Frugal NationFrugal Nation

Get paid for your opinions

You won't get rich, but you can bring in a little (or a lot) of extra cash this way.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 29, 2012 2:03PM
Image: Woman with laptop (© Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images)Online surveys can pay off, but you need to pick your spots. Personally, I'll pass on any "opportunity" to earn 50 cents for a 45-minute questionnaire.

You're not going to get rich, or even earn a living wage, by taking online surveys. But you can bring in a little (or a lot) of extra cash and/or free gift cards. You might also get the chance to test new products.

I qualify for at least a dozen surveys a week even though I'm not in a hot demographic, such as "new mom" or "person who uses a lot of convenience food." I never know what's going to pop up, though: Recently I was paid to cook tacos and talk about doughnuts.

A grocery survey culminated in an offer to fix a specific recipe with specific ingredients. It had been ages since I made tacos, and I received $25 for expenses and my time. I had to make dinner anyway. Why not get paid to do so? (Post continues after video.)

The second survey, on snack foods, segued into an invite for a three-day online focus group. I was paid $60 to put in up to one hour a day for three days. It was fun.

The downside? I've had doughnuts on my mind ever since.

How to choose a site

If you've got a Wi-Fi signal, you can fill out surveys just about anywhere. I've interviewed people who do them while taking the train, waiting for the rinse cycle at the Laundromat, keeping an eye on their children in the yard or vegging out on the couch.

All sites are not created equal. Some pay in points that take forever to add up to rewards, or pay in sweepstakes entries. (Really.) Others are actually affiliate marketers who ask you to subscribe to magazines or book clubs and then take a "survey" rating the experience.

In a post called "Top 5 survey sites: The best survey sites on the Web," frugal blogger Erin M. Huffstetler recommends sites she uses herself. These include Harris Polls, which she calls "the Cadillac of survey sites," and ZoomPanel, which has "a great collection of rewards to choose from."

Survey-savvy folks I've talked with recommend Pinecone Research, Toluna, Synovate and SurveyHead.

I've had decent success with Clear Voice Surveys and Valued Opinions. I also like Swagbucks, which offers multiple daily surveys.

Occasionally I'm sent products to try, such as shampoo, breakfast cereal or a new kind of mop. If I had kids at home, I'd probably qualify for more. That mop arrived at just the right time, though, since I can no longer find refills for my old one.

A few caveats

Don't join too many sites at once, lest you get overwhelmed. Keep these tips in mind, too:

  • Never pay for this. Companies are supposed to pay you. "Membership fee" equals "scam."
  • Start a separate email address. You'll get lots of invites.
  • Don't give out personal information. Email address, yes; bank info, no.
  • Be choosy. Start with a couple of the above-named companies or look for opportunities at sites such as SurveyPolice, or
  • Start a PayPal account. Some companies require it.

Surveys aren't a good fit for everyone. But if you're home a lot, unemployed on the midnight shift or given to vegging out, it can be a good way to bring in a few (or more than a few) extra dollars. You might also get a new mop.

More on MSN Money:

Apr 10, 2012 6:07PM

If you ever get a survey from J.D. Powers and associates, like when you buy a new car....don't do it.  Once they get their foot in the door, they will hound you relentlessly.  And, don't forget, it's them who will make all the money off the consumer surveys. 


You can write them back demanding a fee (100 dollars/hr) for your expertise!  (Before you act).

Apr 11, 2012 12:36AM
I do surveys and get quite a bit free. You just have to find the right sites. I love getting products in the mail to survey. Sometimes it take six months to earn 50 dollars, the way i see it the six months would have passed anyway I might as well as make the fifty bucks. I have received free - cuisanart bread maker, waffle maker, cookbooks by food network stars, toaster oven etc. If you have the time do the surveys. My daughter and husband had to do a survey in a library and each got 100 dollars. Yes some are boring - just do the ones you like. Thanks for the article.
Apr 11, 2012 12:20AM
I actually use to make about $200.00 -$300.00 per year (maybe a little more or less depending) and got some awesome free stuff to survey. That was when I had a crap job, and before I stupidly got myself addicted to WOW and could spend free evenings doing surveys. I agree though that you have to find the right sites. They actually do pay.  Granted, you will not make a living doing this, but I had times that when I cashed in my points on all the various sites I was signed up for and was able to pay a bill or 2 that my paycheck wouldn't cover. Not to mention some of the trial products:  I got a 32oz bottle of Lubriderm that wasn't on the market to try (now it is about $20.00 at Target), as well as an  unknown facial product that now only sells at the highest end department stores for well more than I can still afford to pay for if I tried to purchase it. I also got some huge bags of chips that were really good and they paid me to  $10.00 to "evaluate" them. That is just some of the things I was paid to try. All in all it may take some effort to get involved in the decent survey companies, but if you have some spare time and need some extra cash here and there, you will not be dissapointed. Companies really do need to test products or get opinions and they will pay to get the info.Just don't expect to get rich or make a living doing it. And make sure to do your research first.
Apr 10, 2012 11:28PM
these surveys are so long and boring i just say the heck with it .
Apr 10, 2012 11:25PM
Another worthless MSN suggestion!  I have tried a survey site and wasted a lot of time for a few measly points that bought little or nothing. 
Apr 11, 2012 9:25AM
MSN should have paid me to read this ****!
Apr 11, 2012 9:59AM

Yah, I have done surveys too.  It's really cool when the companies pay out.  However, be warned!!!  


About 6 months ago, I did a rather long and involved survey for SurveySavvy that involved searching the internet, calling stores for a camera that I was to pretend to buy, and then answering a lot of questions.  After filling in the questions, Survey Savvy never paid out the promised $25.  I contacted them to investigate, some guy named Dallas wrote me back and told me that because I had duplicated four of my answers in a row my whole survey was rejected. 


Fool me once!  That's it!

Feel free to comment about how stupid I am, because I really was on this one. 


Apr 11, 2012 9:27AM
Yeah, I'm sure the dingus banks want their loan payments in gift cards.
Apr 10, 2012 7:55PM
Zoom panel is probably the best, IMHO...I've been doing those surveys for many years...have accumulated a lot of points over those years...and have gotten some good stuff for my points, from appliances to gardening tools. Every little bit helps and you don't have to spend any of your hard earned cash from the other job to get a new coffee maker...or whatever.  
Apr 10, 2012 10:58PM
This is crap for I tried it' theres always a catch to keep from paying you. I done hundreds of surveys and questionaires like an idiot and never made a dime so dont fall for this crap.
Apr 11, 2012 12:02PM
@Kayli: The situation you describe sounds more like mystery shopping than survey-taking.
Apr 11, 2012 1:37PM
I think online surveys have the POTENTIAL for a nice source of secondary income. I have been doing some research for articles and a book in process and so far I have found hype and fraud but not real value. Last one offered $50 per survey after you purchase a $75 product? anyway would like to hear of some good ones at financial peace college
Jul 10, 2012 8:58AM
I think you should take getpaidsurveys off of the list. They only reviews sites so they can get affiliate commissions. A scam.
Apr 11, 2012 5:28AM
I'm on about 15 different panels, a lot of them offer Amazon Gift Cards. In 3 months of getting nothing but Amazon Gift Cards I got myself a 46 " Plasma TV wifi built in 1080p. $689 TV for free, spent survey money on it not my own, so if you know what you're doing when it comes to surveys you can accumalate points pretty quickly. My philosophy when it comes to surveys is LIE ..who cares these companies are paying the survey panel people tons of money and they're only spending a fraction of it paying us. Im a 36 male and you're damn right when a suvey asks if i'm a mother of a newborn ..yep I sure am, do I own my own business? I sure do now ..
Apr 11, 2012 12:38AM
thought I could havem made 1 dollar.
Sep 3, 2014 3:09AM
Help Wanted! Get Paid Today!
Get paid for your opinion! Earn
an income taking online surveys!
Jul 10, 2013 7:52AM
Get paid from surveys you compete and also when you update your profile! :)
Jun 10, 2012 2:28PM
The above article is so good about paid surveys.

I also find a free paid survey directory with the name of surveyjury

They said : As a member of SurveyJury you can discover the power of your opinion and listed survey panels will reward you for it!

Apr 25, 2012 8:05AM
I like the idea of getting paid for writing opinions, hence I wish to my opinions in newspapers, magazines or any site that pays in the sponsorship of MSN.
Apr 14, 2012 8:36PM
Opinionplace is legit I get amazon credit.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.