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Get Paid to Read Emails: Two Sites That Actually Work (And Lots To Stay Away From)

How to Get Paid to Read Email
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How many emails do you read per day? For some people, that answer is a dozen. For others, it could be a hundred or more.  

Well, did you know that there are a couple of legitimate sites that will pay you to read emails?

If you’re the type of person who spends a good amount of time in your inbox, these sites can be a decent way to make a little bit of extra money.

If you’re familiar with rewards sites (also called “get paid to” or GPT sites), you’ve probably answered surveys, watched videos or uploaded a grocery receipt to earn some extra money or gift cards.

A few of those same sites now offer users a new opportunity for making money: when you’ve run out of surveys, can’t face another movie trailer, and have no receipts because you’re doing a no-spend challenge, you can get paid to read emails.

Why Do Companies Pay You for Reading Emails?

Many of us are familiar with “get paid to” sites, where users make money by completing simple tasks like answering surveys or uploading receipts.

And we understand why these tasks are worthy of pay: companies use them as a source of market research, advertising and referrals.

But fewer people have heard of sites that allow you to get paid to read emails, and it’s not immediately clear why a company would pay someone for completing that particular simple task.

The answer is advertising.

According to Lifewire, the click-through rate for emails sent in North America is a dismal 3.1%. Advertisers want to give potential customers a reason to actually open their emails, and money is a pretty good incentive.

The paid emails contain ads for various products and services. Sometimes opening and reading the email is all that’s required, and other times you’re prompted to answer a short survey (in order to verify that you actually read it), or carry out some other simple task/easy action.

Most of the time, there’s also an incentive for completing a more desirable action, such as signing up for trial offers or purchasing the advertised product/service.

How Much Money Can You Make From Reading Emails?

“Get paid to” sites aren’t a significant source of income, but they can be a legit strategy for earning a little extra money or free gift cards in your downtime.

The amount you earn is usually commensurate with the amount of effort the tasks require.

The pay for reading emails varies across sites. In general, you’ll earn between one and five cents per email.

Because most sites have a minimum threshold that users must meet before cashing out (typically around $25), you’ll almost always need to participate in some of the sites’ other money-making activities, such as answering surveys, referring friends, using a shopping portal, and/or watching videos.

Get Paid to Read Emails: The Only Legit Paid Email Sites

If you Google “get paid to read emails,” you’ll find dozens of sites that claim to pay you to do so.

Unfortunately, many of those sites have unrealistic minimum withdrawal amounts or are simply trying to phish for your personal information or install malware on your device. Either way, you’re never going to see a penny for your efforts.

If you want to get paid to read emails, stick with these two legitimate sites. They’re both owned and operated by a reputable market research company (Prodege) and are known for providing a good experience to their users.

#1. InboxDollars

Quick summary: InboxDollars is an online shopping portal and all-around rewards site. Members earn cash-back when using the portal to shop at thousands of online retailers, by taking surveys and by completing other easy tasks. Additionally, it’s one of the only websites that will actually pay you for opening emails that are sent to your inbox.

You can learn more by reading my in-depth InboxDollars review.

Best for: Smartphone users. InboxDollars has a user-friendly mobile app that makes it easy to manage your account and take advantage of special in-store offers while out shopping in a brick and mortar store (rather than just shopping online).

Other ways to earn: Users have the opportunity to earn by watching videos, playing games and singing up for both free and paid product trials (among others).

Signup bonus: New users will get a $5 signup bonus when they join InboxDollars.

Referral bonus: $1 per referral + 30% of your referrals’ lifetime earnings.

Minimum cash-out: The minimum payment amount is $30, and you can choose from PayPal cash, a gift card, or a handful of other options. Direct deposit is not available.

#2. Swagbucks

Quick summary: Swagbucks is one of the best-known online rewards sites, offering members significant cash-back when shopping through the company’s online portal. Check out my Swagbucks review for more details.

Note that you can only get paid for reading emails that are sent to your Swagbucks inbox. Those messages do not go to your main email address, so you have to log on the website in order to take advantage of this opportunity.

Also, you’ll typically need to complete an action to get paid (like clicking a link).

Best for: Frequent online shoppers. Swagbucks has some of the best cash-back deals online. Often, the emails you’re paid to read are related to cash-back offers, so frequent online shoppers can rack up some serious savings here. You can access all of these features from the website or the mobile app.

Other ways to earn: Swagbucks is one of the most comprehensive “get paid to” sites. Users can earn money by taking online surveys, doing online searches, watching videos, playing games and more.

Signup bonus: New users will get a $10 signup bonus when they join Swagbucks and spend at least $25 via the cash-back portal within the first 30 days of membership.

Referral bonus: $3 for you + $3 for your referral (when they earn 300 SBs within their first 30 days) + 10% of their lifetime Swagbucks earnings.

Minimum cash-out: Technically, there is no minimum payment amount. However, the lowest-priced redemption options are usually 300 points (SBs) for a gift card, which is equivalent to $3. PayPal cash is also available, but it often has a higher minimum payout. Direct deposit is not available.

Another Option: Freelance As A Virtual Assistant

The sites listed above can be used to generate a small amount of extra cash in your spare time, but working as a freelance virtual assistant can be a way to make real money by reading emails.

In fact, we’ve ranked this as one of the best side hustle ideas, thanks to the following factors: it pays well, is easy to break into, offers both flexibility and scalability, and offers a good amount of scheduling flexibility.

Virtual assistants wear many hats depending in their clients’ needs. Typical tasks include things like making phone calls, proofreading documents, setting appoints and yes — managing the client’s inbox and digital correspondence.

Having a reliable virtual assistant to help manage email can dramatically improve a client’s bottom line, freeing up time spent sifting through messages that don’t need to be seen so they focus on what really matters.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our guide to the skills and training you need to be successful in the field, as well as this list of websites for finding virtual assistant jobs.

How to Avoid Wasting Your Time

As I was researching for this article, I came across many “best of” lists published by other personal finance websites that include companies with less-than-stellar ratings and reputations.

While I won’t go so far as to call those sites scams, I also won’t recommend them — they either have too many negative reviews from users or have a super-high payout threshold relative to the amount they pay per task.

Here are a handful that stood out to me:

  • Cash4Offers: This is a legit site that pays between one and five cents per email. However, the minimum payout threshold is $35. That means in a best-case scenario, you’d have to read 700 emails to actually see any money. While you shouldn’t go into paid-to-read emails expecting to make big bucks, 700 emails for $35 is still a poor return on your time investment.
  • EmailCashPro: This site may fit the technical definition of “legit,” but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever see a payout. That’s because (a) it pays just one cent per email (or less), (b) you typically only receive two or three emails per day (according to user reviews), and (c) the minimum cashout amount is $11. Thus, you’d have to read 11,000 emails to be able to withdraw your earnings. At a rate of three emails per day, that would take you just over 30 years to accomplish.
  • Fusion Cash: As with Cash4Offers (described above), Fusion Cash is a legit get-paid-to site. However, the pay for reading emails is very low: you get 2 cents per day for opting into the program and participating consistently. With a minimum cash-out amount of $25, it would take you 1,250 days to earn enough money from reading emails to actually see anything in your bank account.
  • Inbox2Cash: Their website claims they’ll pay you up to a nickel per email, but they list their “Total Paid to Members” amount as $0.00. And while the minimum payout is $5, some users have reported that they stopped receiving emails just before hitting that threshold.
  • Unique Rewards: Although this site claims to offer paid emails, it has terrible reviews from users across the web, including a string of complaints on Trustpilot about members’ inability to get paid once they’ve reached the minimum cash-out threshold.

Here are a few platforms frequently recommended by other personal finance websites that do not actually offer paid emails:

  • Cash Crate: This site does not offer any type of get-paid-to opportunities. Cash Crate is simply a portal that recommends other get-paid-to sites, such as Swagbucks.
  • Daily Rewards: This site was shut down, and Daily Rewards now redirects to Inbox Dollars.
  • InboxPays: This is a paid survey site, and while it does send you email notifications about new survey opportunities, you cannot get paid for reading those emails themselves.
  • MyPoints: A legit site owned by the same company that operates InboxDollars, MyPoints is a wide-ranging online rewards platform with paid tasks including surveys, cash-back shopping and more. However, you cannot get paid for reading emails.
  • Points2Shop: Primarily a survey site. It does not reward you for reading promotional emails.
  • Send Earnings: This site was shut down and now redirects to Inbox Dollars.
  • Vindale Research: This is a paid survey site that also offers money makers (e.g., a paid trial offer that pays you more than you spend), but it does not reward you for reading promotional emails.

How to Tell Whether a GPT Site is Worth Your Time

When you’re considering whether or not to sign up for a particular GPT site, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Does the company have decent ratings on Trustpilot and BBB?
  2. Is there a realistic way to hit the minimum withdrawal amount?
  3. After calculating the number of emails you’ll have to read to hit the minimum, does it seem like the amount of money you’ll receive is worth your time?

The answer to all three of those questions should be “yes.” If not, move on to the next site or a different money-making opportunity.

If a site asks you to pay money? It’s a scam.

If asks you to provide your credit card information or Social Security number? It’s a scam!

With that said, out of all of the paid tasks on sites like these, we like answering online surveys the best.

While it does take a little bit longer to complete a survey than to read an email, the payoff is usually much higher, making it a more realistic way to earn extra income.

Get Paid to Read Email: Final Thoughts

Getting paid to read email can be a legitimate method of earning a little extra income without much time or effort, but it’s not lucrative enough to stand on its own.

That said, if you’re already a fan of rewards sites and like to make money online by answering surveys, shopping online, and playing games, then adding reading emails to your tasks can help you reach those minimum cashout thresholds more quickly.

Just make sure to stick to the email sites mentioned above, and keep your expectations realistic; this will never among the list of full-time online jobs, but you can use it to score some (almost) free money in your spare time.

Also, one pro tip: if you decide to join a paid email program to make a little money online, I strongly recommend that you use a dedicated email account rather than your primary personal email account. Doing so will help keep your main inbox from being flooded with offers.

Here are a few more get-paid-to resources that you may find helpful:

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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