Our Top 10 Legit Paid Survey Sites Reviewed
Companies invest billions of dollars into marketing research. They always want to find out more intricate details of a consumer's relationship with their product. Whether it's a new television show or just an existing product line, companies like Disney, Samsung, and Sony go to great lengths to find out their ideal audiences.
In the middle of all of this is a new breed of research corporation that relies on you – the survey taker – to determine this information. For your time? Usually a little piece of money and, depending on the company, plenty of offers and special deals.
This is where it can all go downhill quickly. In the pressure to make as many pennies out of a nickel, a lot of research corporations will not just sell your answers but the data associated with it. Details such as your name, address, age range can all be attached together quickly to fulfil a lot of larger companies' requests for information (RFI).
Let's break down the top 10 best survey sites online and see how they stack up against one another.
Rating Scheme for Our Survey Reviews
We'll use four basic measurements in a scale of 1 to 5 – where 1 is probably ill advised and 5 is a great experience.
Convenience – From start to finish, how convenient is each company's site?
Accessibility – Is it a site that can be accessed on mobile as well as a standard browser? Does it require a lot of superfluous logins and duplicated information or do they do a decent enough job filling that in for you?
Return on Time – Is it an hour of your life for $2.00 or truly a fifteen minute survey? We find out if the Return on Time (similar to Return on Investment) pans out. Surely, some will be better than others for not wasting yours.
Privacy – How much personal information do you need to give to complete a litany of surveys and start making actual money? We'll determine that and rate appropriately. We'll also subtract points if we find out they use that personal information to send an unsolicited wave of junk our way.
One of the most well known online marketing and survey research companies, Swagbucks has risen to a new level of popularity through social media. Getting surveys and completing tasks is but a few of the ways to earn “swagbucks” which then equate to either cash or prizes.
One of the most refreshing things about Swagbucks is their commitment to keeping it all above the belt. Whereas a lot of the shadier survey companies won't be up front with how they distribute or take advantage of your information, Swagbucks let's you know exactly where it's going to be sent.
Not to mention a great setup, minimalist design, and timely customer service, Swagbucks has definitely become one of the crowd favorites.
Convenience: 5.0/5.0 – Seamless and fast setup and a great selection of paid surveys and evaluations.
Accessibility: 5.0/5.0 – They even have their own app for Android and Apple platforms.
Return on Time: 4.5/5.0 – Upfront and decent payout system.
Overall Grade: A+
Easily one of the most reputable survey companies on the market, Vindale Research has made a big name for themselves. Accessible for a first time user and not too cluttered with needless offers and unintentional subscriptions – this is honestly one of the best survey companies to make a few extra bucks with.
And a few extra bucks it truly is. One of the little known things about many of these survey companies is while you will be paid for your time, the amount of time needed to get that money may not always be worth it.
Convenience: 4.5/5.0 – Very intuitive and easy layout.
Accessibility: 4.5/5.0 – Supported on multiple OS, browsers, and platforms
Return on Time: 2.0/5.0 – Surveys can take way longer than advertised.
Privacy: 3.0/5.0 – They do a decent job of not just handing out your information to everyone. So far, we haven't received too many unsolicited offers or unwanted phone calls/mail.
Overall Grade: B+
Keep it simple, right? Nobody wants a convoluted sign-up process with a difficult way to differentiate between paying surveys and junk offers. This is where My Survey gets it right. Light on the graphics and minimalist design and heavy on the details where it matters – rewards.
This site succeeds where many other fail in simply letting the survey taker know exactly what's going to pay out the best and soonest. The problem? The higher end surveys run out surprisingly quickly so you have to stay really on top of new offers.
Convenience: 5.0/5.0 – From sign-up to actual first survey offer, this site is somewhat streamlined. And with payouts in either cash rewards or gift cards, it's not bad.
Accessibility: 4.0/5.0 – Can only be accessed through a standard internet browser. The website acts really poorly when viewed through an Android tablet.
Return on Time: 4.5/5.0 – Fairly decent in terms of getting a good return on time invested.
Privacy: 4.5/5.0 – Also par for the course in terms of requiring consent prior to disclosing personal information. For most product and service surveys, they will scrub out any personal information you provided in sign-up.
Overall Grade: A
Recently targeted by third party scammers pretending to be them, Pinecone Research is one of the largest online survey and marketing research firms out there. However, is it a victim of its own success in the market?
And, while we're on the topic – Reward Points. Unlike Vindale Research which pays in cash usually via PayPal, Pinecone pays for each product evaluation in “Reward Points”. What are Reward Points? Can you buy something with them? In many cases – that's the point.
See, once your time is invested in these product evaluations, Pinecone – not you – gets to decide what that's worth when it comes time to cash out. Ultimately, Pinecone Research WILL let you cash out your earnings at the end of it all.
And lastly, let's discuss privacy. In some ways, Pinecone Research gets it right – they use the information to verify you are not a duplicate or in any way defrauding them out of a valuable opinion. After that, they only use your personal information for developing metrics and usage statistics – not giving it out to every third party that comes along. More importantly, they take consumer information privacy seriously. When they compile their reports for their clients, they scrub all data of any identifying information.
Convenience: 4.0/5.0 – Overall, pretty convenient from start to finish. The sign up process is time intensive but once that's out of the way, it's pretty smooth sailing.
Accessibility: 4.0/5.0 – Most browsers and platforms accepted. Some issues reported on Linux Redhat.
Return on Time: 2.5/5.0 – Product evaluations can take between 15 to 20 minutes and pay out surprisingly little. For most products, it comes out to be around $8-10/hour.
Privacy: 3.0/5.0 – For the survey industry, Pinecone Research shows some surprising amount of scruples.
Overall Grade: B
InboxDollars provides surveys and paid email opportunities that pay in actual cash.
You also have opportunities to make money buying products and services, although the amount of time and money spent buying these products takes you pretty close to break even.
Unlike some of the other sites, with Inbox Dollar, you essentially sign up to take advantage of whatever Inbox Dollar makes from their advertisers. They will send you emails which they get paid per receipt of you reading them or clicking a link. In turn, they give you a cut. Not to ruin your day but it's a rather small cut. The links that end up paying out the most usually have some stipulations attached – such as signing up for a service. This can end up being a lot more hassle than its worth and we recommend you pay VERY close attention to the stipulations.
Convenience: 4.5/5.0 – Simple sign up process. Interface design is a little basic, but pretty easy to navigate the site and sign up and take surveys.
Accessibility: 5.0/5.0 – Available through nearly any platform and operating system (desktop, mobile, mobile app).
Return on Time: 3.5/5.0 – We give a middle of the road grade for Return on Time because it can turn into an almost passive form of income if done properly. It won't, however, ever become a big cash prize sort of place. Numerous complaints about not qualifying for surveys after getting part way through the survey.
Privacy: 2.0/5.0 – Par for the course in terms of soliciting your information to third parties and tracking you with cookies, they make few if any promises of what they will do with that information once it reaches their paws.
Overall Grade: C
Global Test Market is a decent standard of what you're getting yourself involved in. Their practices are not any more or less shady or reputable than almost any online venue – survey or otherwise. Just like Facebook, when you identify yourself accurately with Global Test Market, you can expect them to use that information in any way possible to make a penny. The great news is they inform you and ask for consent first.
The concept of data mining and profiting off that data mining isn't anything new. And while some companies engage in some rather disreputable practices to do this, Global Test Market seems to be doing just fine with the whole “consent to disclose” thing. More importantly, in some cases this may help you as some companies will offer to do more specialized product testing once they've identified you as their target demographic.
Convenience: 3.5/5.0 – Nothing unique. Cookie laden site that will make AdBlock Plus want to cringe.
Accessibility: 3.0/5.0 – Somewhat streamlined process. Starting off it can be hard to identify what's a good survey and what's an offer for a superfluous product or service.
Return on Time: 2.0/5.0 – This site CAN pay top dollar. When it's good, it's good. Most times it isn't.
Overall Grade: C
Now known as Survey Spree, this conglomerate of survey and marketing research claims to pay out up to $5 per survey. Sounds good but survey taker beware – some conditions are not explicitly listed out on their website and while signing up for SurveySpree will mean sharing your information with third parties, there's no lack of shuffling of responsibilities when it comes time to hand out prizes.
In terms of rewards, they offer a decent return ratio on rewards points to dollars. Obviously, depending on legality for different nations and places, they can't pay out directly in cash. At least it appears this is an easy site to regularly earn some extra money on the side.
Accessibility: 2.0/5.0 – Doesn't perform well on Android tablet or iPad. Not even recommended on smartphones.
Return on Time: 2.0/5.0 – For the most part, the payouts are great when they're available. SurveySpree suffers from a glut of underachieving survey prizes and a few really good ones.
Privacy: 2.5/5.0 – We'd love to say Opinion Place (Survey Spree) is par for the course of being what we expect from this industry however they get a half point deducted for the sheer number of third party, unaccountable sites we had to go through to complete many of the surveys for cash.
Overall Grade: C–
How much is your opinion worth? If it's through Toluna, roughly $1.50 per survey. Of course, it would be awesome if they said that right up front but 90,000 reward points to get a $30 PayPal e-certificate should be the rough equivalent.
Where Toluna gets it right is in terms of accessibility. They spared no expense designing apps for both the Android and Apple mobile devices. Why this is actually a great thing is it means pretty much if you have an internet connection and free time – you can be earning points towards money.
Did we say rewards points? Yep. That's because of odd taxation laws. So they can legally gift rewards points redeemable in prizes but would have more of a hassle just paying in money.
Convenience: 4.0/5.0 – Signing up is relatively quick and easy, although you are required to fill out several forms before account registration is complete
Accessibility: 5.0/5.0 – Specialized apps for both Android and Apple mobile devices, as long as there is an internet connection, Toluna can be accessed.
Return on Time: 2.0/5.0 – It takes a LOT of surveys to get to the first increment of PayPal e-certificates – the truest sign of what it's all worth.
Privacy: 2.5/5.0 – They do a reasonable job of informing you, the survey taker, of implicitly how much information they plan on getting, storing, and distributing.
Overall Grade: C-
There's been a lot of talk that the Opinion Outpost is too good to be true. Plenty of people sign up to take surveys for cash with the hopes it will equate to decent winnings. Opinion Outpost does a decent enough job trying to provide just that.
In terms of what they do that the competition doesn't? Arguably nothing. They're reliable and accessible – that's where they make their points. And the rewards systems they have worked out isn't bad at all.
Convenience: 3.5/5.0 – Relatively simple sign-up process and rewards center information is intuitively set out.
Accessibility: 3.0/5.0 – Not very mobile friendly but passable in Android's Firefox.
Return on Time: 3.5/5.0 – If you're flexible in how you want to be paid, this site actually has one of the better reward programs out there.
Privacy: 3.0/5.0 – They let you know before they sell your information. Cookies, though, are easy to ditch.
Overall Grade: C
If you're looking to make money by completing surveys online – this site will not be very helpful for you. Like the previous sites, they will take, retain, and sell your information to anyone that waves a dollar in their faces. UNLIKE previous sites reviewed, they hide their consent for that information. It's buried. So not only do you make silly reward points that don't translate to cash but every third party service and product solicitor has your personal information.
Convenience: 1.5/5.0 – Relatively easy sign-up process but every click takes us to a third party site.
Accessibility: 2.0/5.0 – Accessible through all OS and browser configurations. Does not function very well on tablet or smartphone.
Return on Time: 1.5/5.0 – If earning up thousands of rewards points over the equivalent time of working a second job to save up for a vacation to a far away all-expenses included resort – this is a great site. Otherwise, please do not.
Privacy: 1.0/5.0 – Where other social marketing research firms may be compared to a slightly creepy guy hitting on you a little too much, VIP Voice is the one who gets pushy about it.
Overall Grade: D-