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The internet offers many ways to earn money online through side gigs. One of the easiest side gigs you can pursue is filling out digital surveys for extra income. You can earn money by playing games, watching videos, or taking advantage of survey opportunities. Market research companies commonly offer most of the above.

You may wonder if this is a legitimate way to earn cash and whether survey companies live up to their promises of payment for completed surveys. In this article, we’ll explore some of the top online survey sites, what to look for, and which ones offer you the most points or money in exchange for your time.

Are survey companies legitimate?

First, let’s clear up the big question: Yes, it is possible to make money through these paid online surveys. That’s because market research companies need consumer insights. They want to learn everything possible, from details on a new product or service to shopping habits, lifestyle choices, and health issues. Companies realize it can be more effective to conduct focus groups online rather than ask people to meet in-person to provide personal insights.

Unfortunately, some survey companies are less trustworthy. They make promises of earning points, money, prizes and merchandise, but they’re simply masking the unethical collection of data without compensating participants.

How can you avoid those sketchy sites? First, avoid any survey site that asks you to pay a membership fee in order to complete surveys. In most cases, the “membership” simply offers a list of survey companies where you can earn money. You can already find those for free by doing your own online research.

Also, stay away from survey sites that offer you money to recruit others to take surveys or participate in some way. This is a modern-day version of a pyramid scheme. In these cases, it’s only the third-party survey sites making money.

Data Privacy

Although sharing your data has become more common, consider carefully what you share with these paid survey sites.

Typically, legitimate marketing research firms must keep your data private and not share or sell it. However, when it comes to these online membership sites, they may not respect your privacy. Instead, they may open you up to a stream of marketing partners who inundate you with emails and telemarketing calls. In this case, it’s not worth the risk to your personal information, to say nothing of the irritation of constant contact.

Legitimate Survey Sites

There are plenty of direct survey sites that offer paid surveys without a fee requirement. However, here’s one last caveat. While you will earn some money, either through sweepstakes prizes, or points, you will not likely be able to earn a living by taking online surveys. Instead, think of them as something fun that provides some cash, coupons or gift cards over time.

Now, let’s look at some of the best online survey companies where you can legitimately earn those valuable rewards.

InboxDollars

inbox dollars logo

CotterWeb Enterprises operates InboxDollars, which enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Since 2012, InboxDollars has been one of the easiest, most transparent survey sites to use. It allows you to quickly jump in and get started taking surveys. Moreover, it can help you learn about other sites and offers that make and save you money without requiring any significant disclosure of your personal information.

You earn points by taking surveys, searching the web, downloading coupons, playing games and shopping online. You can either search on their site or wait to receive a stream of daily emails with direct links to surveys and other money-making opportunities.

Further ways to make money include the option to test products, apps and games, then share a review in exchange for payment. InboxDollars also offers a mobile app so you can earn on the go.

After amassing a certain number of points or completing surveys, you can spin a prize wheel to win even more. Payouts are in the form of cash or gift cards after reaching a $30 minimum.

Read our InboxDollars review | Sign Up for InboxDollars


Swagbucks

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This online survey company offers some of the most flexible ways to earn money quickly. Swagbucks has been paying out to teens and adults since 2005. It offers ways to earn money through playing games, watching videos, taking surveys, online shopping, searching the internet, testing new products and completing other online tasks (data entry, food ingredient verification, audio transcription and more).

The best strategy to maximize your earnings on this survey site is to identify one or more of those seven tasks where you feel you excel. You’ll complete those tasks more quickly for greater earnings potential. Each category offers a wide range of topics and subjects. This also increases the likelihood of finding activities that earn you money.

Swagbucks has partnered with highly-rated retailers including Amazon, Target, Kohls, and more. Additional value-added features include printable grocery store coupons and free samples. The site also offers a browser extension, app, daily bonuses, swag codes and referral revenue to increase the amount of money you can make.

You can register for free by using your Facebook account or email address. You must be 13 years of age or older to participate. You can get gift cards, cash outs through PayPal, sweepstakes entries, and the ability to donate points to charity.

Read our Swagbucks review | Sign Up for Swagbucks


Survey Junkie

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Created in 2011, Survey Junkie is a well-known market research company that offers direct survey opportunities for consumers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, ages 18 and older. Besides making some money, you can also influence your favorite brands by providing feedback on specific products and brands.

Survey Junkie also offers opportunities to participate in third-party panels for additional money. The wide range of available surveys makes this organization stand out. Since so many surveys seek a match with specific demographic criteria, you may not qualify for many of them. To help you spend less time searching for surveys and more time taking them, Survey Junkie also curates surveys based on your profile information.

The site is user-friendly so you can quickly navigate to where you want to go. It is also compatible with multiple devices and offers live customer service support if you encounter a problem.

The company pays out for your participation through PayPal or e-gift cards to companies like Walmart and Amazon. It has achieved a top rating with the Better Business Bureau. Just as important, Survey Junkie has a detailed privacy policy so you can feel more secure about how the site handles personal information you share.

Read our Survey Junkie review | Sign Up for Survey Junkie


Pinecone Research

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Operated by Nielsen, a leading market research company, Pinecone Research is one of the oldest companies around. It operated offline for decades in the environment of “snail-mail” surveys and paper check payouts. The company has the highest rating from the Better Business Bureau.

This is an invitation-only survey company so you’ll have to search for a link online to join. Alternatively you can contact the site through its website to request access. This exclusive survey company selects participants based on specific demographics it needs. Traditionally, brands have hired it for product testing and market research.

This free-to-join survey company emails you links to diverse surveys that cover products, work, personal life, entertainment and more. It’s open to qualified consumers in the U.S., UK, and Canada. Other ways to make money with this company include product testing opportunities with a follow-up survey about your experience. You can also join bi-weekly and quarterly sweepstakes. The site also now offers a mobile app to give you more flexibility as to when and where to participate.

Your points do not expire, and there’s no minimum redemption amount. Other advantages include a quick payout, with multiple payout options. For cash, you can receive payment via PayPal or paper check. Gift cards include Amazon, Walmart, Starbucks, Home Depot and iTunes. You can also receive prepaid debit or credit cards and movie vouchers. Or, redeem your Pinecone Research points for sweepstakes entries.

Read our Pinecone Research review | Sign Up for Pinecone Research


Online Survey Strategy

Check out these and other online survey sites and then decide which fits your interests and goals. Consider signing up for more than one so you can create multiple income streams from your efforts.

 

About the Author

John Boitnott

John Boitnott

I am a tech writer and journalist for more than 20 years who contributes to several respected online publications including BusinessInsider, Inc., and Entrepreneur. In addition to journalism, writing about social good companies and in-depth research, I’m also active in my community and enjoy metaphysical book reading groups, as well as hiking on the amazing trails of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Published by Debt.com, LLC