I got the following email invitation from a credit card company this morning asking me to join an e-Rewards opinion panel and take a survey:
Share Your Opinion and Earn Wyndham Rewards Points
As a Wyndham Rewards member, we’re extending an exclusive invitation to you to join the e-Rewards® Opinion Panel and earn valuable Rewards, including Wyndham Rewards Points, just for participating in surveys that are pre-screened to match your interests.
Enroll today and receive 350 Bonus Wyndham Rewards Points* when you complete your first survey within 90 days.
Wow, free points for answering surveys? That sounds good, right? But are e-Rewards surveys legit? Off to search to find out.
Are e-Rewards Surveys Legit?
I like to cut straight to the heart of the matter when searching and what I really wanted to know is whether e-Rewards surveys are a scam. So I typed in “e-Rewards opinion panel scam” and hit enter. The first result was the e-Rewards website so I disregarded it and clicked on the next three results. Here’s what I found.
Back in March 2010, Frugal Girl posted a comprehensive review saying:
e-Rewards is a legit survey site, but their e-Rewards Dollars are not the equivalent of real world dollars, because rewards offered are inflated in value. However, e-Rewards pay about $2.30 per hour.
What? $2.30 per hour? Moving on to more opinions.
SurveyPolice gives e-Rewards a 3-star rating based on 151 user reviews. In the five comments on the first page, the star ratings range from three to five. Not bad but not great. Moving on.
Over at reviewopedia, I found that “Overall e-Rewards is a legitimate program and if you have the time you can use it to collect some decent rewards.”
Well, that’s somewhat encouraging.
There’s no date on the post, however, but the oldest comment is from 2007 and a lot may have changed since then. The recent comments are not too encouraging. On the first page, 19 out of 20 of the comments posted included a star rating and nearly half (8) are just one star. Add in the two star reviews (4) and the percentage of negativity jumps to 63%!
With only one 5-star rating and just two 4-star ratings in nearly a year, I’m thinking folks are not experiencing much success there.
Do You Want Your Info Collected?
Something else to consider about e-Rewards and online surveys is your privacy. All of the companies say they will keep your private information private. Only the best really do.
When it comes to e-Rewards, I’m not sure what all they ask and they probably assure you that your answers are anonymous, but do I really believe that? Here is what one user has to say.
“Just a warning: e-Rewards will sell your personal info to JUNK MAIL companies. They sold mine to Universal Subscriptions and I began receiving junk mail, seemingly out of nowhere, soon after I signed up and completed a few surveys with e-Rewards. I asked the magazine company who had subscribed me, as I am very careful with my personal info, and they referred me to the above-mentioned junk mailers, who collect personal data and provide it to magazine and catalog companies. Think twice about joining e-Rewards unless you want real-life spam in your real life mailbox!”
Just what I need, more junk mail in exchange for wasting valuable time.
In addition to this, I found about pre-screening questions with e-Rewards. One commenter complained about many instances where “you don’t qualify” long after e-Rewards had accumulated significant information and the commenter spent a lot of time for nothing.
So, I’ve deleted the e-Rewards Opinion Panel invitation.
What Are Some Legitimate Online Surveys That Pay?
Based on the information I found about the e-Rewards site, I decided against them. But I wanted to know if there were other online surveys that I could take and would actually pay me money and be worth my time. After a lot of searching, I found a few options that are legitimate online survey sites. Here is the list:
Pinecone Research: If you want to do surveys, this is a great option. They usually send 2-3 per month in addition to household questions. You don’t earn anything for the questionnaires but you do get entered into a raffle. For the surveys, you can redeem your points for cash or gift cards.
The only downside is that this company is invite only. They do this to make sure they get quality survey takers. So you have to find a current member who is willing to sign you up. I no longer use this site, so unfortunately I cannot refer you.
Swagbucks: When you join Swagbucks for free, you can take part in more than just surveys. They also offer opportunities for you to search the internet, play games and do online shopping. When you do these activities through them, you earn swagbucks which you can redeem for gift cards or cash.
I joined earlier this year and have already made $25 by taking just a handful of surveys. You can sign up through this link.
Inbox Dollars: Inbox Dollars is very similar to Swagbucks. What is really cool about them however is that you can earn money by watching videos! I love videos and this is right up my alley. Of course you can take surveys too, but I find watching videos much more exciting.
I joined this site earlier this year as well and watch videos when I am bored. I also take some surveys here and there. I’ve earned over $30 so far. You can sign up through this link.
Survey Junkie: This site is just surveys and they pay cash. You accrue points and when you reach 1,000 points, you earn $10. They’ve always paid and I haven’t had any issues with them so far.
There are others out there, but these are the ones I’ve used and have earned money with, so I know they are legitimate. You can sign up using this link.
As for privacy issues with these companies, I’ve found that the ones I’ve listed above are good at not selling me out to a bunch of random companies. I have not seen an uptick in telemarketing calls or junk mail.
A Word Of Warning
Over the years of taking online surveys and talking with people who do online surveys, I’ve realized one main thing. Many people are not realistic of earnings when it comes to online surveys. Yes you can make money doing this. I have for many years, starting with Pinecone Research.
But, I didn’t make enough so that I could quit my job. Nor did I make enough that I was able to pay off my mortgage. That is unrealistic. The money you earn is going to help you put some extra cash in your pocket.
For me, I average around $500 a year taking surveys online. Again, nothing life changing. But I take this money and either buy myself something I’ve been wanting or I just throw all of the money into an investment account and let it grow.
Many of the people I’ve talked with who have negative things to say about online surveys and e-Rewards are upset because they expected this to be an easy way to rich. It is far from it.
So keep this in mind when you are signing up and taking surveys. You won’t get rich overnight, but you will make some extra money on the side. If you get into completing surveys as a form of entertainment, they might be worth doing. You can burn some free time sitting at your computer and make some extra money.
I realized that the bottom line for me is I really don’t want to give out so much personal information to e-Rewards, simply because I am not sure I can trust them. Plus, the thought of spending my time answering questions only to not qualify would annoy me.
So for now, I will just stick to the survey sites like Swagbucks, InboxDollars, and Survey Junkie. They are fair with the time involved and I actually do get the money in my PayPal account, or the gift card if I go with that option.
The bottom line is, skip e-Rewards and stick to the other online survey sites I listed above. And remember to keep the rewards in perspective too.
You will be much happier and earn far more when you do this than if you try to find a survey site that promises to pay you millions of dollars for very little work.
[Photo Credit: TheDigitalWay]
Crystal Marie lives by the philosophy that needing less rather than earning more is the key to happiness and financial serenity, which allowed her to “retire” from formal employment in health education at the age of 44. She can be found making the most of the second half on her blog, The Best 50 Years.