Gift cards, cash, pre-paid credit cards and sweepstakes entries – these are main reward options survey companies offer their members for completing online surveys. On the surface, cash might seem like the obvious top reward choice, but you might be surprised to learn that it’s not always the best choice.
Cash is king, right?
Receiving a cash payment made to your PayPal account is the most popular way to get paid for taking surveys. Cash is versatile and it’s nice to have the freedom to be able to spend it any which way you choose – hence its popularity.
But receiving cash payments can also have some drawbacks – especially when it comes to fees. If you prefer cash as a payment option, try to find survey sites that don’t charge fees for cash redemptions.
- No limits: Cash can be used any way you like – be it to make a bill payment, pay off a student loan, etc. – you can spend it however you want and are not limited to a certain store or method (online vs offline).
- Convenient, for the same reasons above. Especially in Europe and Australia, bank transfers are common, so cash payments can be sent directly to your bank account, without having to go through a third party payment processor.
- No worrying about accidentally losing your online cash payment like you would an emailed gift card code.
- Earning a PayPal payment may take longer; it might take $20 (vs $10 for a gift card, for example) worth of survey earnings to receive a PayPal payment.
- PayPal payments can carry fees; some market research companies and GPT programs charge a service fee for PayPal withdrawals. This can be anywhere from 1-3%.
- Moving a PayPal balance to your bank account may result in a fee if the amount is low (refer to PayPal’s fee structure, available on their website).
- PayPal is not available in some smaller, less developed countries
Gift cards options
Whether it be in physical form, or emailed as a voucher, gift cards have increased in popularity over the years. New options like Rewards Link and GCodes have changed the notion that gift cards can only be spent in one store, with some gift cards now having the flexibility of being spent across multiple vendors.
Gift card redemptions are easy and generally very fast; some survey companies will send gift cards instantly, or within 48 hours of request.
- Easy to spend online and in store. Most survey websites provide gift card options to retailers you likely frequent on a regular basis (Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy etc.).
- Easy to re-gift, especially with physical gift cards.
- Often issued instantly after requesting one from a survey company.
- No fees involved when requesting one from a survey company, or when redeeming it.
- Age of majority rules often don’t apply; generally speaking, kids and teens can redeem gift cards (especially in store).
- Can only be spent in one store (Reward Link cards are an exception).
- Can be lost or stolen.
- Can be difficult to spend, especially if it’s for a retailer you don’t shop at.
- Can be hard to convert to cash or another gift card. Even gift card conversion websites don’t accept gift cards from all retailers and when you sell or exchange a gift card, some of its value will be lost.
Pre-paid credit cards
Pre-paid credit cards have been around for a long time in physical form, but in recent years, the digital version has increased in popularity. Both Visa and Mastercard offer pre-paid cards that can be used online and they can be used the way a regular credit card would be. Any retailer who accepts credit cards (whether online or in-store) will also accept a pre-paid credit card.
With digital pre-paid cards, you can either request a physical card be mailed to you (for a fee), or the card’s information (card number, expiry, etc.) can be entered into an online checkout page, just like a regular credit card.
- Convenient and flexible – can be used at any in-store or online retailer who accepts credit cards.
- Usually awarded quickly by survey companies.
- Easy to re-gift, especially with physical pre-paid cards.
- Can be complicated to spend online if using across multiple stores (i.e. odd remaining balance amounts can be hard to use; it’s better to use the full value at once).
- Fees involved when requesting a digital card be converted into a physical one.
- Cannot be used by people under the age of majority.
- Must log in to Visa or Mastercard’s website in order to set up.
Entries into sweepstakes draws generally take two different forms; some survey panels like VIP Voice allow you to bid on rewards so that the more points you bid on a prize, the better your chances of winning it. Sites like InstaGC offer pots of points that can be won by spending a small amount of points in order to win a big prize of points.
More commonly, survey sites offer draws and sweepstakes if you get disqualified from taking a survey, or in the case of LEO, sweepstakes entries are often provided in addition to a points incentive.
- You could win a prize that far exceeds the value of any survey points spent bidding on it.
- Winning is fun!
- Can be a good way to spend an amount of points that’s too small to redeem for a different reward option (cash, gift card, etc.).
- Can be an easy way to potentially receive an item of significant value, or cash.
- Depending on the sweepstakes, your chances of winning a prize could be very low.
- If you don’t win anything, you’ve extracted no value from any potential spent points.
- Some sneaky survey sites might never actually select a winner. Make sure you only enter draws where winners lists are published!
To sum it up
There really is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ rewards option when it comes to spending the points you’ve earned from taking online surveys, but it’s a good idea to keep the pros and cons of each option in mind when making your selection. You don’t want to see your $50 PayPal payment dwindle to $46 after fees or be stuck with a gift card you don’t have a use for. By keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll extract the highest value possible out of the reward decisions you do make!