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Paid online surveys... are they real or is it all a big lie?

I know it can be hard and frustrating to find paid online surveys that are legitimate.

That's why I'm here, to help you look behind the curtain and to share with you the total truth about "free" online surveys...

I will share with you my experiences with finding and making money with online surveys and how to avoid scams completely.

But for those of you who simply can't wait for the good stuff,

(and that's ok!)

here is my list of legitimate paid online survey companies.

Simply apply to these companies and you can get started right away!

But if you have a little time, come back to this page or simply stick around to get a little whiff of my experiences with paid online surveys, the good, the bad and the ugly... as well as some tips that might help you to find the companies that are gems in the free online survey universe!

Tip # 1

You should never have to pay to take a "free" online survey.

Please don't get sucked in by any advertisements on the internet or in your email inbox telling you that only they have the super secret inside groove on where to find the best paid online surveys and they will be glad to give you this list of survey companies....

for a small fee of course.

You should never, ever have to pay to either complete a survey or get a list of legitimate survey companies.

 With a little online research, you can find these companies for free.

 However, to save you a little time, I have a list of these online survey companies on this page....

but it really is a free list.  Promise.

Tip # 2 

Obtain a free email account that can specifically be set aside for all of your paid online survey invitations

We have all been trained, I hope (and rightfully so) to ignore those emails that we receive in our inbox that offer us money to compare Chili's and Applebee's or McDonald's and Burger King.

And with reason. 

Those emails are perfect examples of a scam. 

The bottom line is, that you will not get an invitation to complete a paid online survey via email unless you have applied to or have signed up with the company in question.

So unless you signed up to receive email invitations from the companies that are sending you emails, simply ignore them and that will largely cut down the chances of getting caught up in a scam.

Case in point, I signed up years ago with a market research/survey company named 20/20 Research and they will send me email invitations to complete paid online surveys from time to time . 

  However, I know that they are a legitimate company because I have been paid by them before and I trust them.

So, how do I make sure emails from this company don't get relegated to my spam or junk folder?


I opened up a free email account and whenever I apply to a legitimate survey company, I apply with this free email account so that I can keep all of my invites in one place.

That way, when I get an email invitation into any of my other email inboxes to complete a paid online survey, I simply ignore it. 

Makes life simple.

You can open a free email account with any of the following:

Tip# 3

Not all paid online surveys are worth their weight in gold.

We all know that for the most part, survey companies that advertise that they pay hundreds of dollars to complete a survey are complete scams.

Most of the companies that are legitimate pay pennies for your time (at least to start).

Companies like Survey Spot, LightSpeed and Global Test Market are fantastic paid online survey companies and best of all, they are the real deal.


They don't pay a lot of money.  That is the truth.

But did any of us really expect that surveys would pay well?

I might recommend that completing paid online surveys be done as a hobby or when you have extra time on your hand, such as, in line at the bank, at the airport or a lazy afternoon at home.

Please don't expect to make a steady income from this type of work, you'll just frustrate yourself and waste your time.

Now, that is not to say that you can't make any money at all with these companies. 

In fact, of the three companies I have listed above, Survey Spot has paid me the most.. ($60) but all three have paid me at least $25-$30 each .

So they are the real deal but the truth is that they are low paying.

The trick is to start with the low paying surveys to start and then if you do a good job with these surveys, you may be offered $5 and $10 surveys, perhaps even more...

While the companies I have listed on this page are legitimate, I have to be honest in telling you that some have frustrated me.

A couple of them

( and you will easily be able to tell which ones I am talking about when you apply, or just contact me and I will tell exactly which ones I am talking about here)

will not pay you in cash for the surveys you complete for them.

Instead, they will pay you in points which you can then redeem to purchase items in their "store".

This irritates me to no end because when I work, I do not want to work so hard and for so long only  to be told that I still do not have enough points to pick up a hot pink cell phone case or a teddy bear that I can pick up at the dollar store.

I would like to be paid in cash so that I can decide what I will spend my hard earned money on, thank you very much!

Now, there are some companies  that pay you in points that you can then convert to cash... (for example, 10,000 points may be converted to $10 in cash) and I don't have a problem with that at all.

It's  the companies that don't allow you to cash out your points that irritate me.

Ok , thank you for letting me vent!

Tip # 4 

Keep in mind that you may not always qualify to complete a survey...

One thing to keep in mind is that before you take a survey, you take what is called a "pre-survey".

This pre-survey is a questionnaire to see if you qualify for the survey.

For example, if a company is looking to do a beverage survey, they will want to know certain things, for example...

Are you the main grocery shopper in the household? 

Do you buy a variety of beverages for your household or only drink water and milk? 

Are there certain beverages that you would never buy? 

Depending on your answers to these types of questions you may either be eliminated from continuing on with the survey or given the green light to continue on with the survey.

Here's a hint... if you never buy beverages for your household and are not open to buying all types of beverages, you may not be asked to continue, just something to keep in mind ;)

One of the more frustrating things with completing paid online surveys is that you won't always qualify. 

After you have done a few, you can sometimes discern whether or not you will qualify just by looking at the topic of the survey.

So, if it is a paid online survey for automobiles  and your husband is the one who really deals with the cars in your household, I would suggest to not even waste your time with it.

Or a better idea might be to get your husband to sign up to complete the survey!

And as you you complete more and more of these pre-questionnaires, you can kind of begin to tell what they are looking for. 

Just be smart and flexible and you would be surprised how far that will
take you in these surveys!

Tip # 5

If you want to make big money, consider signing up with market research companies to join in on focus group surveys.

Ok so by big money I don't mean thousands of dollars but still..focus groups can pay anywhere from $50-$400 plus!

That is big money in my book when you are talking about what is basically a fancy survey.

I love being involved in focus groups because they give me more money for my time. 

Focus groups are mostly done face to face, although I have been involved in online focus groups that have paid me anywhere from $75-$300.

Here is what you can expect:

With a focus group, you will usually be in a room with 5-15 other pre-screened individuals  to talk about a particular product ( although they may not reveal the product until the very end).

For example, when I was recently contacted about participating in a focus group discussing "beverages"  I was pre-screened to make sure I would qualify for the study.

I took a pre-survey over the phone with a live individual basically asking me about my household's beverage consumption. 

It took about 10  minutes...

I was then invited to go downtown to participate in the focus group which would pay $175 for one hour of time. 

Now, factoring the time that it took to drive downtown (one hour round trip)  the time spent waiting in the waiting room and the 10 minute pre- survey, I spent about 2 hours and 40 minutes total on this survey and got paid about $63 per hour ( and I could write off the mileage for tax purposes as well). 

Not bad, right?

But back to the focus group, within this room, there were about 12 women discussing their family's likes and dislikes (within the topic of beverages). 

Juice boxes were brought out and we would discuss our favorite juice boxes for kids...

junk sodas were brought out and we discussed our least favorite junk sodas...

then, brand name sodas were brought out and we discussed some more.... 

The product that we were ultimately testing was brought out and then we
really got down and dirty with the discussion!

Everyone was really engaged and had lots of opinions , which they voiced well and that is the point. 

They are paying you to be opinionated so make sure to speak up so that you can get invited back again and again.

To give you another example of a fun focus group that I was involved in, I was once invited to participate in a 4 week survey that involved... shopping!

This focus group was neat because once a week, I was brought into a fake grocery store

( that the company set up just for the purposes of the survey...unreal right?) 

and I was told to shop as if I was actually buying items for my family during my weekly shopping trip. 

Every week the store would look a little different.  Different items were on sale. 

The aisles were configured differently, the endcaps had different "featured" items.  It was interesting.

I then went to the checkout, they rang up my items and then I went to the back of the store to complete a 15 minute survey, explaining why I bought the items I did, what stood out, answering questions about whether I had noticed a certain display, etc, etc. 

It was interesting to see how my decision making was different from week to week, how my impulse shopping varied and how the bill varied as well!

Just for clarity sake, I did not actually purchase any of the items at the fake grocery store, it was all for the sake of the survey.

It took me about a half hour each time and I got paid about $450.00.   I was able to buy my patio set, (yay!)

Tip #6 

How do you find these focus groups?

Try googling "focus groups" in your city. 

It is always important to try to speak to a live person if you are going to be invloved in focus groups.

Next step is to google the actual focus group that you are researching plus the keyword scam,  for example: 

"Delve+ Dallas+ scam"

That will give you a good idea of what is being said about the company, whether they pay on time, what they promise or if they are a total scam.

Always do your research, it is worth it!

If you are interested in doing online focus groups, try 20/20 Research. 

I love, love love this company.

  In fact, I am scheduled to perform an online focus group with them soon that will pay $200 via a pre paid Visa gift card. 

They are fair, pay well and on time.... I have written a little about them on this page with a link taking you directly to their website.

20/20 Research pretty much is 100% online so don't worry if you never talk to anyone on the phone,  they mostly do everything via email and online message boards.

So, that's what I've got on  paid online surveys! 

  To find the best paid online surveys, try to stick to the companies I have listed on this page for your best results.

However if you know of another legitimate paid online survey company please do share in the comments below!

And if you are looking for extra ways to earn money at home, make sure to check out my page on 14 ways to make a little extra supplemental income here!

Good luck and God bless.

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