Paid Survey Site Guide

This is our guide to paid survey sites, also called, consumer panels or online opinion panels. This guide aims to explain what such sites are, how they work (including best practice when completing the surveys), which types of survey site to avoid, and what criteria we use to we rate them with on The Cashback Express. Do take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with this guide, especially if you are new to paid survey sites and are not really sure if they really do what they say they do, particularly when unfortunately there are some scam sites around and also some sites that will ask you to pay for a lot of the information that is freely available to you such as in The Cashback Express.

What is a Paid Survey Site?

A paid survey site is an online opinion panel which conducts market research and gathers data, information and opinion from its registered panel of users in order to help business, government and other agencies improve their products and services, and get a better understanding of public opinion and what consumers want now and in the future. Such consumer panels are free to join and they usually (but not always) offer a variety of rewards to their members who fully complete the online surveys that they send them with honest answers. Such rewards can be in the form of cash payments, points (exchangeable for cash or other gifts at certain point levels) , entries into regular survey site prize draws to win cash or prizes, or donations to charity. You could be rewarded with vouchers to online retailers or well known high street shops, or you could receive a cheque in the post with your accumulated cash rewards received for regular participation in paid surveys.

These online opinion panels are able to reward you as they receive payment from the party who are requesting the research to be done. Obviously if you are giving your valuable time and opinion in order to help improve future products or services then it seems only fair that some of this payment is shared with you in some way. Given the increasing value and popularity of online research and online consumer panels, there are a large number of paid survey sites around and as such sadly there are also some sites that seek to take advantage of this and you through some online scams, which we hope to try to alert you to here.

How Paid Survey Sites Work

Once you have chosen a paid survey site you wish to work with, perhaps after reading some of our reviews, you have to complete an online registration form, which can sometimes be quite lengthy. Such sites obviously need quite a lot of demographic information from you in order to send you relevant paid surveys. Often too you will be required to complete one or a number of profiling surveys which seek to gather some basic information about such things as you, your household, your lifestyle, your likes and interests. All of these profiles should be completed as soon as you can as they are basically crucial to the survey site so that it send you surveys which are tailored to people like you. For example, there is no point a survey site sending out a survey about gardening and garden tools to you if you haven't got a garden!

When registering you must always use your real details as these are needed to reward you and the profiles should be completed honestly and as fully as possible. You will also probably have to confirm your registration in some way, perhaps by clicking a link in an email before you will be able to start receiving paid survey invitations.

Once you have registered with a site it is basically a question of patience until you start receiving survey invites. Such invites are normally sent to your email so you are advised to check it regularly if you are keen to give your opinion and participate often in such online surveys. What will usually happen is you will receive an email with a link to the survey. Upon clicking that link you will be taken to what is known as the screening part of the survey. This is normally a few questions aimed at filtering out those who do not have the required profile to complete the full survey. If this happens to you, don't worry, as it is a common occurrence. Some survey sites may reward you with a prize draw entry or a few points for taking the time to respond to the email, others will not.

If your answers mean that you qualify to complete the full survey then you will taken to the questions. A full survey can take anything from 5 mintues to perhaps over half an hour to finish. Most surveys, however, average between 10 and 20 minutes. Once you have given your opinions and finsihed the survey you should be rewarded for your time and effort, although sometimes rewards are delayed whilst your responses are checked for integrity and completeness.

Many survey sites, but not all, require that you accumulate rewards before you are able to use them. For example some paid survey sites will pay you cash once your account balance reaches a certain level or you can only request your vouchers once you have accumulated enough points in your account. Nevertheless, giving your opinion and being rewarded for it is an interesting and fulfilling experience and receiving the rewards can be very satisfying! If you have the time to spare a few moments and enjoy giving your ideas and views on a range of subjects then paid survey sites are a good way to earn a little bit of extra cash or obtain some free vouchers or other gifts for doing so.

Finally, there are some types of "survey" that pay larger amounts because they take up more of your time and effort. There are online focus groups which involve an online debate over a period of an hour or more where you have to actively participat ein order to qualify for the reward. Some sites also offer you the option of trialling test products (and usually keeping them) which can certainly be fun! Some sites also ask if you would be happy to receive telephone interviews for which you are paid more. There is also occasionally the option to attend an offline focus group in a specified location and at a certain time where you take part in active discussions and give your opinions on new ideas and products.

Best Practice When Completing Paid Surveys

One - Quite simply you should always give an honest and full answer to any question. The research being conducted is important and in order to maintain the integrity of such online panels the research needs to be useful and accurate. You may not receive your rewards if you poorly complete a survey sent to you and you could possibly forfeit rewards already attained on the survey site.

Two - Don't expect to become rich completing these surveys. You may make a few extra pounds, euros or dollars for your time, but they are not big money earners. Working with paid survey sites is about giving your important opinions first and being rewarded second.

Three - If you join a lot fo survey sites then you may find yourself inundated with paid survey invitations. You have two options. Either only join those sites which genuinely interest you, or, set yourself a limit of numbers of surveys to complete. You are supposed to enjoy the experience but if you allow yourself to spend hours completing numerous surveys you will find your responses becoming a lot poorer, you may feel you are wasting your time, and you could become dissatisifed with the whole thing. You choose which surveys to complete, but only do it when you have the free time and are feeling happy and enthusiastic to do so.

Four - Enjoy the experience, the questions and, where appropriate, the rewards!

What Types of Survey Site to Avoid

There are many survey sites available today and you should try to be a little selective in which ones you choose to participate in, although we have to admit we are members of a lot because we enjoy taking part in the surveys so much! It depends on your time and your personality. This is a short section to make you aware, however, that there are some websites that may try to scam you by playing on your desire to earn "easy" rewards for answering a few questions. If you come across a survey site you should always have a good look at it first to see if it appears professional and genuine. A good website design, good navigation, clear terms and conditions, and reasonable rewards are usually good indicators that it is a genuine paid survey site. Remember there is no such thing as free money and you are very unlikely to become rich using these sites as most surveys pay small rewards and each site will usually only send out a few invitations each month. So any website claiming that you can make large amounts of cash per hour is one to be very wary of and check thoroughly before giving out your personal details. Our motto is if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Ultimately you will decide whether something is believable or not but at least do some good research on the website first!

Remember also that paid survey websites are FREE to join and you should certainly never have to pay to take part in online surveys or receive any rewards.

How do we Rate Paid Survey Sites?

Our aim is to inform you of our experience of what we consider to be some of the best paid survey websites and online consumer opinion panels on the net that reward you for giving your opinion. We have been using survey sites for over three years and are members of a good number of online panels. There are lots of criteria we can use to assess whether a survey site is a good one or not and we list some of them below:

One - One of the main considerations when looking at joining an online survey site or opinion panel is to get a good idea of its professionalism. This can be demonstrated in a number of ways, such as good website design and clear and comprehensive site content. We would expect the site to explain its purpose, how it conducts its research and how it rewards its panelists for taking part in its online surveys. It is important that any survey site also has a stated privacy policy and terms and conditions. All of these things help to establish that the site is both genuine and active and will do what it states it will do.

Two - Obviously we all have an opinion and we like to express it, however our time is also precious and there are only 24 hours in any one day. It seems only fair that survey sites seek to reward their panelists in some way for the time and honest effort they put in to competing their surveys. Honest effort on your part is very important and you should always take time over the surveys you complete as such research is important. At the same time paid survey sites should appreciate the time and thgouth that their users put into participating in their programs and we feel they should reward them fairly. We consider fairer rewards to be those that are earned per survey rather than those that are accumulated as prize draw entries for example. It is not to say that prize draw entries lack value, as they do not especially when you win one of those draws, however, overall, we would say that rewards per survey are a better incentive to take part in sites where you can express your valuable opinions. In our opinion too it is important that you can access any rewards you have earned in a reasonable amount of time, rather than have to wait years before you see any benefits of being a keen member of such sites.

Three - Thirdly a paid survey site should make it clear (or give you the choice) as to how many surveys you may be expected to receive each month. The better survey sites will also recompense you with something even if you are screened out and not required to complete the full survey, for your enthusiasm and willingness to take part in the first place.

Four - Finally the surveys that a site sends you should be clear, concise and easy to complete. They should avoid complicated questions and there should be an opportunity in some surveys, where relevant, where you can freely express your opinion without being restricted to yes an dno answers for example. At the same time any of the better surveys should not require you to spend large amounts of time answering questions in freehand when short answers or multiple choice selections would make more sense.

Ultimately it will be your use of these sites which will lead you to choosing which ones you prefer and which ones you avoid. You will probably find yourself enthusiastically completing surveys from one site for your own reasons, and perhaps cancelling your membership of another site because you do not like how the surveys are presented for example. Either way it is your choice. You decide which surveys you complete and which sites you remain a member of. What is important though as we have stated already is that you do give an honest appraisal of your opinions and take your time on surveys that require it. If survey sites are abused they will not be around for long.

As you can see, we hope that our reviews are quite comprehensive and that you can have confidence in them. All are based on experience of using survey sites for over six years. In the end though it is your decision of course which site you are happiest using and we hope that you enjoy giving your opinion and getting rewarded for it!

By the way - always read each sites terms and conditions and privacy policy - so that you are fully aware of what is required of you and what happens to the information you provide about yourself.

Paid Survey Sites in your Country

Please find below links to survey site reviews in your country:

United Kingdom flag UK paid survey sites

American flag US paid survey sites

Australian flag Australian paid surveys

Canadian flag Canadian paid surveys

EU flag European paid survey sites

Irish flag Irish paid surveys

New Zealand flag New Zealand paid surveys

If where you live is not yet listed above, please check back, as we are regularly updating our reviews and adding more survey sites and locations.