While I don’t advocate taking part in research surveys as a full-time occupation, those with the time and inclination can earn cash and gift cards for major retailers. Most of the major players operate in a similar manner. You register your email address and then complete a basic questionnaire, outlining your background (age, gender, where you live) and interests. Afterward the company matches you with appropriate surveys. For every completed survey you receive points or credits. Those, in turn, are exchanged for gift cards and sometimes even hard, cold cash (via PayPal).
Here are a few to check out. All cost nothing to join and you can unsubscribe at any time: My Survey (I’m a My Survey regular and have earned several restaurant gift cards), Survey Spot and Opinion Outpost.
Another good one is NPD Research. It’s one of the “go-to” research firms for journalists seeking statistics on trends, consumer behavior and buying habits. Right now, you can join the NPD Group Research Team. To join fill out the form and click on the Register button. You should receive an email asking you to confirm via clicking on a special link that you really want to participate. Then expect to receive surveys every so often about your purchases from music and DVDs to food and clothing.
LOTC tip: Some sites ask for a ton of personal information. Only divulge as much as you feel comfortable. Should any ask for credit card or bank account numbers, just say no. And while you should be honest in your opinions, it’s okay to fudge a few things (like the month/day of your birthday). Plus, don’t use your primary email address. Instead sign up for am additional account. That way, if you get flooded with email or spam, you can simply walk away.