Back when I was making close to minimum wage, I would use free mobile apps to help supplement my earnings. Although the earnings weren’t anything close to significant, I still noticed a huge decline in my stress.
However, with so many different apps claiming you can make hundreds of dollars a month, it can be difficult to choose the right ones. I finally was able to narrow it down to just 11 that I could consistently use.
The 11 free apps to earn money that I’m featuring help me bring in $300 per month or more in side income. I at least suggest trying them out to see if they’re a right for you. If you try out an app and don’t like it, it just means you can spend more time on the other ones.
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What To Look For In Mobile Apps That Pay
It can be slightly difficult to quickly determine exactly which mobile apps you should hang on to and which you should let go of. Here are some determining factors that I use when looking for money making mobile apps.
- How much time and effort. It’s great that I can easily earn a couple of hundred a month with just one app. Yet if I have to spend 20 hours a week using it, I don’t consider it worth my time.
- When they pay. Some apps payout quicker than others. Some of the apps that I feature on this list only pay once a month. It’s up for you to determine when you need the cash and how soon you need it.
- How they pay. Most of these apps pay out in the form of PayPal and gift cards, but there are some that only have one of the two options. If you have a choice, we always suggest PayPal. This is because you can buy gift cards at a discount.
- Why they pay. Not all of these apps are going to suit your personality. In fact, some of them might not work in your area. Choose the ones that work for you and put more time and effort into those. Look for another app if you still find yourself to have some extra time to spend on other apps.
- These apps should be free. All of the apps on this list are 100% free. If at any time an app requires your payment information upon registration, chances are that it’s probably a scam. Use your best judgment.
I Don’t Feel Like Reading The Reviews
Don’t want to read the reviews of these apps and just give them a shot? Here’s a quick list of my favorite apps to earn money:
- Ibotta ($10 bonus when you sign-up and scan your first receipt)
- Shopkick (250 kick sign-up bonus)
- Pinecone Research ($3 per survey)
- Swagbucks ($5 sign-up bonus and get paid to watch videos)
- Acorns (get paid to invest your spare change with a $5 sign-up bonus)
- More Below…
1. Ibotta – Earn Cash Back on Groceries
Ibotta is by far one of my favorite apps on this list – earn cash back taking pictures of your grocery receipts from your phone. Each time you scan an offer, you can earn anywhere from $0.25 – $5 in cash back. Rewards are usually given within 24 hours and you can claim your cash for either PayPal withdrawals or gift cards.
Here are the simple steps that you need to get started with Ibotta.
- Register. Sign-up for a free Ibotta account by clicking this link here. Get a $10 bonus after scanning your first receipt.
- Browse offers. Ibotta has over thousands of products on their app. Earn cash back on milk, alcohol, electronics, groceries and even prescription purchases.
- Choose a store. Ibotta is partnered with most of the popular retailers in the US. Once you know the product, just match a store with it.
- Scan your receipt. Answer 1 or 2 simple questions about your shopping experience and take a picture of your receipt. Make sure to include the entire receipt in your camera or you might not receive credit.
- Earn cash back. Wait anywhere from 24 – 48 hours to receive cash back in your account. When your balance reaches a minimum of $20 you can cash out.
The great thing about Ibotta is that you can combine more than one offer per receipt. On average I can usually earn an extra $20 – $40 per month in cash back on my grocery purchases.
2. ShopTracker – Earn $36/Year Sharing Your Amazon Purchases
Shop on Amazon? You might as well get paid for it. The ShopTracker app pays you cash for tracking your Amazon purchases. You get a $3 bonus when you register as a new user and $36 per year.
Here are the steps you need to get started:
- Register. Sign-up for a free ShopTracker account by clicking this link here. You’ll receive your $3 bonus within 48 hours of registration in the form of a Visa gift card. All you need to enter in is your name, email, gender and date of birth.
- Install the app. The app works on both iOS and Android devices. If you decide to use the app on your desktop computer, keep in mind that it only works with Windows 7 or later. When redirected to the App Store or Google Play Store, the app will be named as Harris Panel.
- Sync with Amazon. The app will provide with instructions on linking your Amazon account. You can cancel your account any time by simply uninstalling the app.
3. Shopkick – Earn Cash By Scanning Receipt, Walking Into Store, Shopping Online, And More
Shopkick is probably one of the most versatile apps on this list. Get paid to shop by walking into stores, scanning receipts, linking your credit card, scanning barcodes, shopping online, referring friends and more.
Shopkick often gives bonuses to their users. For example, last week they gave 2 $75 gift cards per day. While this promotion has since ended, they tend to have offers like this quite often.
The best part about Shopkick is that you can earn in more than one way, making the app fun and easy to use. Earn points in the form of “kicks” and exchange them for gift cards. When you sign-up as a new user, you get a 250 kick bonus.
4. Pinecone Research – Earn At A Rate Of $15/Hour Taking Surveys From Your Phone
Pinecone Research is one of the most popular survey sites around. Earn cash answering questions about products and services that you try on a daily basis. The best part? You always earn $3 per survey.
The great thing about this app is that they send you notifications when a new survey is available, so there’s no need to constantly check back in. On average I receive 1-2 surveys a week.
Most surveys take only around 10 – 15 minutes to complete, meaning I can roughly earn around $15/hour. Not only that, but if they send you a survey, you’re 100% guaranteed to qualify.
A lot of other survey sites sometimes tell you halfway in that you’re not eligible to finish and wasting your time. I personally find Pinecone Research to be one of the best survey apps out there.
5. InboxDollars – Get Paid to Watch Videos and Read Emails
InboxDollars is one of the most popular rewards sites on the web due to their strong and long-standing reputation. Earn cash completing tasks that you already do on a daily basis. This includes watching videos, filling out free-trial offers, reading emails, taking surveys and more.
InboxDollars also gives you a $5 sign-up bonus when you register as a new user. If you don’t want to participate in their mobile app, you can also use your PC and participate in tasks via your browser.
6. Acorns – $5 To Invest In Your Future with Your Spare Change
The Acorns app is a great way to start investing in your future if you don’t have a lot of money. You only need $5 to get started, and you automatically get that in your account with their $5 sign-up bonus.
Acorns automatically invests in diverse and safe stocks that get you the highest returns possible based on your risk level. These investment were chosen by many money management companies along with Dr. Harry Markowitz, a Nobel Prize winner in economics.
I personally prefer the spare change option. By linking your credit card to your Acorns account, your credit card automatically rounds up each purchase to the nearest dollar. The spare change that gets rounded-up is immediately invested in your Acorns account.
If you want to put in more money, you can also choose to deposit at any time or even choose a scheduled option to deposit daily, weekly or monthly.
The downside? There is no fee to register, but there is a fee to use the app. It costs $1 per month or 0.025% of your income if you have over $5,000 invested. For college students with a valid college email address there are zero fees. All trades are commission-free.
7. Swagbucks – Earn Cash Playing Games and Watching Videos
Swagbucks is very similar to InboxDollars. Complete tasks that you’d normally do online and get paid for it. This includes watching videos, playing games, completing free-trial offers, shopping online, clipping coupons and more. Swagbucks is one of the – if not the most – popular small task sites on the web.
Not only that, but they also offer an excellent referral bonus. Earn 10% of all your friends’ earnings for life that sign-up using your link.
I usually find that I can generate some easy income just by watching videos or answering some questions. It’s not a lot of money, but I can often get anywhere between $4 – $6 for 30 minutes of my time. Be aware that you might not qualify for every offer available.
QuickThoughts is much better than your average survey app. Even if you don’t qualify for a survey, you’re automatically rewarded with 10 cents in your account. Not only that, but for each survey you complete you can earn anywhere from $1 to $3.
My favorite part about this app is that I can see my rewards immediately in my account and claim them at any time. You need a minimum of $10 to cash out for an Amazon gift card, but I find that I can usually earn this amount quite quickly after registration.
Aside from taking surveys, you can also participate in local missions. This local missions require you to go around your city or town and complete certain challenges. This may include taking a picture, reporting a price or talking to an employee.
While it’s more difficult to complete the local challenges, but the rewards are much greater. Don’t feel like going out? Go ahead and complete some surveys and stay in. There’s almost always something to complete with this app, especially for those who live in a large city.
9. GrabPoints – A Great Way To Earn Cash Downloading Apps
If you like trying out new apps, GrabPoints will award you for doing so. When you first start you’ll be presented with an abundant amount of offers and should be able to make anywhere from $3 – $4 within your first 20 minutes. After that, the earnings will be a bit less, but you should still be able to earn a decent amount.
Aside from downloading apps, you can also earn cash taking surveys and watching videos. They don’t pay as much as downloading apps, but are a great and easy way to earn some extra income.
You can also earn a lot of decent cash referring your friends. For each friend that uses your referral link, you earn a 500 point bonus. A great way to quickly spread the word is through Facebook or Twitter.
I typically find that I can earn an extra $20 – $30 per month with this app. Sometimes this amount increases depending on the amount of friends that I refer that month.
10. TopCashback – Earn Cash Back For Your Online Purchases
TopCashback is an online shopping portal. These portals are online websites that partner with thousands of retailers across the web and place all of their affiliate links onto one page.
Click on one of their links and make a purchase at the retailer of your choice and they earn a commission. Instead of keeping all of the commission for themselves, they give most of it back to you in the form of cash back.
Here are the quick steps on how this works:
- Register. You can register for a free TopCashback account by clicking this link here. You get a $10 bonus for registering as a new user.
- Search. Type in the retailer that you wish to shop at. The results should display how much cash back you can earn. For example, you can earn 5% cash back on almost all products at Walmart. There are exceptions, however. You won’t receive cash back on gift cards. Some sites only give cash back depending on the category your purchase falls in.
- Click on Get Cash back. Click on the ‘Get Cash Back’ button to be redirected to the retailer of your choice. TopCashback will automatically track your purchases and give you cash back based on your total purchase price. You don’t have to do any work on your end.
- Cash out. TopCashback will give you your cash back within 10 days, but I usually find it to be there a lot sooner. Once you reach a total of $10 in earned cash back, you can withdraw to PayPal or for gift cards. Gift cards give you a 3% bonus on your earnings.
Still confused? It’s a difficult concept for someone to grasp who hasn’t used a portal before. If that’s the case, I suggest reading our portal guide.
I highly recommend getting used to this process. Now that I’ve done it hundreds of times, it only takes me a couple of extra minutes and I can usually save around 7% on average for each online purchase.
11. Adme – Use Your Phone as a Walking Billboard
Use your phone often? Then you’re going to love Adme. This app gives you the potential to earn cash each time you unlock your screen.
When you install the app, each time you unlock your phone an advertisement will appear. Swipe one way to engage in the ad and the other way to skip to your home screen. Either way, you’re going to get paid. It doesn’t matter which way you swipe.
Keep in mind that it’s difficult to determine what algorithm Adme is using. Therefore, you can’t really discern when Adme will reward you for unlocking your phone. This is why we suggest just using your phone like you normally would.
Use promo code bNALpS6gKV to get a $1 bonus upon registration. I usually find myself earning around an extra $20 for the months that I use my phone a lot.
12. EarningStation – Make Money Doing Things You Already Do Online
EarningStation pays you for completing tasks that you already do on a daily basis. This includes watching videos, taking surveys, signing-up for free-trail offers and referring friends.
Earn a $10 bonus when you sign-up for 5 of their partner sites within your first month of registration. Watching videos is one of the easier ways to earn cash with this app, but filling out surveys is where most of the money is at.
They have one of the best referral programs on this list. When you refer a friend you receive 10% of all of their all earnings for life. Not only that, but when your friend earns their first $5 within their first month, you receive a $5 bonus.
These 11 apps really helped me when I was struggling to earn some extra cash. Although they didn’t take care of all of my financial needs, they definitely helped out and lowered my stress.
Do you have any experience using any of these apps? If so, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!