Have you ever considered doing surveys online for some extra money? Before you start filling out those forms, you need to read this!

Online Surveys: Lucrative Side Hustle Or Waste of Time?

In Make Extra Money, Side Hustling, Uncategorized by Matt Kuhn6 Comments

Have you ever considered doing surveys online for some extra money? Before you start filling out those forms, you need to read this!

Whenever there’s a post with a title like 15 Amazing Ways to Make Extra Money!, you can almost guarantee that online surveys will be one of those “Amazing Ways”. 

I’ve always brushed off the idea of doing online surveys for money – I just assumed that they would pay next to nothing for the time invested. However, with my side hustle challenge going on, I decided to give it a shot. 

I signed up with 5 different survey companies and these have been my experiences so far:

1. Swagbucks

This is probably one of the most well-known money-for-surveys companies. It’s actually pretty enticing at first because you get $5 just for signing up.

After that, it seems more like your local arcade or Chuck E. Cheese – it takes around 5000 tickets to get a tootsie roll. 

To give you some reference, it costs 2500 “Swag Bucks” (SB) to get a $25 PayPal card. This means that 1 SB equals 1 penny. You can also get a $25 Amazon.com gift card, which is still pretty nice, for 2200 SB. In this case, 1 SB equals slightly more than a penny (although still not 2 pennies!). 

Ok, no problem. Just earn a bunch of Swag Bucks, right? Well let’s see how much a few surveys are worth:


The first survey looks pretty good! That’s about a dollar per 7 minutes, or $8.57 an hour! We’ll get back to this.

The next survey pays 75 SB (let’s call it what it is, it’s 75 cents) for a 20 minute survey. That’s about $2.25 an hour. The next two surveys are just as bad. These surveys are more the average at Swagbucks. 

Going back to that first survey, it looks pretty good, but there’s a twist. You may not qualify to take the survey! I tried taking about 10 surveys and didn’t qualify for a single one. I would answer qualifying questions for 3-5 minutes, only to be told I didn’t qualify and I’d be given a compensation of 1 SB. That’s 1 cent per 3-5 minutes!

Survey’s aren’t the only things you can do for SB. You can also watch videos (1 SB per 20 second-3 minutes video, not including ads), look at random blog posts, take a poll, or reach your daily goal. My daily goal of getting 40 SB would give me 4 extra SB – the equivalent of 44 cents. You can also try various products for some kind of discount or free first month – but why buy extra things you probably don’t need for $25?

I’m sure I could learn to be a better Swagbuck-er, but for my first 1.5 hours with it, I made a total of 31 cents. This included the time it took for me to get familiar with everything, but come on, a man can only take so much.

2. Opinion Outpost

Opinion Outpost gives you points, and 100 points equals $10. This means that 1 point is worth 10 cents.

Right off the bat, you can get 5 points by doing a Welcome survey which takes about 10-15 minutes. That’s 50 whole cents!

Opinion Outpost is another place where you’ll get 8 questions into a survey only to realize you don’t qualify. Except Opinion Outpost doesn’t even give you a compensation point! From the emails I’ve been getting, it seems that 5 points for an 8 minute survey is relatively normal. This equates to about $3.75 an hour if you do 7 of these surveys in a row and you qualify for all of them. 

3. Survey Junkie

I actually liked this one a little better than the others. The user interface was a lot cleaner and less spammy-looking:







With Survey Junkie, 1000 points equals $10. This means that 1 point equals 1 penny. However, there are actually a few reasonable ones in here. Looking at that image above, one of the surveys is 250 points for 20 minutes. That equates to $7.50 an hour, which is a little better than the $2-3 surveys we saw above. 

Like with all the surveys, there will be some that you don’t qualify for. They’ll give you about 2 points if you don’t qualify, but at that point it really doesn’t matter. Survey Junkie seems to try and give you more surveys that you may qualify for by giving you some “profile surveys” (you can see some of them at the bottom left of the image).

4. Pinecone Research

This is a more selective survey company. They give you surveys when they are available, asking you to review some products. Many of the products haven’t come out yet, so there is a confidentiality agreement you have to agree to. They give you $3 per product you take a survey for, which isn’t too bad depending on the amount of time it takes to complete a survey.

I won’t actually receive my first survey from them until about a week from now, so I can’t give too many details on what the actual survey process is like, although I’m just assuming it’s similar to the other companies.

5. American Consumer Opinion

ACO gives you points for your opinions on different subjects. Their surveys don’t come very frequently, but they email you when a survey is available. After several days, I still haven’t received another survey other than the initial-profile survey for 5 points.

With ACO, 1000 gets you $10. You can also enter for a chance to win things like a “Dinner and a Movie” for only 100 points. However, that seems a little like gambling your points away.

My Conclusion

Originally, I was going to follow the route of other personal finance bloggers and fill this post with affiliate links to the different survey companies. But I made a commitment to myself to earn trust and never promote something that I wasn’t a fan of myself, so I decided against trying to promote surveys.

In my honest opinion, I feel like regular survey-taking is for people who do not understand the value of their own time.

Unless there’s a whole secret world of survey-taking hacks I’m just not aware of, you could easily make more money at a part-time minimum wage job.

To be fair, surveys do give you the benefit of not having to leave the house. So for extreme cases like agoraphobia, I could see it being valid. It’s also something that can be done within short periods of time if needed.

If I’m ever bored and I see a survey that’s actually worth a reasonable number of points, I may end up taking it while I watch a show on Netflix or something (if I ever qualify for one). If you decide to do this, then I would recommend signing up with several different companies so you can take the highest-point surveys from each company. 

However, I think those short periods of time would be much better served working on a part-time business, freelance work, or just spending the time with your family. Unless it’s while you’re already watching TV or something, don’t sell your time for a few pennies.


What do you think – would you ever do surveys for money? If you’ve done them in the past, what was your experience?

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  1. So glad you posted this Matt! I was wondering if this really was as good a way to make money as it seemed these days. I actually signed up to an Australian survey site years ago. I’d get sent out the occasional survey which I wouldn’t always qualify for but was pretty dedicated to having ago when the chance arose. It was for points which were redeemable for vouchers to things like movie tickets. I think I ended up with enough to buy 4 or 5 movie tickets, but newer tracked my time and as you say it just didn’t seem worth it. I was wondering if the newer sites were any different, but it seems like your experience suggests things haven’t changed much. I’d be interested to hear if anyone had a more positive experience.

    1. Author

      Hi Eliza, I’m glad it helped!! 4 or 5 movie tickets seems pretty nice, but I’d definitely be curious to see how long that took. It seems like the more convenient things are (like surveys where you can do it from home and there’s no sort of commitment attached), the less they pay. I’d like to hear some positive experiences too. I see a ton of people posting it as an idea to make more money, but it seems rare to have people share personal experiences with how much they made for the time it takes.

  2. I’ve always wondered about all these survey sites too! I always roll my eyes every time I see ANOTHER blog post advertised on my facebook feed with 15 ways to make money. I’ll have to investigate these sites more for myself, though!

    I do like Google Surveys which pays in Google Play credits, but the surveys are usually 2-3 questions and pay a few cents which I use to rent movies. They just pop up on my phone and I know I won’t have to spend too much attention on them 🙂

    1. Author

      I actually just heard about the Google Rewards app yesterday from a coworker! From what I’ve seen, it looks a little better than these other survey sites. Not that it gives you more money, but the time investment is lower. I haven’t used it yet, but it doesn’t seem like you need to “qualify” for surveys either, which makes me much more willing to answer the questions. Thanks for sharing, Jing!!

  3. Terrific post Matt! MTurk is a money maker but it’s not as mainstream as Swagbucks which is unfortunate because I think it’s easier. I tried Swagbucks and there was so much spam.

    I do Google surveys like Jing too! I use the money to buy finance book from the play store haha.

    1. Author

      Thanks!! I’ve actually never heard of MTurk – which is a little embarrassing since I work at Amazon, but they have too many services for anyone to keep track of. That definitely sounds like something I’ll have to check out though, thanks for sharing! Yeah I honestly don’t know why Swagbucks is so popular. I’m guessing someone started promoting it and it just caught on, so now it’s everyone’s favorite affiliate promotion. Haha buying finance books is a very PF blogger thing to do, and I think that’s awesome. Thanks for stopping by, Lily!

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