Could you use a few extra dollars every week? InboxDollars might be the perfect solution for you to pad your bank account with additional income.
With InboxDollars, you can create a small but real income stream by completing relatively simple tasks online. InboxDollars began back in 2000 as a service that provided nominal cash payments – typically a few cents per email – to members who opened and read sponsored emails (called PaidEmails) from companies that partnered with InboxDollars. If the partner companies allowed, users could earn additional payments, ranging from $0.10 to $25, for taking action requested in the email, such as clicking a link to the partner’s website and enrolling in a trial offer.
PaidEmails was wildly successful, attracting hundreds of retail partners and many thousands of email recipients, and it remains in place today. It has since been joined by a number of other initiatives, including exclusive discount offers from retail partners, electronic coupons (and payments for using them), free and discounted online gameplay, paid online surveys, payments for viewing advertorial videos, payments for conducting online searches, and payments for newly referred users who then complete qualified activities on the site. Once you request your first payment, you receive Gold Membership, which confers additional benefits such as faster payment and better incentives for certain activities.
InboxDollars competes with a number of other sites, including Qmee, Zoombucks, and Swagbucks, which also offer rewards and cash payments for completing simple tasks online. It’s free to join and use, and you get a $5 sign-up bonus as soon as you activate your account (though InboxDollars reserves the right to discontinue this promotion at any time).
A word of caution: While InboxDollars is a legitimate business with more than a decade of positive user feedback, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Some of the retail discounts and cash-back offers from InboxDollars’ partners require you to make a purchase, while others simply require you to register with the partner. (InboxDollars never requires you to make a purchase as a condition of membership.)
In short, keep your expectations low and know that while InboxDollars is both a legitimate online side gig and a way to potentially snag discounts, it won’t ever replace your day job.
How It Works
Signing up for InboxDollars is straightforward. You need to provide basic contact and location information, as many deals are country-specific, and create a username or password. Because InboxDollars pays by mailed check or Visa Prepaid card only, no bank account or PayPal information is required. As soon as you create your account, the $5 opening bonus drops into your account.
Once your account is active, you can access the full range of InboxDollars’ discount and income opportunities. As you complete income-generating tasks, InboxDollars deposits small credits into an escrow account tied to your user account. You can request a payment as soon as your account reaches $30. Payments for non-Gold members typically take about three weeks to arrive in the mail, while payments for Gold members typically arrive one to two weeks after your request.
Limitations & Restrictions
There are several important limitations that could affect your earnings with InboxDollars:
- One-Time Use Restrictions on Some Offers. Some InboxDollars advertisers only let you take advantage of a given discount offer once. Other offers allow you to participate more than once. If you’ve already completed the offer and it’s subsequently discontinued for any reason, it’s removed from your list of available offers.
- Processing Fee. Depending on your preferred payout method, your payout request may incur a processing fee. PayPal is generally cost-effective, but you may still incur a processing fee charged by PayPal.
- Inactivity Penalties. InboxDollars requires that you either confirm receipt of a PaidEmail or enter your account and perform a task (such as completing a survey or using a coupon) at least once every 10 days. If you don’t, your account becomes inactive and you’re rendered temporarily unable to request a payout. You have six months from the day your account becomes inactive to request that your account be reinstated. Once the account is reactivated, you have full access to any accrued funds and regain the ability to request a payment. However, if you fail to reinstate your account within six months, you permanently lose access to the account and forfeit all unpaid earnings.
- Cash Value of Account. The money held in your InboxDollars account has no value until you clear the $30 threshold. If your account is permanently removed due to six months of inactivity, you forfeit all unpaid earnings.
InboxDollars offers many different ways to earn and save money. Highlights include coupons, discounts with digital and real-world retailers, surveys, and paid emails.
InboxDollars offers access to retail and grocery coupons from brands such as Scott, General Mills, and Pillsbury. Depending on the coupon and brand, you can either redeem these online or at a physical store. For every redeemed coupon, InboxDollars credits $0.10 to your account. You can also earn up to $0.25 per day just for printing coupons.
Discounts & Cash Back
Dozens of online and offline retailers offer discounts and cash-back opportunities through InboxDollars. Actual savings or cash-back earnings vary, but it’s possible to get up to 15% back on select purchases and even greater discounts at the point of sale.
InboxDollars partners with market research companies offering short surveys (generally not more than 15 minutes) with payouts ranging up to $10. You receive credit once the company receives and reviews your survey, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to one week.
Note that you can’t provide nonsensical answers in an effort to complete surveys as fast as possible. If the survey company notes inconsistencies in your responses or finds obvious signs you didn’t take the survey seriously, it throws out your answers and you don’t get paid. In most cases, you can attempt the same survey multiple times per day, but survey credits are generally limited to one per survey.
InboxDollars’ original feature pays you to read up to three sponsored emails per day from InboxDollars’ retail partners. Payment is always $0.02 per email. To acknowledge that you received and read the email – and to receive payment – click the acknowledgment link at the bottom of the message body. InboxDollars uses your answers to its General Profile Survey to make your emails more relevant to your interests.
Some PaidEmails come with additional earning opportunities that pay between $0.10 and $25. These might include enrolling in a free trial with a retail partner.
Videos & Polls
For every short video you view all the way through, you earn virtual scratch-offs that typically pay no more than $0.25 (but can pay $25 or more in rare cases). Some videos you can view once, while others permit unlimited viewing and earning.
InboxDollars also offers opportunities to earn cash by taking online polls, though these aren’t as common as online videos.
InboxDollars offers access to dozens of online games through the GSN Games family. Though you can take advantage of free game trials (typically 30 days), you can’t earn rewards until you create and fund a WorldWinner account (an online gaming rewards account) through GSN.
You can earn up to 10% cash back on the total purchase of token packs and boosters, and certain GSN tournaments allow you to apply extra game winnings to your InboxDollars account. Once you deposit real money into your InboxDollars Cash Games account, which connects to your WorldWinner account, you can earn a small kickback for each dollar you spend on weaponry, add-ons, points, or other game-related features. Note that this is basically a discount on the cost of gameplay, not a way to earn income.
InboxDollars’ top advantages include earning real cash, an automatic sign-up bonus, and lots of ways to earn and save.
1. You Earn Real Cash
InboxDollars offers several ways to earn real cash: reading PaidEmails, redeeming coupons, completing surveys, referring friends, conducting targeted searches, and viewing advertorial videos. While payments for these tasks are typically quite small, they add up over time and can definitely supplement your income from your day job or other side gigs.
By contrast, Swagbucks only offers online rewards you can redeem for gift cards, electronic coupons, and shopping discounts – not hard cash. If you care more about padding your bank account than getting deals on online merchandise, InboxDollars is a superior choice.
2. Automatic Bonus for Signing Up
When you sign up, InboxDollars immediately credits $5 to your account. It’s one of the few online rewards or cash-back platforms that offer sign-up bonuses.
3. Lots of Ways to Earn & Save
InboxDollars offers many different ways to earn and save money, so whether you’re a big fan of online surveys or prefer to earn by reading emails, you can find a way to benefit from membership. By contrast, competitors such as Qmee and Rakuten are more narrowly focused.
InboxDollars’ notable disadvantages include possible payout fees, a mobile-unfriendly website, no charity donations, and strict inactivity penalties.
1. Payouts May Incur Fees
Depending on your chosen payout method, cashing out your account could incur a fee that reduces your actual earnings. For instance, PayPal charges a small processing fee on each transaction. This can become costly if you have limited time and resources to devote to InboxDollars.
By contrast, Swagbucks and Qmee don’t ever charge for payout requests, though they may impose minimum balance requirements you must reach before you can ask for a payout.
2. Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly
InboxDollars launched at the turn of the millennium, and the site looks like it hasn’t had a major redesign since the early 2010s. Indeed, for mobile users, it can be frustrating to spend a lot of time on the site.
InboxDollars does have a mobile app, but downloading it takes time. And while there is a mobile browser version of InboxDollars, it doesn’t have any of the desktop version’s informational resources for nonmembers. It’s simply a landing page that prompts you to sign up for the service.
3. You Can Only Take Advantage of Offers Once
InboxDollars doesn’t let you take advantage of the same exact discount, coupon, or PaidEmail offer twice. Once you click on the offer link and redeem, you’re barred from doing so again, regardless of how long the offer remains valid. (That said, some broad types of offers, such as discounts on flower delivery or language tapes, tend to recur frequently, so you may just have to wait a few weeks to find a similar offer.)
Since many of InboxDollars’ offers are similar to sales or discounts online retailers provide directly to their customers, you may save more by bypassing InboxDollars, navigating directly to each participating retailer’s website, and taking advantage of offers and discounts as often as you please. That’s especially true for discounts and coupons on things you’d buy regularly, such as food staples and household goods.
4. Strict Inactivity Penalties
If you go 10 calendar days without acknowledging a PaidEmail or using your InboxDollars account, your account becomes inactive and you lose the ability to request a payment. If you go an additional six months without requesting reinstatement, you permanently lose access to your account and any unpaid earnings.
This is stricter than most of InboxDollars’ competitors. Swagbucks lets you go six months without a login or completed task before rendering your account inactive. Qmee accounts never become inactive.
5. No Charity Donations
The InboxDollars platform doesn’t allow you to donate your earnings to charity. Competing sites such as Qmee do offer this option. While not everyone using online rewards and cash-back sites is interested in passing their earnings along to those in need, the lack of a charity option at InboxDollars is a big drawback if you’re serious about using your free time and energy to “pay it forward.”
People and companies have been advertising digital get-rich-quick schemes since the dawn of the Internet. That’s not about to change. But there are also plenty of legitimate, legal ways to make money – and sometimes a bonafide living – online. You just have to know how to sort wild-eyed claims of instant riches from sustainable strategies. As in the real world, slow and steady usually wins the race.
With this in mind, InboxDollars clearly offers some value for realistic, clear-eyed folks who want to add a few extra bucks to their weekly bottom lines or save on purchases they’d make anyway. As long as you don’t expect your relationship with InboxDollars to change your life or make you rich overnight, you’ll probably do fine with it.
Have you used InboxDollars to earn extra income online? What did you think of it?