10 Things You MUST Know Before Taking a Paid Survey Online

People are always looking for ways to make some extra cash online.  Naturally, they land on paid survey sites.  This has made online survey sites very popular.  Anyone who has taken part in any of these surveys will know that there is a number of drawbacks too.

I have tried a number of paid surveys online; we have also done a few online survey reviews.

So, we know exactly what you should be looking out for if you want to make money from online surveys and not get caught out by the number of scams imitating legit survey sites.

In this post, we have come up with 10 things that you MUST know before taking your next online survey for money.


But first, let’s take a look at how these online paid surveys work, just in case you are new to this…

Table of Contents

How to Make Money with Online Paid Surveys?

First, have a look at this 2-minute animation which will describe the whole process behind online paid surveys for you:

Paid Surveys or Survey Panels are platforms or websites that allow you to make money from the completion of online surveys and giving your opinions.

Why? What's The Rationale?

Companies are always doing market research.  They need to know consumers opinions about their products and services so they can constantly keep improving to meet the needs of their target audience.  If they are a new company, they will be actively trying to identify who their target audience is.

These survey panels bridge the gap between these companies and the consumers.  They connect potential consumers like yourself to these companies and reward you for giving your opinion.

The companies pay the survey panels to get customer insights and then these platforms pay their users for completing surveys.

It isn’t just insights about products or services either, there could be studies on subjects like:

  • Travel
  • People
  • Education
  • Work
  • Entertainment

This means there are paid surveys online for pretty much anything you can imagine.  The most important thing for you is to ensure you find the best survey website or survey panel, instead of getting caught out by online survey scams.

Individual market research companies and survey panels may have their own rules and their own system.  But that is basically how general paid surveys works.

10 Things You Must Know Before Taking Online Surveys

Here are the ten things you must know before taking a paid survey online:

1. Extremely Low Earning Potential

This is probably the biggest thing you need to know about online surveys. The earning potential for ALL survey sites and panels are really low.

Typically, you can earn anywhere from $0.01 to $1-$2 per survey (if you are lucky).  This will depend on the panel, the length of the survey and the subject that the survey is related to.

Don’t get fooled by any survey site that claims that you can earn $30, $50 or even $100 per survey.  


This is simply not the case, and any that do claim that could very well be a scam or just a marketing ploy to get you to sign up.

There is one survey site we found that may indeed pay its panellist $100.  It is called Inspired Opinions.

But the catch is that you will be expected to travel to their office to take part in an “in-person” survey.  This survey will take approximately 1-2 hours.  Plus, there is a really low chance of actually getting to do the survey.

But after reviewing a lot of survey sites, we can confirm that the earning potential of all survey sites is really low.

In fact, Upfuel completed a case study regarding the amount of money you can earn from paid surveys.  The bottom line is it is really limited.  Take a look if you want to learn more.

2. There are a Lot of Paid Survey Scams

It sounds funny to say, but you heard me right.  There are a lot of paid survey scams out there.

Some survey sites are not actually survey panels and we will talk about that later.  Then there are some survey sites that will never pay you any money.

The majority of them cannot be officially classed as a scam, but what they are doing is simply unethical.


It is important that you remember that there are a lot of low-quality survey sites which you shouldn’t waste your time on.

Continue reading to find out how you can avoid these low-quality websites…

3. Use a Different Email Address for Paid Surveys

It doesn’t matter whether the survey site is legitimate or a scam, you will receive endless emails from the moment you sign up.

For legit survey panels, they will be sending you emails showing you the latest survey opportunities.  Whilst scam survey sites, will be spamming you with a lot of junk mail.

But it can get a lot worse, as they may sell your personal information (Name, Email, etc) to other people.  This means that your inbox will be full of spam mail.

This is why we would recommend that you do not use your main email address.  Firstly, it means you can avoid them filling your main inbox up with spam.  But also, if you were to sign up with a scam site, they haven’t got the email address you use with your bank or PayPal, etc.

If you receive an email saying there is a problem with your PayPal account to your survey only email address, it is safe to say it is a scam email.  It is harder when you have it in your main inbox.

So, set yourself up an email account that you will only use for these survey plan site sign-ups.

Another reminder is to make sure you read their Privacy Policy carefully before joining any platform!

4. Avoid “Pay-to-Play” Survey Sites

There are some survey sites, like Gold Opinions, that will ask you to pay them a fee in order for you to receive surveys.

They will tell you the reason is that they won’t take any commission from the money you make whilst taking surveys.

Or that their platform has some special service to help you make more money, that is why they require you to pay so that they can maintain their website.

That is total BS!

According to WikiHow, all legitimate survey panels will not ask you to pay a fee, meaning that you don’t need to “Pay to Play”.


If a survey site requires you to pay a fee or “Pay-to-Play” then our advice is to stay away from it.

5. Be Careful of Survey Intermediaries

When you start reviewing these survey sites, you start to understand that a lot of them are not actually survey panels.  This means that they are not working directly with the market research companies to offer you the survey.

Instead, what they are doing is Affiliate Marketing.  They are affiliates for many survey panels, and they set up their own websites to promote these panels to you.

These websites are what are called “Survey Intermediaries” or “Middleman”.

If you sign up with this kind of intermediary, they will keep recommending other survey panels for you to sign up with.  The reason they will give is that the more survey sites you are registered with, the more survey opportunities you have and therefore more opportunities to earn money.

But the reality is that the more survey panels you sign up with, the more money these “survey intermediaries” will earn because what they are doing is referring you to survey panels and earning an affiliate commission every time.  The more you sign up with, the more they earn.  It has nothing to do with providing you more opportunities.

You could sign up with them all individually without the need of these intermediaries.

Some Survey intermediaries I’ve review before include BigSpot, SurveySay and Gold Opinions.

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6. Be Prepared to be Disqualified

Even though most survey sites ask you to fill in a demographic questionnaire when you sign up.  But that doesn’t mean that you not have to do this every time you start a survey.

When you choose a survey, you will typically go through a pre-qualification process before taking each survey.  This process is to ensure that you are the right target audience for the market research companies.  This part is understandable.

But the part that is really irritating is when you are suddenly disqualified during or even after the actual survey.  This happens a lot more than you might think.

Some survey panels will compensate you with a few cents for your effort, but there are also some that don’t.

One of the reasons for this is that there is normally a limit to the number of survey takers.  For example, they may only need 100 survey takers.  If you are slow, you may be disqualified halfway because the quota has been reached.

Or, I have seen it where you are rejected because they are targeting a certain demographic and you don’t qualify even though you did the original demographic questionnaire.

I have reviewed some panels where I just kept getting disqualified, meaning there were very few surveys that I could actually complete.

7. Understand the Points System

There are a number of survey panel sites that reward you in points rather than cash.  They will reward you with a certain amount of points for each survey you complete.

Once you have earned enough points you can redeem them via cash or a gift card in most cases.

Having a points system isn’t the problem it is understanding the conversion rate that you need to know.  It can easy to be misled when it is a points system.

A survey that offers 200 points looks good, but if all that is worth is $0.20 then you can see the issue.  I have seen some that 1000 points equals a dollar, so 200 points for a survey that takes you 15 minutes to complete, all for $0.20 shows how not knowing the conversion rate is a problem.

Make sure you fully understand the points system and how it works and how to redeem your money!

8. Know What the Pay-Out Options Are

If you want to earn cash from these surveys, you need to research and know what the pay-out options are for the survey panel you want to sign up for.

Some of the standard pay out options are:

  • Check
  • PayPal
  • Amazon Gift Card
  • Other Gift Cards

If you want to earn real money, you will need to make sure they have a check or PayPal option.  There are a number of survey panels that only pays you via Gift Cards.


Some people are happy with an Amazon gift card option, but if you want cash you need to pick the right survey panel that will pay you via that.

9. Take Note of the Pay-Out Threshold

You need to know the pay-out threshold.  If you are only going to be earning a few cents for completing surveys and yet the pay-out threshold is really high, you will find it extremely hard to get anywhere near your cash.

Some of these survey panels will have a threshold of $10, which means you can cash out when you reach the $10 mark of earnings.  That is a pretty reasonable target, albeit still sometimes hard to reach.

But there are also survey panel sites that have a threshold that is $100.  This will take you a really long time to reach.  This can sometimes mean that you won’t be paid anything.

10. Beware of Other Forms of Paid Survey

Paid Surveys have changed a lot over the years.  There are platforms that will pay you to test mobile applications and then there are platforms that pay you to listen to music.

Platforms are being launched regularly and their rules and systems are constantly evolving.

Probably the most important thing for you to do is to ensure you do your research before signing up for any of these survey panel sites.  And remember to trust your gut feelings!

If you feel something isn’t right or sounds too good to be true, then it is telling you to stay away.  There are many more ways to make money online, and your gut feeling is there to protect you… don’t ignore it.  Do your research and then make an informed decision.

There are also some authority website that you can use to check if a survey panel is legit or not:

Should I Take Paid Surveys Online?

Now that we have explored these points to consider before joining any survey panels, there is still one important question…

Is taking online paid surveys really worth it?

If you do have this question in mind, then we are happy for you.  It means that you are constantly assessing the decisions you are making.

Let me be completely honest with you, in my opinion taking online surveys is just not worth the time it takes to complete them.

On average, you can earn a few dollars per hour if you are lucky.  You would earn much more with a local part-time job than you would completing online surveys.

If you are just looking for a way to kill time, then paid surveys may be something to fill the void and earn you a few dollars at the same time.  There is nothing wrong with that and some people are perfectly happy just trading some spare time for a few dollars ready for the holidays.

But if your main goal is to make money online, I would urge you to stop looking for any online paid survey opportunities.  The earning potential is too small.  It just isn’t a good return on the time spent on them.

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4 thoughts on “10 Things You MUST Know Before Taking a Paid Survey Online”

  1. It is difficult to differentiate between an income producing online survey and a scam. This article is vitally important and should be read by all, especially those looking for income supplementation via online. Thank you for this article and for awakening us. Especially appreciated is the recommendation not to use your normal, everyday email account used for banking and PayPal. This is an easy target for scammers to abuse. After thoroughly reading your 10 pts, I have decided that online surveys for pay are not for me. Thank you for this warning. Thank you for the link to Affiliate Marketing, a much more reliable and safe way to make passive income. Thank you for this article. 

    • Hey Vincent,

      thanks for reading our guide.  Not everyone is looking for a full-time income online and are quite happy to complete a few surveys.  But whilst it sounds so simple, it is also really easy to get caught out by scammers.

      Hopefully we can help people get sign up with the right ones rather than fall for the scams…

      All the best


  2. This always seemed like a good idea. They are even on popular jog sites.  I signed up for one, and you are right. Spam city.  It took me a while to opt and and block them all.  

    I did see the ones that offer points, but like you said they pay so little, is not worth the effort.  As you make reference to towards the bottom, there are other ways to make better money online.

    • Hi Sam,

      thanks for checking out our guide.  Surveys are ok, for someone just looking for some casual cash. Although, you have to careful to avoid the scams out there.

      A much better way to earn money for someone looking to replace their job would be affiliate marketing.

      All the best



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