Legitimate, Paid Survey Sites: How to earn money with Surveys
We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Want to find the best legitimate, paid survey sites that actually pay in cash? Survey sites that are safe, real, and pay in cash? Sites that pay in dollars–not cents–for a few minutes of your time? I gotcha.
You’ll have no trouble finding folks who promote looong lists of survey site links they promise will help you earn “big” money online. That’s because these folks are making BIG money by getting others to sign up for surveys.
Survey companies pay huge commissions to people–called affiliates–to promote their surveys to others. The real money comes via folks’ ability to get others to sign up and take surveys, not in the surveys themselves. So if you see an article promoting an ultra-long list of survey companies complete with promises of quick money, run the other way.
A side note about legitimate, paid survey sites
Spoiler alert: I’m a survey company affiliate too. I too, make money from people signing up for surveys through my links. But don’t run yet. I’m also a stay-at-mama who has learned a thing or two about surveys. I know which ones pay in cash, and which ones barely pay at all.
My list of survey companies I recommend and can personally vouch for is a short one. Not because I haven’t tried many–I’ve tried dozens. I’d venture to guess I’ve signed up for over several dozen sites over the years, especially in my first year as a stay-at-home-mom.
With this experience in mind, there are plenty of survey companies I just don’t recommend. I don’t recommend these for various reasons, including sickeningly low pay, multi-level marketing scams, and/or purposefully confusing points systems that disguise said low pay.
Legitimate, paid survey sites don’t always pay well:
Just because a survey site is legitimate doesn’t mean it pays decently. Here are the five worst-paying sites to not waste your time with:
- Inbox Dollars is a popular recommendation among many articles you might find, but their pay is ridiculously low, even by survey standards–25 cents for 20 minutes? No thanks. Even if the pay was better, there are few surveys ever available. It’s mainly a bunch of multi-level marketing signup offers. With that said, I have cashed out $35 from them twice in the past due to some of their offers, and they are legit. But they’re not worth your time unless you’re looking to sign up for book clubs, credit cards, or subscriptions.
- Toluna surveys are legitimate, but they use a confusing points system in an effort to disguise their abysmal pay rate per survey. They take the cake for lousy pay.
- Tellwut surveys offer more of the abysmal pay rate hidden behind confusing points found above. See a pattern with these needlessly complex points systems?
- Survey Club initially looks like they have lots of surveys to offer. Upon further inspection, you see that the majority of the “surveys” are just trying to sign you up for other survey sites. There’s that BIG money for survey affiliates again. I bet the owner of that site is a millionaire!
- Swagbucks surveys are legitimate but will string you along for a while before deeming you ineligible, and/or kick you out when you’re halfway through. How annoying! Pay is bad too. With that said, their “featured offers” are fabulous, and sometimes a survey helps you to cash out if you’re near the threshold for payment. I don’t recommend them if you’re exclusively looking for survey opportunities though.
Top 5 favorite legitimate, paid survey sites
On the other hand, there are many survey companies that pay OK and don’t feel like a consistent waste of time. Imagine that! You won’t make a fortune taking surveys, but I like to aim for at least $10 per hour if we imagine payment offered on an hourly basis. Of course this will depend on availability of surveys, because many companies just don’t have a lot of supply. In general though, I don’t like to accept surveys that pay less than $1 for 5-10 minutes of time.
Some people might scoff at the idea of $10 an hour, but it’s all relative. If you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad and you do surveys whenever you have free time, it’s not a bad rate at all! You don’t have to adhere to a set schedule, use gas in your car, or even get out of your pajamas if you don’t want to. When you view surveys as a few extra bucks a week during free times–not a means to make a living–it can often be worth your time.
My list of the best survey sites is a short one
This list include survey companies with the following criteria:
- I have personal experience with them and either currently use or have recently used their site.
- I’ve successfully received payment from each of these survey companies. They pay in cash or they offer an Amazon/Walmart gift gift card if you prefer.
- I found each of these companies to pay a decent amount per survey for the time required, usually $1-$10 each per 5-20 minutes of time.
- They forego the confusing points system. If they have a points system at all, it’s a simple one that anyone can immediately understand.
- Survey-taking can be a little tedious by nature, but these sites keep the waste-of-time pre-screener questions to a minimum. Sometimes you might answer a few questions and then not qualify for a survey, but these companies won’t string you along for too long before recognizing that. *I’m looking at you, Swagbucks.
Use these best free survey sites in addition to other ways to make extra money, and you’ll have a cushion of cash by the end of the month.
1. Survey sites that pay: Usertesting.com
I know, I know. Technically, usertesting.com is known as a user testing site, not a survey site. The thing is, many of the user tests I do each week are actually just surveys. A surprising amount of companies like to offer surveys through the user testing format because they like to hear folks’ thoughts as they’re answering the questions. The whole point of user tests is to speak your thoughts while the software records you going through the required tasks.
User testing surveys are definitely worth your time. Most take about 15 minutes, but many take less than 10! All tests pay $10 each.
My favorite user testing companies: usertesting.com and intellizoom.com. Each company has a software extension you add to Chrome and/or your smartphone. I watch for Intellizoom surveys through my email, but you can also set up notifications through your phone. Usertesting opportunities alert me via my laptop, but they also offer tests via their app. They offer both offer opportunities via phone and computer.
Surveys are my favorite type of user tests because you have all the questions laid out for you. All you have to do is answer the questions and elaborate on any thoughts or concerns you have. And of course, $10 per 10-20 minute survey/user test is the best payment there is for survey taking.
The downside of user testing is that you sometimes need a quiet environment. This is especially true with Intellizoom, since you can’t pause your software on this one to yell at the kids. Sometimes you don’t need a quiet environment, and you’ll know this by whether or not you need a sound check. Of course,peace and quiet can be difficult to achieve sometimes with kiddos around the house. However, I still successfully did user tests several years ago solely during my kids’ nap time and succeeded in earning about $400 per month.
More recently, even when my youngest was three, I’d tell him, “Mom’s doing a user test.” He knew to be quiet! Of course, ten minutes was pretty much the extent of his quiet-time abilities. Now that he’s five, it’s easy for him to play quietly and independently.
You don’t need much for these test and surveys, just your built-in microphone on your pc or smartphone and internet access. If you want, you can buy a headset to make you feel like you’re really working hard.
Usertesting is popular!
User tests disappear as suddenly as they pop up. To snag them on a consistent basis, you need to listen for the “ding” of a new survey. Quickly answer the several screener questions and snag the test. After you snag it, you have 15 minutes to start the test or else it will go to another tester. Companies will rate your tests, and consistent five-star testers get a heads up for new tests. I was a three-star tester when I started, but have consistently been a five-star tester for the past few years. Oddly, I don’t notice a difference in how many tests I get.
I easily do 2-5 user tests each day. More tests seem to be available in the early afternoon and around dinner time. There aren’t as many available in the evening for usertesting.com, and morning tests go quickly to the competition. Intellizoom offers evening tests more often. Payment is via Paypal seven days after you complete the test. It’s pretty exciting to consistently get $20-$50 in your Paypal account on a daily basis for very little work. And for about an hour’s worth of work each day!
Update: Intellizoom has dropped their pay from $10 per test to $5-$8 per test, depending on length. Usually the $5 tests are a card sort or survey where you do not need to record sound, and these are often only 5-10 minutes of your time. Still a great way to earn extra cash without a schedule!
2. Survey Savvy surveys
Survey Savvy is one of my favorites for many reasons. They offer consistently decent pay per survey, and they usually have a pretty steady supply of surveys available. It takes about a month to receive the check, but they say in their FAQs it can take 4-12 weeks. For this reason, it’s fun to save up that money and cash out around October to be ready for a November check. Extra Christmas cash, anyone?
Update: They’ve recently created a “Survey Savvy Partner Offers” variety of surveys, and I notice these particular surveys can be cumbersome to qualify for, making your feel like you’re just answering lots of questions and getting no actual surveys. They tend to run you in a loop where you’re just answering question after question while rarely making it into an actual survey where you can earn money. I’d avoid these partner offer surveys and just go for the regular surveys.
You will recognize the partner offers because they’ll have the same last few digits in the survey link number. From your dashboard, look for the same survey number listed multiple times to spot these.
Survey Savvy payment
After you earn at least $1, you can request payment by using the “Request Payment” tool under the Account section once logged in. Payment is made by check in USD and will be mailed via U.S. post to the residence on file. Usually this takes around a month.
Here’s my January 2020 payment.
In addition to offering surveys, Survey Savvy also offers SavvyConnect. This is their desktop application that “unobtrusively includes you in behavioral market research while you browse the internet. When you install the software, you help our clients better understand online behavior and can receive supplementary paid surveys for remaining active.”
They basically pay you $5 per device that you install their app on, up to $15 per month–so your laptop, phone, and tablet. Read more about that here. It sounds like that could invade privacy, but doesn’t the internet already do that to us? Might as well get paid for it. I only have Savvyconnect on my laptop: you have to use a password if you connect it on your phone.
3. Legitimate, paid survey sites: Pinecone Research
Pinecone Research is a popular survey site among survey takers because after the initial application questionnaire, you always qualify for the surveys sent to your email. Meaning you never get screened out of surveys for not qualifying! With that said, it can be hard to get accepted into their panel. They’re usually only looking for certain demographics; females 18-24 and males of all ages.
Their other reason for popularity is their pay; $3 per 10-minute survey. Back in the good ol’ days of pre-2012, it used to be $5 per survey! You also have several days to complete any given survey and don’t have to worry about others snagging it before you can finish answering questions.
I made over $160 with Pinecone in 2017, and over $120 in 2018!
Another perk for Pinecone is the freebies. I used to get sent all kinds of freebies to test out after a survey. Some examples I’ve received include a full pack of diapers, cough syrup, diet soda, crackers, antacid, and even laundry detergent. I don’t get as many freebies any more, they seem to have dried up around 2018. I’m not sure if they did away with that, or if I just don’t fit the freebie demographics any more. I did
recently move out of the 18-34 year-old range and into the (gasp) 35-54 range.
Pinecone survey frequency
I receive around three surveys each month. Which brings me to my next point; Pinecone’s only downfall is their survey supply. I usually don’t get more than three surveys each month, and sometimes I get less.
Their surveys all follow the same format, so once you learn it you can breeze right through them with your morning cup of coffee. When I cash out $30-$40 quarterly from Pinecone, it feels like free money for very little effort. For the record, you can cash out after just one $3 survey, and payment takes a couple days via Paypal.
Right now it looks like they’re only accepting females 18-24 and males of all ages. Booo!
4. Rethink Online Research
Why oh why can’t this site offer more surveys? I love Rethink’s $2-$10 payments for quick 5-10 minute surveys! I sure wish they had more surveys available though! Only 1-2 surveys pop into my email each month through this site, but I thought they were worth mentioning due to the ease of sign up and payment. They don’t hassle you with a point system, it’s purely $x payment for an x-minute-long survey.
Rethink usually credits my payment within three days after completion of each survey. The payment is in the form of a Tango card. You go the the Tango website they give and input your Tango code, then pick the gift card you want. Gift cards include all the major retailers, and first in the list is Amazon. The the gift card is sent to your email immediately.
5. Opinion Outpost
Here’s an oldie but goodie. Opinion Outpost was one of the first survey sites I discovered so many years ago when trying to find a legitimate survey company. I like this company because of their steady supply of surveys and unique format for survey taking.
Outpost asks you screener questions one at a time, and will offer an applicable survey after you qualify for one of the questions. The survey then awards through a simple point system. Ten points equals one dollar. Their points vary with each survey between 30-200 points or .30-$2, but you can reject any where you feel the value for your time is too low. You are awarded the points immediately upon completion of the survey.
Opinion Outpost payment
You can cash out your points with Outpost as soon as you hit 50 points=$5, but this option only applies if you’re getting an Amazon gift card. If you want to get paid in cash via Paypal with Opinion Outpost, the payment threshold is $10. I’ve accomplished this within a week by doing surveys in the mornings while watching cartoons with my toddler. Usually though, I prefer to cash out at $5 with an Amazon gift card, since that’s as good as cash in our house.
6. Ooh, a BONUS site: Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie is a site I just found recently while researching the best free survey sites that actually pay. I signed up just to give it a whirl for this article. I did a few surveys in the morning and suddenly I have $4.57 in my account. It took maybe 40 minutes of time while I was watching Spongebob with my little guy. I’m definitely digging this one so far.
Survey Junkie payment
The payment per survey can be pretty good, as long as you skim over the surveys available and only take the ones that are worth your time. They a have a simple point system: 100 points = $1, and you cash out at $10. I like how they show your points and the cash equivalent at all times on the left side of the page. To easily figure if they’re worth your time, look for points in the 200 range and make sure that the amount of minutes it estimates is 10 or less.
Here’s a screenshot of one morning’s “work” after signing up. If you install their extension it gives you more survey opportunities and an extra $1.50 in 30 days.
UPDATE 6/25/19: I’ve logged in eight times since 6/5/19, so around 2-3 times a week. I attempted 24 surveys overall, and qualified for eight. You do get paid a few cents for surveys you try to start, whether you qualify or not. Plus I usually knew fairly quickly when I qualify due to the question continuation.
I reached the $10 payment threshold within three weeks of signing up, with minimal effort. Each survey’s points are added to your account immediately after the survey completion. I’d say this site is comparable to my list of sites a above, though on the lower-pay end. I’d recommend them overall. If you sit down with your laptop for half an hour once a week, you should be able to earn a little fun money like I did soon enough.
Like all survey sites, you won’t get rich with Survey Junkie. It’s a little bit of extra money at the end of the month for a couple Little Caesar’s $5 pizzas. Or the $6 Extra-Most-Bestest pizzas if you want to splurge like a fancy pants.
I requested payment via Paypal, and it came immediately. Now I’m off to Little Caesar’s.
What are your favorite legitimate, paid survey sites?
Don’t stop at survey sites. Check out other legit ways to make extra money from home right here. I use all these methods to make extra money as a stay-at-home-mom!
Totally disagree with me and think Pinecone is a waste of time, and Survey Club is awesome? You might be bonkers, but I’m intrigued and still want to hear your experience with legitimate, paid survey sites. Have knowledge to impart about these or other paying sites and bursting to share? I’m all ears. Think I’m making a big mistake going to Little Caesar’s when I could be taking advantage of the Dominos carryout offer for medium pizzas offer for $5.99? You may be right.