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17 Apps That Pay You: Earn Money Online From Your Smartphone

17 Apps That Pay You: Earn Money Online From Your Smartphone
Norm Tedford Jun 23, 2019
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

apps that pay youIt’s easy to be skeptical of apps that promise easy money.

I’m sure you’ve come across your share of them that make huge promises.

Then, when you download the app, you find out it’s a scam.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are lots of legitimate apps where you can earn cash or rewards.

Are you looking to make some money on the side in 2019?

If so, look no farther than this article.

If you have a smartphone, you can earn some money on these apps.

Pick my brain to get the inside scoop on all of them.

I did the research for you.

All that you have to do is jump in and start raking in the cash!

I recommend bookmarking this page.

There’s a cornucopia of information for you here.

Want to skip through the reviews and get straight to it?

Here’s a list of some of our favorites:

  • Swagbucks ($5 sign-up bonus)
  • Ibotta ($10 bonus after scanning first receipt)
  • MobileXpression (earn a free $5 after 2 weeks – passive income app)
  • More below…

With that said, let’s get started with the 7 best free apps that pay you.

1. Swagbucks

Swagbucks has one of the largest rewards and payout programs of any app. If you shop online, sign up for Swagbucks today.

And then, you can start earning money back for everything you buy. The process is as quick and easy as can be.

You get a $10 bonus for signing up. You can even use it to earn passive income.

Shopping with Swagbucks is a lot like Ebates.

Sign in to the platform, click on the store where you want to shop and shop like you always do.

They offer cold hard cashback at over 1,500 retailers. This includes large online shops like Amazon, Kohl’s, Starbucks, Groupon, and many more.

You get up to 20% cashback for eligible purchases.

Choose from a variety of ways to start earning. There are so many ways to earn rewards and get cashback. You can shop online, which is how most people make money. Or, you can watch videos or play games. There are lots of other ways as well.

Taking a survey while watching television is my all-time favorite way to earn cash.

Swagbucks has a bigger cash-back rate than most other apps out there. You can’t get any cash until you accumulate at least $25. But with a dizzying array of offers to choose from, you’ll hit that amount in no time.

Swagbucks doesn’t cheap out when it comes to giving you your money either. To date, Swagbucks has shelled out more than 300 million dollars. And, they hand out more than 7,000 gift cards every single day.

They must be doing something right!

Besides earning cash, you can complete simple tasks to earn yourself some “Swagbucks.” If you earn enough of these, cash out for some very cool prizes. Like gift cards for all your favorite online retailers.

You can also cash your Swagbucks out in five-dollar increments. Have it deposited in your PayPal account. Or, if you’re feeling especially generous, donate your money to your favorite charity.

It’s one of the best survey sites in existence. Surveys pay you 1-1,000 Swagbucks (they refer to Swagbucks as SBs, by the way) depending on the length of the survey. Use the app to earn Swagbucks on the go.

You earn SBs for every dollar you spend. It’s also one of the fastest ways on the planet to earn free gift cards.

Yahoo powers the Swagbucks search engine. So, if you already use Yahoo to search, you’ll now be making money for this activity.

If it isn’t your default search engine, make it the default so you can start earning money for browsing you do anyway.

You can also earn free gift cards playing games!

How cool is that? You can earn SB points when you make in-game purchases through Swagbucks partners at GSN. Or, play their original free games! Sign up and start earning points. If you play games anyway in your free time, why not get paid for that?

Swagbucks has lots of games. You can play Solitaire, Bingo, or even Wheel of Fortune. Play Bejeweled or Trivial Pursuit and start raking in the money. This is the tip of the iceberg of what you can play on their site.

Playing games doesn’t earn you as much as you can make in other ways. But if you’re going to play anyway, you might as well get paid for it.

You can also watch entertaining videos and earn gift cards while doing so.

There’s also the “Discover” section. This is a list of offers available at any given time. Every time I visit the Discover section of Swagbucks, I’m always amazed at how many ways you can earn with this site. Swagbucks offers deals on almost anything under the sun.

For example, sign up for Hulu, and earn 1,000 SB. If you’re thinking of signing up for any kind of service, check first to see if it’s on Swagbucks. If it is, sign up through the app to earn rewards.

When you buy gift cards through Swagbucks, you get a part of the card value back in the form of Swagbucks. You’ll see the gift card in your email in 1-2 business days. Then, use it to shop at Swagbucks, and you’ll make double the points!

I love Swagbucks! Can you tell?

It’s 100% free to join. There are many ways to earn rewards.

If you’re not using it, you’re missing out on some good cash opportunities! Even if you only make a couple a hundred dollars a year, that’s money you could use to pay off a debt or buy a friend a present.

2. Ebates

Do you want to earn money back for almost everything you buy on the internet? If you do, Ebates is the site for you. It’s as legit as they come. It’s definitely worth your time. And, it’s easy to sign up for.

It’s kind of like a credit card that pays you back. Only, there’s no annual fee. And, you get $25 for every friend you refer that buys something. You can earn cashback on almost all your own online purchases.

Over the years, I’ve tried many cashback sites. Ebates is one of my favorites.

And they’ve been around for over 20 years, so you can definitely trust them.

The Ebates story began in 1999. That makes it one of the oldest coupon-style sites out there. Ebates changed its name to Rakuten after Rakuten acquired it in 2014. After their acquisition, their loyalty program got even more robust.

And, now there are even more online stores to choose from than ever!

You can get up to 40% off shopping at over 2,500 stores! Sometimes companies feel particularly generous. When they do, they increase their single-digit cashback offers to 10% or more.

But you not only get cashback. You also get access to amazing discounts and coupons, which makes using the app even more awesome.

How can Ebates afford to do this? Because stores pay Ebates a commission for sending customers their way. Ebates, in turn, pays you part of that commission. So, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Your shopping adventure can either start on the app, or it can start on the website. It’s your choice. Click on the store you’d like to shop at, and you’ll be taken to that retailer’s website.

From there, browse the site and shop like you always do. Each quarter, you get a “big fat check” (their term) with your rewards. You can get a paper check, a PayPal deposit, a transfer to a third party, or a donation to a charitable cause.

To make sure you never miss a deal, install the Ebates extension on your browser. There’s one for both Chrome and Safari. You’ll get a popup reminding you to click on a button to activate your rebate.

They’ve developed long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with thousands of retailers. And because they have millions of users, they have can make it worth it for retailers to stay with the program.

Recently, Ebates added something called “Hot Deals.”  This section lets you browse for the best offers available.

Ebates makes comparison shopping easier. Use the app’s scanner to scan UPCs and compare prices. This way, you can find the stores with the best deals.

Check out the rewards for each store before deciding where to shop. And if you shop from the mobile app, you’ll get daily announcements. This way, you’ll always know what’s on sale, and what the sizzling hot deals are.

The account portal shows you how much cash you’re getting. It also shows your cashback history. You can bookmark your favorite stores to view their offers.

If you enable push notifications, you’ll get alerts. This way, you’ll always have the latest, up-to-date information.

It also tracks all your shopping trips whether you’ve bought something or not. This might be useful feedback if you’re trying to control your spending.

I can’t get enough of Ebates. You get cash on stuff you have to buy anyway.

What could be better than that?

3. Dosh

If you do any kind of shopping, you know there are ways to get a percentage of what you spend back using apps. These usually involve clipping coupons, using discount codes, and scanning receipts.

Dosh is one of those cashback apps. But you don’t have to go through any of that rigmarole to get your money. All you have to do is sign up. And then, start shopping at participating merchants. They’ll add points to your Dosh Wallet right away.

Once your balance reaches $25, you can cash out via PayPal or direct deposit. Unless many other cashback apps, you don’t have to scan receipts or do any other “work.”

You simply connect your credit or debit card to Dosh and automatically get cashback whenever you make a qualifying purchase.

The company formed partnerships with major brands to get you up to 10% back every time you buy something.

If you’re a frequent online shopper, you’ll have a field day using the app.

Connect your cards and start getting money back. Not having to jump through hoops to earn cashback is the biggest benefit of the app.

But it’s more passive in nature. Set it up, forget it, and get paid! With Dosh, you can get cashback whenever you pump gas, dine out, or shop. There are thousands of participating merchants. Start getting paid for things you already do!

You get $5 for each friend you refer when they link a debit or a credit card! If you get a business to sign up, you’ll get 20% of the business’s Dosh fees for two years. There’s no limit to the number of businesses you can sign up.

If you book your hotel through the Dosh app, you get $25 back on when you book your first hotel. This is on top of the cash you get back for the hotel booking itself.

All you have to do is download the Dosh app, connect your credit and debit cards, and live life as usual. Every time you use a card, the app searches for offers that match your transactions. If it finds one, it redeems the offer and converts it into cash.

Then, it deposits the money into your Dosh Wallet. You don’t have to do a thing.

4. App Trailers

With App trailers, you get credits for watching videos of app promotions.

The more videos you watch, the more points you get. It features games, music, and even TMZ videos. I love playing their daily quiz. For rewards, you can get Amazon gift cards and PayPal cash!

To use the app, download it for free either at the App Store or at the Google Play store. You’ll create an account using your email address or your social media information. Once they confirm your account details, you’re ready to start earning points.

You get 50 points for signing up and five points for every video you watch. You can also earn between 5 and 2,500 points through available offers. Once you get 500 points, you can cash out using your PayPal account.

500 points are equal to 50 cents. You immediately receive your payout. If you don’t want to do that, accumulate 5,000 points and you can get a $5.00 gift card.

Points are redeemable through PayPal or gift card rewards. Gift cards are available through retailers like Amazon, iTunes, and Sephora.

One of the quickest ways to earn points is through friend referrals. You earn up to $10.00 per friend!

You can also earn points through the available offers in the Promo section of the app.

5. Gig Walk

If you’re looking for a few extra bucks on a weekend, try Gigwalk. You can sign up for gigs in your local area. Gigs can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Here’s how it works: link your Gigwalk account to PayPal. Then, search the app for gigs in your area. Complete whatever it is they asked you to do.  Once you do a job and they verify that it was completed, you get paid.

One type of gig is taking a photo of a merchandise display for a movie coming out. You also might have to answer a bunch of questions about the display. Some gigs take a week to pay you; others, a few days.

With Gigwalk, you can earn enough to pay bills. And, you may get lucky and be able to do a couple of gigs at the same time and at the same location! For example, sometimes a single Walmart might have three separate gigs all at one time.

The app also rewards you for visiting retail outlets and restaurants. You may have to take a photo of the interior or the exterior of the building or a receipt.

You have to complete all the work at the assigned location.

The app describes each gig in detail. For example, the job description might say “check each aisle for  Gardein products. And then, take pictures of every check-out line.” There are gigs available at all kinds of stores.

What’s interesting about the app is that it uses an algorithm that could replace job interviews. That’s because instead of relying on self-identified skills, GigWalk uses labor metrics.

This is hiring based on stats.

The app analyzes every aspect of your performance in real-time. It also factors in how well you follow detailed instructions. And, how efficient you are at completing the tasks. It can even analyze your personality to find if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. This helps them to know the type of work you’re suited for.

Employers can custom pick GigWalkers based on strengths relevant to specific jobs. If you want to both earn money and try out futuristic technology, Gigwalk is the app for you.

6. GiftPanda

GiftPanda is one of the best paying apps. To use GiftPanda, download the app.

Then, register using Google, email, or Facebook. Next, choose your favorite shop from the list of CashBack shops. Click on “go to the shop” and shop like you usually do.

They will credit your GiftPanda account with the cashback. Use your cash to get rewards like Amazon gift certificates, PayPal, and prepaid credit cards. Once you accumulate 2,500 coins, you can cash out. This is equal to $2.50.

If you buy something big, you can often meet the payout threshold with a single order. You’ll also receive a bonus if 500 coins for your first 1,000 coins earned.

You can earn Panda coins at so many stores. The last time I counted, there were over 1,000. You can even earn money participating in surveys.

Many shops and brands use CashBack Shopping like GiftPanda to attract new customers. GiftPanda gets a commission for everything you buy. And then, GiftPanda gives 90% of this cashback to you! Everyone profits—you, the shop, and GiftPanda.

It’s win/win all around!

What’s also cool about GiftPanda is you can earn real cash from being an app tester. Companies pay for users trying out new apps because they need feedback on how their apps work in the field.

You can also get cash for playing games.

One of the best ways to earn money is through referring a friend. You’ll get paid 10% of all their earnings and 5% of what their referrals earn. To hear about even more amazing perks of using the app, make sure you sign up for their newsletter.

If you want to make cash from your smartphone, GiftPanda is the app for you.

7. Field Nation

If you want an app where you use your real skills, try Field Nation. To make money with this app, you’re going to need some IT skills. The company connects businesses who need work done with technicians able to do the work.

As a Field Nation technician, you’ll be doing such things as computer repair, fiber cabling, and CAT 5 cabling.

With Field Nation, you have the potential of earning a six-figure income.

The majority of the projects that get posted on Field Nation are going to be only for a single day. But sometimes, there are more long-term projects of 1-3 months. You might be lucky enough to secure one of these long-term projects.

To start using Field Nation, you’re going to need IT experience. A degree and/or certification would be helpful too. Try to get at least an A+ certificate, which is the beginner’s certificate.

You’re required to have a background check and a drug test. You’ll have to pay for both of these yourself.

Log into the app to look at the list of available jobs. If you see any that you feel comfortable doing, go ahead and apply for them. If you don’t have much experience, bid low. Also, bid only on stuff you know how to do.

9. Ibotta

In any ‘apps-that-pay-you’ online reviews, ibotta never fails to make the list. It’s been around for some time and it’s super easy to work with.

Ibotta basically pays you to do something you do every week – shop for groceries.

When you’ve run out of food and supplies, check the ibotta app for rebates before heading out to the grocery store. Rebates are low-key similar to coupons, except there’s no clipping involved.

All you need is bundled-up right in the ibotta app.

On the app, choose which store you’re going to shop from. Ibotta has partnered with major stores like Target, Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Costco and Sam’s Club. Regional chains are also available.

Proceed to pick your rebates after completing simple tasks like watching videos or answering survey questions. Earn our rebates, go shopping and scan the receipt of items you’ve purchased.

Ensure you capture the entire receipt without leaving out the name of the store on the top and the date or time at the bottom. The moment you submit your receipt photo, it won’t take long before the funds are wired into your account.

Sometimes, it may take around one to two hours; other times, it may take up to two days. If you did your shopping at any of the Partner Stores, where you linked your loyalty card, you don’t have to scan your receipt.

However, in stores like Walmart, all that may be required is to scan the QR code that appears on your grocery receipt.

10. Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is an app designed to pay you for shopping and purchasing items from the app’s over 250 brands. You’ll earn points that can be exchanged for rewards such as gift cards which you can use for partner brands.

This way, you’ll still be able to earn points by shopping at the grocery store, even if it’s not included in the app’s list. Provided you purchase items from any of the brands listed on the app, you’ll be compensated accordingly.

All you need to do is download the app from Google Play Store or Apple Store. Register yourself, and earn points each time you go shopping. Fetch Rewards is available to both shoppers and merchants.

For merchants, Fetch Rewards provides a chance to persuade potential buyers to buy from them. For every sale, the merchants will get points.

For shoppers, you’ll be provided with an opportunity to earn points for buying items online. You’ll be rewarded for doing something you do on a normal basis without paying a single cent.

Using Fetch Rewards app, scan your item receipt from your grocery purchases. The points you earn will occur in either Base Points and Bonus Points. All the points you accumulate can be exchanged for cash and gift card rewards.

11. Pinecone Research

Pinecone Research is a well-recognized survey and product-testing platform. What makes the Pinecone Research app stand out is that you need an exclusive invitation to become a member.

Nielsen, the company that runs Pinecone Research, is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has approved it with an A+ rating.

Members are referred to as ‘panelists’. Once you get invited to join the panel, you’ll receive surveys in your email. Sometimes, you may receive products to test sporadically.

Each survey goes for anywhere between $3-$5. Product tests pay relatively higher – $6 or more. Don’t be quick to rule out this survey app as just another app out to rid you of your hard-earned money.

You don’t have to pay anything to receive an invitation to take part in their surveys. If anything, Pinecone Research is regarded as one of the hardest platforms to join. They select you based on a couple of factors only known to them.

As much as they’re choosy, they’re without a doubt a 100% legit. They pay their panelists on time and in full. An invitation link can either be sent by experienced members manually or pop up as an online banner ad on unsolicited websites.

For the site to fully determine whether you fit their criteria, you’ll need to fill out your details on a questionnaire online.

Being dishonest won’t earn you a spot, as they’re mostly in search of different demographics based on their clients’ needs.

Once you’re accepted into the team, you’ll receive surveys via email to complete. Each survey you receive will be centered on your demographic and will be based on various topics. Pinecone Research mainly focuses on surveys that are product and consumer-related.

12. VIPKID

If you’re a teacher (or aspire to be one), VipKid is a smartphone app that provides an opportunity worth looking into. This app will pay you to teach students from different parts of the planet online via a video call. It was founded by Jessie Chen and Cindy Mi back in 2013.

Since the site pays significantly well (approximately $7-9 for each 30-minute session), every teacher must undergo a rigorous application procedure.

Once you get approved, your profile will be put on display on the app for parents to decide whether or not you’re the right fit for their kids.

To apply, just send your resume to the VipKid team. When they get back to you, you’ll need to schedule a half-hour session to showcase your overall skills as a teacher.

If you don’t have the time, you could alternatively record a demo lesson and send it to VipKid to get an official evaluation.

As a teacher, you’ll be required to teach your students on a one-on-one basis. Your lessons should take no more than twenty-five minutes to half an hour. Your students will lie within the 4-12 yrs demographic.

Each of your lessons will mainly be centered around Common Core guidelines. You won’t have to worry about the material as it will be readily made available for you. You’ll, however, need to review it about 6-12 hours prior to your lessons.

Among other requirements, you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s degree, K-12 teaching experience from the U.S or Canada and be able to work for six months on the site.

Of course, you’ll need to have an up-to-date laptop or desktop with a high-resolution camera and a good headset.

13. Drop

Drop is an easy-to-use app that makes it possible for you to earn gift cards for money you spend on shopping. Drop CEO came up with Drop after doing a spot-check on how Millennials and Gen Zs spend their money.

From what he noticed, younger shoppers are in need of personalized shopping experience. Also, they’re willing to share their personal details to earn rewards and are more than open to trying out brands and companies they’ve never tried out before.

All of these points and more are covered on the Drop app, which is available on Google Play and iTunes.

Once you have it on your phone, fill out your profile by entering basic information. You’ll then be prompted to link either your debit or credit card.

After linking your card, choose five brands out of the wide list of popular store brands including Target, Uber, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, Walmart, etc. Once you’ve selected any five from this list, you can’t go back. Take your time and make a wise choice.

Next, sign up for a couple of bonus offers. They could be either by getting points from a simple one-time offer, making referrals or shopping with specific merchants. Even when you don’t take part in any of these now, they’ll always be available on the Drop app.

Just like that, you can receive points from linking your card after shopping from any of your five-store brands. The minimum points required to exchange for gift cards is 5,000.

14. Shopkick

Most shopping apps on this list so far reward you for shopping. With the Shopkick app, you’ll be rewarded for, wait for it… window shopping.

Just by scanning for items or stepping into a store, this app gives you the opportunity to earn gift cards to all your favorite stores. It works in a similar manner to apps such as Foursquare, whereby you earn points for simply ‘checking in’ at specific locations.

Shopkick rewards you for doing more than just checking in at any participating store. By doing these tasks, you get rewarded with points depending on how easy or hard they are to accomplish:

  • Walk into a partner store (25 kicks) – you’ll need to have your Shopkick app open for you to be rewarded.
  • Scan items at the store (10 kicks)
  • Link your credit/debit card (200 kicks)
  • Buy items using your linked credit/debit card (100 kicks)
  • Scan receipts at the retail store you’ve shopped from (100 kicks)
  • Visit online retail stores (10 kicks)
  • Watch videos on the Shopkick app (5 kicks)

In general, it will take you exactly 250 kicks to earn a dollar worth of gift cards. For a $5 gift card, you’ll need to redeem more than 1,250 points.

A sure tip to earn kicks (Swagbucks points) would be to launch the Shopkick app before stepping into a participating store.

Check the app to find out if you can scan items to earn a few kicks.

15. YouGov

YouGov is an online survey app with a global community of people who openly share views and opinions.

Though YouGov offers a variety of paid surveys, it mostly markets itself towards people who want to express their opinions on controversial topics and current affairs.

YouGov has different bases of operation in countries like the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe. It has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. How does the YouGov app work?

When you create your free account, almost immediately, you’ll receive your first survey to fill out. All full-length surveys come with points that are redeemable for a ton of rewards such as gift cards, tote bags, and t-shirts.

The gift cards involved are brand-specific. YouGov has ties to major brands such as iTunes, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon and VISA. On YouGov, an Amazon gift card worth $15 can be redeemed for 35,000 points.

Compared to other paid survey apps, you need to put in extra effort on YouGov to earn points like that. Swagbucks, for instance, offers its members an Amazon gift card worth $25 for a mere 2,200SBs. Earning them is also relatively faster.

There isn’t a wide array of options when it comes to earning points on YouGov. Pretty much what you need to do to get paid is take up surveys that pop up occasionally.

Alternatively, you can join the referral program and earn points with each friend you refer to the app.

16. ScreenLift Rewards

If you love viewing content on your gadget’s lock screen whenever you’re free, the ScreenLift Rewards app pays you to do just that. Provided the app is constantly active on your lock screen every twenty-four hours, you can earn points (referred to as Lifts) which you can later cash out via PayPal.

You can also get gift cards with popular stores like Walmart, Google Play or Amazon. ScreenLift has a relatively straightforward work-flow system.

When you sign up, you’ll be rewarded with points based on the frequency in which you view the newsfeed and other relevant content on your smartphone’s lock screen.

A unique feature of this intuitive app is that you can personalize your lock screen with features such as utilities or weather. Also, you can set your background according to your personal preferences.

How do you get paid? By simply unlocking your phone, you get paid in the form of Lifts (currency used by Screenlift). You don’t have to keep track of how many Lifts you have as you’ll be provided with a comprehensive history of the lifts you make each time you unlock your phone.

In addition, you can make extra Lifts by signing up for daily surveys, offers, and sweepstakes. $1 is equivalent to 1,500 lifts.

Before you cash out, you need to accumulate substantial Lifts. Thereafter, you can redeem them for cash rewards via PayPal or gift cards to participating stores including Walmart and Amazon.

17. Acorns

Acorns is more of an investment app than a ‘get-paid-to’ app. This app is beneficial to those who are intent on saving their spare change from any purchase they make.

Most shoppers are horrified at the thought of investing. The purpose of Acorn’s existence is to be able to invest subconsciously, without giving it much thought.

To grow extra cash, one must be willing to invest, albeit at a fairly slow pace. Acorn addresses this problem by helping you set aside loose change from doing a quick round-up on all your purchases.

From there, the app will make a recurring investment for you. With a ‘set it and forget it’ line of thought, you’ll easily access your IRAs, save up some cash for retirement, and generally every financial endeavor you wish to engage in.

Once you have a clear mind of what you want to achieve, Acorns will help you achieve it in no time. All that’s required from you is patience as you watch your money increase exponentially over a period of time.

It takes a few minutes – five, to be exact – to join. If you consider the ‘primitive’ form of investing a nightmare, make it easy with Acorns. The app also offers a program known as ‘Acorns Spend’, that acts as a bank account with an Acorn-built debit card.

The result is an efficient, easy-to-use app with minimal monthly fees that are clearly outlined on the pricing page.

Some Final Thoughts

If you want to make cash on the side, consider apps that pay you. By downloading a few and completing tasks they ask you to do, you can make a few extra bucks.

Although you’re not going to make enough to pay your rent, you can get enough cash with these apps to pay your cell phone bill, buy a nice present for a friend or relative, or get enough money to bring your spouse to the movies.

Some of these are activities you’d be doing anyway. Why not earn money from doing them? If you’re making a big purchase, you’d be foolish not to use one of these apps to get a rebate on what you spent.

Download an app or two today and start earning!

Norm Tedford

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