be “expectative” about sharing other personal information with research sites. Answering questions about a TV commercial may be fine, but providing medical information may not be worth the risk.
Create an email address for research sites only. Many search sites send us emails every day. By signing up for these sites with a different email address, you’ll prevent search offers from cluttering your primary inbox.
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Install anti-malware software. We recommend this step if search sites refer you to unwanted third-party providers.
Breaks. We often have long searches and our faces are glued to the computer the whole time. To prevent eye strain, the American Optometric Association recommends the 20/20/20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.
If you decide that research isn’t worth your time, there are other ways to make money online, such as blogging, selling content, and freelancing. These methods may require more effort, but the rewards are greater.
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Why Doing Online Surveys For Money Will Never Be Worth Your Time
About the Author: Laura McMullen writes about money management. His work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications. In more detail
Devon Delfino is a personal finance writer. His work has been published by the Los Angeles Times, Market Watch and Business Insider. In more detail
Max Ramirez is a former editor-in-chief. His work has also been featured on USA Today and MarketWatch. In more detail
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