Online surveys pay a few dollars, but are they worth your time? - The Buffalo News
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Online surveys pay a few dollars, but are they worth your time?

You won’t get rich sharing your opinions with market research firms. Indeed, sometimes giving your two cents literally pays two cents.

But if you’ve got time on your hands and don’t mind clicking on bubble after multiple-choice bubble answering questions about your personality, habits, experiences and preferences, completing online surveys could be a fun way to earn some extra pocket change.

It can be mind-numbingly boring and pays well below minimum wage, but it’s also an easy way to earn a few dollars during idle time between other tasks – while sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting to pick up kids from school or waiting for the oven timer to go off.

What is it?

All kinds of companies (grocery manufacturers, toy makers, record labels) use market research firms to gather information about their target customers. The more they know about you, the better they can target their advertisements and tailor their products to your preferences.

Companies rely heavily on this information, so they’re willing to pay firms top dollar to get it for them. Market researchers dangle some of that money in front of consumers as an incentive for consumers to participate and give up some of that very valuable information.

How does it work?

You’ll register with a Web site and complete an initial questionnaire about your demographics, such as your household income, gender and level of education. Marketers will use those answers to figure out which target markets you belong to and to decide which surveys to offer you in the future.

Some sites might also ask you to fill out additional profile information, which helps researchers narrow down in advance which surveys suit you.

The better sites will compensate you for filling out those extra qualifiers. But even if they don’t, filling them out saves you the aggravation of starting a new survey only to find out, several questions later, that you don’t qualify after all.

Each time a survey comes up that might suit you, you’ll receive an email with a link to it. Once you begin the survey, you’ll be asked more specific questions to see if you qualify. For example, a survey about coffee might begin with questions about how often you drink it. If you answer that you don’t drink coffee at all, you’ll be told you don’t qualify for the survey and be prompted to close the screen.

If you are disqualified from completing a survey, legitimate sites should compensate you for the portion you’ve completed.

What’s in it for me?

For every survey you complete, you’ll accumulate dollars or points, which can be cashed out in the form of gift cards, prizes or donations to charity.

Many companies will also give sweepstakes entries toward winning additional money or prizes.

Each survey should come with an estimate of how long it will take to complete and how much you’ll be compensated for completing it. That will help you decide whether a survey is worth your time. Generally, the longer the survey, the more it pays.

You don’t have to complete every survey, just the ones you feel like doing.

A few to try pays $1 to $5 per survey. You can opt to be paid in gift cards, PayPal credits, American Airlines AAdvantage frequent-flier miles or sweepstakes entries (the site is currently raffling off an iPad). pays about the same as Opinion Place (which owns Survey Spree), but offers additional payout options, such as magazine subscriptions and gift cards to places such as Domino’s Pizza, Walmart and

The site offers a $5 credit when you register and pays an additional 10 cents to 25 cents for each category of profile information you fill out. You’ll have to accumulate at least $10 before you cash out, and must cash out in specific increments from $10, $12, $15 to $200. pays in credits called Bux and pledges to plant a tree for every completed survey. Their surveys are usually more fun, quick and visually appealing than the rest, but also tend to have lower payouts.

You’ll get 50 Bux when you register and one or more Bux for each survey completed.

You can cash out your bucks in PayPal funds or Amazon gift cards. It takes about 1,100 Bux to earn $10, 1,650 Bux to earn $15 and 2,200 Bux to earn $20.

You can also trade your Bux for sweepstakes entries. An entry for a chance to win a $200 American Express gift card costs 20 Bux each, entries to win a Magic Bullet blender set are 10 Bux each. pays an average of $2 per survey, but some pay as little as 50 cents. You’ll also earn 50 cents and additional sweepstakes entries for each friend you refer. If you’re disqualified once you’ve begun taking a survey, you’ll be paid for the portion you’ve completed.

Once you accumulate $10 in rewards, you can cash out in Amazon gift cards, Dining Dough restaurant gift cards or a prepaid debit Mastercard through Payoneer.


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