Surveys for Money: What You Might Earn, What to Watch Out For

Taking online surveys for money may not be worth your time. Users often complain about skimpy payouts, and experts warn of privacy concerns.
Lisa Mulka
Laura McMullen
By Laura McMullen and  Lisa Mulka 
Updated
Edited by Kathy Hinson

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To see if taking surveys online to make cash was worth the effort, some NerdWallet writers put a few apps to the test. The results were not impressive: They spent more than 50 hours and made less than $90 total.

Now we admit, this was back in 2017. We thought about re-running the test to pull updated results, but given the privacy concerns involved (see more on that below) we erred on the side of safety.

Our advice? If you’re looking to make a small amount of pocket money and are OK with the downsides, proceed carefully. Check out user reviews and keep an eye on data privacy policies. However, if you're looking for more than token amounts, consider investigating other ways to make money in your spare time.

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Are paid surveys worth it?

No matter the site, the earnings from taking surveys can be meager compared with other work opportunities. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; in our test of popular survey sites in 2017, hourly earnings ranged from 41 cents to $2.03. Most survey sites also required a minimum amount of points before we could redeem them, and we often didn’t reach that minimum after five hours of work.

In addition to time, the testers also gave up valuable personal data. They often revealed dates of birth, ZIP codes, incomes, health ailments, ethnicities, living arrangements and much more.

“The biggest risk is the unknown of how that data is going to be used,” says Eva Velasquez, the president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “You really are putting yourself at the mercy of those sites and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to trust you to be a good steward of the information I give you.’ ”

Velasquez says information could be used for questionable studies or sold to health insurers, for example. Or it could be stolen, which is a risk with any website that stores personal data. Most of the information testers gave away seemed harmless — shopping habits, for example. But information like your birthdate could be used with other stolen data to take your identity.

What to know if you take online surveys

Some sites pay more than others, and ease of cashout varies, too. Watch out for confusing points systems, understand how much you must earn before you can cash out and how earnings are paid. Read recent reviews to understand users' experiences and complaints.

Note that your demographics and other characteristics largely determine whether you qualify for a survey, and that users often complain of answering several questions only to hear they are disqualified or the survey has already filled its response quota.

And keep these safety tips in mind:

Don’t overshare. If you’re asked to give your Social Security number, bank account number or driver’s license number, leave the survey. Velasquez recommends being intentional about sharing other private information. Answering questions about a TV commercial probably is fine, but giving medical information may not be worth the risk.

Create an email address just for survey sites. Most survey sites sent several emails each day. Signing up for these sites with a separate email address prevents survey offers from cluttering your main inbox.

Install anti-malware software. We recommend this step in case one of the survey sites directs you to a spammy third-party client.

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The most popular surveys for cash apps of 2024

In a search of the most popular apps for getting paid for taking surveys, we found these leading the field. All had more than 100,000 reviews and ratings of 4 stars or better on Google Play and the iOS App Store at the time of this writing. 

Make Money

To make money on Make Money, you can take surveys, test services and try out new apps for credits. The credits translate to cash, and payment is sent to your PayPal account. Several users report delayed payout times and frustrating customer service.

Eureka

According to Eureka, you can start earning right away, with 80% of new members earning $5 on the first day. Payout comes in the form of PayPal or gift cards to popular retailers. But users report problems down the line like disqualifications from surveys, lack of surveys to complete and payouts trickling down to cents instead of dollars.

InboxDollars Surveys

InboxDollars says it has given away more than $50 million since 2000, but how much cash will you actually earn? According to reviews, not much. Users report disqualifications as an ongoing problem, meaning you may invest 10 minutes in a survey only to be disqualified near the end resulting in no earned cash. You must accumulate $30 to cash out, and you can opt for a prepaid Visa card, a digital gift certificate to stores like Target, or a check. Users report it takes from two to 10 days to receive earnings.

Google Opinion Rewards

Completing surveys using Google Opinion Rewards pays out in the form of Google Play credits for Android users, or $1 paid to your PayPal account for iPhone users. The site is a bit different in that it sends you surveys vs. you choosing surveys to take. Users report the surveys are usually short and easy to complete, but that the quantity available is sometimes lacking.

Swagbucks

This site offers a lot of opportunities for surveys, but disqualifications are frequent. Users report getting disqualified just for clicking on a link to a survey or booted out of the survey more than halfway through. You can cash out starting at $1 for gift cards or starting at $5 for PayPal.