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Today, we’re going to be talking about free money hacks.
Spoiler alert – the ‘hacks’ in this article are nothing to do with computers. If you were expecting an article which teaches you how to hack ATMs to make them spit out money, or hack your PayPal account to get unlimited funds, I’m sorry to disappoint, but you won’t find that here.
No, the definition of ‘hacks’ that we’re using is more along the lines of tips and tricks – ways to ‘manipulate the system’, so to speak, and get free money through alternative means.
Hacks, loopholes, shortcuts – whatever you want to call them, we’ve got you covered.
In the list below, you’ll find 16 ideas of ways to get totally free money with almost no effort required on your part.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds too good to be true. I did too. In fact, when I first started looking into ways to get free money, I didn’t really expect any of the methods below to work at all, but I figured it was worth a shot and gave them a go anyway.
To my surprise, however, since using the tips below, I’ve been able to make over $1000 in free money, and now I want to share these tips and tricks so that you can do the same.
Without further ado, here are 12 free money hacks you would never expect.
1. Switch Bank Accounts (Or Open a New One)
Did you know that lots of different major banks will actually pay you to switch your current account over to them? It’s true, you can earn hundreds of dollars for what amounts to less than an hour’s work – just sign up and start the switching process.
Why do banks offer this switching bonus? Because they’re absolutely desperate for your custom!
The banking market is competitive, and banks make a lot of money by investing the cash you deposit every month. If they can attract a new, potentially lifelong client for a few hundred dollars, they will.
You can take advantage of this by accepting those bribes and ‘playing the field’ so to speak.
Just remember to consider other factors aside from the bonus too. It’s pointless switching for a $200 bonus if you end up paying out $300 in hidden fees on account of your new bank’s policies.
If you’re in the UK, switching is especially easy on account of the seven-day Current Account Switch Service (CASS) which has been in place since September 2013 and puts the onus on banks to make it easier for customers to switch over painlessly.
Sign-up bonuses are similar to switching bonuses but they only require you to open a new account – you don’t usually have to close your old one unless it’s in your new bank’s terms and conditions.
Here are some banks that will pay you to switch your current/checking account or open a new account with them:
Most of the above will pay you somewhere between $100 – $300 for signing up/switching – not bad for a one-off cash injection!
If you’re in the US and interested in finding out more about what the different bonus options are, this blog provides a breakdown of the best banking promotional offers currently available. If you’re in the UK, check out this blog instead.
The last piece of advice I’d give you is to always check the small print, as most of the bonus offers will require you to meet certain eligibility criteria, such as by making a certain minimum deposit within a given timeframe.
Once you’ve switched over and got your first few hundred dollars worth of free money, don’t go rushing out to spend it just yet! You could get more out of it with our next money hack…
2. Download Survey Apps
Survey apps take the saying ‘penny for your thoughts’ literally – they’ll actually pay you to tell them your thoughts.
There are a bunch of them out there that you just need to download before you can start earning free money straight away. Here are some of my favorites:
Once you fill in some basic information about yourself, you can browse their list of surveys and, if you’re eligible, fill them in for an easy, quick cash reward.
It’s not totally ‘free’ money as it does require a little bit of time investment, but the surveys aren’t very hard to complete and usually take around 10-15 minutes – the perfect amount of time to fit them into your regular commute.
3. Buy Gift Cards
Don’t you just hate it when you a gift card off a relative as a birthday gift for a store that you never visit?
Well, so do a lot of people. And what do they do with those gift cards? They sell them, of course! And usually at a significantly marked-down price.
All those re-sold gift cards mean that it’s possible for you to buy second-hand gift cards for your favorite stores at less-than-cost prices, and then use those gift cards against purchases you’d usually make with cash.
For example, let’s say you planned on spending $50 in Walmart for groceries. You could buy a $50 Walmart gift card for around $45 first, redeem it against your grocery purchase, and walk away with $5 spare.
It might not be much, but that’s $5 worth of free money that you wouldn’t have had without this neat little money hack.
Here are some websites where you can buy discounted gift cards:
4. Invest Your Pennies
One of the easiest ways to get free money is to invest the money you already have, sit back, and wait for the returns to come in.
I know what you’re thinking though – investing isn’t really a ‘money hack’. Hacks are supposed to be ways to take the work out of earning money and cheat the system, but investing is hard work. It requires time, knowledge, and lots of funds to be successful.
Or does it?
Well, there’s actually a neat little app you can use that takes all the hard work out of investing – an app called Acorns.
With Acorns, all you have to do is download the app, link up your credit cards, and choose whether you’d like to follow a more conservative or a more aggressive investment strategy, and the app will take care of the rest.
It rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and adds the difference to an investment pot. Because it works on spare change, you don’t need to a huge amount of savings to get started and it won’t feel like you’re taking a huge risk – you probably won’t even notice that spare change leaving your account.
Eventually, those acorns will start growing into money trees, and you can cash out your investment returns for essentially free money.
Speaking of apps that can help you to get free money…
5. Download Cashback Apps
One of my favorite free money hacks and one that I’d highly recommend is to claim cashback as many purchases as you can using cashback rewards apps.
Cashback shopping apps are apps which reward you with money and/or gift cards whenever you make purchases from select retailers.
Typically, all you have to do is browse the offers listed on the app, select one that you’re interested in, make a purchase, and scan/upload your receipt. Once your purchase has been validated, your account will be credited with a cashback reward.
Here are some of the most popular cashback apps available:
The cashback amounts you can earn vary between apps and retailers and could be anywhere from 1% to 20%. Even the smaller amounts will add up over time, though, and you’ll eventually end up with a pretty large pot of money to withdraw.
Personally, I earned around $150 last year from cashback apps alone. It might not sound like much, but it’s totally free money that requires next to no effort to earn.
6. Resell Free Items
Sometimes, when people are moving homes or undergoing home improvements, they end up with furniture and appliances that they no longer need.
Getting rid of big items like this can be a hassle, so a lot of people will turn to sites like Craigslist to give them away for free, rather than take them to a skip.
But as that old saying goes, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. In other words, that ‘junk’ that they’re giving away for free might not be junk at all – they might just not know what it’s worth.
The savvy entrepreneur out there can use this to their advantage by scouring sites like Craigslist for free items and then selling them on for a profit. The great thing about this is that there is no investment required – just a little bit of resourcefulness and a good eye for value!
We’ve written extensively about this specific free money hack in our post here, so check that out for more tips on how to get started flipping free items.
7. Take Advantage of Sign Up Bonuses
Lots of different websites, apps, and credit cards will pay you free money just to sign up. Most of the time, they do this because they expect to see returns on the money they pay out by locking you into recurring card payments or hooking you in so that you spend more money.
However, if you’re smart about it, you can essentially hack the system to claim your sign up bonus and then walk away without spending a penny.
Online casinos and betting sites are notorious for offering lucrative sign-up bonuses, so you can start your hunt there.
If you plan to use this free money hack though, make sure you follow these tips:
- Check the terms and conditions
Sometimes, sign up bonuses will come with hidden clauses and conditions that make it difficult for you to claim your money. For example, some online casinos will require you to gamble your bonus a certain number of times before you can cash out.
- Create a new email account
Most of the time, you’ll be required to input your email address to sign up and claim a bonus. If you plan on doing this on many sites, make a new email address so that your personal email doesn’t end up flooded with spam.
- Sign up for credit cards towards the end of the year
Credit card sign-up bonuses will usually require you to meet a minimum spending amount within a specific timeframe. It’s easier to do this towards the end of the year as people tend to spend more in the holiday season on things like Christmas presents, Black Friday sales, and New Year celebrations.
8. Claim Your Unclaimed/Undelivered Tax Refund
Every single year, millions of dollars worth of tax refunds are left unclaimed or undelivered – and some of it could be yours.
Here are some reasons you might have missed out on your tax refund:
- You didn’t file a tax return
- You changed address and didn’t notify the IRS (US) or HMRC (UK)
- Your refund check was lost in the post
There’s nothing better than getting your hands on unexpected money out of the blue, so check to see if you’re owed an income tax refund that you haven’t yet received.
It’s really easy to do. For US citizens, you just need to visit the IRS ‘Where’s My Refund’ website and fill out some basic information. You never know, you might be owed a substantial amount and if so, that’s free money that you didn’t expect straight to your bank account.
If you forgot to file a tax return or chose not to because your wages didn’t meet the minimum filing requirement, you can still do so within 3 years of the deadline.
And that’s not the only way to get hold of unclaimed money either, which brings us to our next hack…
9. Find Unclaimed Money
Over the course of your life, you may have earned money that you didn’t even know about and that has ended up lost in the void somewhere, waiting for you to claim it.
It could be an old bank account that you had as a child or one that a parent or guardian opened for you without you realizing. It could be a check from a previous employer for unpaid work or a utility deposit on an account that you no longer have open.
The good news is that there are a few online tools and websites that can help you to find that lost money, like unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com. You can visit them and search their databases to find and claim free money that’s rightfully yours.
10. Monetize Your Downtime
If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of your downtime on your phone, so why not monetize that downtime to get free money?
It might be hard to believe, but there are actually a bunch of smartphone reward apps that will pay you to mess around on your smartphone.
You can download the rewards apps below and get paid to play games, watch videos, browse the net, shop online, and more:
They don’t pay much, but they can be a great way to get free money for things that you’d probably be doing anyway.
11. Turn Your Phone’s Lock Screen Into a Money-Making Machine
If playing games, watching videos, and browsing the net seems like too much hard work for you, this next free money hack might be a little more appealing to you.
It’s possible to hack your smartphone to turn your lock screen into a money-making machine by downloading screensaver rewards apps.
These apps will change your lock screen into an advertisement which you have to view in order to unlock your phone. Viewing these ads generates a small amount of money or rewards points every time you unlock your phone.
Again, we’re talking minuscule amounts of money here, but hey, it’s free – what do you expect? Plus, those cents soon will add up to dollars eventually.
Two of my favorite screensaver apps are ScreenLift and Fronto, but we’ve also curated a list of 7 apps that pay you to unlock your phone screen in another blog, so check that out if you want to find out more.
12. Swap Your Damaged Money For Real Cash
Ever accidentally left a banknote in your jeans pocket and then washed them? Or perhaps torn a note in half by accident? Or left it too close to the fire and burnt it?
Well, you may have thought that the note was as good as useless, but in actual fact, it’s possible to trade mutilated currency in through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a full redemption.
If you’ve kept hold of your damaged currency, this little-known free money hack can turn it legal tender again and provide a chunk of free money you never expected to be able to use.
It doesn’t matter whether the currency has been buried, damaged by explosives, chewed on by rats, or anything else – it can still be traded in, as long as:
- 50 percent or more of the note is present and clearly identifiable as US currency, sufficient remnants of relevant security features are visible, and at least one-half of the note is still intact.
- 50 percent or less of the note is present and clearly identifiable as US currency and evidence is provided which demonstrates that the rest of the note has been completely destroyed.
Other Ways to Get Free Money
That concludes our list of 12 free money hacks that you’d never expect. If you’re still itching for more, you can always check out some of our other blogs for free money tips and tricks.
Do you know of any more free money hacks that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments! Also, let us know how well the free money hacks above work for you!