Looking to make a quick $100 tomorrow through online surveys? You’re much more likely to make that same amount in gift cards by the end of the month.
Online surveys may seem like a quick and easy way to make more money, but how much you make varies by site and survey. Before you try them as a way of bringing in some cash, make sure you’re aware of these potential drawbacks.
You won’t rake in money
“The average SwagBucks member is generally looking to make a little extra to stretch his or her household budget,” Hal Lublin, director of referral marketing for the survey and rewards site, said in an email. Online surveys are great if you’re looking for a way to make some money in your downtime, but survey sites aren’t for paying the bills.
Cash or gift card?
Survey sites don’t have to pay in cash. Many of these sites also — or exclusively — offer gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon or Walmart. At SwagBucks, you earn points that you can redeem for gift cards or cash. Inbox Dollars offers a straight cash value for surveys.
When you redeem for cash, the delivery method may vary. SwagBucks redeems via PayPal, while Inbox Dollars sends a check or prepaid Visa card, depending on your membership level.
How much are you really making?
If you want fast cash, online surveys may not be for you. Surveys take different amounts of time, and few are lucrative. For example, a five-minute survey that pays 50 cents comes out to about $6 per hour — $1.25 less than the federal minimum wage.
Payday may be later than you think
Sites offer varying payout thresholds. Inbox Dollars won’t let you redeem until you’ve hit $30, while Valued Opinion lets you cash out once you make $10. How quickly you receive your payout may also depend on if you get paid with a gift card, PayPal deposit or check. Also, research the sites you plan on using to see what users have to say about the payment process.
Disqualification is possible
You may not be qualified for all surveys, and you can be booted from a survey while you’re taking it. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this. Sites like SwagBucks try to minimize disqualifications by having you answer detailed profile questions, thus creating better survey matches.
“The best way to make sure this does not happen is to pay close attention and be honest with your answers,” Lublin said in an email. “That will allow us to find and present you with preselected surveys that you are more likely to qualify for based on your profile.”
If you want to make some spare cash in your downtime or score some gift cards for the holiday season, online surveys may be for you. But re-evaluating your budget may prove more lucrative in the long run.
Veronica Ramirez is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: .