Saving Centsably: Surveys and special offers

Surveys are an easy way to pick up points, rewards and incentives -- and some cash -- for your valuable opinions. Have you ever received a receipt from a restaurant like Chick-fil-A offering you a free chicken sandwich when you call their 800 number within 48 hours of your visit? When you call and take a brief survey about the cleanliness of the restaurant and the customer service of the employees, you can earn a free chicken sandwich by writing down a special code.

From time to time, I receive a similar offer at Bath & Body Works stores. Of course, I shop these stores when I have a coupon or they are having a sale (or both), so I am always happy when I get to the end of the transaction and they hand me a customer service survey coupon. Essentially, if I’ll call their 800 number within a short time after my visit, they will typically give me a coupon code that allows me to save $10 off a $30 purchase. These types of coupons also can be used when there is a sale, and they don’t typically expire. This type of coupon from restaurants like Chik-fil-A and from Bath & Body Works are a good example of how taking just a few minutes to provide feedback can benefit you monetarily.

If you spend much time online, you probably have heard about survey sites and wonder if taking surveys can actually help you earn money. The answer really depends on how dedicated to survey-taking you will be. I have taken surveys with several different companies -- two companies that pay cash for your opinions and at least two companies that allow you to accrue points in an account based on your survey-taking activities. Honestly, I prefer the companies that allow you to earn points, because when you do other activities with these companies (like Swagbucks and MyPoints), your survey taking activity actually makes a difference in your points balance. While other bloggers have great things to say about survey companies that pay you cash for each survey, I have not been as happy with these types of companies as with the points-accruing type.

With that said, you might have more time to work online with survey taking than I do. You can join survey companies online. You should never pay to join a survey company. They should pay you. Be honest with companies about your opinions and your demographics. Register with these companies with your coupon-only e-mail address. Some of the survey opportunities (particularly those with higher paying incentives) go quickly because other people are also hoping to get those high-paying surveys. I tell people that having that coupon-only e-mail address makes cleaning out your e-mail inbox easy. You don’t have to wade through these e-mails if you head out on vacation -- you just come back, delete them all and start fresh with a clean slate. Linking all your free memberships for the survey companies to the free coupon-only e-mail address you have should make working your way through them even easier.

So whether you’re looking for a few points to boost your MyPoints or Swagbucks membership or to make some extra cash, check out survey sites online.

I’m hoping to get to meet many of you at the Taste of Home Cooking School on Thursday. I will have a booth on the vendor floor and will have the chance for you to win a few door prizes. I will also have great specials on couponing merchandise such as my binders, heavy-duty baseball card holders and dividers just for the Taste of Home Cooking School. See you there.

Rachael J. Mercer is a freelance writer and coupon workshop instructor who lives in McDonough. To learn more about Mercer or her workshops, e-mail her at