Ten years ago, I was trying to figure out a way to work from home. Every internet search turned up “paid surveys” as a way to do just that! I was excited, because not only did this sound easy, but it sounded like fun!
One of the top sites on every list was Inbox Dollars. It had been around for about 8 years by that point, so it was still very young in terms of survey companies.
I quickly learned that making real money, like making a living, was not going to happen taking surveys. Inbox Dollars was not an exception to this. You only earned pennies per survey or email clicked, and you had to have $30 to cash out.
I let it go, along with my dream of making money taking surveys.
Fast forward to now, 10 years later, and I have learned a lot. I now know that it takes a lot of time, commitment, and more than one site to make significant money taking surveys.
I still see Inbox Dollars around though. Not only is it around, it seems more popular than ever.
Since it hasn’t shut down, I figured it must be doing well. Someone must be making money, right? I decided to look into it again.
As always is the case, I like to look at the history of a company before I get too deep into the nitty-gritty of things. This company has roots that are far different than its peers. In fact, the story is pretty amazing.
The founder and CEO is Daren Cotter. Look him up. He looks very young. In fact, he actually is under 40. If you do the math, he started Inbox Dollars when he was in his very early 20s, maybe even 20.
The company was founded in 2000. Cotter was in college from 1999 to 2004 according to his LinkedIn profile. This means he started and began growing the company in college.
It is based in Mendota Heights, MN. In it’s 18 years of existence it has grown to around 40 employees and more than $25 million in annual revenue, as of August 2017.
In addition, they have expanded to Canada and the United Kingdom, and all of this growth has been totally self-funded.
As amazing as this is, the great story of a savvy entrepreneur doesn’t tell me if I can actually earn money using the site. I dug further.
I told you I had an account there years ago. One of the big no no’s with most survey sites is having duplicate accounts, so the first thing I did is try to log in with my old account.
I got right in, and the system recognized me by name, but I got a message stating that my account had been inactive for more than 6 months. This had caused it to be deactivated and I had lost any earnings I had at that time. I wasn’t upset. It was 10 years ago and it was likely less than $6.
The good part was I could open a new account with the same email, but I needed to make sure I hadn’t signed up with another email address and forgotten about it. If I had not, I could sign up again and I was eligible for the sign-up bonus again as well.
This was great, because that sign-up bonus is $5. I entered my name and email address, clicked to verify the email address, and just like that I had $5 in my account.
Next, I got the offer to take a profile survey for $.50. They were standard demographic questions and it only took a few minutes to take. The money was in my account almost immediately.
How Can I Earn?
First off, there are no points here. It is all cold, hard cash.
A lot has changed since I tried the site 10 years ago. Back then the big thing was clicking on emails for money.
You got a few cents, usually 2 cents to be exact, for clicking emails that came to your inbox, hence the name Inbox Dollars.
They have added several other ways to earn, while keeping the paid email option as well. Now you can earn through surveys, watching videos, completing offers, and shopping.
Some of these were there before, but they were relatively new and not very profitable. Offers were few and far between, and online shopping was still fairly new as well. You can also earn through referrals.
Here are some highlights of the most popular ways to earn.
This one is easy peasy. You get an email in your inbox, click it, and you are credited. My account was credited right away with a whopping 2 cents. This is the standard that all the emails pay.
You can earn a penny or so by watching videos. Usually it is 1 cent per 3 videos, but the offers vary some occasionally. None of them are huge earners.
There are a ton of partner offers that pay for completion. These pay the best, but they often require a purchase or at the very least credit card information. If a subscription is required and you forget to cancel, you are going to be charged.
A lot of people make money with these, but if you are spending money to make money, is it worth it? It isn’t impossible to be profitable completing offers, but you have to be smart about it.
The only time I complete paid offers that require a purchase or credit card information is when it is a product or service I was going to try anyway. If that is the case, then the money earned offsets what I was already going to spend, so it is a win.
These are paid offers, but they do not require a purchase or credit card information. They pay substantially less than the other offers, but more than the emails and videos. Most are $.25 to $.75, but a few are worth over $1.
Similar to Swagbucks, Ebates, and MyPoints, you can earn cash back by shopping through Inbox Dollars. I consider this more of a discount than earnings however.
If you have good referrals that are active on the site, this is a great way to reach your cash out minimum. You earn 10%, or $.10 for every dollar earned by your referrals.
There are plenty of gaming opportunities to earn if you are into that.
Scratch/Spin to Win
You earn progress toward a scratch or spin by being active on the site. One of the quickest ways I found to earn progress was using the Inbox Dollars search engine.
You can earn a scratch on the lowest award level pretty quickly (win up to $10.)
I got to scratch twice. Once I won $.02 cents and once I earned $.01. These were credited to my account immediately.
If you save up your progress longer than I did, you can scratch or spin to win up to $25 or up to $100.
When I was a member of the site before, the surveys were just being added. There were not a lot of them available, and I never qualified for one.
When I completed my initial profile survey this time, I immediately had a ton of surveys available. The first one I tried was supposed to take 0 minutes and pay $1.25. I did not qualify for that.
The next one I took said it would take 15 minutes and was worth $.25. I qualified, and it took way less than 15 minutes to complete. It may not have even taken 5 minutes.
When I was done, I was able to scratch the card for my penny, as mentioned above, and then I got a message on the screen that my $.25 would be credited within 30 minutes.
During that time, I got an email confirming that I had earned 25 cents completing a survey.
Before the half-hour was up, I did have the $.25 in my account.
You have to have a minimum of $30 to cash out. Some users report that if you wait until you have $40 in your account, they will waive the $3 processing fee typically charged as per their terms and policies agreement. I cannot verify that however.
You can request payment via check, or you can choose to receive an e-payment. E-payments are received the same day as requested and can be redeemed for a prepaid Visa or a merchant gift card. Either of these can also be received electronically the same day.
Checks take up to 2 weeks to receive, and they ask that you wait 4 weeks before contacting them regarding a check that has not been received.
There are some out there who claim to get a check from Inbox Dollars every few months, but they note that they shop through the site, and they only answer surveys that pay $5 or more. Focusing on other activities will likely result in a much slower payout.
Better Business Bureau
Inbox Dollars has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2012, and they have an A+ rating. Even so, there are several complaints on their file, so I took a look at them.
Virtually all of them were related to people not understanding the policies and terms. You have to read those.
Several people complained about not being credited for completing offers. The terms state that these are credited when Inbox Dollars receives the credit from the partner.
There were complaints about spending time answering questions before screening out. This is a common part of taking surveys for money. It is simply the way these things work.
For each complaint that I read, the company responded with an explanation pointing back to the terms, and often they even broke their terms by crediting accounts or sending fund anyway, in an effort to smooth things over despite being in the right.
Is Inbox Dollars a Scam, Legit, or Safe?
The quick and dirty answer is no, yes, and yes.
They are a legitimate company that does what they say they will do based on their terms.
They adhere to their privacy policies, and they pay as promised.
That said, it is essential to check your expectations and always to exercise caution when online.
Is Inbox Dollars real or fake? Without a doubt they are real, and it appears to be here to stay. It has come a long way in the past 10 years. They seem much more organized, and they have grown substantially.
People do actually get paid by them, but the pay comes very, very slowly. If you are only earning pennies, you are not going to reach your $30 payout quickly at all.
Answering surveys helps build up a little more quickly, but you would almost certainly have to complete some offers or win a scratch and spin to get there in a reasonable amount of time.
This is a great site to have fun on and earn some pocket change at the same time. If you shop online a lot, you could save some money by using their shopping platform and potentially cash out your pocket change faster.
If you want to make a living making surveys, this is a good one to go in your basket, but you can’t do it here alone.
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Have you been using Inbox Dollars for a while?
We would love to know your experience.