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CashCrate Review: Online Surveys

Making Money, Personal Finance
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If you take surveys for money, you’ll likely be rewarded in points. That can be confusing — is a thousand points enough to buy a filet mignon or a pack of gum? CashCrate simplifies the math by disclosing the exact dollar amount given for each survey. However, after a week of trying out the site, the clarity around compensation didn’t make up for other parts of the experience that were perplexing.

What it’s like

CashCrate’s homepage is full of toolbars, tabs and links to other opportunities to make money on the site, such as watching videos and testing products. So it may take a moment to locate the “Surveys” and “Best Surveys” tabs.

Under these tabs, there are columns of survey links, along with details on the amount each one pays. Seeing the dollar (or cents) amount per survey was a welcome change from other sites I tested, which paid through opaque points systems.

The presentation of surveys was another matter. Each survey link had a name: “Live Sample (Twice Daily Survey),” “Pulley Surveys,” “SSI Surveys” and so on. As a beginner who wanted to jump right into the surveys, I didn’t know what all of this meant. The lack of explanation and overload of information slowed me down and didn’t leave a good first impression.

Upon clicking on a survey link, I was usually redirected to another website, such as Ipsos, Surveygizmo or Samplicio.us. Each survey prompts the same questions, like age, gender and ZIP code.

The next step was usually a continuous loop of queries that rarely earned me points. For example, I clicked on a “SaySo” survey, which pushed me through about 30 minutes of questions. I couldn’t tell if I was earning points or trying to qualify for a survey. I suspect the latter, because I’d occasionally receive a message asking if I wanted to continue trying to qualify for surveys. I always kept trying, but rarely qualified.

When I was chosen for a survey, it was usually engaging. Twice, I shopped at a virtual grocery store for 20 minutes and answered questions about its products. Another time, I watched commercials and commented on them.

Success rate

Determining how many times I was disqualified from a survey was tough. CashCrate is unlike some of the other survey sites we tried, which showed the total number of surveys you attempted, including completions and disqualifications. CashCrate shows only those you’ll get paid for. Also, while other sites clearly say when you’re disqualified, CashCrate and its third-party survey sites send you into a rabbit hole of questions. In many cases, these sites continually redirect you to new sets of queries rather than saying when you’re disqualified.

In the roughly five hours I spent on CashCrate, I qualified for and completed nine surveys. I estimate my success rate was about 33%. While that’s the highest success rate of the four sites I tried, that may be because there were so few disqualification notices to track. An hourlong sample session may be more telling. I tried qualifying for surveys for 40 minutes and received two disqualification notices between repetitive questions. Then I qualified for a survey that took 20 minutes and earned me 75 cents.

No matter the site, everyone will have a different experience when it comes to qualifying for surveys. Surveys target people with specific demographics, possessions and behaviors. As a 20-something woman who doesn’t own a home or play video games, I may not have been what they were looking for.

Payoff

Most of the survey sites we tested award points that you can redeem for money, gift cards or prizes. Determining the dollar value of those points often takes some math. CashCrate has a point system for some of its features, but surveys are based on cash. For each survey you see on the CashCrate homepage, you can tell exactly how much money you’ll earn. The surveys I took ranged from 50 cents to $1 each.

Altogether, I accumulated $7.60 — $6.60 in surveys and a $1 bonus I received for confirming my email address. That $6.60 also includes a one-time profile survey worth 50 cents. I have another 90 cents pending, meaning that CashCrate is waiting on confirmation from the third-party website that I completed their surveys.

If the pending survey clears and I don’t count the bonus or profile survey, I’ll have racked up $7 over the course of roughly five hours — that’s $1.40 per hour. However, you must accumulate $20 to cash out, which means many more hours of surveys before getting paid.

Verdict

Based on my experience, it’s difficult to earn much from online surveys, so it’s worth considering other ways to make money. If there’s an upside, it’s that the survey work is easy and hardly requires any mental energy. If you give survey-taking a try, CashCrate can be a confusing experience even though it’s clearer than other sites when it comes to knowing how much cash you’ve earned.

Whichever site you try, consider setting up an email address specifically for offers from the survey companies. Also, install anti-malware software on your computer, just in case you land on a spammy website. And take regular breaks to give your eyes a rest.

Laura McMullen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lmcmullen@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.