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Are Online Survey Panels Worth the Effort?

February 28th, 2010

paid-survey-panel.jpgBecoming a member of an online survey panel can allow you to claim vouchers or cash, but for many people, they require too much effort for the rewards that are received. This article looks at some of the pros and cons of participating in online survey panels to earn cash rewards or vouchers.

The Pros: Rewards

Most people who sign up to online survey websites do so because they want to be rewarded for their time and effort. While the actual rewards vary from panel to panel, it is common to receive either vouchers (such as Amazon) or a cash amount as compensation. For vouchers, you will often need to accumulate a set number of points to be able to exchange them for a voucher of a specific denomination (for example, 10,000 points may be equivalent to a $10 voucher). Alternatively, you may earn a small amount per survey (for example, $2 per survey), and this can be exchanged for a voucher, check, or cash in your Paypal account once you have reached a certain threshold. The rewards situation often differs depending on the survey panel in question, so it is best to look into this before you sign up to ensure that it will be worth your while.

Besides for paid surveys, some panels also engage in product testing. In most cases, this involves a specific product being sent to you for testing purposes. Over the course of a week or fortnight, you are instructed to use the product on a daily basis. Once the trial is over, you will be asked to provide feedback (often in the form of a survey) and your reward will be sent once both stages of the trial are completed.

The majority of survey panels offer compensation in the form of vouchers, but you may receive a cash amount instead that is credited to your survey panel account balance to be exchanged once you hit the redemption threshold. For most product tests, you will not know the name or brand of the product being tested. It is often the case that the product is liable to be tweaked if the feedback from panel members indicates problems or concerns that need addressing before the product is available in shops. Because of this, there is the potential for the product to result in a negative reaction (especially skin care products). To limit this possibility, the product trials are usually only offered up to people who fit the intended demographic of the product. For example, individuals with dry or sensitive skin will usually not be invited to try a skin care product that is aimed at those with problem skin.

The Cons: Too Much Time and Effort, Too Many Screenouts, Slow Redemptions

For many people, the rewards do not justify the amount of time and effort required to complete the surveys. It is common for surveys to only pay around $1 to $5, despite taking from 10 to 30 minutes to complete, and that reward will only be forthcoming if you fit the demographic profile that the survey creators want to garner responses from.

Despite having to fill in some quite detailed demographic information when signing up to the online survey panel, you will often not be sent survey invitations that are tailored to your demographic. It is common to spend a while answering survey questions, only to find that your responses do not fit the desired demographic. In this situation, you will be screened out of the survey and told that your participation is no longer required. If you are lucky, this may only be a few minutes of wasted time and effort, but it is becoming increasingly common to find that you are not screened out for over ten minutes.

Once you have successfully requested your redemption, you may find that it takes several weeks to receive it. This can even be the case with e-vouchers, which could theoretically be sent in a matter of minutes. Some online survey panels will send out paper vouchers within ten days of receiving your redemption request, and e-vouchers within two to three days. For the better online survey panels, cash payments will be sent within a week (for bank transfers) or a fortnight (for check payments) but this will not always be the case.


This article on paid survey pros and cons was supplied to us by “Sally A.” from Constant Content.


One Response to “Are Online Survey Panels Worth the Effort?”

  1. comment number 1 by: nihal b.

    online surveys are a poor way to make money. many have a high min. cash out rate. most take a lot of time and really pay min. wage or even less per hour. why bother, just get a min. wage job.

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