In the game of online survey sites, InboxDollars and Swagbucks are two of the biggest players out there. While Swagbucks is much larger, both sites offer legit earning opportunities. They are also both owned by the same holding company, Prodege.
In this post, you’ll find a full rundown of each site, including how much you can earn, what makes them unique, and more.
Let’s start with a look at Inbox Dollars.
What Is InboxDollars?
InboxDollars is a leading consumer rewards site and market research provider. The company started back in 2000 and has paid out over $80 million in cash rewards over the last two-plus decades.
In a nutshell, here’s how InboxDollars works.
Companies pay InboxDollars to access consumer opinions and gather feedback about products and services. As a member, you can earn rewards in exchange for completing surveys, watching videos, and even for paid shopping.
It’s completely free to sign up for InboxDollars, but you need to be at least 18 to qualify.
Top features for InboxDollars
Multiple ways to earn
The more you engage with the InboxDollars platform, the more you’ll earn.
Paid surveys are its bread and butter, but InboxDollars is much more than just a survey site. You can also get free samples and earn money by playing games, watching videos, and shopping through its partner merchants.
Most survey activities pay between 50 cents and $5. However, you should expect that scale to lean towards the lower end — as with most survey sites.
As the name suggests, PaidEmails compensates you for reading emails. The earning amount is usually only a few pennies, and you can read up to three sponsored messages per day. To receive a higher payout, you typically have to complete a task (e.g., trying a service from one of the PaidEmails sponsors).
Minimum payment threshold
A major drawback to InboxDollars is the $30 payment threshold. Making matters worse, if you cash out at the $30 minimum, you’ll have to pay a $3 processing fee. You must earn at least $40 in earnings to avoid paying this fee.
When it’s time to cash out, you can transfer your InboxDollars rewards to PayPal or redeem them for gift cards at leading retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
You can even request for InboxDollars to send you a paper check. The company actually still does that.
There’s also a grocery coupon portal in the InboxDollars dashboard where you can find discounts for brands like Kraft, M&M’s, Pampers, Pillsbury, Purina, and Huggies.
InboxDollars Surveys app
InboxDollars offers a mobile app that you can use to take surveys from any Android or iOS device.
Overall, members appear to be pleased with the app’s quality. With a 4.5-star rating in the App Store and a 4-star rating in the Google Play Store (out of 5), the InboxDollars Surveys app is one of the top-rated options in the market.
Instant $5 sign-up bonus
New members can earn a $5 instant sign-up bonus. After that, all you have to do is enter your email address and password and confirm the activation email that the company sends out.
Considering that you don’t even need to take a survey, this is essentially free money. Just remember that you eventually need to rack up at least $25 more to cash out.
Pros and Cons of InboxDollars
- Real cash earnings
- $5 sign-up bonus
- Easy to navigate
- Well-rated mobile app
- Inactivity penalties
- Processing fee for PayPal
- Low payouts
- Checks can take three to 10 business days to arrive
- Minimum payout of $30 before you cash out
Now that you have a better idea of the ins and outs of InboxDollars, let’s take a look at another popular survey site: Swagbucks.
What Is Swagbucks?
Swagbucks is a hugely popular online survey site with more than 20 million active members. Since its inception in 2008, the site has paid out over $579 million in rewards.
You read that right — over half a billion dollars.
In many ways, Swagbucks and InboxDollars are similar. For example, third-party market research companies and brands also partner with Swagbucks to collect valuable consumer feedback. And, as a Swagbucks member, you can earn SB points for completing many of the same tasks you can do with InboxDollars.
Swagbucks is also free to sign up for, but you need to be at least 18 years old to qualify.
Top features for Swagbucks
Multiple earning opportunities
Swagbucks offers a range of ways for users to make money online.
For example, you can earn SB points by filling out surveys, watching online videos, browsing the web, and using the Swagbucks search engine. You can also get paid to play games.
In addition, if you install the SwagButton Chrome Extension, you will automatically be notified if any of the websites you’re visiting offer SB points in exchange for purchases.
When it’s time to cash out, you can convert your SB points to gift cards at major retailers like Old Navy and Kohl’s. But why do that when you can convert them to cash in your PayPal account?
Here’s one area where Swagbucks is unique. Instead of earning cash rewards, you’ll earn SB points. One SB point is worth one penny. So 100 points are equal to $1, and so on.
Lower payout threshold
Once your account hits 2,500 SB points, you can cash out to your PayPal account. If you prefer a lower payout threshold, you can redeem your earnings for gift cards at 100-point increments.
Swagbucks Magic Receipts
With Swagbucks Magic Receipts, you can earn SB points from your everyday grocery store purchases. All you have to do is go shopping at a major grocery store (e.g., Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods, or King Soopers) and upload your receipt to the mobile app after checking out.
As you might expect, Swagbucks is going to collect and monetize your purchasing behavior. But, if you can earn a few extra SB points, what’s the harm?
Swagbucks mobile app
With the Swagbucks mobile app, you can take surveys, watch videos, and earn rewards from online shopping from any Android or iOS device. You’ll also use the app to upload your Magic Receipts.
The Swagbucks mobile app is also well-liked by customers, with a 4.4-star rating in the App Store and a 4.2-star rating in the Google Play Store.
$10 signup bonus*
Notice the asterisk. To qualify for a $10 signup bonus (in the form of 1,000 SB points), you first need to spend $25 at a participating Swagbucks merchant.
Seeing that you have to spend real money – and may never reach the 2,500 SB points minimum payout threshold – this doesn’t qualify as a bonus in my book.
Pros and cons of Swagbucks
- Free to join
- Earn cash or gift cards
- Low payout threshold
- More earning options than competitors
- Low payouts
- Lackluster signup bonus
- Easy to spend money rather than make money
Comparing InboxDollars and Swagbucks
In this next section, I’ll show you where each site takes the cake.
Earning potential: It’s a tie
First things first: Neither site pays serious income. InboxDollars and Swagbucks are only good for earning a little bit of extra cash, and that’s it. Across both sites, most users tend to bring in anywhere from $10 to $50 per month.
In my opinion, your best approach is to let earnings accumulate and cash out once you reach $50 or $100. You can then invest those earnings, pay off a bill, or put them into emergency savings.
Promotions: Swagbucks has more
InboxDollars and Swagbucks both have tons of surveys and deals. However, Swagbucks is a much larger site, so it has many more partner advertisers and merchants.
With that said, it’s also easier to spend money on Swagbucks in pursuit of earning SB points. You’ve been warned.
Referral programs: InboxDollars wins
Have some friends who may want to take online surveys? Round ’em up. Both companies have referral programs for new users.
For each new person that you refer to Swagbucks, you’ll get 10% of the referral’s earnings for as long as they’re active on Swagbucks. This applies to shopping, searching, watching, answering, and playing games.
Better yet, with the InboxDollars Refer a Friend program, you can receive $1 per referral (up to five friends). Plus, you’ll get 30% of your friends’ earnings while they’re active on the platform.
If you’re trying to make money taking surveys, the InboxDollars referral program is better. Hands down.
Signup bonus: InboxDollars wins
InboxDollars offers a quick $5 signup bonus just for trying the platform. Enter your email, choose a password, and answer some qualifying questions to receive the credit. Boom. It’s that easy.
Swagbucks has a higher signup bonus of 1,000 points ($10). However, you have to spend at least $25 at a partnering retailer. While this is a decent discount if you are buying a necessary item, you still have to spend money, and that’s not the point here.
Sweepstakes: Swagbucks wins
Swagbucks offers earning competitions known as Swagstakes. You can enter limited-time giveaways using Swagbucks points and potentially earn fun gadgets and prizes.
For example, a contest may ask you to pay 5 SB points for your chance to win 40 or 50 SB points. To date, Swagbucks has paid out over $3 million in total Swagstakes prizes.
InboxDollars often promotes contests and promotions on its Facebook page. But overall, there are fewer chances to win sweepstakes prizes.
Customer service: It’s a tie
Neither company lists a phone number or email address to contact for customer support, which is pretty weak. That’s probably because if they list that information, they will receive thousands of calls from members each day asking about getting paid or why they didn’t qualify for a survey.
Your best bet is to try and resolve your issues by submitting tickets in the self-help portals. Both of these sites want you to be happy and engage with their platforms, so you should eventually get a reply.
Sign up process: It’s a tie
It’s super easy to sign up and use both survey platforms. Simply enter your email address, password, confirm your email address, and you’ll be good to go.
Survey qualification: It’s a tie
You won’t qualify for every survey that you sign up for, and there is usually low availability for the top-paying surveys.
To maximize your access to money-making surveys, you’re probably better off signing up for both platforms.
Inactivity penalties: Swagbucks wins
InboxDollars has strict inactivity penalties. If you don’t perform a task at least once every 10 days, your account will become inactive, and you’ll have to ask to reinstate it. If you wait more than six months to reinstate your account, the company will delete it, and you’ll lose your rewards. Bummer!
Swagbucks won’t delete your account for inactivity. However, points will expire if you don’t claim them within two years.
Top Alternative Survey Sites
MyPoints is a leading online rewards provider where members can earn points for watching videos, shopping online, taking surveys, and completing simple tasks. The site lets you convert points into money, retail gift cards, and airline points.
Survey Junkie is a top online survey aggregator and market research company. You can also get paid to test products, which you can keep when you’re done.
Vindale is a market research company that focuses on online surveys. It’s safe, reliable, and free to use. You can cash out through PayPal or check.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make real money with cashback sites?
Yes, most cashback sites (like the ones I mention above) pay real cash rewards if you complete surveys and participate in online activities.
That said, each paid survey site tends to have a unique payment structure. For example, some sites will issue Visa or Amazon gift cards while others will deposit money directly into your bank account.
Know what you’re getting before you sign up to avoid disappointment.
Are survey sites scams?
Unfortunately, there are many scams out there, and you have to be careful when taking online surveys.
For starters, avoid giving away personal information to unknown websites. And make sure to research a company ahead of time to determine whether it’s legit.
When in doubt, stick with well-rated sites like Swagbucks and InboxDollars, and you shouldn’t have any issues.
Can you make a lot of money with paid surveys?
No. Unfortunately, most cashback sites pay very little. The ones who are really making money are the survey sites themselves and their market research partners.
But, if you can make an extra $50 per month taking surveys from home, it might be worth your time. It’s better than wasting your time staring at the TV.
The Bottom Line
Swagbucks and InboxDollars won’t make much of a dent in your student loan debt, but they can help you earn extra money in your spare time. Most importantly, both sites have been around for a long time, and they’re trustworthy.
If taking online surveys is a side hustle you’d like to try, I recommend signing up for both platforms and seeing which one you like more. You may find that you prefer one over the other or you might be able to double up and take surveys on both sites simultaneously.
At the end of the day, there are higher-paying online jobs out there, and you’re going to have to really hustle if you want to be financially independent.
Invest as much as you can, avoid overspending, and you’ll be in better shape than most come retirement age.
Whatever you decide, I’m rooting for you every step of the way.