Online forms and surveys are some of the best ways to get the information you need from your audience. And whether you're creating a simple registration form or a detailed market research survey, you need an app to help you collect the information—and then do something with it.
There are countless form and survey tools available, and a lot of them cost a pretty penny. Here, we're looking at the ones you can get for free.
I spent about a week testing several dozen free survey tools and form builders that you can use to keep that proverbial finger on the pulse—here are the best ones I found. Take a look, and see which one will work best for your forms and surveys.
The 8 best free survey tools and form builders
Google Forms for the fastest form creation
Microsoft Forms for analyzing results in Excel
Tally for versatile pop-up forms
Jotform for building forms from a template
SurveyPlanet for question templates
Cognito Forms for accepting payments on your forms and surveys
youengage for creating interactive forms and surveys (that look good)
Zoho Survey for short, business-oriented surveys
What makes the best free survey maker or free form builder?
How we evaluate and test apps
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There's a small sea of form and survey software out there, and not all of it is built the same. Some are outdated platforms with confusing interfaces, as if the '90s never left the building. Others offer jaw-dropping feature sets, with an equally face-cramping price tag.
Most free survey apps and form builders will let you create a form or survey with basic input fields and show you the submissions, so you can sift through the data. More advanced solutions let you improve the look and feel of your forms, analyze your results, and add useful features such as skip logic, payment support, or access restrictions.
While I was testing each free online survey maker, here's what I was looking for:
Free plan features. The more the word "unlimited" appears for forms, submissions, and questions, the better. If there are some limitations, they should be compensated by other features on offer, so you can create a survey for your specific use case.
Ease of use. The best form builders have simple menus and user interfaces, clear instructions, and an overall intuitive experience.
Design and templates. When designing a survey, you need to stay on brand, so I was looking for pleasing one-click themes and powerful design controls.
Question types and logic. What kinds of information can you ask from your users? How do those fields work in practice? I kept my eye on the variety of question types as well as the logic available.
Reports and analytics. There's no use in gathering data if you can't understand it. I paid attention to how reports and analytics worked in each free online form builder I tested.
To get a good feel for each app, I signed up, started a form or survey from a template, and then added all kinds of questions. I answered my own questions in all kinds of fun ways (it got old pretty quick, I assure you), got a feel for what it was like to take a survey from one of these apps, and then looked at how that data was laid out in the reports. Based on that testing, these eight free form and survey builders were the best—and each one is labeled for its strengths, specializations, or target audiences.
If you can't find what you're looking for below, you have a couple options:
See if an existing app that already has forms attached to it. For example, Airtable, ClickUp, and Asana all have form-building features. If you're already paying for one of those apps, you might have what you need.
One last note: If you have a WordPress website and are looking for form plugins for lead generation, you won't find those here. I do have a pick for pop-up forms, but WordPress is a whole different can of worms—a roundup for another day.
Best free form builder for the fastest form creation
Google Forms (Web)
There are a lot of people out there that think of Google Forms as a synonym for online forms as a whole. There's good reason for that, as Forms has really strong features and a pricing plan that's hard to beat.
Google Forms offers unlimited everything. Unlimited forms, unlimited questions, unlimited submissions, and unlimited collaboration. If you have a Google account, you can access it for free. Forms you create count toward your account's 15GB quota, but each one is really small, so you'd have to survey the whole world (and then some) to max out the storage limit.
The interface is simple and powerful, with the Google user experience you're used to. A small floating element on the right lets you start common actions like adding a new question or a new section. Because it's Google, when you type a new question, it tries to guess what kind of question it is. When I started typing "How do you rate…", Forms automatically updated the question type to linear scale. This is helpful for beginners and saves advanced users some time, so it's a win-win.
You don't have to tweak a lot of the settings to create a functional form right away. If you want, you can pick a color scheme; choose fonts for the headers, questions, and text; and add a header image. It's not a ton of aesthetic control, but if you want to build a form quickly, that's a good thing.
There are 16 form templates, from party invites to job applications, coming with some stock questions you can edit. Or you can start from scratch with 11 question types, including file upload. You can also turn the form into a quiz. And if you need skip logic, it's hidden but it's there: add some sections to your form, click the three vertical dots on a question, and choose what happens depending on the input.
When the responses start flowing in, you can see them as graphs, pie charts, or simple lists (depending on the question type). If you want to dig deeper, you can create a Google Sheet right from the responses page or take a CSV file with you to do some statistical analysis.
Once you have your data, you can connect Google Forms to Zapier to be sure it gets to the right place. Zapier will automatically create tasks based on responses, send submissions to a Slack channel, or create new email subscribers based on submissions—no matter which apps you use.
Google Forms price: Free for unlimited everything
Here's even more inspiration for how to automate your Google Forms.
Best free form builder for analyzing results in Excel
Microsoft Forms (Web)
If you're a native of Microsoft's software suite, you'll be pleased to know that Microsoft Forms is a thing. And what a great thing it is.
Microsoft Forms is also part of the unlimited everything club. You don't have to have an active Microsoft subscription to use it, but make sure you're logged in to your free Microsoft account when you visit the page (the website might take you to a subscription trial if you're not).
Everything's easy to use. Not unlike in Google Forms, you can add your questions with a click, rearrange them by dragging, and edit answer settings as needed. And you can turn your form into a quiz here too.
Microsoft Forms offers 12 form templates, from wedding invitations to customer feedback, so you can pick the one that's closest to your use case and go from there. Otherwise, you can start from scratch. What you see on the screen is what your respondents will see as well, so you can work with confidence.
In terms of aesthetics, Microsoft Forms has six theme suggestions that come with a background image and a simple color scheme out of the box. Not happy with those suggestions? Refresh the page, and Forms will give you six new ones. There are a lot of choices here, as long as you don't mind hitting the refresh button a few times.
Microsoft Forms comes with eight question types. Not a ton, but within them, there are lots of customization options, including setting restrictions on answer inputs (Google Forms offers this as well). And it includes advanced question types such as a Likert scale and Net Promoter Score, so you can get accurate ratings on how folks are feeling about your performance.
Starting to feel like Microsoft Forms and Google Forms are long-lost siblings? They really are super similar, so what it comes down to is how you prefer to analyze your data. In addition to the standard charts and graphs, here you'll be able to easily send your data over to Excel. If that's more your style than Google Sheets, Microsoft Forms is where you want to be.
Microsoft Forms price: Free for unlimited everything. (Forms Pro is no longer available; it's now part of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Voice's software offering, starting at $100 per 1,000 survey responses per month.)
Best free form builder for versatile pop-up forms
Someone lands on your site, interested to learn more about you and what you do. Wouldn't that be a great time to ask a couple of questions? With Tally, you can do so by adding a configurable pop-up to your website. But that's far from being its only selling point.
If you love Notion, you'll love Tally Forms. The user experience and interface are almost a copy/paste, with all the changes that make sense to support form features. You'll be on the fast track if you're coming from the knowledge-management app.
Tally is yet another member of the unlimited everything club, so you can have all-you-can-eat forms, questions, and submissions. You can even create workspaces to hold different forms across teams (but actual collaboration features start only on the paid plan).
When building your form, type
/, and the menu opens. You can choose questions, customize the layout with images and headings, embed video and audio, place a CAPTCHA, or set calculation fields. While you won't be able to build a form as fast as you can with other options on this list, the added time investment means you have more control.
The base form design is elegant and minimalistic. You can add an icon at the top, as well as a cover and a logo for branding. There aren't any other theme options, unless you dabble in CSS, which will allow you to make deeper changes. This is both good and bad: out of the box, the design is great, but if you're looking for something more unique, you won't be able to find it here.
Tally has 40 building blocks across different categories. You can place question/input field combos (there are 17 of those). And you can add conditional logic: click on the options (hover over a block and left-click the six dots on the left), and select it from the menu.
When the time comes to integrate your form as a pop-up on your website, click the Share tab and then Popup. There are detailed instructions on the page to help you copy the code. There's a bit of a learning curve here, but the documentation is clear enough to help you put the form where it needs to be.
As for reports and analytics, Tally Forms doesn't have a lot to show. You can see a list of responses broken down by question, but not much else. There are no analytics or additional insights, so you'll have to take the CSV export file to an app that can crunch it into valuable information, or send the responses directly to another app with Zapier. You can send information from Tally to any app you use—for data analysis or otherwise. Here are a few examples:
One last thing to note: you can collect payments with Tally, but it charges a hefty 5% commission unless you upgrade to the Pro plan. Take this into account if you're looking to monetize your forms.
Tally price: Free for unlimited questions, submissions, and forms; advanced features available on paid plans, starting at $29/month.
Only looking to add newsletter subscribers? HubSpot's free pop-up forms were born for this kind of use case. They're simple to implement and use, so give them a try if growing your newsletter is your sole priority.
Best free form builder for starting from a template
Jotform (Web, iOS, Android)
With a friendly and colorful user interface, Jotform helps you build exactly what you want by offering thousands of templates. Yep, thousands—from familiar categories like marketing all the way to niches like nail artistry.
The template overdose compensates for the free plan restrictions. On Jotform, you can receive 100 submissions/month (with a maximum storage of 500 in total), have 1,000 views on each form/month, and receive 10 payments through your forms. There's also a 5-form limit and a 100-question limit. To take advantage of this free plan, you'll need to export your results regularly and then delete them from the platform. I was a little hesitant to include Jotform on the list for that reason, but the templates pushed me over the edge.
Jotform is also really easy to use. Your form sits in the middle of the screen, showing you a preview of what the respondents will actually see. When you expand the right menu, you can add more elements to the form; by opening the left menu, you edit the form's style. If you don't want to mess with advanced controls, you don't have to. But when you start gaining confidence, take some time to explore the menus as there are a lot of design tools and settings you can change.
Jotform brings 29 form fields to the table, including unique ones like fill-in-the-blank and product list. You can also use widgets to perform more advanced actions: add checkboxes, embed PDFs, accept date reservations, or collect signatures with a DocuSign integration. You can even accept payments by integrating with any of 32 different providers.
When you look to the top-left Jotform logo, you'll notice a dropdown where you can switch between each of the Jotform apps. One converts responses to PDF. Another lets you see the form's analytics or even build reports formatted as a PowerPoint presentation. These reports and analytics features are above average for this app category, so you'll be able to take a deeper look into the data.
You can also connect Jotform to Zapier, so you can automatically create tasks, spreadsheet rows, contacts, calendar events, and more based on form submissions.
Jotform price: Free plan includes 5 forms, 100 submissions/month (500 submission storage total), 1,000 views/month, and 10 payments via form/month; paid plans start at $39/month.
Best free survey maker for using question templates
SurveyPlanet brings together a great free plan, a polished user experience, and a useful question bank to help you articulate what you need to ask. And as a member of the unlimited everything club, SurveyPlanet doesn't hold back on submissions, questions, or forms. You can create and receive as many as you need without limitations.
Everything is intuitive to use, but the real magic lives in the question bank. Pick question categories, and then tick all the subcategories that make sense. I picked Customer Feedback and then clicked to see Airline Passenger Feedback questions. "Was your flight for business or for pleasure?" Check off all the questions you'd like to add, and in they go.
SurveyPlanet offers nine question types, including the uncommon image choice. Each question type has some basic settings, such as minimum and maximum character counts for essay-type answers or randomizing options in multiple choice.
You can choose one of 16 free themes to style your form, and that's about the only major customization option you have. The good news is that the base layout and interface look really good. And when you need to see the results, SurveyPlanet offers lists and graphs to show you what respondents said. You can also see the OS, browser, and location (down to the town's name) for each form submission.
With such an extensive question library and a generous free plan, SurveyPlanet is a great place to start if you're not quite sure what you should be asking.
SurveyPlanet price: Free for unlimited forms, questions, and submissions; paid plans start at $20/month.
Best free form builder for collecting payments on forms
Cognito Forms (Web, Windows)
Cognito Forms is the most generous platform when it comes to charging a commission for sales via forms. If you use (or are planning to use) forms as a sales channel, then you can save precious dollars on each transaction. There's just a 1% charge (on top of your payment platform's commission).
The free plan allows you to receive 500 submissions per month—everything else is unlimited. It's a generous free plan, but only if sales via form are only part of your strategy. Otherwise, you'll need to upgrade pretty quickly.
You'll notice that Cognito Forms' interface isn't as sharp as the competition. But the form-building features are robust, and the final result looks great for your users. You can edit fonts, input styles, add header and background images, and customize colors on your forms. It's easy to put together something simple and appealing without much effort.
You'll get over 150 form templates to start from, and each template comes with preset questions and design. On top of that, there are 17 question types, including fields to add pricing and currency information. You can also configure advanced skip logic to show/hide questions or form pages, and even let respondents submit payments right away or later on.
The reports section is a bit lacking, as you only have access to a list of submissions. There are no data visualization features, so you'll have to export the data and process it somewhere else. This reinforces the main use case of selling via forms, but it's solvable by connecting Cognito Forms to Zapier, so you can automatically send your form data wherever you need it. Here are some examples of how that might work.
Cognito Forms price: Free plan includes 500 submissions/month with 1% commission for each sale through the platform; paid plans start at $15/month.
Best free survey creator for building interactive forms and surveys (that look good)
youengage has all the tools you need to create beautiful forms without having to take a design course. It's just the right balance of power and simplicity, so you can put together an appealing survey without making endless tweaks. The free plan only gives you 100 submissions/month on your forms, but the $19/month paid plan is affordable if you need to scale with the platform.
With youengage, you can actually set up a live event to create interactive polls and surveys. Run a poll during a virtual meeting, and you can get people to comment and vote live (the free plan has a limit of 100 event participants). If interactive marketing is right for your brand, youengage has a lot of potential.
What I like most about the form building experience here is that it's organized in steps: build, design, configure, share, and analyze. Each step has the exact features it needs there. No bloat, no endless back-and-forth.
When you create a new project, you start by adding all the questions and choosing the form layout (there are six in total; the one shown on the screenshot above is the split right layout). youengage comes with 11 question types, including all the traditional input fields (with image choice included) and easy-to-use skip logic. Once you add all your questions and set the logic, you move on to the design tab, where things get interesting. You can pick one of 41 themes, each with a background image and color scheme. There are solid colors, abstract patterns, and a whole set of looks and moods you can mix and match.
The preview features in youengage are one of the best of the apps I tested. First of all, it's fast. When you click preview, the platform doesn't waste time showing you the result. And if you want to see the mobile or tablet version, you can see a framed image of the device, which is a nice touch.
There are basic analytics (how many times the form was completed, the completion rate, and time spent). You can also review results by previewing the form with the answers showing on the input fields, or by browsing a simple list. If you want to get your form data into other apps, you can connect youengage with Zapier. Send submissions directly to a spreadsheet or even to your email marketing tool.
youengage price: Free plan includes 100 submissions/month and 100 live participants/event; paid plans start at $29/month.
Looking for similar features but more template options? forms.app is a solid youengage alternative—an equally sleek app with even more templates for you to start from.
Best free survey tool for short, business-oriented surveys
Zoho Survey (Web, iOS, Android)
Zoho Survey wears its suit and tie quite well. It has a solid feature set, including some advanced form restrictions that I hadn't seen anywhere else. And it's part of the Zoho suite of apps, which covers pretty much any area of your business.
Each survey can only have up to 10 questions, and you can only gather 100 responses per survey—but you can create as many surveys as you want.
Drag question types from the left menu, and drop and arrange them on the form. When you click on a question, a side window on the right appears with all the settings you can change about it, including show/hide rules and skip logic. With 30 form field types to choose from, there's a lot of flexibility on what you can ask. It includes Net Promoter Score, image selection, signatures, and file uploads. No idea on what to ask? There's also a deep question bank to help you figure that out.
Once you're done adding the questions, take some time to explore the settings section. In addition to the traditional welcome and thank-you pages, Zoho Survey also allows you to add terms and conditions, add a save and continue later feature, and set a timer. Other unique features include adding a password to access the survey or restricting access by IP.
You can start with any of seven one-click templates. If you're not entirely happy with these, you can customize them by picking color schemes, background patterns, and fonts, among other things. The end result is always on the professional side.
Zoho Survey does really well on reports, with full access to all responses on a list, graphics, and charts. You can also create custom reports to see data from a different angle or to present it to other stakeholders. You can even create a cross-tab report to see how data on a particular question is related to all others, so you can expose trends or related data points easily. Zoho has the best reporting and analytics features of any app on this list, and they're all available on the free plan.
Zoho Survey price: Free plan includes 100 responses/survey and 10 questions/survey; paid plans start at $35/month.
Finding the best free survey software
Looking for a free survey app can be overwhelming (I know—I looked at almost all of them). Take advantage of the robust free plans to try out a few options, and see which one works best for your needs. Then you can ask anything you want in any way you want to, and share it easily with your audience. All this without breaking (or even touching) the bank.
Want to learn more about managing leads through their entire lifecycle? Check out this free lead management course featuring Zapier.
Originally published in September 2017 by Matthew Guay, this post has since had contributions from Jessica Greene, Emily Esposito, and Eric Ravenscraft. The most recent update was in September 2022.