Making money with online surveys is an incredibly old online money making method.
Whether you love them or hate them, online surveys are a massive industry.
There are dozens of websites and communities dedicated to the world of GPT (get paid to) websites, many of which have been paying members for years.
However, despite the fact that we should all know by now that online surveys don’t pay that well, it still seems like each year, there’s some new survey signup bonus or offer that’s pushed hard by bloggers and finance sites alike.
Honestly, this is how This Online World started.
However, no matter how much I’ll cherish the fond memory of running an ad-fraud lab in my college bedroom, there comes a point where you have to call a spade a spade, as they say.
But, after a recent experiment I ran, I really can’t stand by the world of online surveys in 2020 as a viable means to make extra money. In my mind, the world of beermoney is just that: a means to earn more beermoney.
Unless unique health conditions or other circumstances leave you without any other option, please, don’t answer online surveys for money ever again.
Time to walk you guys through my 10 hours of hell and some of the realizations I made along the way!
I also want to give some viable alternatives to highlight some better uses of your time besides survey sites.
Let’s get to it!
Answering Online Surveys For 10 Hours – My Experiment
As some of you know, I recently started a YouTube channel (check it out for some silly and educational content 😀 ).
In the name of science, I decided to find out if online surveys are worth it by answering them for 10 hours straight.
Now, I wasn’t expecting to earn that much, if anything…Spoiler, I earned $15.90 during this entire experiment.
However, I wanted to give online surveys a fair chance and treat this like an actual experiment.
Therefore, I outlined a few simple rules and testing parameters:
Rule 1 – I was going to use Swagbucks, Grindabuck, and InboxDollars to make money with surveys. I chose these particular sites because they are fairly well known and offer signup bonuses to attract new users.
Those were the only rules.
I still ate meals during this time, and I took a 15 minute break at one point to give my eyes a rest.
This was meant to reflect what a day of survey work would provide and to answer the question “are online surveys worth it?”
Let’s quickly break down some unique points about each platform, the problems with the survey industry as a whole, and where you can spend your time instead.
Starting The Morning – Is Swagbucks Legit?
I started my experiment with Swagbucks, and quickly realized that while this survey website was great for phone farming in the past, it is absolutely terrible for answering surveys.
As you can see in the picture below, I have earned about $50 from using this Swagbucks account. Almost all of this was from phone farming:
However, my effort to answer surveys for money was futile.
Surveys either disqualified me halfway through or simply didn’t pay a solid hourly rate to even be worth it (there were tonnes of 20SB surveys, or $0.20, with estimated times of 30 minutes).
After getting banned from one of the survey providers for no reason, I decided to hop over to my old favorite: Grindabuck.
The Next Few Hours – Is Grindabuck Legit?
Now Grindabuck will always be one of my favorite GPT sites since I’ve made decent money from the passive income section over the years:
Now, right off the bat it was clear that my Swagbucks survey disqualification carried over to the same survey company on Grindabuck. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t access some of the highest paying survey offers.
Regardless, answering surveys on Grindabuck was equaling about $0.80 per hour for me after a few hours of practice.
Now, I know that people make better money than $0.80 per hour on Grindabuck. In fact, the monthly leaderboard shows a handful of people with some decent earnings (for a GPT site) within the first week of the month:
So yes, if you sink time into Grindabuck, you can make make $100-$200 a month potentially. In this sense, Grindabuck is legit.
But are online surveys worth it?
I still don’t think so, and I’ll explain why after tearing InboxDollars apart quickly.
Ending The Day – Is InboxDollars Legit?
InboxDollars is not legit. This is by far the worst GPT website I have ever seen.
YOU NEED $30 TO CASH OUT:
This survey website just throws money at you right out of the gate…a $5 signup bonus here, a $2 credit there.
Ultimately, InboxDollars knows that most users will never come close to the $30 threshold as that would take weeks of answering surveys for cash. Not ideal.
Grindabuck lets you cash out at $10 and eventually $5 and $1 as you level up. In contrast, a $30 cash out threshold is an absolute scam.
Never use InboxDollars.
Extra Reading – The Best Survey Sites That Pay Cash Instantly.
The Crux Of The Issue – Why Online Surveys Are NOT Worth It
Even if you can find a steady survey website that pays a few dollars per hour and lets you cash out, the survey industry has a much larger problem that doesn’t make answering surveys worth it.
The opportunity cost of answering surveys for money is simply too high for the rewards to be worth it.
Opportunity cost is “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”
In other words, it’s what you give up whenever you decide to spend time/resources on something.
If you spend time answering surveys for money, you aren’t making money for free. You’re actually exchanging your time.
This is valuable time that could be spent on money making alternatives, which I’ll get into a bit.
Or, if you answer surveys during your leisure time, such as when you watch TV, I think it still detracts from your overall enjoyment since it’s sometimes nice to just be in the moment and not multitask everything.
Even worse, your earning potential is incredibly low for survey websites. Once you get the hang of a survey website, you’ll reach the hourly earning cap rather quickly.
If you look at starting a blog, it’s similar in that the pay is horrendous (or non existent) at the start. However, the earning potential and educational benefit is much higher.
So, in short, online surveys are not worth it.
The pay is terrible, and the opportunity cost is simply too high.
So, if you’re looking for some viable alternatives, here are a few options to make money without wasting your precious time.
Immediate Alternatives To Answering Online Surveys For Money
Of course, the second I posted my survey experiment video to Reddit, I had some backlash and advice from survey/GPT pros:
I got a similar comment on my YouTube video as well:
Prolific states it pays $6.50 an hour. As for MTurk, most workers don’t earn much. However, if you learn how to optimize your workflow, you can earn a similar amount as Prolific or more.
So, these two sites are immediate alternatives to answering surveys for money.
However, I’m still not a huge fan of them.
If you cannot physically work or you are about to starve, these sites are options you can turn to. Otherwise, I don’t suggest spending time on them.
Long-Term Alternatives To Answering Surveys
If you need to immediately boost your monthly income and are physically able, I am convinced that gig economy jobs are more viable.
If you live in a remote area or country where the gig economy is less viable, part-time jobs work too. Alternatively, investing time into learning a method to make money online might have more long-term benefit.
Finally, you can always invest in your education.
There are tonnes of free resources out there to learn skills like digital marketing, graphic design, or programming for a few examples.
Alternatively, websites like Udemy usually offer courses for around $15.
Even if you don’t boost your income immediately, these options are all way more viable. I mean, my friend supported himself in downtown Toronto just by biking around for DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Again, I understand that if you can’t physically work and are in desperate need of cash, answering surveys online might seem like the only viable option.
However, I can’t suggest online surveys as a long-term side hustle.
The opportunity cost of working on survey websites is simply too high. Gig jobs, learning other ways to make money online, or investing in your education with free/cheap courses are way more valuable for your future self.
GPT sites will always have a fond place in my heart because of phone farming and the extra college beermoney I was able to enjoy.
But, as I said, sometimes you have to call a spade a spade…online surveys are not worth it. The world simply has too much opportunity out there for this to be a long-term play.
If times are tough, hang in there.
Do what you need to do right now to keep food on the table and a roof over your head.
However, please don’t turn to online surveys as a long-term play if you can avoid it. This is easy money, but the opportunity cost is incredibly high.
I hope you guys enjoyed this little 10 hour experiment. It was definitely a long day, but I’m happy I tested out a few websites and now realize just how brutal the world of online surveys is.
Catch you guys in the next one 🙂
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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