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4 best survey websites: These pay real money

You can earn money at home by using your computer to take surveys, but not much money and not very quickly.
Susan J. Walker

It's true, you can earn money from home by taking surveys on the internet, though most people won't earn very much. There are hundreds of survey websites out there for you to choose from. Some pay faster than others. Some take months to pay. Some offer gift cards, some offer participation in sweepstakes, and some only offer you the opportunity to share your opinion.

We've researched survey sites available in the U.S. and come up with several that paid. These sites pay small amounts of money after hours of survey-taking. Those people in ads who support themselves taking surveys are doing something else, for example, earning referral fees by driving internet surfers to sign up for surveys.

Here are the survey websites that paid the most and the fastest.





Here are the survey guidelines we recommend after trying a few dozen survey opportunities and checking their terms and conditions:

- Don't pay to participate in surveys.

- Limit the personal information you share on survey sites. Do not share your social security number. You'll be asked for your birthday repeatedly; substitute an alternate date and use that date consistently. Keep it near your real age, as the survey data recipients are interested in results by age group.

- Avoid buying anything or paying anything to participate while completing the offers on the survey sites. If you do choose to buy something, pay with a credit card, not a debit card, and keep careful track of activity on that account. If you find you've subscribed to a service that you don't want, don't share anything personal with the people that you contact to cancel. Give them the transaction to reverse, not your credit card number.

- Set up a new email address just for use with surveys and offers, rather than using an existing email account. That new account will receive many offers and spam.

- Skip surveys that offer non-cash rewards such as gift cards.

- Skip surveys that track your progress in points rather than dollars and cents. Susan J. Walker

InboxDollars: This site pays you once you rack up $30 and we were able to do that in less than three months. They offer a "spin and win" wheel every time you try a survey that disqualifies you, and once in a while that wheel adds a few cents to your total. If you cash out at $30, they take back $2.50, but if you wait until you've earned $40, they pay the full amount. If you have a little over $40 when you cash out, you get those extra dollars, too, whereas most sites make you take payment in multiples of $50. There's a limit of 25 spins per day on the wheel. There's a referral bonus if you bring people into the site. The surveys usually pay $0.50 each. It's pretty easy to do two or three surveys on most days, and difficult to complete as many as five in a day. Susan J. Walker

SendEarnings: This site is almost the same as InboxDollars though it doesn't have the spin and win wheel. SendEarnings pays you once you rack up $30 and we were able to do that in less than three months. Like InboxDollars, if you cash out at $30, they only pay you $27.50, but if you wait until you've earned $40, they pay the full amount. If you have a little over $40 when you cash out, you get those extra dollars, too, whereas most sites make you take payment in multiples of $50.

This site does not offer quite as many survey opportunities as InboxDollars. It's not hard to do one to three surveys in a typical day. It's not easy to get the site to allow you to complete more than two or three surveys in a day, and there are usually no new surveys added on weekends. During our trial, SendEarnings was quicker to recognize earnings from "offers" entered via the SendEarnings site than most other survey sites, which helped shorten the time to receive payment. Susan J. Walker

PandaResearch: It took us five months to come up with $50 approved on this site. They paid four weeks after we had received approval on the $50. PandaResearch requires you to evaluate each survey or offer that you complete on their site. We attempted hundreds of offers or surveys through the PandaResearch site before completing enough to receive $50.

We received a number of spam emails that were imitating PandaResearch but obviously from someone else. Usually the false emails said we had payments waiting for us, and they came months before we were entitled to anything from Panda; most likely they were from people who would attempt to get our PayPal password and clean out that account. If you choose to pursue surveys and related offers, be wary of parties attempting to get your personal information and steal money from your accounts. Susan J. Walker

We loved the name and made this the first survey site we reviewed and attempted to get to the point of payment. It took us four months to reach the $50 minimum to be paid. Their process for crediting you for completed surveys is very slow, sometimes over 2 months. Their payment process requires you to wait another few weeks for the payment after you've earned credit that was "approved" on their site. On the bright side, they don't have any spammy offers on the site and the surveys are generally worth about $1 each, more than most surveys on other sites. There's nothing on this site that asks you to pay or tries to sell you anything. They do have some surveys that only pay in the form of a sweepstake entry and some short surveys that do not pay. They don't pay for referrals of other people to the site.

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