If you want to take online surveys to make some extra income on the side, it makes sense to find the top paid surveys out there, so that you earn as much possible for your efforts.
The world of online surveys is a confusing one; There are plenty of scams, and also lots of opportunities that involve far too much effort for the level of reward on offer.
This article is here to help you unearth the top paid surveys online, and also provides some essential tips for making the best of the time you spend on them. Success with surveys is definitely as much about learning how survey sites work as it is about finding any one particular high-paying site.
Some Places to Find Top Paid Surveys
As we discuss in more detail below, the key to making a consistent side-income from online surveys is to sign up with multiple platforms. You simply cannot count on a single survey site having a sufficiently consistent flow of high paying surveys.
Having said that, there are a few survey sites that particularly stand out at the time of writing:
Prolific is one of the most pleasing places to take online surveys these days. The platform is available in a wide range of countries, which is a plus. Furthermore, as the surveys are for academic research rather than commercial purposes, the subject matter is generally more interesting and less monotonous than you find elsewhere.
In addition, since I first produced a full review of Prolific, the volume of available surveys seems to have picked up noticeably. The rates are fair and payments are in cash amounts rather than mysterious “points.” Prolific certainly deserves a place among today’s top paid surveys.
PopulusLive is one of my personal favourite survey sites and definitely one of the best payers. The site works on the basis of compensating survey participants to the tune of GB£1 ($1.26) for every five minutes of their time.
Even though the platform seems dated in some ways, it gets the basics right. If you’re “screened out” of a survey it happens at a stage where you’ve not already invested a bunch of time. Payments are by check, with a high threshold, but they are completely reliable.
There’s a full review of Populus Live here. The downside of this opportunity is that (for now), it’s UK only.
SwagBucks is a very different beast to PopulusLive. As our detailed review explains, it’s an enormous survey website with all kinds of different ways to earn money.
It definitely wins a place on this top paid surveys list. When Hannah looked into SwagBucks surveys, she had little doubt that earning several hundred Dollars annually was feasible from the various opportunities on the site. You could probably make more by really “going for it,” and the fact that some activities on the site are rather “gamified” could make this appealing to some.
Where to Find “Hidden” Survey Opportunities
Some of the most lucrative survey opportunities don’t come from the mainstream survey websites.
Often companies give incentives to customers for providing feedback on new products. For example, I quit smoking this year and switched to a “heat not burn” vaping product, and have kept up a steady stream of free Amazon gift cards by completing regular satisfaction surveys. I’ve had similar opportunities related to providing feedback on software products.
Companies are so keen to seek feedback that we tend to become blind to the endless survey requests. However, there are often some good opportunities hidden away among the pointless surveys and the ones that only win you entry to a prize draw. As such, it’s worth a glance to see if any offer genuine rewards. These can sometimes prove to be the top paid surveys of all.
Tips for Maximising Survey Income
As we said at the start, making good money from surveys is as much about tactics as about finding the right sites. Next, we share some of the most important strategies to ensure you actually find your way to the top paid surveys and don’t waste your time just gathering pennies.
Subscribe to Multiple Survey Sites
If you’re serious about making a go of online surveys, you’re going to want to join lots of survey sites.
Broadly speaking, unless a review tells you that a particular site is a scam or a complete waste of time, it’s worth getting established on it so you can grab the most lucrative opportunities when they are there. (We’ve reviewed lots of sites in detail here, and continue to add the list all the time).
Earning from surveys isn’t about running up one big total on one site. It’s about going Christmas shopping or booking a holiday, and being able to put together some figures like I did just the other day.
Those numbers are in British Pounds, so it was actually just under 300 bucks – not too shabby as an amount to add to your shopping budget.
Now just because you belong to lots of sites, that doesn’t mean you have to answer every survey you are ever invited to. In fact, I probably ignore 80% of the notifications that hit my inbox. So let’s discuss that next…
Always be Selective
If you’ve read any of our detailed survey reviews, you’ll notice we often talk about typical rewards for the amount of time surveys take.
On some sites (such as PopulusLive and IPSOS iSAY), rewards are pretty consistent based on the amount of time each survey takes. On other sites, there can be huge inconsistencies which make some surveys well worth doing and others more of a waste of time. Two huge examples of survey sites in this category are Vindale Research and Qmee.
Just take a look at the screenshot below (from Vindale Research), for a perfect example of this. You have one survey paying just 27 cents for 26 minutes of your time (around 62 cents per hour!) or another paying $2.23 for 11 minutes of your time (over $12 per hour!)
Now what often happens on these sites (and Vindale is a big culprit here) is that you get “screened out” of the top paid surveys and then bounced onto ones paying far less.
Well, what you do here is quite simple: close the site and move on. Making more money from surveys is about working smarter not harder. Making the time pay is as much about the surveys you pass on as the ones you take. Clicking frantically from one survey to another for pennies will bring you nothing but frustration – so only involve yourself in surveys where the reward seems fair for your time.
Jump in Fast
Normally, companies only want a certain number of participants for a survey. This can mean that email notifications quickly become out of date if you don’t grab the surveys sharpish.
I most notice this on Mondays, because I don’t work at all at the weekends (as I discuss here). Often I’ll see decent-looking survey invites in my inbox but find they’ve gone when I click through.
I’m not for a moment saying that you should obsessively take every survey the moment it’s offered. Ultimately, surveys don’t make anybody nearly enough money to be given that level of importance! However, if you’re going through a stage where you’re trying to maximise your income, be aware that if you don’t grab the top paying surveys pretty quickly, somebody else will.
Maintain your Accuracy
Survey platforms build in lots of mechanisms to catch out people who complete surveys inaccurately or try to game the system. (You only need to search the web for two minutes to find plenty of evidence of people trying to hack their way around survey sites).
If you complete surveys without properly concentrating, and “trip” these mechanisms too often, it’s likely you’ll find your survey opportunities drying up pretty quick. Some sites (such as PrizeRebel) actually show you a “quality score,” and I think it’s inevitable that others keep a note of the quality of your survey work in the background.
You can often do surveys perfectly competently with half an eye on something else, but don’t think you can just “click…click…click” your way through. It’s not the morally correct thing to do anyway, and I’m pretty sure the people who do surveys properly end up getting the better ones over time.
(As a quick aside, I particularly like the attention checks on PanelBase where one frequent question is “Do you have a turtle?” – it always makes me smile).
Keep Adding to your Repertoire
One thing I’ve really noticed since starting to review survey sites is that the industry is ever-changing. Companies rebrand and reappear with a new name, and sometimes sites that were previously quiet and pointless suddenly have a new influx of work and become nice little earners.
As such, it’s worth keeping an eye on reviews, and occasionally taking a second look at sites you may have dismissed in the past. At HomeWorkingClub, we have someone constantly trying out new sites, and aim to produce the most detailed survey site reviews out there. As such, it’s well worth ensuring you’re signed up to our newsletter (see below the article) so you see when we’ve added a new review.
Sometimes it makes sense to just to move onto a new site, even if it means pausing on another one for a while. Exactly where the top paid surveys are at any one time can simply depend on which of the survey providers has just signed up a big new client. By staying aware of what’s happening in the industry, you can always ensure you’re signed up the the best site of the moment.