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With a growing number of survey sites available to make some extra cash, it’s good to know which survey companies are legitimate and offer the most lucrative opportunities to save money and make money from taking surveys.

In our search to find the best paid survey sites, we tried Pinecone Research. Here’s our review of the Pinecone Research survey site, which we used for more than six months.

What is Pinecone Research?

pinecone research logo
Pinecone Research is one of the oldest survey companies in the industry. New York-based Nielsen, a global market research firm, owns the company. Nielsen tends to focus on consumers rather than businesses and people know it for its online, television and media-focused research. Folks consider Pinecone a credible and legitimate survey company, partly because it started so long ago – in 1998. Even so, users should know that the Better Business Bureau notes the name of the business is often used in scams, so make sure you’re using the real Pinecone website when you’re looking to take part in surveys.

This market research and survey company runs in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The company has received very mixed reviews on numerous survey review sites. After joining, I can agree with positive assessments, as we had success with the site. Plus, their website offers detailed content about the company, its history, and its operating philosophy as well as a comprehensive FAQ.

How Does it Work?

This is an invitation-only survey company for those 18 years and older. That means you receive an invite from Pinecone Research rather than just signing up. Another member can invite you. Or, you can do what we did, which was get an invitation through a referral website like Get Paid Surveys. Once invited, there is no cost to become a member.

All you need to do is create a profile to join Pinecone Research, which we did in a matter of minutes. There were just some basic demographic questions to answer about ourselves. These short demographic surveys guide the delivery of direct applicable surveys to each user. That way, we could more easily qualify for a survey, rather than start taking one to only find out we’ve wasted our time. From there, we became known as a panelist.

Earning Points

Based on our profile information, Pinecone Research invited us to participate in surveys they post on a regular basis. We received these survey alerts through our email. This company uses a points system. After completing a survey, we earned reward points that we could put towards a cash or check award, prizes, prepaid Visa cards and gift cards like an Amazon gift card. We could also redeem our points by shopping in their catalog, which includes electronics, housewares, games and more.

The first payout arrived in the form of a paper check to our home address. The website explains this is a security measure to make sure you have provided them with accurate information. But, this felt like too much time to wait to get paid.

Fortunately, you can also link your PayPal account to receive the money through that platform instead. The payout time for this took between three and five days. The gift card option comes in digital format sent to your email address.

Pinecone Research

Earning Potential from Pinecone Research

Pinecone Research sets an amount for each survey at 300 points. This is the equivalent of $3.00. However, product testing surveys earn 600 points, or around $6 per test. Essentially, every 100 reward points is the equivalent of $1.00.

We found this to be much easier to track compared to other sites that offer varying amounts for each survey. Each one takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, so the payments do still come out to less than minimum wage.

Despite that, we did receive quite a few survey invitations each week, so the volume of surveys certainly helped the earnings’ bottom line. In tracking them over time, we did not receive them every day, but did receive them often enough to feel like continuing to participate and build up our reward points.

There is no minimum redemption, so you can start collecting your earnings whenever you want to. Points also are good for at least a year before they expire, which means you have time to accumulate quite a few.

Working for Pinecone Research won’t bring participants anywhere close to achieving a full-time income, though. This was fine for us, as we weren’t imagining getting rich from this survey gig. Nevertheless, it’s been an enjoyable way to make some money on the side. We particularly liked tapping into gift cards at recognizable companies where we already shop, such as Amazon, Starbucks and iTunes. Also, we could choose from restaurant and movie gift cards.

The Good and the Bad of Pinecone Research

There are pros and cons to working with Pinecone Research. We liked the idea of receiving test items and then completing surveys about them. This introduced us to new types of merchandise we might use, even while getting paid. These are solutions or services that haven’t even been released in stores yet, which we found exciting.

1. Front Door Delivery

The items were delivered to my door, which made the experience easier, and food products arrived in a cooler. There were clear instructions included about how to test each item. Even better was the fact that we didn’t have to send goods back like some companies require you to do. Once we received items, they belonged to me.

2. A Wide Variety of Products

Pinecone Research offers a wide variety of survey topics and products that need testing. This kept us interested and engaged in the process. The company also provides the option to suspend surveys while you’re traveling or unavailable. Their customer service team was personable and friendly when we contacted them on two separate occasions with questions about the survey program.

3. Sweepstakes and Drawings

Another benefit is their bi-weekly and quarterly drawings. As an active user, you’re automatically entered into these sweepstakes to get a $500 bi-weekly prize, or a $4,500 quarterly drawing prize. Although we have not won these in the six months that we’ve been an active user, we like the potential of gaining such lucrative prize money.

4. Security is a Priority

Also, Pinecone Research has a strict privacy and confidentiality policy that is easy to find and read on their website. This gave us greater peace of mind, knowing that our personal data is secure. Third-party companies that partner with Pinecone Research only receive the survey results, not our personal data.

5. Negative Experiences with Pinecone Research

However, there are also some drawbacks to this paid survey gig. Primarily, these disadvantages relate to the company’s outdated website. It looks visually dated, isn’t as easy-to-use or as functional as other survey websites. Pinecone Research doesn’t offer an app, which makes it more difficult to answer surveys on the go. While Pinecone’s dated approach to technology might lead you to think it doesn’t use up-to-date security measures, that’s not the case. Security is the primary element that Pinecone has updated, according to information on the website.

We have also heard others complain that there are times in the year where membership to Pinecone Research isn’t open to new members. We also did not like the fact that there can only be one member per household who can join. Don’t try to go around that rule, though. According to published reports from other members, if Pinecone finds out, it sends you a note disqualifying you from keeping your panelist status.

Overall Thoughts About Pinecone Research

After using this free-to-join, invitation-only survey site for more than six months, our impression of Pinecone Research is that it is legitimate, trustworthy and reliable. It also appears to be one of the highest-paying survey companies available to consumers.

Although the website provides a somewhat dated experience and lacks the technical bells and whistles of other survey companies, this research and survey panel company does what it says. The company stays transparent about how it works, how it pays and when it pays. Pinecone Research posts very detailed policies on its website for security, privacy, payments and sweepstakes rules. There is also a membership agreement form and opt out link.

The company focuses on privacy, confidentiality, consistency and high-quality, targeted surveys. From our experience, this makes Pinecone Research one of the best survey and product test companies to partner with when looking to make some extra cash.

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.

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