Signing up to an annual direct debit payment plan from your energy supplier is supposed to help prevent bill shock as your payments are spread equally throughout the year. But it might not work like that...
Online surveys - the best ones to make you money
If you're on the computer a lot and you like answering easy questions, online surveys can be a good way of making a bit of pocket money - or getting some fun prizes here and there.
Don't think you will make a fortune though! The most you are likely to get from a survey is about £5 a go, and many of them don't actually pay - they just give you points through which you can redeem some prizes.
The bad news
...is that there are a lot of con artists on the net and many of them are running bogus surveys. BEWARE!
There are several that just want to get your information (and possibly even your bank details) and then cause you problems. So don't just go with any old company. Check the list below and only join those or others that your trusted friends recommend.
Also, even the good ones are likely to bombard you with emails once they have your email address so it's a good idea to set up a separate account from your usual email address just for surveys, cashback sites, freebie sites and other annoying companies that want to keep 'communicating'!
How to do it
It's not a difficult process. It's simply a question of registering (for free - make sure you don't pay anything) with a few survey companies you like the look of, then checking your inbox regularly to see what surveys are on offer.
Remember, you won't qualify for all the surveys. These are marketing tools and the companies that set them are usually looking for answers from specific groups, eg mothers between the ages of 20-35. You might find that only a few surveys apply to you so it's a good idea to be signed up to a few survey companies to give yourself a decent choice.
With most companies you earn reward points as you go and obviously the more active you are the more points you earn. Depending on which site you use you can convert your points into vouchers or sometimes cash and you also have the chance to enter prize draws too.
Safe sites to join
This is a firm favourite with my readers at Moneymagpie.com. Valued Opinions will enter you into a prize draw to win an iPad as soon as you sign up. They then offer short surveys of just 15-20 minutes which will earn you between £1 and £5 each time. Not bad cash.
They'll also give you £2 when you refer a friend who joins and completes a survey. Plus there's also the chance to do product testing, which means free stuff. So you can see why it's popular.
Once your account reaches £10 you can redeem your points for vouchers at Amazon, Marks & Spencer, Argos, Tesco, Boots, John Lewis, HMV, Arcadia and Marriott, or you can choose to donate your rewards to charities like the British Red Cross, Amnesty International and World Vision.
Surveyhead offers all kinds of surveys about films, travel and gaming and will pay you £3.50 just for signing up. They send you invitations every time a survey comes up and will reward you with points for each one you complete.
Once you've reached a minimum threshold of points you can either claim vouchers to spend across hundreds of different online stores, or you can opt to 'cash out' - claim your rewards in their cash equivalent. These are paid using Paypal.
Users I've heard from have given Surveyhead a big thumbs up for good rewards and prompt payment.
Another popular site, Panelbase has turned many of the drawbacks of online surveys into positives for its users. For example, all respondents who are screened out of a survey are put into a monthly prize draw to win £50 cash.
The surveys they offer pay between 25p and £10 each, and often include additional entry into prize draws for big value prizes like TVs and iPods. Once you reach your redemption threshold of £10 you can opt to receive it as cash (via a BACS payment into your account) or you can choose vouchers. They offer Love2Shop vouchers, which can be used in over 70 high street retailers, so you don't have to choose a specific store to get your rewards in.
These guys are another popular choice with many people. You'll earn between 50 and 150 points for each Lightspeed survey or MiniPoll and you need a minimum of 1,100 points to convert your points into vouchers. You can receive your rewards as cash (via Paypal) or in vouchers for a variety of online and high street retailers like Amazon, M&S and Argos.
Completing surveys and MiniPolls will not only earn you points, but also enter you into a quarterly cash prize draw for £2,000.
With Toluna you'll get 500 points just for signing up, and you'll get an additional 500 points for recommending friends too (as long as they complete their sign-up).
You can earn between 1,000 and 20,000 points for each of their surveys depending on its length, and they are sent directly to you. The great thing about Toluna is that you have other opportunities to collect points by doing smaller polls or giving an 80-word opinion about something - perfect if you've got a spare 15 minutes on your lunch break.
You need 80,000 points to convert into the lowest £15 voucher, which you can spend in a variety of places like Amazon or HMV. On average you'll find this will take two or three months to reach, depending on the survey screenings and how active you are on the website.
On GreatSites a cash prize of £5,000 is given away every six months, which is not bad for just answering a few simple questions. Once you've registered they will email you special offers and surveys based on the information you provided them with (ie your profile).
The more you respond the greater your chance of scooping the £5,000, plus you'll gain access to the various other competitions the company has running.
Ciao for Product Reviews
You write reviews for Ciao and earn money when people read them. Different reviews are given different rates of pay. The rate for each review changes monthly because of how Ciao is financed. Reviews are worth 0.5p per rating, 1p per rating or 2p per rating and you earn more if you write a first review of a product or very high quality reviews.
You can invite friends and earn a commission equal to 50% of your friend's earnings for the first six months of their membership. Once you've reached £5 or more you can request a payout into your bank account.
(Ciao is owned by Microsoft)
Onepoll will pay you £2.50 just for joining and then you can make between 10p and £1 for any surveys you take with the chance of winning £500 in a cash prize every now and then. Onepoll also pays for real-life stories you might have for the papers, so worth considering (although if it's a really good story make sure you get at least £500 or it's not worth it).
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I do bother with surveys and I get emails from the best UK survey company in the UK right now. The headings are genuine because they have won awards and I always get a person respond if I have any questions.
They are honest so I am honest when I complete the survey and plus it was free to join so try this one as it is the best around right now. If you do not agree then just dont do any more surveys but I am sure you will agree they are always running regular surveys and competitions.
Click the link to join
Cian Pedro Chambers look me up
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