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Why Online Money-Making Websites Are a Scam

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Anne is a longtime freelance writer who's constantly trying to find ways to write articles online and turn a profit.

Don't be fooled by websites or apps that claim you'll be able to make money by filling out surveys, watching ads, or exercising.

Don't be fooled by websites or apps that claim you'll be able to make money by filling out surveys, watching ads, or exercising.

Are Online Survey, Ads, and Testing Sites Scams?

Are you a student? Are you someone looking to get some extra cash on the side? Are you between jobs, and you think that you have finally found the Holy Grail of making money online? Do you believe that if the website does not ask you for money to get money that it is not a scam? Well, you are wrong, and let me tell you why, from my own experience.


How Do These Sites Work?

So, truth be told, I am a student. And like any student, I want to find a way to make some money on the side. Not a lot, but just a little to help me afford some of the habits that I have acquired. And why not create an account and go through the trouble to end up with a small sum by the end of the month? How bad can it be? I will be getting a small amount of cash by doing this or that on a daily basis, but by the end, I might end up with $10–20, so it cannot be that bad.

Well, here is what I have learned, and I have comprised a list ranging from the worst to the most doable (but not really):

  • Surveys: These are, by far, the worst and the most common online. Anywhere you look, you can find some website that tells you they will pay you to complete surveys. Here is why they are a scam, at least from my point of view: Most of them have a pretty substantial cash payout (usually around 10 or 20 dollars). Where is the problem? They will probably give you one or two surveys a day (if you are lucky), and these surveys pay around $0.01–0.05. Maybe $0.10 if you are fortunate, but those types of surveys are incredibly rare.
    • Let’s do a simple math equation. Say you are lucky enough, and you get three surveys that pay $0.05. This means that you will make roughly $0.15 a day, which will mean you will have to do this daily for 134 days to make $20.1 and cash out. If you are from a country that is not the US, Canada, or the UK, chances may be even slimmer since not many companies focus on doing surveys for countries outside this range. Count your "blessings" where you can.
  • Watching ads: This pays marginally better than surveys, but I still wouldn’t consider it a reliable side income option, even if your expectations are pretty low. Depending on the website, the time it takes you to get to the threshold needed to cash out may differ. And you may have to work extra hard if you want to cash out in PayPal money and not in gift cards. You can cheat the system a bit by playing the ads but not watching them, but I still do not consider it worthwhile. Again, if you are not from the three countries that I have already mentioned, you may find yourself at a loss when you barely get to watch any ads. Slim picking for those outside the US, Canada, and the UK, but it is what it is.
  • Fitness apps: I wanted to put this right after surveys, but it is pretty much the same as watching ads, at least money-wise. If you are an active Instagram user, you may have seen some pages promote Sweatcoin or some other fitness app that supposedly will pay you to work out. But who does that? And who does that and pays you anything close to decent? These fitness apps reward you with points for walking a specific distance or counting your steps and meeting a threshold that they have set in stone. Do this, and you get your points for the day. Doing this ensures that you get fit, but it does not guarantee you get anything from it. It may take you months or even a year to make the points needed to cash out. Most of these apps ask that you walk at least 5,000 and up to 15,000 steps daily to get a small number of points. My opinion? You can get more money by betting a friend that you can lose X amount of pounds.
  • Online testing: If you are a US, Canadian, or UK citizen, you might make some money here. Some websites are legit, asking the user to test various programs or sites and offering them usually $10 for 20 minutes of their testing time. Not so bad, in my opinion. Most of them also have a very low pay threshold or pay you shortly after completing the survey. Be aware that there is a small number of surveys available, but it is better than nothing, especially with how they are paid.

Are Passive Income Apps Any Better?

Say you do not have the time to actively watch ads or test out websites or do any of the above, but you still want a little bit of cash on the side. You heard about passive income apps that you install on your phone and let them run, and you hope that this can be an alternative. We all have some type of smartphone these days, so why not use it to get some income while not doing anything extra?

Three reasons:

  • They drain your battery.
  • They pay just as much as doing surveys or watching ads.
  • They take a long time to allow you to cash out.

How to profit from them:

I have not gone down this path, but I have heard of people who managed to make a small income by doing this. The answer? Create a phone farm. Most of these apps state that there is a limit of devices that you can use (Cashmagnet, for example, says that you can only use four phones at the same time). So why use one phone and make 10 points a day (yes, they also work on a points system that you can convert to a gift card or PayPal money) when you can use four phones and make 40 points?

This is indeed an option for you, but only if you are ready to look for some cheap phones to use on your mini smartphone farm to help you get a quick buck. The only advice that I have for you is that you should look for cheap phones that would help you turn a profit.

Look for something that does not cost more than $40, and make sure that they have at least 1GB of RAM. Last but not least, get a phone that has Android 5.1 or higher. Those that run on Android 4 cannot run these passive income apps since their Android version is not compatible.


Is It a Struggle?

Yes, it is a constant struggle, and I advise you to pay close attention to the requirements of an app or a website that promises to pay you for your time. Using only one passive income or beer money website or app will not turn a profit, but by using more than one on a daily basis, you might see yourself turn a small profit by the end of the month. Not an extravagant sum (it is called "beer money" for a reason) but enough to save up for something else or use to support a small habit that you have.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Anne (author) from United Kingdom on July 23, 2018:

Indeed! Thank you for your comment!

Raj Dixit from India on July 22, 2018:

This is a very good articles. Indeed these sites may be the scam, need to away from these.