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31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas: Online Surveys (Day 12)

31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas

Welcome to October’s series on 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas. In this series, I’m highlighting simple and legitimate ways you can earn extra cash in the next three months for those of you who could use a little extra cash to help you pay for Christmas — or just for your living expenses if you’re in a tight spot right now.

If you’ve found a great way to make extra cash before Christmas that doesn’t require an outlay of cash upfront, please email me your tip. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

When my husband was in law school and money was extremely tight for us, I stumbled upon the idea of earning money by taking surveys. It sounded so simple, so I signed up with a bunch of different companies.

I had no idea what I was doing — or what to look for in a company — and I quickly found out that most of the online surveys are more work than they are worth. However, if you could use some extra cash and have extra time on your hands, you can make a nice little side stream of income by taking surveys.

You won’t get rich taking surveys and you’re probably not going to make anymore than $10 per hour, if that. But if you’re patient, persistent, and thorough, you will definitely earn some money — especially if you sign up with companies that are legitimate and have a good reputation in the online survey world.

Do Set Up a Separate Email Address For Surveys

When applying to survey companies, do not use your primary address — unless you don’t mind getting some extra emails in your inbox every day. When I was regularly taking surveys, I found that it was easier to set up a separate email address for all my survey companies. I could just log into this once per day and read through the emails/take the surveys versus having the survey opportunities continuously filling up my regular inbox.

Don’t Take Surveys That Only Enter You Into Sweepstakes

Unless you just love taking surveys, I highly discourage you from taking surveys that your only reward is being entered into a sweepstakes. You’d have a much higher chance of winning blog giveaways than a survey sweepstakes.

Don’t Get Discouraged If It’s Slow-Going At First

It takes a little while to learn what types of surveys you enjoy most and which ones are worth the effort. Don’t get discouraged if you end up spinning your wheels and not making a lot of progress in the beginning. Stick with it and you’ll get a much better grasp on where the best return on your investment of time is when it comes to surveys.

If you’re looking for legitimate survey companies to sign up with, here are some I recommend:

Pinecone Research: My personal favorite survey site. They pay $3 promptly for every survey completed.

SwagbucksThe best part of this site is how easy it is to cash out. Save up your points if you want, or redeem for a $1, $3 or $5 Amazon Gift Card right away! Get paid $0.50 to $50 per survey, depending on how long it takes you, plus a $3 bonus for signing up. Swagbucks will also pay you to watch videos, try products, shop online, and even search the web. Go here to sign up. This is a survey company that many of my readers have used and recommended.

MyPoints: This is a site that rewards you points for online activity such as reading emails, taking surveys and signing up for offers. When I was participating in this, I mostly just read the emails and clicked on the links and slowly accumulated points. You won’t get rich quickly doing this, but you can earn enough points by reading emails to get free gift cards each year. We paid for our few and far between law school date nights mostly with gift cards I earned through MyPoints. Go here to sign up.

SurveySpot: This company pays up to $5 per survey and you can request payout when you have earned $5. So therefore, it’s not hard at all to earn enough to get a check. Go here to sign up.

CashCrate: Once you sign up, you can go to their “Daily Survey” tab and earn around $0.50 per survey you take. They usually offer 1-2 daily surveys. Go here to sign up.

iPoll: Pays in point rewards for every completed survey. You can cash these in for instant win opportunities, sweepstakes, or cash. There are also opportunities to do free product testing. Go here to sign up.

Toluna: When you sign up for Toluna, you will receive 500 points to welcome you to the site. When you have earned at least 60,000 points, you may redeem your points for a cash reward. Go here to sign up with Tulona.

Have you tried earning money by taking online surveys? Tell us about your experiences and any tips and tricks you’ve learned for maximizing the return on your investment of time.

(Note: The links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)

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  • Kathryn says:

    Synovate is now called Ipsos- I-say. They completed a conversion a couple of weeks ago.

  • melissa says:

    Wondering if anyone has heard of or knows anything about JD Power Panel?

    • Michelle says:

      I do JD Power Panel; it takes a few weeks once you submit for cash payout, and an additional week once they finally submit the request.

    • Viktoria says:

      I also do JD Power Panel surveys. I’ve been a member for about 6 months. You can’t cash out until you have $25 dollars racked up. So far I have accumulated nearly $63. When I reached my first $25 goal I opted for a virtual Visa GC and was skeptical if I would get it..but I did..and it worked! Just today I rec’d an email confirmation to cash out my 2nd $25 goal for PayPal cash. Now I am only $12 away from the next $25 goal. The amounts per survey vary anywhere from .80 cents to $5, as do the length of the surveys, but you do get 10 cents for each survey that you don’t qualify. In my experience, I have never had to answer 20 questions to determine if I qualified. I do have more 10 cent earnings than others but if I checked the website everyday there is really no telling how much more I could have already earned. is a wonderful program and hands down better than the ones listed above.

      I don’t think JD Power Panel is mentioned on this list above because they do not have a referral or affiliate programs (exception:

  • Stacey says:

    I used to be a Synovate member, but the he new Ipsos I-say conversion site is a joke. Rewards are paltry. I have experienced horrible customer service with them already. I got emails for the same survey over 3 days and all 3 times it said I didn’t qualify and I literally got only 5 cents. I’m very disappointed. Getting 45 cents for 15-20 minute surveys that you complete? No thanks.

  • Julie says:

    I completed surveys for Pinecone for several months. They were easy for work for and do pay prompty, but you need to have a lot of patience. The surveys take a long time and the questions get so monotonous that it almost becomes ridiculous. I stopped participating after I realized that I wanted to pull my hair out about half way through each survey.

  • Katherine says:

    Synovate is now part of Ipsos I-Say. If you had an account at both survey websites, your point balance for Synovate should have been transferred to I-Say. If it hasn’t been transferred yet, it will be soon! My guess is that if you were only a member of Synovate, and not Ipsos, your Synovate login information should work with the Ipsos website?

    • Karen says:

      I was a member of Synovate and they sent me an email with a new login and password to transfer me to the new site. I hope Ipsos is as good as Synovate was. I have done several product tests and had a great experience with them.

    • flutemom says:

      synovate sent me an email with details of how to change my log-in info for the new company; not a difficult transaction at all.

      i’ve been a member of mysurvey for years and years and…… (long before they changed their name to mysurvey). it’s not as good now as it used to be, though. the surveys aren’t worth nearly as much, and they’ve moved into sweepstakes entries for many of the surveys, but i keep plugging along anyway. i make maybe $20/year with them, tops.

      • Kelly M says:

        I do a ton of surveys. Here’s a link to my old blog that I haven’t updated since 2010. You can take a look. I plan to start updating again this week. Back in 2010/2011, I could easily make $150 a month up to $200 back then. Some of my better survey sites either disappeared or merged with others and don’t pay as well now. I’m trying hard to see what I can get out of it again now, so will be updating again soon with some of the newer sites that pay well.

  • Patti says:

    I agree that there are many legitimate survey sites that pay a fair price, however I have always been concerned about the invasion of privacy when you must answer questions about your household and your personal likes/dislikes/shopping habits. (Even when the survey assures me that it is anonymous.) With that, I’ve chosen not to participate in surveys.

    Regarding the comments that the questions can become repetitive and monotonous … I’d imagine this is a concept from psychological testing. The questions are repeated throughout the test with subtle differences so that the test giver can determine how honest the answers are. If the answers are mostly inconsistent, then they know that the person taking the test was likely trying to manipulate the answers. I’d imagine that this is very important for legitimate surveys.

    I’m enjoying your series of 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash! Great possibilities.

  • Wendy says:

    As others mentioned, Synovate has changed recently. I’m not sure about how my experience will be with the new company. I’ve been sent 2 surveys so far and the points seem much lower than when it was Synovate (90 points vs 500 points minimun in the past.)

    I had been a member of Synovate for about 2 yrs and only earned $20 and the only free items I got was canned cat food.

    • Rachel says:

      I signed up with 4 different survey groups at the beginning of this year when our 3rd child was born and we needed cash but I had no plans in getting back in the work force.

      I took what felt like hundreds of surveys and have yet to have built enough for any cash payment.
      I was pretty disappointed in the progress and how time consuming it was.
      Not only time consuming taking the surveys, but trying to qualify for what surveys they said I could take. Many times I answered lots of questions to only be told I didn’t qualify for that particular survey.

      And with a household to run and 3 small children…I don’t have time to be locked to the computer taking or trying to take surveys and earn penny’s.

      • This was my experience with surveys as well. I enjoyed doing the Pinecone surveys for $5, but then they dropped the payment and the surveys seemed to get longer.

        I also signed up for a bunch of other sites, but I felt like all I was doing was spending lots of time filling out screeners and never getting to paid surveys. I know a lot of people earn decent spending money taking surveys but I could never get it to work for me. 🙁

        • JP says:

          Rachel & Maryalene – these are good insights. It’s always helpful to know if you’re time put in gives you the output you want. It sounds like for both of you the effort wasn’t worth it.

          A few of the other options Crystal has mentioned in this series may be a better fit for you:
          – Get Paid Without Changing Your Lifestyle Swag Bucks (Day 2), Super Points (Day 3)
          – Work When You Want (time flexibility) – become a virtual call center agent (Day 5)
          – Find Cash In Your House – sell your used books (Day 9)

          Scroll to the bottom of Crystal’s post and you can find a full list of her articles from this series (assuming you haven’t been reading all along – which you may have been!)

        • Rachel says:

          Maryalene, exactly! Although I know zero people who have tried their hand at it but I’ve read so many articles in which people are doing it I thought I would do it also. I was faithful, everyday doing all they had for me, letting them search all available for me, for about 4 months. And when my totals only were sitting at $3.00(and I couldn’t request pay out at that small of an amount), some a little less, some slightly more for all the hours I had spent….that was enough for me to say, good bye. :-/

  • Corrie says:

    I really like Zoom Panel. They have lots of surveys and I have earned around 75 this year.

  • Jen says:

    I also use Harris Poll, e-Rewards, and Clear Voice Surveys. MySurvey has gotten very chintzy on the points lately and seems to be rewarding more with sweeps entries. I’m considering letting them fall to the wayside.

  • Jennifer says:

    I spend months taking Synovate surveys –basically all summer long up to an hour per day and never was compensated for anything. Not even a free roll of toilet paper to try –LOL! I had heard it was a good company so I really tried to stick it out, but I finally cut my losses and moved on.

  • Sarah says:

    Since Synovate has changed to Ipsos, I have been getting less surveys. If you don’t qualify for the survey you only get 5 points instead of 100. Also, at least 2 of the surveys I was sent weren’t for points just to be entered into a sweepstakes. I plan to just hit the next point level for cashing out and then quitting. I don’t think Ipsos is worth it.

    • Sarah G. says:

      Perhaps the point levels for payout are different than what you are used to? For Ipsos, 100 points is equal to $10, so that’s not really something you would get for a screen out. 🙂 I’ve been with Ipsos for a few years now, and I think they are one of the best. I get great surveys, a nice amount of points, and have been able to get close to $300 for my trouble. 🙂
      I would stick with it for awhile, just to get the hang of the new point values and how Ipsos works.

      • Sarah G. says:

        Ooooops, I’m sorry! Now I feel dumb. 😛 1000 points is $10. Heh. 100 is still not what I would expect for a 1 minute screen out, though.

        • It’s true the values changed; however, now every gift card for around $10 that I would use is “temporarily out of stock.” How is is that they are all gone? I think they’d rather you just donate the money for now than take the $10 gift card.

  • Karen says:

    I do Pinecone surveys due to their quick payment and no-points hassle but Julie’s right, it can get very monotonous!

    Just want to comment that this 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash is a FANTASTIC series, Crystal! Kudos and thanks!!

  • Sarah says:

    I think it would be best to only sign up for one or two companies to start. If you do more than that it can take a really long time to hit a payout and you might get impatient with survey taking before you get your payout on anything. My favorite is probably opinion outpost, although mysurvey has also worked well. Survey Savvy and Campus fundraiser have not worked as well for me.

  • Jennifer Ullrich says:

    In addition to the ones you mentioned, I also am a member of This site gives you $5 for joining and pays you for reading emails, taking surveys, and shopping (limited however). I have been a member for about three years and usually have between $40 and $60 at Christmas time to cash out – this is without much shopping as money has been very tight and online shopping has been too much of a luxury.

    • Mary H says:

      I would very strongly discourage anyone from joining InboxDollars. There were a significant amount of posts the last time it was mentioned and quite a few people (including myself) had horrendous problems with them.

      Please check out post before deciding. There is a reason that Crystal removed them from the list of recommended survey companies.

      • Viktoria says:

        My apologies Mary. I did a better search into your link about InboxDollars. I can understand the frustration some former members have had. Its an “okay” program and a time waster for random bouts of boredom. I have gotten to try some interesting products for way less than the retail “as seen on tv” prices, for example, just to earn the payout.

        On your link someone posted that the “check processing fee” was $2 and I recall my payout before the one I just recently requested (just this past week, actually) was $2 but it has been raised to $3. That’s a lot of 2 cent emails! Sigh.

  • margie says:

    I love pinecone research! I get to do about 1 survey a week but that is enough for my splurge coffee I get out once a week from our local coffee house. My teen age daugther is now doing surveys for them as well- probably 2 a month come through for teens. We love it.

  • Emily M says:

    Since March of this year I have made $60 a month cash (they pay instantly via Paypal at $10 threshold) from Opinion Outpost. I have done great with surveys this year, but definitely only recommend signing up with a few because a lot of the companies do the same surveys and you can only get compensated once. I primarily do Opinion Outpost (don’t wait for invites, click on the take a survey button on the site), Mysurvey, and Surveyhead and Mommytalk. They all pay cash which is my preference.

    • Dineen says:

      I agree with this about not signing up for too many. Opinion Outpost just sent a notice about the reason for many failures is because the survey was taken through another means such as another survey company. I love that Opinion Outpost pays through Paypal now so quickly with the 100 point ($10 threshhold). As Emily said, don’t wait for invites, especially if you only check your email once a day. I’ve found that invites that arrive in the morning have often already met their quota. I go ahead and have my one survey company come in through my regular inbox.
      MyPoints I don’t consider a survey opportunity as it’s click-throughs. I set it up to be routed to a separate folder and skip the inbox. I check it once a week or so to click on the points opportunities. Not all mailings offer points unless you sign up for an offer, so I don’t click on all of them.

  • michelle says:

    I agree with some of the comments about Synovate changing into Ipsos-I-Say. It has been a VERY disappointing change. I had a good experience with Synovate, but with Ipsos, I completed a whole 20 minute survey, but was then told I did not qualify to take the survey (what? just did…) and was given only 5 points. I basically wasted my time for them and gave them the entire survey for free. Very frustrating and have also gotten surveys offered for only sweepstakes entry pay and refuse to do those. Guess I will look for other options.

  • I have tried out a few companies (but there are a lot on your list I have not tried yet) So far my favorites on your list are Mysurvey and Mypoints. I don’t get into a lot of Mysurvey survey’s but I still manage to earn a $10 i-tunes card every other month. I use the card to put movies on my i-touch for long road trips and also to purchase educational apps. we use in our homeschooling day. My points is slower going, I earn more points through shopping on line than surveys, but they support my Starbucks and Panera habit.

  • Rose says:

    HELP!! Toluna will not go through for me : ( I fill in all they ask for and when I click join, it goes nowhere : (

  • Rachel Hill says:

    I’ve never done any surveys, so as I’m signing up I feel a little weird about giving my birthday (and the birthdays of my children/spouse) to these companies. Does anyone else have qualms about it?

  • One of my favorites is Dollar Surveys. They were always fun to watch/read/listen to, and payment was prompt via PayPal.

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