Basically, from the beginning of Millennial Money Man I’ve been talking about taking online surveys for money because it’s something I know a lot of people do or are interested in doing. Everyone wants to make some extra money on the side, right? I also truly believe that finding opportunities to make some extra money is the best way to pay off debt and make strides towards retirement.
But instead of giving you another post about how great online surveys are, I want to give you my honest opinion on whether or not taking surveys for money is actually worth it. As in – does it have side hustle potential? Because, yes, you can make money from surveys, and they definitely offer flexibility.
… you can take online surveys while watching a docu-series about serial killers on Netflix.
… you can take online surveys while standing in a really long line at the DMV.
… you can take online surveys while sitting at your nephew’s band concert (but you shouldn't, because that would be wrong).
And while all of that might sound great, here’s the real deal about taking surveys for money… they’re just not the best in terms of side hustle potential.
My markers for side hustle potential are:
- Scalable income.
- Possibility to one day leave your day job to pursue full time.
- Can be done outside of “normal” business hours.
Besides the third point, taking online surveys really falls short. But should you avoid them altogether? I’m going to let you decide on that one.
Is completing online surveys for money worth it?
Finding legit survey companies vs. scams
The first thing you need to learn is the difference between survey companies that are 100% legit and ones that are complete scams. I know this because I spent some time in college trying out online surveys and I just got spammed with a bunch of junk because I wasn’t using the right companies.
The ones I’ve talked about on M$M are all completely legit – my goal has always been to only tell you about products/services/companies that can actually help you. Here’s my review and recommendation for reputable survey companies.
I’d say that before you try any survey companies out, Google something like “honest review of [name of company]” or just get straight to it with “is [name of company] a scam.”
How much money will you make taking online surveys?
I’ve seen survey sites advertise that you can make $5-$15 per hour doing online surveys, some even saying you can make upwards of $35 per hour. That $5 per hour? Forget it. Your time is worth way more than that.
However, the reality with these surveys, and you’ll see why as you read on, is that you are more likely to make much, much less than any of those amounts. An article from Student Loan Hero found that most people who take surveys for money were only earning in the $1-$2 range.
Yes, that is $1-$2 per hour.
In terms of side hustle potential – scalability and one day being able to leave your regular job – this is no bueno.
Then how do they advertise a much higher earning potential?
I know that’s where your mind is going, and a good question.
The way these survey companies work, and I’m still talking legit ones, is by connecting you to the right surveys, the surveys you qualify for. Because you’re basically part of a company’s market research, you need to fit in the market they’re trying to hit. There are going to be some screening questions that filter appropriate surveys your way, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll be a perfect match.
So, you start taking the survey, get five minutes or more into a series of questions, and then they might disqualify you. You still may earn something for that initial time investment, but it will be hardly anything. You’re not going to recoup that time you lost, and to do another survey you have to start all over, potentially being disqualified again.
This isn’t a scam. This is just trying to be matched with the right survey – the one you might make $15 taking – and that’s going to take time. All the time you’ve put into finding that the survey needs to be factored into your per hour cost.
And that’s one of the problems with trying to complete surveys for money, a lot of your time is spent just trying to find a survey that will actually make you some money.
Taking surveys for money doesn’t always earn you real money
Many survey companies pay you in points instead of real cash. Those points can be used to redeem cash, gift cards, merch, etc., but it’s not like you get a check at the end of the week for your hours worked. There can also be a minimum you must earn before getting a payout.
Swagbucks is a popular and legit company that pays in what they call SB. You take a survey, earn some SB, and redeem it. But, it might take something like 500 SB to claim a $5 Amazon gift card.
This might sound harsh, but this feels a little like the Chuck E. Cheese model. You win 50 tickets dunking baskets, then another 200 tickets playing that weird game where the light goes around in a circle. 10-year-old you are like “I’m totally going to get that Sega!” But when you get up to the ticket counter you'll realize you actually need two million tickets for the Sega.
There honestly isn’t anything wrong with this way of earning points or money, but it might not be what you expected.
Taking surveys for money is NOT fast cash
If you do want to cash out your earnings, or if you’ve found a company that does pay in cash, it can take up to a month to receive your pay.
If you really need fast cash, here are three other things you could do right now:
- Yardwork – mow grass, shovel snow, rake leaves.
- List and sell something on the Facebook marketplace – appliances, gym equipment, clothes, electronics, etc.
- Check out the “gigs” section on Craigslist – You might move furniture, hang drywall, or clean a house.
Not all side hustles are going to be fast cash, but waiting 30 days for a $5 check is a little overkill.
Online surveys can take up too much of your time for what they pay
Like I mentioned earlier, one of the markers for a good side hustle is that you can do them outside of your normal business hours, and let’s say you have an additional five hours per day to take online surveys for money.
If your five hours are going to pay just that $2 per hour I mentioned above, $10 is what you’re earning per day. Assuming you do it at least five days a week, every week for a month, that’s $200 a month. Sure, that’s not horrible…
… but you’ve just earned $200 for 100 hours worth of work.
If you did end up matching with a lot of surveys, your earnings could like more like this:
Earning $5 per hour and making $500 per month.
Earning $10 per hour and making $1,000 per month…
An extra $1,000 a month doesn’t sound bad
You’re right, it doesn’t. But remember that’s from working an extra 100 hundred hours per month if you’re taking surveys for money.
There are so many better options!
Running Facebook ads for local business can earn you $1,000 per month in just an extra 8-12 hours per week, and it’s something you can grow by adding more clients. This is exactly what I did after leaving my teaching job to blog full time, and now I teach others how to do the same.
M$M tip: If you’re interested in learning more about running Facebook ads for local businesses, something that has a real earnings potential, check out my Facebook Side Hustle Course page.
Other, better than online survey, side hustle options include:
- Pet sitting
- Flipping furniture
- And more!
I’d say that any type of side gig, whether you start earning $1,000 per month or not, is about understanding that your time is an investment. When you’re taking online surveys for the money you’re not investing in a sustainable income source. You’re not going to grow in that job. Occasionally qualifying for a $35 per hour survey here and there is about as good as it’s going to get.
Is taking online surveys for money ever a good idea?
If you feel like I just poo-pooed all over your next idea for making money, I’m sorry. There are still some situations when taking surveys for money might not be an awful idea. It’s really about knowing the limitations you have for earning, the sheer amount of time it will take to earn a decent amount of cash, and that you might not actually earn cash.
As long you understand all of those things… then onward… take surveys!
I’ve seen online surveys advertised as “mindless money,” meaning it doesn’t take much brain power to earn from them, and that’s true. Surveys are good when you really just need a mindless activity that might also earn you money. So, the next time you find yourself playing Candy Crush on your phone while watching a movie with boo, take a survey instead.