How to Earn Extra Money From Legit Online Survey Companies

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Taking online surveys from home is a nice way to earn a little extra cash or prizes for your family. There are hundreds of online survey companies that advertise across the web. Amidst the low-end companies that will do nothing more than fill your inbox with spam, there are legitimate online marketing companies that will pay you a little bit of money for taking time to answer online surveys.

The most important thing as you get started is to ensure you are working with a company that will indeed pay you as they promised.

Criteria for Judging Survey Companies

I have developed three criteria that I use in evaluating survey companies, that I have developed by learning the hard way. You can feel free to do additional research before joining any of the firms I mention, but know that I have checked done these three things.

Must Be Free

Any legitimate survey company is 100% free for you to participate in. Do not ever pay money to take surveys. No matter what the survey company says, “if you pay xx amount you’ll get access to a list from which you can take surveys and start earning,” don’t believe it for a second. Likewise, bona fide companies that offer products for testing will not require you to pay for the products. If you are ever required to pay to participate in a survey, then run! (Thanks Tricia, from Sunshine Rewards, for these reminders!)

Identify the owner

Reputable online survey companies are owned by a larger, established market research firm. Typically, but not always, the online survey company is just one division or arm of services that the market research firm provides to large national brands. In a few cases the company is focused solely on digital market research.

This is important because a larger company, with years of history, is more likely to pay on time, be ethical and have the infrastructure necessary to support quality market research than a fly by night shop. I also assume that an established firm wants to protect its brand and should there ever be an issue of any sort that they would be more apt to resolve it; that isn’t a guarantee of impeccable customer service, but my thoughts on why I want a market research firm behind an online survey company.

Read reviews

In a quick google search I am able to get a flavor for an online survey company. Certainly, by the nature of the industry there are always (like 100% of the time, negative reviews of a company. In those negative reviews I look for the issues. What problems do/have people had with the firm? In the legitimate companies the issues are typically things like “I don’t get enough surveys” or “it takes a long time to earn enough to get paid” whereas the low-end companies have issues like “they won’t pay me even though I requested my check.”

Using these two criteria I can weed out 98% of all the survey companies I run across because they don’t pass the tests.

Getting Started With Survey Companies

As you get started with a survey company keep the following things in mind:

  • Create a new email address. You will likely get a lot of email, especially if you join multiple survey companies. Open a new email account and dedicate to this kind of thing so you don’t feel overwhelmed in your main inbox.
  • Provide accurate and complete profile information. You are participating in market research. As such, surveys are targeted to people based on all sorts of demographic information they provide. You are more likely to receive a higher quantity of surveys, and thus opportunities to earn some money, if your profile is all filled in.
  • Set reasonable income expectations. You’ll earn a little side cash for your time taking surveys, but I doubt you’ll be able to pay your mortgage with the income. Especially at first you’ll have to take enough surveys to reach the payment threshold with each company. Only you can decide if it is worth your time. I think that those with more time on their hands, than money in the bank, might take the opportunity to make every extra penny they can.

Legit Survey Companies Accepting Applications

Survey companies often open up for new applicants, then close again when their pipeline is full. As of this writing, these are firms that are accepting new applicants. Should the link come up “page not found” or something similar, that means they have enough people for now. Please leave a comment letting me know so I can keep the list current.

American Consumer Opinion

Campus Fundraiser (This program works a little differently than the others. I wrote a blog post about it last fall. Also, I’ve been told that it is slower to earn with them than some of the other companies.)

Consumer Village

Ipsos I-Say Panel: for Men

Ipsos I-Say Panel: for Moms

Ipsos I-Say Panel: for Everyone Else

Mindfield Internet Panels

MySurvey Panel

National Consumer Panel

Opinion Outpost

Opinion Square (they don’t pay in cash, only in gift cards and prizes)

Pure Profile

Survey Head (reviews online say that this company pays, but it is slower than some of the others)

Survey Panel Group

Synovate Global Opinions Panel

Toluna (They are, by the standards I described above, a legitimate firm, but word on the street is that it takes longer to earn rewards with Toluna than with some of the other firms and they are slower to pay)

Valued Opinions (They pay out in gift cards to stores like Macys and Blockbuster versus others that pay in cash)

Your turn: What criteria do you use when deciding whether to join an online survey company?

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  1. says

    I do a lot of research on this because my members trust that if I send them to a survey company it is going to be legitimate and they are going to get paid. One of the things that I do is keep a "test group" of members who are reliable and willing to try them out personally before I promote them. If they give me negative feedback, I won't work with the survey company anymore. If they give me positive feedback, I will refer my members to them.

    One big tip is that you should not have to pay ANYTHING to take the surveys. You should not have to pay to get access to a "list" and you should not have to buy products to test them and then "give feedback. Those type of companies are not legitimate survey companies but rather just money-making sites who hope to make money off your purchases before they pay you anything.

  2. danielle says

    I am a member of each of those survey sites and a few more. I've always had good luck with they always pay. The only one that I don't care for on your list is Toluna, you have to earn something like 60,000 points to cash out and they take a bit to pay.

  3. Karmen says

    I second Opinion Outpost! I have earned around $80 from them in just over a year. Not a ton but $80 is $80! Fun spending money:)

  4. Therese S. says

    what about Pinecone Research?

    You receive a check for $3.00 for each completed survey…and sometime they send you a product to test and you can earn $10.00. Checks come fast in the mail!!

      • Jean says

        Yes, so far, so good; however I’ve been a member since you last posted them…i.e. August, and have only done 3 surveys, and they take awhile to complete. They are very quick to answer an email.

  5. Dawn N says

    I am wondering what the time committment vs earnings you can expect to earn.

    Some coupon sites and others don't work with my computer (dial up and aol). Does anyone know if there are any requirements in regards to computer?

    This is helpful information. I would love to be able to find a way to make some money from home as am not able to work because of medical conditions. Thanks so much!

    • V says


      Well I don't know that I would consider surveys as a way to "make money"…meaning; from my perspective of being involved with two of them….it isn't enough to pay any bills with…more some chump change for me. But maybe after years of doing it and if a person got involved with 10 companies or something then it may be real money.

      I do find working from home that I can spend HOURS searching for deals and planning out my list finding coupons and organizing that I think that is real money "earned" in my family budget….so I bet you can build on what you do at home and following Carrie's tips daily to help you "make money" by saving a ton. I was always a stay at home mom and now work full time from home and I know for a fact by fine tuning every aspect of my day and what I did with the time I had from being at home and not running around all day driving to work and taking kids to day care etc…I learned how to save a ton which was money earned.

      Good luck to you and I hope your condition gets better!

  6. V says

    Theresa~I agree; I joined Pinecone not long ago/it was the last time Carrie recommended it to us. I got accepted rather quickly and I was SHOCKED when I opened what I thought was junk mail and found a $3.00 check for me for a quick little survey I did less than two weeks prior! Like was mentioned before it isn't a ton of money but with things like that I always say if I saw that laying on the ground would I pick it up? Yes!

    I also work for Consumer Village and I earned 10 bucks in Amazon cash in a few months…I think I spend more time to get the 10 bucks but I look at it as is my guilty pleasure on the computer time that I get paid for. So thanks Carrie for offering us sites we can make some extra cash at and feel comfortable that they are legit!

  7. Jennifer says

    Where did Campus Fundraiser go? I signed up for it but now see it's not on the list. Did something happen? Should I not participate? I have gotten an email from them but no surveys yet, so I came back here to read the blog post about them again but found that it's gone. Now what?

  8. says

    Jennifer – No worries. I added it back in to the list with a link to the blog post you were looking for. Instead of leaving it off all together, I added this note to it "Also, I've been told that it is slower to earn with them than some of the other companies." Sorry for the confusion.

  9. Kristi says

    Delve is also a great company (across the street from Mall of America) I have done numerous product testing w/ them diapers, food, they are always kind, always pay when said for instance a diaper study is a few wks, free diapers then u r paid at last drop off. taste test paid on the spot (even kids!) So if they call any of you I'd try them!

  10. says

    I agree! Delve is awesome! I've been working with them since college. Their pay is pretty high too. My mom loves to talk about how she got paid $50 to taste test chocolate! (Of course she can't share details though!) :) There is another one in the Twin Cities that is similar to Delve, though I can't think of the name of it right now…

  11. Kim H. says

    I have had GREAT results from Pinecone Research. I was getting checks only a few days after completing surveys (every survey is $3.00) but now they will deposit directly into Paypal.

  12. says

    One should be specific about this – it seems if one is paid for their time, this is cents for an hour’s time. I see that prior comments revealed less than $100/year. Are these really survey companies or companies camouflaged as marketing/sales groups. I took one survey and, after spending some time answering questions, the response was + Sorry you did not quality. This is not like the real ones, that is, one in which one has to physically attend a meeting. With the way these are being run, I can’t imagine any high degree of reliability of the data and commercial companies would know that.

  13. Hank says

    Just did another survey – After some time, it came back – Not Eligible for this Survey. What is this – a marketing scam.

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