A host of websites pay users cash to complete surveys. But is making money from home as easy as it sounds?
Type “make money from surveys” into Google and almost 30 million results are returned.
Some paid-for adverts claim you can make £5 to £7 per survey while Top10BestPaidSurveys.co.uk reckons you can net £300 a month completing questionnaires from home.
But how easy is it really to make money this way?
How do online surveys work?
All those articles in newspapers or online that start with “Eight out of 10 people…” get their statistics from somewhere – and that’s from surveys.
Surveys can be used for marketing purposes in various ways.
Firstly companies want to find out what makes their customers tick.
Which products do they like or need? What annoys them?
Other companies might send survey results to journalists in the hope the statistics – and the company – will be mentioned in an article which will be great publicity for the firm and result in increased brand awareness and sales.
Most firms outsource their surveys to a professional survey company. These survey companies compile a database of people and then contact suitable respondents for each survey, offering cash as an incentive.
So which sites are the main players?
I-Say was previously known as Ipsos and is one of the best paying survey sites. You’re paid in points.
Most surveys are worth five to 250 points and members get an average of four surveys each month. You normally need about 1380 points to get a £10 voucher.
i-Say’s pretty honest about the fact that you won’t get rich quick using the site. “As a member of i-Say and most other legitimate market research companies, you will not earn big money doing surveys,” it admits.
US-based Swagbucks boasts that members have redeemed almost £60 million in gift cards from using the site.
But Swagbucks isn’t just a survey site. You can also be paid for using it as a search engine instead of Google.
Other ways to earn money include shopping via the site, playing online games and watching videos.
Points are known as Swagbucks or SB. A typical survey pays about 70 SB.
SB can be spent at Swagbuck’s reward store. How much they’re worth varies – 1,689 SB will get you a £10 iTunes gift card while 17,999 SB can buy £100 cash into your PayPal account.
Part of Lightspeed GMI, MySurvey comes with some decent reviews from users.
They report that MySurvey comes up with a high number of surveys and is also a quick payer.
Typically a survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and pays 100 points. You need a minimum of 345 points to redeem them, which will net you about £3.
Payment is in high street or Amazon vouchers, or via PayPal.
Established in 2004, Valued Opinions is another site on the receiving end of some good feedback.
It pays £1 to £5 per survey, which is redeemable in high street and Amazon gift vouchers.
However there is a 50p admin fee charged when redeeming gift cards and vouchers. So for a £10 voucher you'll need to cash in £10.50 worth of points.
Part of market research company Redshift, Crowdology describes its surveys as “topical and fun”.
Unlike some of the others, Crowdology doesn’t operate a complex points system – you get paid in cold hard cash, earning anything from 40p to £10 per survey. There are two payment options: PayPal and Amazon vouchers.
The site also runs a monthly prize draw open to all members who have taken part in at least one survey during the month.
Survey sites: top tips
Before you sign up to a survey site check how you’ll get paid. Most pay either by PayPal or vouchers, with Amazon vouchers particularly popular.
How much points are worth may depend on the reward. For example, you may get a higher value Amazon voucher than you’d get cash.
Most sites have a threshold you have to reach before you can redeem your points or cash. Check this before you start – in some cases you’ll be able to claim the money pretty quickly but in others you’ll be slaving away doing surveys for months before you see any cash.
It’s best not to leave tons of cash sitting in survey accounts – in the unlikely event the company goes bust this money won’t be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
If you opt for gift vouchers, check the expiry date. Some vouchers are valid for as little as six months.
If you spot a survey site that promises to make you rich quick, take its claims with a pinch of salt. Search for user reviews and see what existing members say.
In most cases, survey sites can be an easy way to make a bit of extra money – but they aren’t a quick route to riches.