Legitimate ways to make money from home – while wearing sweatpants and eating Cheetos – are few and far between. Unless you put in years of work building your own business or have the right skills and a lucky connection, most “work from home” opportunities are too good to be true.
But the recent popularity of my post 11 things I did to pay off $80,000 in debt in three years has opened my eyes to the interest in one small way you can actually earn some money online in your spare time: Participating in market research surveys and panels.
Make money online and chill
At any given time, hundreds of companies are looking for feedback on their products, services and ideas from random people like you and me. Of course, this is not a way to get rich quickly…or even at all. But it could very well put a few extra dollars in your pocket for something that involves little more effort than scrolling through your Netflix queue.
To get started, you sign up for the polls you’re interested in by completing some demographic data. Important: For most, you’ll need to confirm that your email address is valid before getting started. Then, you’ll receive notifications when companies are looking for people like you to take their survey. Once you accumulate enough earnings, you can request a payout. Here are three websites where you can do this with right now:
Swagbucks lets you earn points for shopping online, watching videos, searching the web, and finally, answering surveys.
You can redeem your points for gift cards to stores like Walmart and Amazon. Or you could get cash back to your PayPal account.
MyPoints isn’t a survey-taking site, but you can earn cash back when you shop through them.
MyPoints lets you earn points at popular stores such as Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot. You can redeem those points for gift cards or PayPal credits.
MyPoints also helps you find coupon codes for tons of online stores.
National Consumer Panel (NCP) works a bit differently. To participate, you must agree to receive a barcode scanner in the mail and follow directions to scan different products you use and then complete follow up surveys. You’ll earn points the more you participate which can be redeemed for Visa gift cards or cash. There is also a quarterly drawing for a $20,000 cash prize.
Harris Poll pays gift cards for taking online and mobile surveys, in-person focus groups and telephone surveys. You can redeem rewards after earning as little as $10. Choose gift cards for Amazon, Home Depot, Starbucks, iTunes, or Walmart. You will even earn points for surveys from which you are disqualified.
Opinion Outpost is another popular survey site that rewards you with gift cards and cash for participating in online or mobile surveys. You’ll automatically be entered to win $10,000 just for signing up and can earn additional entries each quarter.
Reward options include Amazon and iTunes gift cards, cash paid via PayPal, donations to charity, or sweepstakes entries. You can redeem your rewards for gift cards after earning as little as $5 or for cash once you earn as little as $10.
What to expect when you enroll
Each survey provider has different quantities of surveys and different focus areas, so don’t be disappointed if there aren’t a ton of surveys to take with the first company you sign up for. Most sites will email you when there is a matching survey to take, or you can periodically check their sites.
You earn points for completing surveys and, at some sites, for participating in other actions like reviewing a product or giving them permission to anonymously monitor which Websites you visit (only at some sites, and you can opt-out).
When you’ve accumulated enough points — typically enough for $5 or $10 — you can cash them out according to the site’s policies. Most sites will mail your gift card or credit you with cash via PayPal within 10 to 15 days.