Can you make money by answering online surveys in the UK? The answer is yes. Will you get rich? The answer is no. Will you get very annoyed? If you’re anything like me – you might. And here’s why.
Almost every “How to make money online” article ever written will tell you about online surveys. It sounds simple, almost magical: companies want you to answer questions about products, services, opinions etc’ – and in return, they’re willing to pay you for your time.
Where do I sign up? Well, I’ll tell you in a minute where to sign up if you really want to – but first, I’ll tell you why most of these survey sites get on my nerves. As in – “One more question about the ‘industry’ I work in, and I’ll smash my mouse to bits” nerves.
And yes, ever since I moved to London, I’ve tried quite a few survey sites. From the big ones to the little ones, from UK-based ones to US-based ones. Some are better. Some are worse. Some are credible. Some are not. And there are better ways to make money (even with some of your hobbies – see these ideas on Becky’s excellent blog)
So here are my top 8 reasons for hating paid survey sites…
1. A “5 Minutes Survey” Usually Takes 20 Minutes
In many ways, this is my fault – I take these surveys very seriously. I answer every “How do you feel about this?” question as if it’s my GP asking. When they ask about things I did in the past 6 months, I open my calendar just to be sure.
But that’s what the companies doing the surveys want, don’t they? Because there’s no way a survey with 30 questions would take 5 minutes, unless you’re answering without thinking. So I happily click the 5 minutes survey, and 30 minutes later, I’m climbing the walls – since there’s no point in stopping NOW, after taking all that time to answer the previous questions…
2. Screening Questions That Take 10 Minutes, Then Fail You
On most survey sites, you need to fill out a registration questionnaire with a lot of details about yourself. That’s acceptable – they need to know who you are and what surveys are a good fit for you.
But THEN… once you start actually answering paid surveys – they ask those questions AGAIN. EVERY. BLOODY. TIME.
What industry are you in? What’s your annual income? Are you married? No – my marital status did NOT change in the 20 minutes it took me to answer the previous survey.
However, the worst part is when the screening-survey takes 10 minutes… and THEN they tell you you’re not a good fit for the ACTUAL survey, and you get paid NOTHING.
There was one morning when I was bored and decided to give this survey thing another go. I tried one survey and wasted 10 minutes on screening questions. OK, I’ll try another one. More screening questions, and again I’m not a good fit. 30 minutes later, I closed my browser furiously and went to play with my cat. (I’m ALWAYS a good fit for my cat, thank God).
3. The Payment Per Survey Is Ludicrous
Some survey sites are better than others with this – but even then, getting £1 for a survey is considered high. £1.5 and they’re really spoiling you. Most often, you’ll get less than a pound.
So you’re spending 30 minutes (for a survey that supposedly should have taken 10) and get paid… £0.50. That means you’re getting paid £1 an hour. Keep it up, and you’ll be the next Jeff Bezos!
4. Instead Of Money, You Get Points/Golden Nuggets/Peanuts
Because the pay-per-survey rate is so ridiculous, some of the websites use a familiar trick – they don’t give you actual money, but points. Or fairy dust particles. Or whatever silly name they have for their currency. Because “500 Magic Beans!” sounds better than £0.75.
Then, once you accumulate enough, you can “exchange” your points for “real” money (or, usually – voucher codes/gift cards). Oh, but NOW those silly magic beans aren’t that impressive anymore – because you need 1,000,000 super-duper-magic-beans if you want a £5 iTunes voucher. Remind me, how many surveys is that?
5. You Need A High Amount To Cash Out
OK, so you sit down and answer survey after survey. You collect 20 pence, and then 70, and finally, you manage to get… £10. Oh but sorry – that’s not good enough. If you want to withdraw your money, there’s a minimum of £30….
Granted, this changes from one survey site to another – some require a £5 minimum, some £20, and I even saw one with £40 – good luck on ever seeing that money. Plus, it’s a way to get you to answer more surveys – “I already wasted so much time, I might as well keep trying to get to £40…” – Please, don’t! Go outside and have a picnic.
And what’s worse – I’ve heard stories of people who, by the time they finally reached the survey site’s minimum – their accounts were cancelled and their earned money was gone forever. Luckily, this didn’t happen to me – but the longer you have to wait for your money, the higher the chance you’ll never see it…
6. Boring Topics
When I first started answering online surveys, I thought it would be cool and interesting. Not only am I going to get paid for my opinions, but I’m also going to “influence” products and services and companies.
And then came the questions about purchasing decisions in IT businesses (Hint: I’m not in the IT business and I don’t make purchasing decisions other than Ketchup or Mustard). Or questions about car parts (I hate cars). Or 40 questions about a single-page ad for a hot sauce (after which I was thrown away from the survey for no reason and without pay).
So it’s 30 minutes of answering boring questions for £0.5. Lovely.
7. They Bomb Your E-mail
Some survey sites insist on sending survey alerts to your e-mail. It makes sense because you would want to know when a new survey is available. However, when 10 new surveys are available every day, and you get 10 different e-mails… that’s no good. (Not to mention that once you click, you find out you’re not a good fit because you live in London and not Manchester. But you KNEW I live in London!)
With one survey site, when I asked to stop the e-mail notifications, my account was immediately shut down (and the money already in it forfeited). You don’t want a stream of e-mails from us? Then you’ll get nothing from us!
I know some say you should open a new e-mail address, dedicated to these survey sites. But then, I have to waste my time checking another e-mail address.
8. By The Time You See An Alert – The Survey Is Over
On the one hand, they send you 10 e-mails a day. On the other hand, they don’t give you enough time to respond to these e-mails.
Sometimes, 5 minutes after an e-mail arrives with a survey invitation, the link already tells me that the survey is over. So I’m supposed to sit in front of the computer 24/7, and click the survey button 3 seconds after it arrives, otherwise I’ll get nothing?
Do You Want To Make Money With Surveys After All?
If you still want to see what all the fuss is about – by all means, go ahead and give it a try. Some people find surveys fun, so getting paid for them – however little – is a nice bonus.
These days, there are only two paid survey services I still use regularly – the first is Google’s Opinion Rewards. It’s an app you install on either your iPhone or Android device, which then sends you (inside the app) short, periodic surveys.
These surveys are mostly based on your location – so for example, questions about the stores you visited. For each short survey (and I do mean short – they’re usually 3-4 questions long), you get paid (usually between £0.06 and £0.25) by credit into your Google Play account – which you can then use to buy apps or digital content.
Another survey site I use regularly is Prolific (read my full review here) – they work with academic researchers from around the world, so the surveys have the potential to be more interesting. Plus, they promise not to kick you out of a survey once you actually start answering it. Check out Prolific here.
And finally, there’s Swagbucks – what can I tell you? Their surveys have annoying screening questions. They pay with confusing “SwagBuck” that you then convert into gift cards. The pay-per-survey is usually very low. And yet, many people do swear by them, and they’ve been around for a long time – so if you’re going to give it all a try, it might as well be with them. Check them out here.