Once you’ve been taking paid surveys for a bit, or if you’re using one of these fast-earning survey programs, you’ll find yourself having to choose how you’d like to be rewarded.

While there other ways to get paid, most programs support at least two options: cash, typically via PayPal or check, and gift cards. And though it seems like a win-win, it makes sense to evaluate your options since both methods come with their own set of pros and cons.

Let’s take a look at both payment options, starting with cash.

Taking Surveys for Cash

With cash-based rewards, you rack up a dollar amount over time. Then, once you reach the earning threshold you can “cash-out” for payment via online payment processor (e.g. PayPal) or in some cases a check.


Benefits of Cash

Cash gives you the most flexibility for you how you spend your earnings, which unlike gift cards, you can use pretty much anywhere.

Plus, if you join a cash-only program, it’s really easy to keep tabs on how much you’ve earned since there’s no need to calculate your points into a dollar value as with most card-based programs.


Downsides of Cash

Cash may not give you the maximum earning power since some programs offer gift cards (or catalog items) at a “greater than cash” equivalent, for example offering a $100 Amazon gift card for $95.

In addition, some programs pass along a “transaction cost” to redeem cash. For example, it may only take 1,000 points to get a $10 gift card, while 1,100 points may be necessary for a $10 PayPal payment, requiring more work for the same dollar value.

Finally, there are special considerations for international visitors so if you’re not in the U.S. please be sure to check each program’s policy for non-US residents and any fees associated with currency conversions.

Taking Surveys for Gift Cards

With gift cards, you generally rack up “points” that you can then use to purchase (electronic) gift cards from a variety of online merchants like Amazon, Target, and hundreds of other large and small retailers.


Benefits of Gift Cards

Generally, gift cards require less work to earn than cash, since paid survey programs purchase in bulk and get a discount that gets passed on to you. As noted above, this gives you a little more earning power.

And, unlike funds in a PayPal account, electronic gift cards can usually be used immediately, giving you instant purchasing potential.


Downsides of Gift Cards

While gift cards are great for school supplies and birthday presents, they won’t do you much good if you’re looking to pay your phone bill.

Gift cards simply don’t have the flexibility that cash has, so it’s important to weigh your needs and goals before devoting time to taking paid surveys.

Closing Thoughts

When you’re taking paid surveys, you’ll always want to make sure you’re choosing the rewards that work best for your situation. Whether that’s the flexibility of cash or the added earning power of gift cards, hopefully these tips will help you decide and earn with confidence.

P.S. If you really can’t decide, why not join a few programs and do some for cash and some for gift cards? Be sure to see our tips for taking a multi-program approach to paid surveys if you dig that plan.

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