Online survey sites sometimes get a bad rap. And sure, some of them are scammy. Some are shady. Some are iffy.
What about the sites that are legit, though? How can you maximize your earnings on those? How can you make the most possible money while chilling on your couch, sipping your favorite beverage and clicking away at surveys on your laptop?
To get you some insider knowledge, we spoke with six Penny Hoarder readers who consistently earn real money on three survey sites — Swagbucks, InboxDollars and MyPoints.
These people are players. They know these sites inside and out. They’ve collectively invested hundreds of hours in this, so they’ve learned the innermost secrets.
Click, click, click. Here’s what they had to say:
How 2 Women Earned a Collective $1,800 on Swagbucks
Jessica Maloy and Carolinda Hendrickson call themselves Swaggernauts.
Maloy, a secretary, and Hendrickson, a day care provider, live in different parts of Pennsylvania. They know their way around the survey site Swagbucks.
Each of them sign in every day, sometimes more than once. Persistence and strategy are how they make it pay off.
Maloy looked for ways to earn extra money when her son turned 16 and she realized how much it was going to cost to send him to college. In her first seven months on the Swagbucks, she earned $600 in gift cards.
She starts about 40 surveys a day but doesn’t end up qualifying for most. Still, she just sticks with it and usually completes one or two.
She picks up tips on a Facebook group called the Swagbucks Swaggernauts. In an area on Swagbucks called “Discover,” she signs up for various offers and free trials in exchange for rewards.
“I hop on and off all day,” she said. “It really doesn’t take much to earn money that you normally wouldn’t have.”
Hendrickson scans Facebook groups for Swagbucks tips as well. She hits Swagbucks early in the morning before her job takes over her day.
She operates a day care center for special needs children in her home, where she cares for three little ones. “I sign in at 6 a.m., and I’m done by the time the kids get here,” she says.
She’s learned to do only the surveys she likes — nothing about cars or banking. Her goal is to make $25 a week. In a year, she’s earned $1,200, which she exchanges for gift cards for her grown children.
How 2 Women Earned a Collective $750 on InboxDollars
Sarah Houston and Heidi Irvine have become experts on the survey site InboxDollars.
Houston, a nanny and business student in Virginia, has gotten into the habit of logging on to take surveys in the morning, then doing it again while she’s watching TV at night.
“It sounds like a lot of work,” she said, “but once you’re in a routine, it’s a mindless, easy way to earn extra money.”
She’s earned $600 in three years by constantly taking surveys that run the gamut from financial services to radio music to food to restaurants to shopping. She also referred her mom, so she gets a bonus equal to 10% of her mother’s rewards.
Based on qualifying surveys on InboxDollars, she ended up doing some product testing and focus groups that paid $50 or $100 — “Double win!” she says, because she’d also been paid just to qualify.
Irvine lives in Detroit, delivers cars around the country, and has been using InboxDollars for five years. She got into the habit of reading InboxDollars emails on her Mac for 2 cents a pop. The emails often lead her to surveys. She’s earned nearly $150 so far.
“My favorite, and fastest, go-to to earn money is simply opening the emails they send me,” she said. “Each email only pays 2 cents, but I get at least two to four emails a day that take less than a minute to open and click on the link they send me. I check my email daily, so it’s convenient.”
How 2 Women Earned a Collective $1,200 on MyPoints
Joe Dozier and Kimberly Ritze know the survey site MyPoints backwards and forwards.
Ritze, who has earned about $300 on the site over several years, notes that its home page lists ways to earn points quickly, and its Facebook page often has codes she can use to gain extra points. She can exchange points for gift cards to popular retailers — 480 points equates to a $3 Amazon gift card, for example.
Here’s how Ritze got started: “When we [she and her husband] were new homeowners with a tight budget and Christmas was on the way, I had my eye on a kids’ kitchen playset on JCPenney.com,” she said. “As I racked up points taking surveys on Mypoints, I earned enough to purchase the playset.”
Dozier, a 70-year-old North Carolina author who uses Joe as her first name, has been a MyPoints member since 1998. She uses her points on gift cards for Christmas or on gas cards.
“I cashed in for gas cards for one whole year and never pulled a cent out of my pocket when filling my tank,” she said.
She has earned 145,628 points, which equates to more than $900.
“Since most of my points are earned reading email, I start my day by checking my email and voting in the daily poll,” she said. “I always tell newcomers not to get discouraged — five points for reading an email isn’t much, but it only takes seconds. There are usually three or more emails per day.
“You won’t get rich, but an extra $100, $200 or $300 per year is not something I would throw away.”
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s a natural for survey sites because he has so many opinions.