Last updated: June 23, 2021

Paid surveys don’t pay a high hourly rate but can bring in legitimate extra cash

Find out the best way to approach paid surveys

If you’re interested in making extra money from home you’re likely to be aware of the paid survey industry. Maybe you’ve already started doing completing some yourself. Some personal finance bloggers and forum users exaggerate how much money can be made by answering surveys. Let’s explore the truth and whether completing surveys online for extra money is worth it.

What are ‘paid surveys’?

First off let’s be clear on exactly what they are. Paid surveys work by you answering sets of questions for market research companies who want to collect information. In return, they pay you for your answers. You complete the surveys using websites and apps. The sites that give you access to the surveys are often referred to as ‘incentive programs’, or ‘platforms’, or simply ‘survey websites’. Some incentive programs will pay you in cash using online payment systems such as PayPal, others will pay you in vouchers.

Can you answer paid surveys online for a full-time income?

No. Answering surveys does not pay enough money for the vast majority of people to provide them with a full-time income they can live on. There may be some rare exceptions to this in poorer regions.

Comparisons to making an hourly wage for doing surveys get made in the ‘make money online’ space. It makes no sense to think of it like that because survey websites don’t claim to be employing you or offering you a set wage. It’s a simple way to earn some extra rewards without needing any skills. That’s it. It’s something you do in your spare time for extra cash and nothing more.

The average hourly earnings rate from surveys is low

If you do insist on calculating the hourly earnings rates from the surveys you do you’ll find it’s a low number. That’s because each one pays a low amount and it takes time to complete them, meaning the hourly earnings are low.

Some people include focus groups in the same category as paid surveys. At MoneyCortex we view them separately because a survey is something you do any time filling in answers whereas focus groups are with a group of people chatting. Although they’re both market research methods for companies they’re quite a different experience. But if you want to class focus groups as the same as doing surveys then you’ll find the pay is very different. Generally, focus groups pay very well. Most focus groups take place out offline in groups, but as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic many focus groups are now done using chat software such as Zoom. You can earn a significantly higher hourly rate for focus groups compared to surveys.

Completing surveys to get extra cash in the bank is legitimate

The pay may be low relative to other ways of making money but it’s still a legitimate method of making money. The knock-on benefits can be big. Here are some of the reasons it can be highly beneficial long-term to complete surveys online:

  • Using the money to avoid getting into debt can avoid significant long-term debt interest costs.
  • Using the money to buy little treats can improve your mental health.
  • Using the cash to invest in high-risk high-reward stocks can result in some big profits.

For these reasons, as well as others, completing paid surveys online is a weapon in many peoples personal side-hustling efforts. And it’s supposed to be just that, a “side-hustle”. And that’s how to view surveys.

Your location, goals and attitude affect your profitability

Where you’re located will influence your approach to surveys. For example, in countries such as the UK, USA, Canada and Australia (as well as many others) with how low the pay is from surveys you’d never get close to earning the national minimum wage. But in some countries, the money would go further.

It’s also relative to the area of your country you live in. For example, in the UK the cost of living in London is more expensive than Chorley in Lancashire. Likewise in the U.S., it’s a lot cheaper to live in Mississippi compared to Hawaii.

What that means is what one person looks at and thinks, ‘that’s not worthwhile,’ another looks at and thinks it is worthwhile.

Once you’ve done a few months worth of survey-taking you’ll be able to decide for yourself if it’s worth doing long-term.

Your goals also matter. For example, if you live in the UK and have a target of earning an extra £1,000 per year, you could do that using surveys alone. Spread it out over the full year and if you earn £3 per day on average it would take 333 days. That leaves 32 spare days in the year. Likewise in Dollars, to earn an extra $1,500 over a full year is only just over $4 per day in earnings needed.

Whereas someone trying to earn an extra £10,000 or $10,000 per year is going to have a serious battle to do it using only paid surveys!

Attitude counts too. Some people want free money. They don’t want to put any time or effort in. They are the people that inevitably struggle. With a good attitude, you’ll earn more than others do.

The survey platforms you use will have an impact on your earnings

The websites that allow you to complete surveys in return for cash have different designs, different rules, and use different survey providers. This means earnings across platforms aren’t equal. Different people will have different experiences. Over time you want to build up a collection of survey websites that work best for you. They may not necessarily be the highest paying but maybe they have the surveys you like the most.

Be wary of using reviews when judging which survey platforms will impact your earnings the most

Some articles in the blogosphere exaggerate how much you can earn from doing surveys. Sometimes people exaggerate to get extra affiliate income by encouraging you to sign-up. Try not to fall for the hype if you come across those types of blogs. Unfortunately, this means using survey reviews isn’t always reliable.

Always take reviews with a pinch of salt and accept nothing replaces your own experience. There are lots of reviews online (you’ll find some on MoneyCortex). And there are lists of real survey sites too, such as this list in order of payout threshold if you need somewhere to get started.

Researching is a wise thing to do. But trying the sites yourself and seeing the cash drop into your own account is always the best thing.

When researching survey websites you need to first think about your personal needs and goals. Just because one person says in a review that a website is too low paying, you might not think so. Likewise the other way round. A blogger may say a survey site pays really well, but you think it’s not worthwhile or doesn’t suit you or you don’t trust it.

For this reason, it can be best to hunt out legitimate websites and join them all. All online paid survey websites are free to join. You don’t have to join them all at once. If you have a busy lifestyle why not commit yourself to signing up for one per week. Then use each one for a sustained period. You can’t try them out for a day or two because that never provides a fair reflection.

If you try one for a bit and don’t like it, get to the first cashout to bank a bit of money into your PayPal account. Then stop using it. Easy!

Best way to approach making money by completing surveys

Time for surveys

Adapting your survey habits into your existing lifestyle is what will achieve the highest long-term profits. It’s no good desperately trying to do them in time you don’t have. Approach them with a humble mindset accepting they’re lower-paying compared to other money-making methods and it’ll stand you in good stead. Surveys require zero skills to do, there are zero financial risks, and anyone can do them. For that reason, they’ll always be lower paying.

Seven tips to get the most out of making money from surveys

Now you know the appropriate attitude and approach, you can mould things to suit you. Here are a few ideas to help you get in the habit of doing surveys.

  1. Try and pick surveys you enjoy on topics you like.
  2. Try and pick ones that are a suitable length. For example, if you’re feeling fidgety and restless do short surveys, don’t do a long 30-minute one that requires patience.
  3. Join lots of sites. It’ll mean more choice of surveys to complete.
  4. Have your bigger goal in mind. Perhaps you’re saving for a holiday. Keep that in focus.
  5. Always remember the “money drip method”. If you know you can make an extra £2 per day you’ll have an extra £730 in your pocket over the year!
  6. Form habits and fit surveys into your life, that way it becomes natural and easy. Remember how hard learning to drive was, and yet once you’ve passed and got used to driving, it’s super easy.
  7. Combine answering surveys using apps with doing other things such as watching TV.

And remember to never stress!

Never stress

Hopefully, those tips help you. Answering surveys is a good way to earn extra cash. But your time has value, you want to use it wisely. To do that you need to have the right approach. Find the best websites for you and get in the habit of logging in and participating in surveys regularly.

It’s important to feel the rewards justify the time spent on something. That’s why using your spare time is important. Getting that psychological aspect right is critical. Expect to make the equivalent of the minimum wage or higher, and you’ll quickly give up! Get into routines and see the cash building up and over time it becomes easier.