Updated best survey sites for September 2017:
(Note, it's best to sign up for several as offers change regularly - click through each link above to sign on)
(Sign up to Pinecone Research while it's open as they often close for signups for long periods)
What Is Pinecone Research?
PineCone Research is an exclusive survey website and product testing platform. It is exclusive because you need to be invited and then qualify in order to join. Members of the platform are called ‘panelists’, and once you have been able to successfully join the panel, PineCone Research will send you surveys via email and may sporadically also send you products to test. Surveys can pay from $3 – $5 and product tests can pay up to $6. They are not trying to scam you and are totally legit.
To be upfront, first let me say that I have never tried PineCone Research myself, though not for lack of trying. As of 2017, PineCone Research is one of the most exclusive and hard to join survey websites out there. You do not choose them, they choose you based on a few factors, including what demographic they are currently looking for and in what demographics their clients need to test products. They can afford to be choosy, because as I mentioned before they are totally legit and pay survey takers for their time pretty fast. The fact that I have not been able to take a survey on their website actually reinforces how legit they are.
How It Works
First, you will need an invitation link in order to sign up for PineCone Research. Links can be sent by panelists, or show up as banner ads online on unsolicited websites.
In the second step, you will have to fill out an online questionnaire with all your details in order for the site to determine whether or not you are what they are looking for. There is no trick to this, and being untruthful will not help, because they are constantly looking for different demographics depending on what their clients want.
Once accepted, you will be sent surveys to complete via email, according to your demographic. The surveys are on a variety of topics, though PineCone Research seems to focus most on product and consumer related surveys. This is why they also have a product testing scheme to go along with their surveys (more on that below).
PineCone Research works with a points system, so you will earn points for every survey you complete. These points can then be redeemed as either money or a wide range of gift cards.
It’s free: The site is free to join just like Opinion Outpost. (As it should be, I don’t really know of any survey site that asks you to pay to join.)
Prequalified surveys: PineCone Research will only send you surveys for which you have already qualified. This for me, is the number one reason to use this website. Having used countless survey companies, I can say with conviction that the most frustrating thing is when you have spent time (maybe 20 minutes) on a survey only to be told that you are not qualified to take said survey. In cases like that you gain nothing except a bad mood. It is true that PineCone Research will send you much fewer surveys (and you may not qualify at all like me), but at least they will not waste your precious time.
It is not a scam: PineCone Research is run by a New York based market research company called Nielsen (one of the top market research companies in the world). Nielsen is accredited by the BBB (the Better Business Bureau) who keep customers safe by keeping an eye out for scammers. To make things even better, as of 2017, Nielsen has an A+ rating from the BBB, which means that their survey website is 100 percent legit.
Test unreleased products: You can learn about future products before they hit the market. PineCone Research does product testing as well as surveys. One user mentioned that he answered questions about a certain product while completing a survey, and a few weeks later the product arrived at his doorstep with instructions on how to test it. If you are a product geek like me, just the promise of being able to perhaps test something new before it hits stores is incentive enough to fill a few surveys out. You can’t sign up for product testing though, and the company will send you stuff when it sees fit. Sometimes you may be asked to fill out a “post-testing” survey, in which case you will earn $6 for testing the product and $3 for answering questions about it.
They pay really well: Compared to other survey websites, Pinecone Research pays really well. They will pay you $3 per survey starting out ($5 if you are based in Canada and 3 pounds if you are UK based), but the neat part is that you can expect a pay hike the longer you stay with the site. They cap the pay hikes at $5, but that is still a lot compared to the cents some websites pay for surveys.
They pay on time: This is also really important when you consider how many websites can’t seem to get payments out on time, or just take really long in the first place. PineCone Research will pay you within 48 hours. All payments are made either by cheque, via Paypal or through a pre-credited visa card. Paypal is super easy to set up if you don’t have an account yet, and the whole process can be a smooth payment experience.
Multiple reward options: You can choose from many different ways to redeem your points including Amazon gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, movie vouchers, restaurant gift cards, iTunes, Walmart and Home Depot gift cards, and of course as cash via cheque or Paypal.
Long point expiry dates: Your reward points will stay in your account for a year before they expire.
No minimum redemption balance: You are not required to have a minimum number of points before redeeming. In fact, you can redeem after just one survey if you like. Seriously, if you have points in your account, consider them redeemed. This makes things flexible and you can redeem when you need the cash, or when you fancy a gift card.
They are considerate: If you are travelling you can opt to suspend your surveys and will not receive any during the times you are unavailable. If you are not travelling, you will be expected to complete at least one 20 minute survey per month.
Good Customer Service: According to many users, PineCone Research has a friendly and efficient customer services team for any problems that may arise. They also have a pretty comprehensive list of frequently asked questions on their website.
Sweepstakes! PineCone Research has a lucky draw twice a week worth $500, and quarterly draw worth $4,500. When you complete a survey through the website, you are automatically entered into the draw. The more surveys you do, the better your chances are of winning that sweepstakes money.
Don’t worry about browser crashes: You don’t have to worry about your survey answers being erased if your browser crashes, (or if your dog accidentally shoves your laptop off your couch), because PineCone Research saves all your answers in case of an emergency. If you are a regular survey taker and you have ever lost all your answers for whatever reason, you will know this feature is priceless.
Fun surveys: The surveys you take on this platform are actually interesting! This is a big plus, because there are a lot of sites out there with really mundane surveys. According to users, PineCone Research makes an effort to make their surveys less boring.
It is safe: Your personal data will never be revealed to a third party organisation. This kind of peace of mind is invaluable when you consider that users have complained of having had their personal information stolen from websites like InboxDollars. PineCone Research makes it a point to scrub their data of all personal information before giving it to their clients.
Product influence: You get to influence what products are going to hit stores next. When you are taking a survey on PineCone Research, you are helping companies figure out whether their product will be useful to customers or not. If you are doing a product test you are directly commenting on how you believe the product will do in the market. In this way, you are helping shape the future of many products by giving it a yay or a nay. You are also helping decide key factors like the style, features and price of the product. Pretty cool if you think about it. Who was it that said, “with great power comes great responsibility?” Spiderman was probably talking about that time he was taking a PineCone Research survey.
Though the Pros list seemed to go on forever, and it is true PineCone Research has lots of great reasons to join, nothing is perfect and the platform has some flaws too.
No mobile app: PineCone Research does not have a mobile app yet, so you have to be at your desktop or laptop while taking the surveys. This is a bummer if you like me were hoping to make some cash while on the move.
It is Invite-only: It is not easy to register on this website because you need an invitation form to fill out. PineCone Research posts banner ads on various websites from time to time, so you have to keep your eyes peeled and jump at an opportunity to register if one should arise. You can also get an invite through other PineCone Research members, or through some referral websites.
Age and place factor: You have to be at least 18 years old and based in either the United States, Canada, UK, or Germany in order to be considered for this research program.
Limited number of surveys: Many users have complained of how they have received very few surveys from PineCone Research. This means that it is still a gamble to count on income from doing these surveys. If you manage to qualify, it is a safe bet for some extra pocket-money, but not a steady source of cash since you never know what demographic they will be looking for next. At times you can receive only two surveys a month.
You can be removed from the panel: PineCones Research reserves the right to remove panelists if they feel the need. This means that just because you have been accepted doesn’t mean you are in for life. Panelists can be changes around around according to the new demographics the platform needs.
Dated interface: PineCone Research’s user face is a bit dated and not as attractive as some of the other websites out there. (But really, unless it offends you greatly, this should not be a deal breaker considering the attractive rewards offered.)
They fall prey to fraud: Because they are so trusted, some fraudulent companies try to trick users by using a similar name. For example, in 2012 a company called Pinecone was trying to scam users and many fell for it because the name is so similar to PineCone Research. Make sure you are signing up to the correct website.
Can’t select your own password: Some users have complained because PineCone Research does not allow you to select your own username and password. I do not personally see a problem with this, but to each their own, so I am listing it as a con.
Restrictive membership: Only one member per household is allowed to be a panelist. (But this is also true for many other survey websites.)
PineCone Research seems to be a legit and safe way to make some extra cash by taking surveys online. This is a company that consistently gets five-star ratings from its users. One panelist even said the site is so good it THRILLS him. If you happen to come across a banner ad for their website with an invitation, jump on it. Then, if you happen to qualify, there seems to be no downside to taking a few surveys for this company and making a buck or two. Who knows, you may even win their $4500 quarterly sweepstake!