5 Things to Inquire about a Survey Panel’s Payment System before Getting Started

Before getting started with any survey company, it pays to do a quick background check.

Not only should you make sure that a company is real, legitimate and trustworthy, you should also take the time to get to know about how it works.

Checking the company’s terms and conditions as well as privacy policy, and understanding all the pertinent details in these documents puts you one step ahead.

Aside from this, you should also inquire about the company’s payment system.

Never join any company without first getting to know about this very important matter.

You don’t want to waste your time with a company that will not pay you with what you’re expecting or would take many years to release your funds.

Here are five crucial things that you need to know about how a survey company processes its members’ payments:

  • Payment system
  • Payment options
  • Payment threshold
  • Payment gateways
  • Duration of payment processing

# 1 – Payment System

So let’s first tackle the main payment system.

Most survey panels make use of either these two systems:

  • Cash value system
  • Point system

With the cash value system, the survey panel assigns a specific dollar amount for each of the survey and task that it will assign to you. It also specifies the dollar amount that you will earn with its other earning opportunities such as referral programs, sign up bonuses and so on.

With the point system, on the other hand, you will earn a set number of points for each survey or task that you complete. When you join a survey panel that makes use of the point system, it will provide you with a copy of its conversion system. This varies per company. In one company, 10,000 points may be equivalent to $10 while in another it may only convert to $1.

When you get the copy of the list, you will use this to convert your earnings so you know how much you’re making with each of the tasks assigned to you.

You might wonder why some survey companies would use a system like this that would only entail additional work.

You see, many survey companies accept members from different countries. Instead of converting from one currency to another with each survey respondent, they make use of a standard point system that will make things easier and less of a hassle for them.

It’s important that you know right away whether a company uses a cash system or a point system.

If you are residing in the United States, it would be a good idea to choose those that use the cash value system so you don’t have to go through all the trouble of converting points into cash.

Now, if you are residing outside the United States, you probably don’t have a choice since most international survey panels make use of point system. What you can do is to choose those that have conversion systems that are easier to remember.

For example, it would be better to go for a survey panel that converts 1,000 points into $1 instead of one that converts 4365 points into $7. The latter is a lot more confusing, as you can imagine.

To make things easier for you, we’ve provided a list of companies that use the point system and companies that use cash system.

Survey companies that use points:

Survey companies that use the cash value system:

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with signing up with companies that make use of the point system. It just means a little more work for you but once you get the hang of it, you’ll get used to converting points into cash amount.

# 2 – Payment Options

When it comes to payment options, there are three primary choices:

  • Cash
  • Rewards with cash equivalents
  • Non-monetary rewards

Cash is cash, simple as that. It means that you’re getting actual money for your hard work.

Most survey companies pay between $1 and $5 per each survey completed. This amount varies widely, usually depending on the length and complexity of the survey, and the offer of the survey panel. Bigger panels typically offer bigger rates.

If you’re going to choose this option, you can redeem your cash payments through any of the following methods:

  • PayPal or other payment gateways
  • Bank transfer
  • Check

We will discuss more of these in the next section.

Now the great thing about choosing cash as your survey rewards is that you can spend this any way you want. You will not be restricted to using this only for specific stores or companies or purposes.

This is also what you should choose if you want to augment your income or resolve a temporary cash flow problem.

If you’re in need of cash, always check if cash is one of the rewards options before signing up with any survey company. You don’t want to end up getting frustrated working so hard on your surveys only to receive sweepstakes entries at the end.

You’ll be glad to know that most legitimate survey companies offer cash payments, even those who make use of the point system.

Here’s a list of some survey companies that rewards its members with cash payments:

  • Swagbucks – $1 to $3 per survey
  • Pinecone Research – $3 per survey
  • Toluna – 3,000 to 6,000 points per survey
  • Vindale Research – $1 to $3 per survey
  • Opinion Outpost – $1.5 per survey
  • Global Test Market – 35 to 250 points per survey
  • My Survey – $0.5 to $1.25 per survey
  • Survey Savvy – $1 to $2 per survey
  • Cash Crate – $1 to $5 per survey
  • Paid Viewpoint – $0.10 to $3 per survey

Now let’s discuss the second category: rewards with cash equivalent.

These include:

  • Electronic gift cards
  • Physical gift cards
  • Prepaid credit cards

Gift cards can either be electronic or physical. Electronic gift cards are sent through  email or to your survey panel account. Physical gift cards on the other hand are sent through snail mail, and usually take a lot longer to receive. It’s better to go for the electronic version so you can get your rewards right away and spend them immediately.

You’ll find that most survey companies offer gift cards that are from the following companies and brands:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Macy’s
  • Amazon
  • iTunes
  • Google Play Store
  • Home Depot

Some survey panels also reward its members with restaurant gift certificates and free movie passes, both of which also fall under the gift card category.

Here’s a quick list of companies that pay with gift cards:

  • Pinecone Research – Amazon, Walmart, iTunes and Starbucks gift cards
  • Springboard America – Google Play, Amazon, iTunes gift cards
  • Opinion Outpost – Amazon and iTunes gift cards
  • Epoll – Best Buy, Walmart, Sears, Gamestop gift cards
  • MySoapBox – Target, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot gift cards
  • MyPoints – JC Penny, Amazon, Barnes and Noble gift cards

Just a word of caution for survey takers: Walmart scams and other gift card scams exist online today so you need to be careful. Also be selective of the gift cards that you choose to receive. For example, it won’t be wise to sign up with a company that only offers Starbucks gift cards if you are not a coffee drinker.

Prepaid credit cards are usually issued by Visa or other credit card company. It is also sent electronically and can be spent almost anywhere online. The great thing about this is that this option is as good as cash, unlike with the gift card that can only be spent with the store or company it is specified for.

A few of the companies that offer this type of payment option include:

Now we go to the third category, which is the non-monetary incentive.

These are:

  • Free merchandise
  • Airline miles
  • Sweepstakes entries
  • Donations to charities

Free merchandise and airline miles also have cash value of course, but you cannot use them to buy products and services unlike with gift cards and prepaid credit cards.

Some companies would offer to compensate you with entries to sweepstakes so you will have a chance to win big and exciting prizes like free vacations or expensive electronic gadgets and appliances.

The problem with this option is that your winnings are not guaranteed. You may or may not win the prize at stake. If you don’t win anything, all the hard work you’ve put into answering online surveys would be wasted. But if you are truly fond of joining sweepstakes and raffle draws, then by all means, go ahead and choose this option.

Now if you are feeling generous or you want to feel good about yourself, you might want to choose to donate your earnings to charitable organizations and institutions. Some survey companies offer this type of option.

We’ve summarized the list of companies that pay using these options so you can see right away which ones you’d want to join:

Companies that pay with free merchandise:

Companies that pay with airline miles:

Companies that pay with sweepstakes entries:

  • Global Test Market
  • Toluna
  • Opinion World

Companies that offer to donate your earnings:

  • Ipsos i-Say
  • MySoapBox

# 3 – Payment Threshold

Another must-not-miss factor is the payment threshold.

The payment threshold, otherwise known as the minimum payout requirement, is the amount of money or number of points required to be in your account balance for you to be able to process your rewards.

In short, you need to have this amount before you can request to redeem your earnings.

So why is it important to know this?

Some companies actually impose an extremely high payment threshold that makes it impossible for you to get your payment right away.

For example if a company requires you to have $100 in your account before you can withdraw your earnings, it’s going to take you a long time to get it.

Remember survey companies only pay $1 to $5 per survey. Aside from that, the survey invitation frequency is usually only once or twice a month. Then there’s the fact that you won’t always qualify for each survey that you will be invited to participate in.

This means that even if you managed to sign up with 10 companies, you’ll probably not earn more than $20 a month.

It’s always a good idea to withdraw your earnings right away as there is always the possibility that the company will shut down or your account will get suspended. If these happen, you will lose all that you’ve worked hard for.

Choose companies that impose low payment thresholds. Better yet, look for those that do not have any required minimum payouts.

Survey companies with minimum payouts of $10:

Survey companies with minimum payouts of $5:

Survey companies with minimum payouts of $1:

Survey companies with no minimum payouts:

# 4 – Payment Gateways

You also need to inquire about what payment gateways are being used by the survey company you’re joining.

This matters because this will affect both the speed and security of your payment.

Some payment gateways like PayPal are known for extreme high security measures so you don’t have to worry about your payment getting intercepted by hackers and online thieves.

Companies that pay via PayPal include:

  • Swagbucks
  • Opinion Outpost
  • Survey Spot
  • Pinecone Research
  • My Points
  • IPoll
  • Ipsos i-Say
  • Paid Viewpoint
  • YouGov
  • PrizeRebel

To sign up for a PayPal account, you simply have to go to its official page and complete the online registration form. You will be asked to verify your account by clicking the link that will be sent to your email. You will also be required to enter your credit card number as additional verification means.

Aside from PayPal, survey companies also offer other payment gateways such as Payoneer, PayMaya and so on. Your choice of payment gateway will also be affected by your location. Make sure that the payment gateway you choose is available in your country.

Another payment method that survey panels offer is bank transfer. Once the amount in your account reaches the minimum payout requirement, you can request to process your payment and be deposited to your bank account.

You would need to set up a new bank account to receive your survey earnings. This is important so that you don’t put your current bank account in danger.

Finally, you can opt to get paid via check. This is usually the preferred option of those who do not have a bank account or PayPal account. But the problem with this is that it takes a much longer time to process. Usually, you will receive your check payment within three weeks to one month. It also takes a few days for the check to get cleared.

Never accept check payments that are bigger than the amount that you earned. This is a common tactic among scammers who will ask you to wire back the excess amount. Then you’ll find out once the clearing is over that the check has bounced and that you have lost the money that you sent back to the survey panel.

# 5 – Duration of payment processing

Lastly, you need to know how long the payment will be processed.

Again, this is important because you don’t want to take forever to get what you earned. The sooner you receive your earnings, the better.

Check the payment processing time in the information page at the survey company’s official website.

You can also find this information when you go to survey review websites such as Survey Police.

Just be wary of those that will say that they will pay you in two or three days but will actually take a month to send your payment. You can find out about a company’s real payment duration from reviews posted by people who have already working with it.

It’s best to work with survey companies that are known to give quick payouts. These include:

  • Quick Rewards – Pays within one or two days, no minimum payout
  • Swagbucks – Low minimum payout, pays within a week
  • Pinecone Research – No minimum payout, pays instantly
  • Opinion Outpost – Releases payment within 24 hours

Make sure that before you sign up with any survey company, you inquire about these five crucial things about the company’s payment system so you can manage your expectations accordingly. The quicker you receive your payments, the better.