Strategic Use of Free Survey-for-Miles Websites

E-Rewards used to be much more lucrative than it is today, largely because they used to give more ‘e-Rewards dollars’ for shorter surveys, my impression is that compared to 5 years ago the payouts are lower.

I admit I get bored of surveys, so I avoid taking them. And the one constraint I have over anything else is time. Survey sites aren’t especially lucrative relative to the time it takes to complete the surveys.

But for folks with time on their hands, surveys can be a great way to earn ‘free’ miles. And there are several sites which offer it.

What’s more, despite finding the surveys annoying, I actually do participate just enough to earn the minimum necessary to transfer to frequent flyer miles so that I can leverage the points as part of a partner promotion. Both e-rewards and e-miles are US Airways partners, for instance. Transferring points from those programs to US Airways Dividend Miles during what is generally an annual promotion, the ‘Grand Slam,’ will earn me partner credits that generate more miles than just what’s being transferred in from the survey site. 2 ‘hits’ in the Grand Slam from e-Rewards and e-miles can be worth thousands of US Airways miles, and of course I don’t pay any cash out of pocket to generate those hits.

So begrudgingly I participate, and I make sure I have enough points in my account for the transfers. And that means that I play a little bit throughout the year, to make sure those points are available.

Fortunately, and I’m not even sure why, I signed up with e-miles selecting US Airways miles as my partner of choice. I say fortunately because that’s the program which has these partner promotions seemingly every year, and because e-miles requires you to sign up with a single partner and then not change the partner you’re earning with.

E-Rewards on the other hand will market to members through a program, and signing up that way can lock you into a single rewards choice. But signing up generically gives you all of the transfer options available. That includes US Airways, United, and several other airlines. It includes Hilton HHonors which used to be the most lucrative choice. And according to this Milepoint thread, American AAdvantage is back as a transfer option as well.

I save up my points to use them strategically, rather than transferring out as soon as I have enough points to turn into miles. Miles are frequently worth the most when they’re flexible, and useful to top off an account at the margin towards an award. I love my flexible points with Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Chase Ultimate Rewards. I love my (much more modest) flexible points with e-Rewards.

A new entrant into the space is uSamp, they sent tons of emails out to Delta Skymiles members. I haven’t used the site yet, but they also now appear to be behind Opinion Place as well. Opinion Place was the first site I used, years ago, earning American miles for surveys. Once upon a time they had an affiliation with AOL. I stopped taking those surveys when they cut earning in half. I haven’t re-investigated Opinion Place and I haven’t tried out uSamp yet either. As I say, not a big fan of surveys, but I do them grudgingly. Your mileage may vary.

Similar to points through surveys is points for trivia, Broadway’s Audience Rewards offers a handful of points (literally, as in 2-10 at a pop) with US Airways, Delta, and Starwood. This Milepoint thread is frequently updated with answers to the trivia questions. Audience Rewards is great as a US Airways partner during the Grand Slam. And it’s also a great way to keep US Airways miles active, preventing expiration. It’s also a good way to keep Starwood points active as well, since Starwood’s rules changed to allow any account activity and not just stay or credit card activity, every 12 months count towards extending an account.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I love that the basis of every post on this site is rational, economic thinking. (“at the margin”)

    Keep up the good work, so we don’t have to see so many average-cost-per-mile posts during the Grand Slam. Good job continuing the marginal revolution.

  2. I was just about ready to give up on the surveys but think I will continue for the reasons you mentioned. Thanks!

  3. Gary, you mention that Hilton HHonors used to be the most lucrative choice for e-Rewards redemptions. Which option do you consider to be the most lucrative now?

  4. @Tom they’ve added more partners so just be sure to hold off transferring until you know where you need the miles for a specific redemption or to count as a partner for a promotion that earns even more miles

  5. We were the first ones to identify the Audience Rewards program and start tracking the questions and answers, as well as started the MilePoint thread. While the rewards are small, they only take a minute or so to answer the questions and earn the miles/points if you follow the sites that track the answers.

    Keep in mind the Audience Rewards Broadway trivia is also associated with Best Buy Reward Zone points. While I have no interest in collecting Best Buy Reward Zone points, they are valuable to collect and trade for US Airways miles during the Grand Slam promotion, using, accounting for an additional hit.

  6. “signing up generically gives you all of the transfer options available” – Is there a link for generic signup? When I go directly to this site I see “membership is by invitation ONLY by one of our sponsors”

  7. I don’t know what’s going on with e-Rewards. I hadn’t logged in for awhile and just logged in again now. I used to have Southwest and US Airways available as transfer partners, I used them both in the past. Now they are both gone and the online airline I have now is United. I don’t know why they are changing around on me, but that’s not cool. I wanted to use it for a Grand Slam hit again this year, like I did last year.

  8. I get a lot of large survey offers in the tech field, so it’s working out for me to get around $12k e-rewards dollars yearly.

  9. Even with the Grand slam aspect considered, I suspect Gary’s time is worth more than the miles.

  10. Are there any options available to keep Alaska Airlines miles from expiring in an account who has no other miles anywhere else?

  11. I’d appeciate it if someone could give me an idea of how many points I should look to earn from each of these survey sites to qualify for a Grand Slam hit? I don’t want to waste any more time than necessary on this, but would hate to be just a few points short of a hit when the time comes. Thanks….

  12. In 3 months since signing up for uSamp’s “TheWhiteBoard” I’ve accumulated 900 points. 2500 points will get you 500 SkyMiles. Wouldn’t be bad if there were more surveys available. Of course, this could just be something specific to my profile that prevents me from being chosen for surveys, but so far it hasn’t been all that lucrative for me.

  13. @Robert Hanson…On my E-Rewards site, the minimum amount of currency I can transfer to US is $25, which gets me 500 miles. That is good for a hit in the Grand Slam. I keep $25 in my E-Rewards account at all times so that I can make the transfer during the Grand Slam. E-Miles requires 500 miles to make a transfer to US. Again, this will get you one hit as well.

  14. The USAirways Grand Slam is why I continue to do e-rewards, and I’d even take it a step further. Not only can you get a “hit” for transferring in e-rewards currency directly to USAirways, but you can also “launder” e-rewards currency for other hits.

    So, for example, the chances of me staying in a La Quinta Inn this year are zero. But I can transfer e-rewards currency into La Quinta points, and then transfer the La Quinta points to US Airways as a hotel partner hit. I expect to get at least five hits just from e-rewards (USAirways, Club Carlson, Priority Club, Choice, and La Quinta), and more depending on how many more surveys I get.

  15. @Jivepicnic Thanks for the info. Not having done a Grand Slam before, I was very much in the dark. This helps a lot.

  16. I went to the E-Rewards website, and it says you can’t sign up, you have to be invited by one of their sponsors, many of which are airlines. I’m a member of some 8 or so airline programs, and Lifetime Gold with AA. What do I have to do to get “invited” ?

  17. I think the merit is indeed primarily for Grand Slam. They list your rewards in dollar amounts, but they are vastly inflated “dollars”. That “$25” you can transfer for 500 airline points puts the valuation of the point at 5cpm. Even at the inflated prices the airlines charge, you can get them a lot cheaper than that. If valuing your time, calculate the “dollars” as “quarters” or something like that.

  18. regarding redemptions-i understand you can only do from same partner once a quarter.but can i do for 2 diff partners in same quarter?e.g. hilton and la quinta at same time?

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