Taking Online Surveys for Money

By - August 25, 2012

We've all seen the claims, which are usually something like this: You can make money doing surveys online! It's fun and easy!

Yes, you can take surveys for money -- or something close to money. I can say this with certainty because I have now done it. I like to try out these odd ways to make cash from time to time, so I signed up on a site that lists all the best survey-taking companies online. Then I signed up at the individual survey company websites and started to get messages like this in my email regularly:

You've got a survey waiting!

Let them wait. It wasn't that it was an outright scam, but it is not as easy to get paid as the promoters claim. To start with, with most of these companies you don't get cash directly. You get points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Some offer cash, although that's usually through your Paypal account, so you'll need to open one if you haven't already.

But that's if you even get paid at all. In many cases -- make that most of the time -- you will start a survey and then a screen will come up to tells you you don't meet the qualifications or the survey quota is full. In those cases you will get a contest entry or something similarly worthless as a consolation prize for wasting your time.

Consider surveysavvy.com, for example. I just received an offer from them to take a survey that will take an estimated five minutes and pays $1 (they are one of the few that specify an amount of money rather than points). I will not bother with this one, because every time I've started one I've been excluded after taking the "preliminary" part.

Perhaps i-say.com is the worst in this respect. I believe I have started seven or more surveys with them and have never been able to complete one. Of course it could just be my particular characteristics. So if you are 48, male, and not in debt, and don't have medical problems, don't waste your survey-taking time on i-say.com, or you'll see this quite often:

It appears that a sufficient number of respondents with a similar profile have already completed this study, or that your profile does not exactly match our needs for this study. We apologize for the inconvenience. To thank you for your time - 5 reward points will be added to your account and you have received an entry into the $5,000 monthly Click Draw.

Of course there is no way to know what the real value of these drawings are. Consider this offer from a few days ago from npdor.com:

Upon completing this survey, you will earn all of the following:

- 25 SweepLand® points, which can be used as entries into a variety of exciting sweepstakes;
An increase in your Survey Points Booster status -- you'll receive 50 points for your next completed survey.

- A chance to instantly win up to $500 cash, or up to 500 SweepLand bonus points!

- An automatic entry into our monthly drawing for five $1,000 cash prizes!

What does any of that mean? They don't mention how many entries there are in any of the drawings, so how would we know if it is worth anything? They might do a drawing once annually and have thousands of people in each, making it unlikely that you'll ever get anything. One survey site does specify that they draw 50 names for a $10 prize each, but they do not say how many people are entered.

As for the points, each company does that part a bit differently. For example, at MySurvey.com you need 1,000 points to get a $10 gift card. That's how it looks at first, anyhow. But when I tried to redeem my points at 1,030 I discovered that almost all the cards require 1,100 points.

I had to wait a day to take two more surveys, and then I got a $10 card for Carrabba's Italian Grill sent to me. We eat out quite a bit, so this is like cash for myself, but I better enjoy that food since it took me about five or six hours of answering questions about health issues and my impressions of various sodas and consumer electronics to get enough to pay for half of a meal.

MySurvey.com is the best I found, by the way, which is depressing. I don't expect to make a penny from any of the others; it would just take too long to accumulate points from the occasional survey I might complete.

But perhaps there are other benefits. Due perhaps to answering "yes" to "Do you ever feel sad?" on one survey, I was invited to participate as a human guinea pig in a trial for a new depression medication. They would have paid me $50 each time I went to the doctor (and paid for the doctor and medication, of course), but I declined.

Make money with surveys? Don't count on it.

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