In search of highest-paying survey sites? This guide is ideal for those looking to earn some money through online paid surveys but are not sure which one to go with.
Personally, I have been part of online survey panels since early 2007 and have seen both the good and the bad that the industry has to offer.
And yes, I have been a victim of paid survey scams once or twice as well. Which is why I have pieced this guide together to assist you in choosing the best survey panels on the web.
How Do Web-Based Surveys Work?
Lets start from the beginning. What are online surveys and what do they do?…
The concept of paid online surveys is such that it easily leads to suspicion in the minds of interested people. The basic question they’ve got is who pays you money for just checking boxes and filling out simple questioners. From their point of view, this is something too simple and doesn’t appear like serious work.
But here is a statistic to assuage such fears and doubts. According to CASRO, companies around the world spent approximately $18.7 billion conducting market research. Now, even though every penny of that amount doesn’t go into the online surveys kitty, a good amount of it surely does.
Over the last 25 years in particular, technology has revolutionized the way in which marketing research firms conduct surveys, all the way back from 1980s when first email surveys were conducted to 1990s when the very first web-based or online surveys were conducted.
In 2002, almost $500 million was spent on web-based surveys in the USA alone and according to Inside Research, this number rose to about $960 million in 2004. Compare that to $18.7 billion spent on conducting market research in 2012 and you will realize how massive and important web-based surveys have become.
Companies are fully aware that people are not going to spare time from their busy lives just so that some company gets to make huge profits by using their personal opinions and spending information. They must give these people something in return, which can refer to redeemable reward points, cash doles or even entries into sweepstakes.
Of course, the exception here is the United States Census Bureau. They don’t pay you when they conduct surveys, but their surveys are not for profit businesses, they conduct surveys to gather data about people and economy as a whole.
By the way, you can learn more about the role of online surveys in today’s economy and how it has changed the way companies and manufacturers develop products by reading this article written by Joel R. Evans and Anil Mathur of Zarb School of Business, Hofstra University.
How Much Money Can You Make?
An average survey that takes anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes can net you between $0.50 to $5. That said, there are rare instances where you can earn up to $90 or even more for a survey. Usually, the longer a survey takes to finish, the higher its pay out.
At this rate if you want to earn some big bucks, you’ve got to be productive.
One trick I’ve found quite useful is to set a time limit within which I have to wind up a survey. Now I realize that distractions like text or instant messages can throw you off-track, especially when the survey is uninteresting to you.
However, I can assure you that you’ll be completing surveys a lot faster without compromising on the quality of responses if you can focus on the task at hand. What also acts as good motivation to do so is the fact that you can be invited to take part in well-paying surveys like online focus groups and product testing.
Having said all of that, it is not unheard of to make $400-$500 as a survey panelist. Some may even manage to earn more. But for the most part, the average is around $200 or so monthly, give or take a little.
Paid Survey Scam
Unfortunately, like most other money making opportunities, this one is also populated with scammers to the point where most people totally dismiss paid surveys as a viable option for earning extra cash.
But that’s not true as there are many legitimate and reputable market research firms that do pay people for their opinions. Th trick is to avoid scams and stick with trusted sites.
The best thing you can do to keep yourself from falling victim to scams is to remember that all legit survey sites are 100% free to join. No reliable survey company will ever ask for “membership” fee.
The second best thing you can do is to read as many reviews as you can about any given site you are about to join. Check their BBB statues, check honest surveys for money review sites like SurveySatrap to learn as much as you can about the site.
The 5 Best Survey Panels
1- Ipsos I-Say
This is one panel I would readily recommend to people who are new to the paid surveys scene. Ipsos I-Say has a proven track record and has been paying people for their opinions for more than a decade now, which makes it among the oldest survey panels still around.
The parent company of I-Say, i.e. Ipsos, is a well-known market research firm that operates worldwide. With the I-Say venture, Ipsos concentrates more on market research based upon direct interaction with consumers.
However, the best part of Ipsos is their fair payment policy. They respect the effort and time you put in. If you want to know more about Ipsos, make sure to read my updated review on them.
The second site I like is MyView. A marketing research firm that has been around since 1996 (previously known as Authentic Response) that is also a BBB accredited business. With hundreds of thousands of satisfied panel members.
They conduct lots of specialty surveys for big companies in Web design, Film, Electronics, Video games and Healthcare industry. The best part is that you can cash out with a low minimum of only $15.
The second contender on my list of top online survey panels is MySurvey.com. In terms of age, MySurvey is even older to Ipsos as it has been around collating people’s opinions for more than half-a-century now. Know originally as NFO, MySurvey today is well regarded for its interesting surveys (including online focus groups, product testing etc.) and handsome payouts.
For more information on MySurvey.com, read my recent review on them.
4- NPD Online Research
One of the biggest assets NPD has is the amount of time they’ve been on the survey panels seen. Having been around since 1967 (Yep, even before the internet), NPD provides its members with some of the most unique surveys around. I also happened to post a review of NPD Online Research recently so you can refer that to know more about this survey panel.
5- Global Test Market
Although GTM is quite old it still doesn’t show its age and continues to be among the best paid online survey panels out there. The site’s payouts are not what they used to be but that still wouldn’t deter my wholehearted recommendation of them.
Why These 5 Panels?
If you are wondering as to how I came up with this list of the top four online paid survey panels out there, let me declare that it wasn’t simple at all.
I am part of almost 50 online survey panels even though I use only a few sites regularly. However, as I compared my experience across these different sites, it became clear that only certain names merited inclusion in this list.
- Of course, the very first thing I looked ta at was whether or not the site charges a registration fee. To be included here, all sites have to be totally free to join (This stands true for any and every legitimate survey panel).
- Next thing I looked at was company history, whether or not they are associated and recognized by the industry itself. That is one of the biggest factors for me in establishing a particular panel as a “legit survey site”.
- Next I looked at their profile on BBB, as well as other reviews written by actual members of these sites.
- The main motivation factor for people towards becoming part of online survey panels is the money (or rewards) on offer. So naturally, I had the payouts offered by different sites as my primary yardstick when embarking on this comparison.
- My next area of comparison was how much emphasis a site put on the well-being of its members and the overall quality of the surveys it offered. This meant I gave extra brownie points to sites with an excellent customer service system. However, I also ensured that sparse contact information and lack of response weighed in during
- I considered how often a site mailed me about new survey opportunities. Having high-paying surveys is a good thing only if they come around on a frequent basis.
- Last but not least, I looked at their profile on BBB and their over all rating by reading reviews and first hand accounts of current and former members of these sites.
Tips for Succeeding with Paid Surveys
The key to succeeding with paid online surveys rests on two very important things; first is your ability to recognize the scam where it exists and second is working towards maximizing the pay you get per hour.
The first of those two things, differentiating between online surveys for money legit and scams, is relatively easy to accomplish using a little bit of common sense and of course, the internet. For example, you are likely to come across an unknown site as you search the web for free online surveys for money. So how do you verify if this unknown site is for real?
- Before you find yourself giving away your personal information and demographics to such a site, make sure to learn more about it from sites like Nielsen and About.com. The information provided by such sources is not the most detailed one around but generally speaking, it does contain some pretty useful insights and advice.
- The other thing you can do is see if this site is registered to the BBB. This can help you find out if the site enjoys the goodwill of its members or is one that scams people left, right and center.
- There are also a number of international organizations that you can rely on to get a better idea about any survey panel’s legitimacy and reliability. Some names that immediately come to the mind include ESOMAR (European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research), Council of American Survey Research Organizations and Marketing Research and Intelligence Association. Getting an official recommendation from any of the organizations listed above is no mean feat and requires a site to possess an excellent reputation over a long period of time. Needless to say, if the site you’ve come across does boast of such a stamp of approval, you can deem it completely trustworthy.
- Get a new dedicated email address just for surveys. Doing so will allow you to keep your personal email from clutter, while enabling you to stay organized with every panel you register with.
- Also make sure to be part of as many reliable survey panels as you can. Remember that making good money off a single site is possible but relying on the same to be a long-term cash cow is unrealistic and naive. You have to look at it just like any other money making adventure, you want to diversify where your money comes from. By joining multiple survey panels not only you increase your odds of making more money as a survey taker, you also increase your odds of having access to more and potentially higher paying online surveys.
- It’s also a fact that most survey panels look to target certain demographics. This means that at the most, you’ll qualify for roughly 4 or 5 surveys every week for any given site. Now you can join more panels if you want to earn more and are genuinely interested in surveys. I fall in that category as I am part of almost 30 online survey panels. The only downside of this is that all the panel information gets scattered. I deal with this by documenting all my data in a spreadsheet and have assigned a single email ID for all correspondence tasks with survey panels.
- You also need to be super quick in case you want to be part of high-paying surveys. The many years spent in taking surveys have taught me that invitations for well-paying surveys don’t last too long. You also have to consider that a lot of people make a beeline to get into such surveys. This is why I recommend that you link your main survey panel email ID with your smartphone. This will help you learn of opportunities as soon as they come with the best part being certain panels even allowing you to answer surveys through the phone.
- Lastly, another thing you can do is follow your favorite survey panels on social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. A lot of survey panels send out contest information, exclusive surveys and news through these mediums to their followers.
If you are serious about making money as a survey taker, you should keep a record. I personally made and use a spreadsheet. I named it “Paid Surveys Documents”.
I use it to keep a record of survey sites I am a members of and surveys I complete. I thought I would share it with you guys so you can benefit from it as well.
This spreadsheet has 2 sheets;
1- The first sheet is called “Panel Info”, and it’s where I keep user information of each panel I join. It includes:
- Panel Name: Name of the survey site.
- Website address: The url or login page of the panel.
- User Name: Your user name.
- Password: Your password.
- Email: Email address you used to join the site.
- Date Joined: Know how long you have been a member of the site.
- Payment Option: So you can know if you are getting paid by PayPal, Check or otherwise.
- Total Earning: So you can keep track of how much you have made with each site (useful when comes tax season!).
- Notes: You can use this section to put reminders or whatever else.
2- The second sheet is called “Surveys Taken” and it’s used to keep a record of survey I complete for each panel, so I can keep track and make sure I get credited for surveys I complete. this includes stuff like
- Panel Name: The name of the survey panel that the survey came from.
- Survey ID: When you contact the site to ask for credit, you will need the survey ID (you can find it in the survey invitation email).
- Date Survey Completed: So you know when you completed the survey, so if you don’t get credited, you can tell if its been too long or not.
- Date Credited: The day you got credited for the survey.
- Note to Self: Extra space so you can add notes. For example, if you didn’t get credited for a survey and you have contacted the site, you can give yourself a reminder that you contacted the site in x day.
You can download the spreadsheet here. I hope you guys find it useful.
A Few Sources to Check out:
- Avoiding Survey Scams by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
- What Is Market Research by OAMP
- Online Surveys by Usability.gov
- Guidelines for Participating in Online Surveys by CASRO
Once again, let me emphasize this is certainly not an online job that is going to help you get rich, nor is it one that is going to help you quit your day job. Nonetheless, it’s an easy and fun way to make some extra cash. And in this economy that has everyone struggling to survive with millions of people out of job and unable to make ends meet, being able to take online surveys for money is a welcome news for many.