Willing to give views on One Direction, washing-up liquid or what goes on between your bedsheets? If so, it's possible to earn £100s a year, without any special skill or talent.
It's all about filling in online surveys for cash and attending face-to-face focus groups. This guide has a full rundown of the top 20 free paid survey sites, tips to max your survey income, plus the top focus group agencies.
In this guide
Also see 30 Ways To Earn Cash Online for more ways to click and earn.
How online survey sites work
Marketing is big business. By learning to target products at the right people, companies cut their advertising spend and increase sales. Add to that the focus group world of politics and the media, and it's clear why businesses pay for your opinions.
Better still, because the whole point is focusing on different types of people, you don't need special qualifications. You just need to be you.
How to take part
There are two ways to take part:
Online surveys for cash. All you have to do is sign up, wait for survey alerts to land in your inbox, then zip through the questions. Survey sites then add the cash to your account. Polls are often fun – you get to vent about everything from video games to your sex life. For a full how-to, see Survey Sites below.
Focus groups. Traditional market research focus groups pay much more per session, but you're limited to a few a year. All it involves is giving opinions on the chosen subject, usually with free refreshments, and you can walk away with anything from £30 to £160. See Focus Groups below for more.
Dedicated survey-stashers can make £200 a year in cash and vouchers. Some forumites have even pushed it to the max and made £800 a year.
While we don’t want to give the impression that this is a way to earn thousands instantly, a little bit of inspiration may help. Please add your successes to the Survey Sites forum discussion.
It takes a few years to build up enough to cash out with various sites, but I earned £800 last year in cash and vouchers. Comes in very useful! - funnyguy
I have earned over £200 in the last year just doing online surveys while watching sport on TV or listening to the radio. The money from these - I always get cash if possible - just helped me pay for my new boiler. Next stop new windows! - jet9cat
In the last year I've made over £800 on online surveys, but it does take a lot of spare time and all survey sites were definitely not created equally. If I really busted a gut and did every survey I received I could probably double it.- nehpets81
I am a massive fan of focus groups as a way of earning some extra cash - especially if you have time on your side. I go after work or in my lunch break, and I recently got £160 for half a day.
It's good money for just being honest about your thoughts and you get free hot drinks and sandwiches. One group I attended even had free wine! - MartinLewisisalegend
Survey sites: The DOs & DON'Ts
Before you become a survey stasher, there are a few things worth knowing. Remember, patience and consistency are key virtues.
DON'T store cash in survey accounts
Survey companies aren't banks. There's no protection if one closes, taking your cash with it. So withdraw your cash as soon as you reach the payment threshold. When a previous survey firm closed down, many lost money.
DO set up a dedicated email address
Don't use your normal email address - it'll be immediately flooded. Instead, set up a dedicated email account. As a powerful free option, Gmail is among the best.
This is also a quick way to check which surveys you've been given.
DON'T expect to be instantly rolling in it
One downer is you've no control over how many surveys you're picked for. So it can take a while to earn enough to hit survey sites' payout thresholds. If you give up, it means the surveys were done for nowt.
For this reason, it's important to understand it's not quick cash. Yet it's nice extra income, provided you consistently fill out the surveys, and have a little patience.
DO spend gift vouchers ASAP
If you have a choice, opt to get paid in cash. If you do get paid in gift vouchers, spend them ASAP. That way the retailer can't go bust on you, invalidating them. Plus you can't lose them or forget them until they go out of date. Full info on this in Gift Voucher Warning.
DON'T tell porkies
Be honest. When a survey pops up that's clearly aimed at a certain group, it's temping to say, "Yes, I am a 41-year-old, tobacco-chewing dentist from north Manchester who was a middle child." Yet, in the long run, you'll lose out. Companies often corroborate previous answers, and will uncover any fibs.
A few forumites have amassed £40 over a year, only for the website to accuse them of fraudulent answers and wipe the balance. Rare, but worth knowing.
Likewise, don't sign up with two different email addresses to double the income - sites kick people out for this too.
DOn't forget to check your emails
The key is logging in often, because surveys close once enough people have responded. If your boss doesn't mind, check surveys in your lunch hour with a cuppa.
DO keep a log
Some sites are better than others at tracking which surveys you've completed. To avoid wasting 20 minutes, keep a record of all surveys filled out, jotting down the title and the promised payment. Take a screenshot and make a note of any reference numbers.
Missing some cash? Chase the sites up, asking them to give you the correct points. Survey sites are often happy to add them to your account.
DON'T forget tax
Before you start counting the dosh, don't forget some of it belongs to the taxman. For most people it'll be around a third. Survey earnings are unlikely to push non-taxpayers over the threshold, however.
As any sources of extra income need to be declared; ensure you're upfront with HM Revenue and Customs. Survey earnings are self-employed income, which means registering with the HMRC Helpline for the Newly Self-Employed on 08459 15 45 15 by the end of the third calendar month after you've started – or you could face an automatic £100 penalty.
For full information, read HMRC's self-employment leaflet.
DO complain via Facebook and Twitter
If you've complained about problems to no avail, try using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to voice your issue.
MoneySavers report survey sites are swift to respond to complaints on their social media pages, as they want to manage their reputation.
DON'T pay to join
There's a glut of survey sites on the internet charging up to £80 to register, promising to pay £100s after you've coughed up. Never pay to register with a survey site.
DO refer a friend
Most survey sites require you to earn a certain amount before you can withdraw your cash, for example £25. Trouble is, people often find themselves stuck 20p below the threshold, waiting for that one survey email to push them over.
If you're left in limbo, try referring friends. Many pay you 50p for referring a mate - handy if your survey emails mysteriously dry up with a few pence to go.
DON'T worry too much about screenouts
Some survey companies have a cheeky habit of asking several questions, then suddenly announcing that you don't qualify. Fine if it's only a few secs, but frustrating if you've donated 10 minutes of your time for nowt.
The list of top survey sites below notes the worst offenders, but in the long run, most people qualify for enough other polls to make up for it.
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The top 20 online survey sites
This isn't about joining every single survey site you find on Google. It's about focusing on those with decent payouts, low payment thresholds and a reliable volume of surveys.
We tested and analysed MoneySavers' reviews to find the top 20 sites. Huge thanks to all the MoneySavers whose feedback went into the guide. If you've found a top survey site we're missing, add it in the Survey Sites discussion.
01 Ipsos Top payer, £10 Amazon vouchers/mth typical
A must-join, Ipsos is probably the best paying survey site. Its surveys are plentiful, and many rack up £10 or more of Amazon vouchers every month. Full info
Forumites report Ipsos is refreshingly upfront about payment and survey length before you start clicking. It pays in retail vouchers, including Amazon and John Lewis. Once you cash in, vouchers take two to three weeks to arrive.
Quick stats. Payment method: High street vouchers incl Amazon, Capital Bond and John Lewis. Typical ££ per survey: £1. Payout threshold: £10. Typical survey time: 15 mins. Feed back: Ipsos
02 Swagbucks* mega popular with forumites
With a cult following in the MSE Forum, Swagbucks* pays you 'swag points' to answer daily polls. You can also mix it up by getting paid to watch videos, search via its page instead of Google and even play free online games. Full info
Points can be spent on rewards in its Reward Store. Some rewards are better value than others, so always compare a few. For example, 850 points equals a £5 Amazon voucher, but you need 1,050 points for £5 cash via PayPal. On its rewards page, there are gift cards in US dollars too, so ensure you choose the ones marked GBP.
Swagbucks only lets you earn points once a day on certain types of poll - answer a second poll and you won't get paid. So always read terms and conditions carefully.
For motivation, join other Swag points chasers in the forum's popular Swagbucks Challenge 2014 thread.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via PayPal, Amazon vouchers and more. Typical ££ per survey: From 70 Swag Bucks (40p). Payout threshold: Depends on reward. Typical survey time: 15-20 mins. Feed back: Swagbucks
03 GlobalTestMarket Reliable US site that sends £30 cheques
US survey site GlobalTestMarket pays by cheque in sterling once you've earned $50 (currently £30ish). Many forumites amass £100 a year from the site. Full info
Cheques take up to eight weeks to arrive, but at £30-£40 a time (depending on the exchange rate), it's worth the wait. The site often screens you out after a few questions, but usually bungs a few points anyway.
GlobalTestMarket also sends surveys that enter you into a prize draw instead of paying cash. Unless you've heaps of time, stick with surveys that pay.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash (cheque).Typical ££ per survey: £1.20. Payout threshold: 1,000 points ($50/£30ish). Typical survey time: 20 minutes. Feed back: GlobalTestMarket
04 Crowdology you only need to earn £4 before it pays
Another popular site, Crowdology pays hard cash via PayPal. The payment threshold's a low £4, and many folks rack this up every month. Full info
On the downside, forumites report its payment system can be glitchy, though the cash arrives in the end. A top tip is to post complaints on its Facebook page to get a result.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via PayPal. Typical ££ per survey: 30p - £2. Payout threshold: £4. Typical survey time: 10 - 20 mins. Feed back: Crowdology
05 MySurvey you only need to earn £3 before it pays
MoneySavers earn cash quickly from MySurvey, as it has a low £3 payout threshold and abundant surveys. It pays in cash via PayPal. Full info
You can get a £3 PayPal payment for 345 points, or a £5 Argos voucher for 550 points. The site also lets you swap 1250 points for a £10 Amazon voucher, though, bizarrely, this is a worse value exchange than PayPal cash.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via PayPal & Argos/Amazon vouchers. Typical payment per survey: 100 points . Payout threshold: £3. Typical time to complete: 20-30 mins. Feed back: MySurvey
06 OnePoll Best for fun, quick polls
Mega-popular for its speedy surveys, OnePoll runs polls for the press, meaning fun questions about celebs and your love life. It works slightly differently to other survey sites and doesn't send out invitations - you need to log on daily to check. Full info
The payment per survey is tiny, often 20p. But while hitting the £40 withdrawal target takes ages, it's still worth it, as surveys are super-quick.
One bugbear of OnePoll users is getting stuck on £39.90, then not having any more surveys available for weeks. If that happens, try referring a friend to hit the threshold – you get up to £4 for each one who signs up.
Some forumites are also peeved by the number of surveys that just enter you into a competition, rather than giving you cash.
OnePoll also has a free iPhone app that lets you earn cash on the go. However, OnePoll says it's currently redesigning its app and is currently offering very few surveys through it. So wait for the relaunch to get it.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash (BACS or PayPal). Typical £ per survey: 25p. Payout threshold: £40. Typical survey time: 3 mins. Feed back: OnePoll
07 PineconeINVITATION ONLY - but very generous
The holy grail of survey sites, Pinecone pays megabucks, but is invitation only. You get £3 for every survey. Sadly, the recruitment process is more secretive than MI6. You have to wait until you're invited or spot a web banner advert on another site to sign up. Full info
We've included it so you'll know to jump if an invite appears. If you're lucky enough to be recruited, you get paid cash via PayPal. Yet it's tough to join, as the first rule of Pinecone is "do not talk about Pinecone".
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via PayPal. Typical ££ per survey: £3. Payout threshold: £3. Typical time to complete: 15 to 20 minutes. How to sign up: Look for banner adverts on websites (often mum and baby sites).
08 Newvistalive lucrative, but you need to earn £50 before it pays
While Newvistalive (it's currently upgrading its website, check back soon) has a high £50 payout threshold, many MoneySavers have racked up £50 cheques fairly quickly. It usually pays between £50p and £1 per survey - some forumites have made £50 in six months. Full info
It's especially important to read questions carefully and answer truthfully. Newvistalive adds in 'quality control' questions to weed out members who fib to get more surveys.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash (cheque). Typical ££ per survey: 50p to £1. Payout threshold: £50. Typical survey time: 10 - 20 mins. Feed back: Newvistalive
09 Tolunaearn Amazon vouchers
Another survey site to try is Toluna. Forumites earn regular Amazon vouchers, though some report payments can be slow. Full info
Once you reach 80,000 points, you can cash in for a £15 retail voucher, including Amazon and Love2shop.
Some forumites are frustrated about how long it takes to receive vouchers after you've ordered them. It also seems to take quite a long time for points to be added onto members' accounts after they’ve completed surveys.
Quick stats. Payment method: High street vouchers incl Amazon & Love2Shop. Typical ££ per survey: 3,000 to 5,000 points. Payout threshold: 30,000 points for £5 retail voucher. Typical survey time: 15-30 mins. Feed back: Toluna
10 YouGov Reliable, but long slog to hit target
People either love or hate YouGov. The surveys are short ‘n' snappy, and the site is commissioned by everyone from academics to charities, so you get to put in your tuppence on serious subjects. Yet MoneySavers say it takes three to five years to hit the payout threshold. Full info
Surveys are infrequent (about one per month), and you can't cash in until you hit £50. At 50p per survey, this takes years. The £50's paid via bank transfer.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via bank transfer. Typical payment per survey: 50p. Payout threshold: £50. Typical time to complete: 5 to 10 mins. Feed back: YouGov
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11 Valued Opinions Established site, pays vouchers incl M&S & TOpShop
One of the most established survey sites is Valued Opinions, though MoneySavers have reported glitches recently. It pays in retail vouchers, including M&S, John Lewis, Topshop and, when available, Amazon. Full info
Valued Opinions pays high amounts of £1-£5 per survey. Once you cash in your points, vouchers take 28 days to arrive.
Forumites report things have gone downhill slightly over the last year, and some haven't been given their earnings because of technical glitches. Though customer services do seem to sort issues quickly if you email.
Quick stats. Payment method: Amazon, M&S, Boots, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis & more. Typical £ per survey: £1 - £5. Payout threshold: £10. Typical survey time: 10 to 30 mins. Feed back: Valued Opinions
12 Panel OpinionPays in hard cash, up to £5 per survey
Paying in cold hard cash, PanelOpinion has a low payout threshold of £10. We've a little less feedback on this one than some other sites, but what we do have is good. MoneySavers have made up to £5 for one survey. Full info
Forumite Marteebies says: "This is my favourite survey website. It's simple but effective and I have made a lot of cash on here. It doesn't take that long to build up a good amount."
Quick stats. Payment method: Bank transfer, PayPal or cheque. Typical ££ per survey: 25p-£2. Payout threshold: £10. Typical survey time: 10 mins. Feed back: Panel Opinion
13 Survey Friends Use points to bid on rewards inclUDING kindles
This site works a little differently to the others. As well as spending Survey Friends points on retail vouchers, you can use them to bid on rewards such as Kindles, Tesco vouchers and TVs. Full info
You can exchange survey points for £10 retail vouchers, including Love2Shop and Boots, when you earn 20,000.
The other option is to use points to enter Survey Friends's Gift Lottery. The more points you bid, the more chance you have of winning the prize. This may sound a little scam-like, but if you don't win, you get your points back, so you've nothing to lose.
The prizes are very winable, and several MoneySavers have got lucky. Forumite stardaylily says: "I won a cool prize of a flat screen TV. I received my prize very quickly. Fab site."
Quick stats. Payment method: Retail vouchers & other rewards. Typical ££ per survey: 400-3,000 points. Payout threshold: 20,000 points (£10). Typical survey time: 10 mins. Feed back: Survey Friends
14 Vanson BourneTop payer, but you must work in IT or business
For anyone who works in IT or business, Vanson Bourne is a must-join. It pays hugely generous £5 or £10 in Amazon vouchers per survey. People usually receive the voucher by email just a few hours after completing a poll. Full info & safety details
Only certain IT and business professionals qualify. Fill in your job details on the application form and it will let you know.
To verify that members are business professionals, it asks for details of the business you work for. It says it will only use this data to verify your eligibility and will never pass it on.
Quick stats. Payment method: Amazon e-vouchers. Typical ££ per survey: £5-£10. Payout threshold: None. Typical survey time: 20 mins. Feed back: Vanson Bourne
15 PureprofileReliable site, but infrequent surveys
One for dedicated survey stashers, Pureprofile is a reliable player, but surveys are scarce. With about one survey per month, it usually takes nine months to two years to reach the £25 target. Full info
You usually have to log on to check for new surveys rather than getting alerts. Some forumites who check often have reached the payout threshold more quickly.
Once your balance does reach £25, the cash is paid into your bank account.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash (BACS). Typical ££ per survey: 10p - £3. Payout threshold: £25. Typical survey time: 15 mins. Feed back: Pureprofile
16 Vivatic Regular polls, but you need to earn £25 before it pays
For belt 'n' braces, Vivatic is worth a look. It's been very popular for its regular surveys and payouts in past years. Yet since it hiked its payout threshold to £25, forumites are less happy. Full info
MoneySavers have also reported getting screened out after answering a mass of questions. So this one's only worth joining if you're a keen survey fan.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via PayPal. Typical ££ per survey: £1. Payout threshold: £25. Typical survey time: 20 mins. Feed back: Vivatic
17 Opinion Outpost Popular as you only need to earn £3 before it pays
Popular for its low payout threshold, Opinion Outpost pays Amazon vouchers or cash via PayPal. Surveys are sporadic, but you only need to earn £3 to get a payout, so should see cash quickly. Full info
Other surveys enter you into prize draws rather than giving cash - less of a good bet.
Quick stats. Payment method: Amazon vouchers or cash via PayPal. Typical ££ per survey: 50p. Payout threshold: £3 (Amazon), £2.50 (PayPal). Typical survey time: 15 mins. Feed back: Opinion Outpost
18 OpinionWorld mixed feedback
Feedback's mixed for OpinionWorld. While some have clocked up £70 in a few months, others are frustrated by being entered for prize draws rather than being given reward points. Full info
Make sure you log on to Opinionworld.co.uk, not the US site Opinionworld.com – they look identical, so it's easy to get confused.
Quick stats. Payment method: Cash via PayPal or retail vouchers. Typical ££ per survey: 50p Payout threshold: £10 PayPal, £3 Amazon. Typical survey time: 20 mins. Feed back: OpinionWorld
19 Justtheanswer Slow burner, only for keen survey fans
Paying in Amazon vouchers, Justtheanswer has a low £5 payment threshold. Yet even this takes ages to earn, with an incredibly slow trickle of surveys. Full info
This is only one for very dedicated survey stashers, as we've little feedback from forumites who've managed to cash in.
Quick stats. Payment method: Amazon vouchers. Typical ££ per survey: 50p-£1.50. Payout threshold: £5 . Typical survey time: 15 mins. Feed back: Justtheanswer
20 Mindmover Infrequent but interesting surveys
Another slow-burner, Mindmover pays out cash via PayPal when you reach £20. Surveys are infrequent - forumites report it takes a while to clock up enough to get paid. Full info
PayPal payment takes two to three weeks to arrive. On the upside, some find the surveys more interesting than ones on other sites.
Quick stats. Payment method: PayPal or cheque. Typical ££ per survey: 50p to £1.50. Payout threshold: £20 for PayPal/£30 for cheque. Typical survey time: 15 mins. Feed back: Mindmover
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Market research focus groups
Traditional market research can also be a banker. Companies pay cash for taking part in focus groups. These take place at a pre-organised address, in your own home, on the phone, or online in a designated chat forum.
All it involves is giving opinions on the chosen subject, usually over sarnies and a cuppa, and you can walk away with anything from £30 to £160.
You can only do one or two a year
The catch is agencies restrict the amount of focus groups a person can do, typically to one every six months - and that's not just with their own agency, but ANY agency. Though if you sign up for a few and combine it with other income-boosters, it's a welcome addition.
To get started, sign up with the following agencies. As the number of focus groups you can attend is limited, we've picked the ones with solid feedback from MoneySavers.
01Saros big name agency with plenty of focus groups
With established agency Saros, you typically get £40 to £100 for two hours' work. You're only allowed to take part in two discussions per year, and it can take a while before you're selected.
MoneySavers report when you do get picked, it's easy cash. Forumite LEJC says: "I did a three-hour forum at a local hotel on the concept of chocolate, and got paid £50. I tasted three pieces of chocolate, had a lovely bacon roll and unlimited tea - not too bad for a morning's work."
mainly in the south east and london
It's possible to earn £20 to (if you're very lucky) £250 a time with Focus4People. Most focus groups take place in London and the south east of England, with a few in Birmingham and Manchester. It also runs telephone and online sessions, so it's worth everyone joining.
Forumite MartinLewisisalegend says: "Without wishing to brag - I got £90 for the one focus group I attended. Cash in hand on the day for a couple of hours giving my opinion - I highly recommend it."
03Research Opinions FoCUS GROUPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Based in Manchester, Research Opinions runs focus groups across the country in cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
It runs individual in-depth interviews and online sessions.
04Indiefield a good bet for londoners
Another big player is Indiefield. Be sure to update the profile section - your postcode, age and gender means you will be notified of pertinent research
events in your area.
Most focus groups are in London, though there are also a few outside. MoneySavers say it typically pays £35 a time.
05FocusForce Online panels and face-to-Face Groups
While we've a little less feedback on this agency, FocusForce holds focus groups within the M25, mostly after work, typically paying £40 - £50 a survey. It sends daily email requests.
It also invites people to join online panels - for these, you can live anywhere in the UK.