Extra Cash

If you have a few spare minutes a day and are interested in filling out surveys, participating in focus groups, or viewing ads for cash or prizes, I suggest you join some of these companies. Most offer a payout by check, Paypal, or Amazon gift card. It's a great way to save up for Christmas presents, earn a treat for yourself, or buy essentials (Hey, Amazon has almost everything!).
These are LEGITIMATE websites that I use to earn cash and gift cards:
1. Swagbucks - The easiest way to earn prizes, all you have to do is use the site instead of other search engines (cash out for $5 gift cards  every 2-3 weeks)

Survey Sites:
2. Pinecone Research - My favorite survey site! They pay $3 per survey (20-30 min on average) and will mail a check or deposit to your paypal account within days. I often receive products to test after completing a survey.
3. Opinion Outpost - most surveys are worth at least 20 points (or $2), you can cash out when your account has 50 points or $5
4. Lightspeed Panel - survey points range from around 75-150 or more, cash out when you hit 550 points or $5
5. Toluna - 3000 points = $1, you need 60,000 for a $20 check
6. Mindfield - Surveys are $1+ and you can cash out at $5 to Paypal
7. YouData - get paid for viewing ads, you won't make much at a time, but they automatically deposit into your paypal account every Friday.
8. Mypoints - I've earned ~30,178 points (or about $200!) since I joined this company years ago. Earn points from shopping, filling out surveys, reading emails, shopping online, printing coupons, searching in their browser toolbar, etc.
9. Valued Opinions - I usually get surveys that are $1-4, and once your account hits $20 you can request a gift card
10. MySurvey - surveys are usually 75-150 points, you can cash out for $10 once you reach 1000 points.
11. Surveyhead.com
12. Palm Research
13. HarrisPoll
14. Ipsos i-say
15. SurveySavvy - Request a check at any time

Other sites I've joined but haven't collected money or a reward from yet:
1. inboxdollars.com - points for reading emails and filling out surveys
2. American Consumer Opinion
3. Focusline surveys
4. HCD Surveys- Usually a survey about your reactions to media (commercials, news, etc.), 1000 points needed to cash out for $10
5. Sponsored Tweets- Get paid for posting tweets from sponsors on Twitter, cash out at $50

You can earn money by posting sponsored tweets (or ads) on Twitter! I signed up through Sponsoredtweets.com

General Tips- 1. Have a "survey" email address - sometimes the invites bombard your inbox!
2. If you have a favorite company, click on those surveys first. I get so many requests every day, I scan through and pick the companies that pay better, that have lower cash out minimums, and that I usually qualify for (a lot of surveys I don't make it past the screener).
3. You may think it's just a $1-3 survey, but sometimes something bigger comes out of it! For example, free products, paid follow-up surveys, or paid focus groups. I am now part of a focus group that gives me $10 gift cards every time I comment or take a quick survey, because of one $1 survey I filled out.  

 EARNINGS TO DATE: (Updated on September 18, 2010)
1. Swagbucks - $175.00 (Amazon gift cards)
2. Pinecone Research - $87 (Paypal)
3. Opinion Outpost - $188.10 (Amazon gift cards)
4. Lightspeed Panel - $100 (Amazon gift cards)
5. Toluna - $33.75 (Check at $20)
6. Mindfield - $52 (Paypal)
7. YouData - $.72 (Paypal)
8. Mypoints - $223.62 (Various gift cards)
9. Valued Opinions - $103.50 (Amazon gift cards)
10. MySurvey - $58.00 (Amazon gift cards)
11. Surveyhead.com -  $50.70 (Paypal)
12. Palm Research- $11 (Paypal)
13. HarrisPoll- $5 (Amazon gift cards)
14. Ipsos i-say- $30 (Amazon gift cards)
15. SurveySavvy - $33 (Checks)
16. Other surveys - $112.55

Total: $1,263.94

Disclosure: This post contains referral links