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20 Best Apps To Earn Money From Your Smartphone

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Have you ever considered using your phone to make money?

Let’s face it. Smartphones are expensive. The monthly service fees we pay are high. Not everyone has the luxury of unlimited data, either.

If you’re like most Americans, you keep your smartphone in your purse or pocket all day. You almost always know where it is, and it’s usually within arm’s reach.

Most people check their phones constantly, play mindless (but addictive) mobile games, use dozens of apps, take pictures, and stream movies and television shows.

Everyone is paying dearly for it. Well, almost everyone is. Some savvy people have figured out how to turn their phones into money-making machines.

And, the best part is that there are plenty of opportunities to make money with your iPhone or Android device just by doing the things you’re probably already doing.

There is a sea of potentially profitable apps to choose from, so in this article, I picked my top 20. Most of them even pay cash via PayPal!

1. Ibotta

  • Registration Bonus$10 when you scan your first receipt
  • Join Ibotta

Remember the old days when you had to mail in receipts and wait for rebate checks to arrive in the mail? How about when you used to have to clip coupons and then remember to bring them to the store?

Thankfully, those days are over! With the Ibotta app, you get cash back on everyday purchases without all the hassle of couponing.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Before your shopping trip, check the app for any and all relevant offers.
  2. Go shopping.
  3. Take a photo of your receipt and start raking in the dough.

To date, Ibotta has paid users over $371 million. As the user base has grown, so have the number of places to save.

In addition to grocery and pharmacy purchases, you can also get money back on clothing splurges from stores like Bloomingdale’s, J. Crew, and ModCloth.

Plus, get rewarded in cash for airline travel, restaurant visits, electronics purchases and more. In all, there are more than 500,000 locations that allow you to earn money.

If you’re not using Ibotta, you’re missing out on free money. Plus, you can earn faster by using this exclusive promo code when you sign up: XXXXX.

Read our full Ibotta Review

2. Shoptracker

If you shop on Amazon, then you can get paid cash every month for placing orders on their site. The payout is an automatic $3 per month, so over the course of a year, that’s an extra $36. While it’s not enough to retire on, it’s free money, so why not go for it?

The app is owned and operated by The Harris Poll, an “insights and analytics” company that measures public opinion. They’re tracking your Amazon purchase history to see what you’re ordering, how often, and how much you pay for it.

The company is keeping quiet about what they’re doing with this information, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re plugging it into an algorithm to predict the next presidential election.

If you do have the right equipment, sign-up is easy. All you have to do is fill out this short form, answer a couple of questions about your Amazon account, and then download the app to your computer.

Read our full Shoptracker Review

3. Shopkick

Multiple apps pay you to shop, but Shopkick is probably the most fun! You paid in “kicks” that are redeemable for gift cards. There are eight ways to earn kicks, and most of them are really easy. In fact, in some cases, all you have to do is walk into a store!

Here are all the ways to get paid:

  • Walk into a “partner” store
  • Use the in-app scanner to scan barcodes of specific products
  • Make purchases with a linked credit cart
  • Submit receipts from your purchases
  • Visit online stores that Shopkick is also partnered with
  • View certain products online
  • Make online purchases at partner stores
  • Watch videos in the Shopkick app

The gamified element of this app and the thrill people get by earning “kicks” has turned it into a fun activity to do on a shopping trip with friends. We recommend competing for fun against friends, family members or a significant other to see who can earn a gift card the fastest.

In fact, encourage all of your friends to join because Shopkick will give you 250 kicks (about $1) for each friend you refer.

You may have picked up on the mention of gift cards instead of redeeming rewards via PayPal. Admittedly, this isn’t an app that earns money via PayPal, but it’s so fun that I couldn’t resist sharing it.

Read our full Shopkick Review

4. Pinecone Research

The idea behind Pinecone Research is beautifully simple. Share your opinion and get cash and prizes.

The mission of Pinecone Research is to gather data for companies that are developing and improving products. Your feedback could very well be the reason behind a new flavor of Lay’s potato chips!

You could also help companies avoid launching products that would be a complete flop, wasting money and resources. So, you see, in addition to earning some cash on the side, you’re also performing a public service.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, you could also get some free products to test. If they ever decide to give away Teslas for testing purposes, I’ll be sure to alert you ASAP!

The signup form is brief, and you can start earning right away.

Read our full Pinecone Research Review

5. Drop

  • Registration Bonus$1 with promo code frugal4less
  • Join Drop

Drop is probably one of the most convenient shopping apps I’ve come across. All you have to do is link your credit or debit card, and then you earn cash back on your everyday purchases.

Most major stores are partners, from Whole Foods to Casper, so there’s no shortage of opportunities to get money.

Some people are initially reluctant to link their credit or debit cards to the app because of security concerns, but they’ve found that their information remained safe. With over 15,000 reviews and counting, Drop is a safe and convenient app to use.

Read our full Drop Review

6. Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel

Nielsen is the company known for making or breaking television programs. They install set-top boxes on television sets and record the population’s viewing habits.

They got their start in the 1930s in the radio industry, and they have continued to stay relevant. Now, they even track the habits of people using streaming services like Netflix.

With the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel app, you get rewarded for every device you connect. The company’s goal is to track your behavior on the Internet and help advertisers create user profiles based on everyone’s data.

Although advertisers will now have a complete set of information about you and your habits, your anonymity is protected, and your identity will never be linked to the information profile.

In exchange for allowing your behavior to be observed, you get entered in sweepstakes and can earn $50 per year.

Read our full Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel Review

7. Panel App

Earning passive income is an ultimate goal, and the Panel app allows you to do exactly that. By downloading the app, you earn points that can be redeemed for cash. There’s absolutely no extra work required.

The app quietly works in the background, collecting data about your smartphone habits. If you’re concerned about privacy, then keep in mind that every social network and search engine is also monitoring your every scroll and click. They’re just not giving you any cash for it.

If you want to earn bonus points, take some surveys. The payouts aren’t very big, but if you’re killing time in a long line at the post office or you’re trying to look busy to avoid awkward conversations with your Uber driver, then it’s worth it to invest a little bit of time on the app.

Each day there are sweepstakes to enter and the prizes keep getting better as the user base grows.

Read our full Panel App Review

8. ScreenLift

ScreenLift has to be one of the most efficient lock screen apps out there. While the payout may not be as high as other apps, the amount of work you put into it is minimal.

Earn $60/year for doing something you do daily – unlocking your screen. In short, here are the basics of how the app works:

  • Install the app on your phone and register for an account.
  • Each time you unlock your phone, a simple ad appears. Swipe right to disengage with the ad, or click on it to engage. Whether you engage or not, you still get paid.
  • When you reach a minimum amount of points, cash out to PayPal or for a gift card of your choice.

This has to be one of the best passive income apps out there due to the minimum amount of work needed.

9. Bookscouter

I included this app because it’s fun to use, and it is potentially very lucrative. It’s like retail arbitrage, except for used books.

If you’ve followed Gary Vaynerchuk for any length of time, you’ve probably heard him talk about scouting out garage sales and the “free” section of craigslist to get items to sell on eBay.

Gary Vee is a master of retail arbitrage. In fact, Gary Vaynerchuk enjoys this activity so much that he compares the feeling he gets when he finds something special to sell to what he experiences when he closes an “11 million-dollar deal.”

The Bookscouter app works like this: you scan barcodes or enter titles of books. The app will then tell you how much you’ll get paid for them.

Not every book is sellable, but start by scanning books around your house, and then head on over a thrift shop or garage sale to continue the fun.

I like to think of it as doing what Gary does, but not having to work as hard!

10. FeaturePoints

The Feature Points app is like passive income and network marketing combined into one perfect app. It’s available for both the Android and iPhone, although it’s not in the Apple app store, so if you’re on an iPhone, you’ll have to download it from the website.

When you earn points, you can redeem them for PayPal cash or gift cards. And, earning points is easy. All you have to do is download apps they suggest and use them for two minutes. Make sure you follow the two-minute rule and actively use the app you downloaded, or you won’t get paid.

You can get paid up to $1,000 at a time by direct deposit into your PayPal account.

Here’s where it gets exciting. You can also refer your friends, and when they earn points, you get points, too. So, if someone you refer earns 1,000 points in a day, you’ll also be awarded 500 points on top of that. There’s no limit to the number of points you can earn, either!

If you’d like to get started with a bank of points and be able to cash out faster, use promo code: FCZFSX when you sign up.

Read our full FeaturePoints Review

11. AppTrailers

Since you’re reading this list, you know that it can be a challenge to keep up with the newest and most useful apps. That’s why I appreciate AppTrailers. They’re like movie trailers, but for apps.

This particular app works by showing you 30-second trailers of the latest and greatest apps to hit the market. As you watch these trailers, you get rewarded with points that are redeemable for gift cards. It’s like a win-win. You discover new, life-changing apps, and you get paid in the process.

There are also fun games to play, and my favorite feature is pop culture and brand trivia. AppTrailers is by far one of the most enjoyable apps around.

Read our full AppTrailers Review

12. AppKarma

This app is very similar to AppTrailers that pays you to watch videos about apps. However, there are a few key differences:

  • When you refer friends, you get 30% of the number of points they earn, not 50%.
  • BUT, if you have a YouTube channel that gets at least 1,000 views per week, you get upgraded to VIP status, and you get more ways to earn.
  • Achievement badges let you scale up your earnings and get extra bonuses.

Read our full AppKarma Review

13. Viggle

If you’ve recently binge-watched an entire series, you’re going to regret not having the Viggle app! This smartphone app pays you for every minute of streaming you enjoy on channels like Netflix and Hulu.

There are even ways to earn bonus points by interacting with the show and correctly and answering quiz questions about the plot line and characters.

Before you get too excited about getting paid to Netflix and chill, I should warn you that it takes a lot of hours of TV-watching to rack up enough points to cash out, but since you’re already on the sofa, I figure every little bit counts.

Read our full Viggle Review

14. Gigwalk

If you’re looking for a part-time job that’s interesting and flexible, then I recommend becoming a gig-walker. It’s similar to the Field Agent app (#20 on the list), but the payouts have a wide range, starting at $3 for a gig and going to about $100.

The term “gig” may be a misnomer. This app doesn’t pay you to mow lawns or design logos.

Instead, you provide “on-the-ground visibility” for brands that need insights into how their items are displayed on store shelves, that prices are accurate and any events and promotions they’ve scheduled are running smoothly.

You don’t have to take an active role or anything like that. Instead, it’s more observational.

If you try Gigwalk, there’s a lot of room for growth and increased earnings. Clients that find your work and documentation thorough and timely can add you to their “private workforce,” which means more exclusive gigs and potentially more cash.

15. Ebates

It took me a while to become an Ebates believer. In fact, it was a coworker who finally convinced me to join by showing me an $80 check he got from the company just for shopping online at his usual spots.

It also helped that he gave me his referral link, which meant we both got cash when I signed up and placed an order.

What makes Ebates one of my favorite apps is that you don’t have to do much of anything to collect what they call a “big fat check.” The funds are either deposited to your PayPal account quarterly or mailed via paper check.

To get the money, all you have to do is shop online. Seriously. It’s that easy.

There are two ways to activate the automatic Ebates cash back system:

  1. Begin your online shopping adventure at
  2. Download their browser extension, and the cash back offers automatically pop up. If you do this step, then you don’t have to begin your journey at Ebates. Your Internet browser will automatically prompt you to activate the cash back discount.

Most major retailers (and even some obscure ones) are part of the Ebates ecosystem. Therefore, whenever you shop online, you’re likely earning cash back.

And unlike other apps, these percentages are nothing to sneeze at. They’re typically at least 1.5%, and during special events, they can be as high as 25%.

I went to today and was pleasantly surprised (and delighted) to see an 8% cash back offer.

Read our full Ebates Review

16. Quick Cash Rewards

This Android-only app isn’t well known, but that doesn’t make it any less useful in my opinion. It’s similar to some of the others I mentioned. There are sponsor partners that have tasks for you to complete like watching videos, playing games, and installing apps.

What makes this app particularly interesting is that you also earn a 20% commission on the activities that people you refer do. Any time there’s an opportunity to receive passive income, I’m game.

17. Clashot

Your friends might be annoyed by your obsession with photographing all of life’s mundane moments and lattes for Instagram, but you’ll be the one laughing when you cash in on all those pics.

With the Clashot app, you could earn up to $80 per photo! Once your photos go through a quality approval process, they go into a photo bank that has millions of subscribers. Not only do you get paid when your photo is purchased, if multiple people buy it, you also receive royalties.

18. Mobee

If you love to shop, then you should definitely try this mystery shopping app. It’s a relatively straightforward and easy-to-use app. Select missions based on your location, complete them, collect points, and then redeem them for gift cards, including pre-paid credit cards.

For those uninitiated with mystery shopping, one of the perks is that you might get to make a purchase, and those funds are reimbursed on top of your compensation. My favorite mystery shops are restaurants and coffee shops.

One tip to stand out is to look for remote gigs. They often pay more, and the client company is desperate to fill them. There are also ways to unlock achievement badges for completing multiple missions.

My only complaint about this app is that you have to be at the location to accept the mission. This makes it difficult to plan your day. For example, you may live down the street from a store that has an open assignment, but you can’t claim it until you arrive.

By the time you get to the spot, someone else may have already accepted the mission.

Read our full Mobee Review

19. Money Machine

At first glance, the Money Machine app for Android looks a lot like other apps that give you points for completing micro tasks like watching videos, taking surveys, and downloading apps. Actually, a deeper look yields the same impression.

There’s not a lot different about this particular app, but I do appreciate that you can cash out with PayPal. While I’ve got nothing against an Amazon gift card, or any other retailer for that matter, sometimes (almost always), I prefer the cash. I’m sure you can relate.

Despite recent version updates, the interface is simplistic and slightly dated. Don’t let that deter you, though. This app is a legit money maker.

20. Field Agent

This app is like James Bond meets mystery shopping. You’ll be on the hunt for specific products, and you’ll need to be prepared to snap photos, interact with employees, and do a bit of spying.

Don’t worry; it’s nothing illegal. Think of it like competitive research. Both big and small brands have contracted with Field Agent to get information about how their products are displayed and positioned. Retailers also use the data to improve their business processes.

This opportunity is ideal for highly populated cities, and it gives you an excuse to get out of the house and explore different neighborhoods.

Before you accept a job, keep in mind that there’s usually a two to three-hour time limit. If you’re running errands and planning on going to stores that have open jobs, then this is the perfect way to get paid to do your shopping.

One of my favorite activities to do is the Scavenger Hunt. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the house to collect money for this task. The app will give you a name of a product and the UPC code.

If you have the product in your home (or you know someone who does), all you have to do is snap a photo of it clearly displaying the barcode, and you get paid. Alternatively, you could go to the store, too.

The app even gives you lists of stores to check for each item on the list.

Rewards vary, but most jobs pay between $5 and $8.

Read our full Field Agent Review

Final Thoughts

Now you’ve seen my list of favorite apps to earn money. Are there any I left out that you’ve found to be lucrative? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!

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