I tried taking online surveys to earn extra cash but lost patience after making $3 in 2 days

  • I tried Swagbucks to see if it’s actually possible to make money doing online surveys.
  • I watched promotional videos and answered survey questions to earn points that can be redeemed for rewards.
  • Taking surveys is tedious, and I had some privacy concerns.
  • After a few hours of taking surveys spread over two days, I earned enough Swagbucks for a $US3 Amazon gift card.
  • It could be a lucrative pastime, but wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t recommend quitting your day job.

Taking online surveys for cash sounds like a great way to make money without really doing anything. But is it too good to be true?

I tried INSIDER’s recommended survey website, Swagbucks, to see what taking surveys for profit is like.

Overall, I found that it’s not a bad way to rack up rewards and earn gift cards or cash if you have the patience for it.


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Taking surveys earns reward points called Swagbucks

Swagbucks can be redeemed for gift cards or cash (in the form of a PayPal deposit), and most rewards start at about 300 Swagbucks. The longer a survey is, the more Swagbucks you can earn.

Swagbucks surveysSwagbucksThe longer the survey, the bigger the payout.

Most of the surveys ask for your gender, age, zip code, occupation, and household income. They then present a few preliminary questions to see if you qualify to take the full survey, such as purchases you’ve made recently, brands you’ve heard of, or services you use.

More often than not, this resulted in getting disqualified from a survey and redirected back to the Swagbucks site after I was already a few questions in. But I did get one Swagbuck for trying if I couldn’t complete it.

The survey questions themselves seemed innocuous. I answered questions about my preferred packaging of baby wipes, the branding of vitamin supplements, where I do my grocery shopping, and my perception of different fashion retailers. Sometimes the surveys contained a multimedia element, but it was mostly selecting answers in a multiple choice format. There were also trick questions designed to test if I was reading directions, such as simple maths problems.

Swagbucks vitaminsSwagbucksA survey about vitamins.

Some of the surveys asked personal questions that prompted privacy concerns

One survey asked about what television shows I’d watched in the last week, what devices and services I used to watch them, and even the ages and genders of people I watched them with. That felt a little creepy to me.

Swagbucks surveySwagbucksYes, I’m on season five of ‘The Office.’

Another survey, purporting to be serving the interests of a “body positive shopping company,” notified me that it would ask for body measurements and a full body photo “to ensure our product can serve everyone” if I continued. No thank you.

Swagbucks surveySwagbucksI skipped this one.

Another way earn Swagbucks is by watching promotional videos

Swagbucks videoSwagbucksWatching videos for cash.

Watching videos didn’t require any active input or personal information, but it did bombard my desktop with pop-ups every 30 seconds or so. Even when I minimized or resized one ad, the next one in the series would appear at full size.

After a few hours of taking surveys and watching videos spread out over two days, I collected enough Swagbucks for a three dollar Amazon gift card

Swagbucks rewardsSwagbucksWith 347 Swagbucks, I opted for a three dollar gift card.

I didn’t have enough Swagbucks for cash, so I chose an Amazon gift card. Upon redeeming my reward, I got an email saying that I would receive my e-gift card code within five business days.

Swagbucks reward gmailGmailMy order.

Taking surveys online could be a lucrative pastime, but I wouldn’t recommend quitting your day job

I spaced my experiment out over a few days because I found it too mind-numbing to sit for hours at a time and fill out surveys. It’s a repetitive, tedious process in my opinion, and the points take time to add up before you can redeem them for anything.

I could see it paying off in the long term if I devoted some time every day to this for a few months, but I don’t think I’m going to make taking online surveys a regular activity. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to my three dollar shopping spree.

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