Earning a passive income using cell phone apps is one of the best ways to increase your side-income. They don’t require a lot of work to setup, and once the apps are installed all you need to do is cash out.
After searching through many different apps and trying them out, I’ve discovered 15 passive income apps that allow me to earn an extra $1,500 per year in passive income. The best part? They’re 100% free.
What Should I Look For In Passive Income Apps?
Before delving into the world of passive income apps, there are a few important things you need to be aware of.
- Never pay. If you ever run across an app that promotes free cash and requires payment information, it’s most likely a scam. All of the apps on this list are 100% free.
- Easy setup. Passive income apps are meant to be easy to install. If it looks like a lot of work to get going, it probably is.
- Low maintenance. Aside from the initial setup, there should be very little to work needed to maintain the app. Most of these on the list sit in the background while you earn cash. The only real work that you’ll be doing is cashing out for gift cards or PayPal deposits.
- Drag on performance. Just because an app promotes a passive income doesn’t mean you should use it. If you ever find that it’s slowing down your phone dramatically and not worth the tiny bit of cash, uninstall it.
- Sign-up bonuses. We highly suggest that you use as many passive income apps that you can. The more you have the more you earn. Yet it’s usually better to install the ones with registration bonuses first since you tend to get paid a bit extra.
- Make sure it’s active. Usually there will be some indication that your passive income is currently active. If not, check back during the payout period and see if you’ve earned some cash.
- Can you use multiple devices? Instead of using one phone to earn a passive income, why not use 2 or more? While it does sound logical, we have to be careful. Some programs do not permit the use of multiple accounts under one household. If they catch you, they have the potential to suspend your account.
What Are The Passive Income Apps?
Want to get started with the apps and skip through the reviews? Not a problem. Here’s a quick list of my favorite passive income apps:
- Nielsen Consumer Panel ($50/year)
- Smart Panel ($5 sign-up bonus)
- Digital Reflection Panel (Earn $50 within your first 2 months)
- ShopTracker ($3 sign-up bonus)
- Acorns (invest your spare change with $5 sign-up bonus)
- SurveyConnect (highest earnings at $180/year)
By installing all of these apps on my devices, I’m able to earn an extra $1,500 per year in passive income. While I can’t promise that you’ll earn this exact amount, you should at least be close to this number. With that said, let’s get started.
1. Nielsen Consumer Panel – $150/Year
Nielsen Consumer Panel (formerly called Nielsen Digital Voice) makes number one on our list for a reason. Although it’s not the highest-paying, they allow you to install the app on multiple devices per household.
With this in mind, you can easily double, triple or even quadruple your income. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume that you can install it on 2 devices, earning you an extra $100/year.
The Nielsen Consumer Panel pays you to collect data about your phone. This typically includes information such as what browser you use and many messages you send on a daily basis.
Nielsen Consumer Panel is available for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. However, what you earn depends on the type of device. For those who install the Nielsen software on their desktop, You only earn free entries into monthly sweepstakes in which you can earn up to $1,000.
For this reason, we suggest first installing the app on either a tablet or mobile device since they actually pay you a certain amount per month.
It’s difficult to determine exactly when you earn with Nielsen Consumer Panel, but expect to earn cash once or twice a month. The longer you leave the app installed, the more bonuses you receive.
2. Smart Panel – $110/Year
The Smart Panel app starts off great by giving you a $5 bonus when you register as a new user. Available for iOS, Android and Windows devices, Smart Panel collects data regarding how long you use your phone and what apps you have installed. They use this information to then help improve the internet.
In order to determine your eligibility with the Smart Panel platform, you must first take a short survey. As long as you answer that you have some sort of smart device, you shouldn’t have any problems qualifying.
The longer you leave the app on your phone, the higher your bonuses you’ll earn. If you leave the app installed for one year you will earn $110 in passive income. For two years you’ll earn $230, or a bonus of $10 for leaving the app on your phone for an extra year.
On average, users of the app report a 1% – 5% deduction in battery life with negligible impact on performance. Expect the app to use about 2 MB – 5 MB per month in data, a very small amount. You need to wait a minimum of 30 days to cash out.
3. Digital Reflection Panel – $170/Year
While technically it’s not an app, you still have to register your smartphone in order to use this program. In any case, we just couldn’t help but pass up this opportunity since this is one of the best programs on our list.
The Digital Reflection Panel works by installing a simple internet meter on your router. The setup only takes about 5 minutes to complete, and they have a full-on tech team to assist you in the case that you get stuck.
In order to determine eligibility with the panel, you’ll need to take a short survey. However, like the others on this list, you’ll most likely be accepted to the program as long as you answer honestly.
When you install the meter and register your first device, you’re given a $50 bonus, helping you earn a total of $170 your first year. Keep in mind that the $50 bonus is given one month after you’ve completed these steps.
4. ShopTracker – $36/Year
The great thing about the ShopTracker app is that you automatically get a $3 bonus once your account is ready to setup. ShopTracker works a bit differently than the other apps on this list. Instead of getting paid for sharing information about how you use your phone, get paid to track your Amazon purchases.
ShopTracker is part of the Harris Poll Online company, one of the most popular survey sites on the web with a long-standing reputation. Connect your Amazon account to the app and the app does the rest for you.
It does take about 10 minutes to setup ShopTracker, and to be honest this app isn’t completely passive. Every month you’ll need to participate in a 1 to 5 question survey about your Amazon shopping experience. We decided to include this app on our list since this takes under 2 minutes to complete each month.
Payouts are made in the form of $3 visa gift cards each month that are sent to you automatically. It is a bit annoying receiving rewards in such a small amount, but not too bad for the little amount of work required.
5. SavvyConnect – $180/Year
SavvyConnect is a passive income program that’s a branch off of the survey site SurveySavvy. They collect information such as what you shop for online, what apps you use and what you use for entertainment.
For each month that you have the app installed you earn $5 or $60 per year. However, you can install the app on a maximum of 3 devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile), earning you a total of $180/year in passive income.
As a member of SavvyConnect, you’ll also be invited to exclusive, high-paying surveys from SurveySavvy. Once your profile is complete, these surveys will be sent to your inbox.
A great way to earn even more cash with SavvyConnect is to refer your friends. Each time your referral completes a project, you earn a bonus of anywhere from $5 – $15. For each friend that they refer, you can earn a bonus of $2 – $6.
The downside? They only pay by check. Not only that, but at the time of writing this article you can’t install the software on a Macbook.
6. MobileXpression – $20/Year
In order to sign-up for MobileXpression you must do so from your mobile device. After signing-up you’re given a $5 Amazon gift card within just weeks for becoming a new member. However, expect to only earn an extra $15/year on top of that running this app.
While the amount isn’t much, we’ve still found it worth it to run the app since it’s such an easy app to install. Aside from earning cash passively, you’ll also be given tokens that can be used to participate in their sweepstakes drawings. Although they’re difficult to win, you might as well try since it’s free.
Keep in mind that MobileXpression requires you install a VPN on your device. If you’re running a rewards program that doesn’t permit the use of VPNs, just be aware that you may possibly have some conflict.
7. Mobile Performance Meter – $72/Year
This app wants to pay you for tracking your phone usage. Mobile Performance Meter pays you to collect data regarding your internet speeds, what type of apps you use and how many messages you send.
You can run this app on multiple accounts per household, but there can only be one phone associated per account. Expect to earn about $6 per month with this app for a total of $72/year.
The cash you earn can be exchanged for a gift card of your choice. I’ve found that with this app, it isn’t very functional on extremely cheap smartphones. Unfortunately, this app is currently only available for Android devices.
8. Cross Media Panel – $144/Year
Cross Media Panel specifically pays you for collecting your browsing data. They like to know what type of sites you visit and how often you visit them. By doing so, you’re helping services such as Google Chrome, Android and Youtube.
When registering your first device you get a bonus of $2. From there on out you get a weekly reward of $1 per device with a maximum of 3 devices. In short, you can earn $12/month or a total of $144/year.
You can cash out once your account reaches a minimum balance of $5 for an electronic gift card of your choosing. I usually find the gift card in my inbox within 48 hours of my request.
Cross Media Panel also works on your PC as well. Instead of installing their app, you can use their browser extension. Keep in mind that you must use Google Chrome to be a part of this panel on your PC.
9. Media Insiders Panel – $72/Year
The Media Insiders App tracks what type of ads you watch, the web pages you visit as well as your social media activity. The app is supported on Android, iOS and Kindle Fire HD devices.
You can install the app on a maximum of 3 devices with each device earning $2 per month. This calculates out to a total of $72 per year assuming you’ve maxed out on devices.
When installing this app, I found that I needed to wait a minimum of 48 hours before actually noticing any sort of verification from my account. To be certain, there should be a green check next to the “mobile meter” on the app.
You can increase your income further by using their VPN. However, as mentioned above in previous listings, a VPN may affect other rewards apps that you are using. Be sure to check with them first and see if this is allowed.
10. Panel App – $12/Year
The Panel App isn’t to be confused with the Smart Panel app mentioned previously on this list. Although you can’t earn a lot of money with Smart Panel, it’s definitely the simplest on this list.
You earn a total of 33 points per day on average that you leave the app installed, or a total of 990 points per month. 1,000 points is approximately equal to $1, so you’re earning at a rate of $12/month.
We know the payout is low, but the app is so barebones and doesn’t slow down your phone at all which is why we recommend it. You can cash out at a minimum of 5,000 points ($5 dollars), or you can decide to wait until your account reaches 15,000 points to cash out for $25.
The great thing about the Panel App is their referral program. For each friend that you refer, you earn 10% of all of their points, and 5% of all of the people that they get to sign-up.
They also offer surveys to earn additional points, but I find the earnings so minimal that it’s not really worth the effort.
11. DataCoup – $60/Year
DataCoup isn’t technically a mobile app, but you don’t need to install anything to use it. Instead, you link your social media accounts to their site and earn a passive income from the information that they collect.
You can increase your earnings even further by connecting other information such as your bank account as well as your credit cards. Although this sounds unsafe, they have absolutely no way to find out your bank account or credit card numbers – they only have access to the purchases you make.
It’s a bit difficult to determine exactly how much you can earn with DataCoup, but we estimate that you can easily earn an extra $5 by linking a fair number of accounts. This calculates out to $60/year in passive income.
12. Data Wallet – $150/Year
Data Wallet works by paying you to collect data about how you use your social media accounts. You can earn up to $50 each time they’re willing to submit your data for purchase.
However, what I’ve often found is that you need to submit your data multiple times before it actually gets purchased. For this reason it can be a bit difficult to determine actual earnings, so we estimate that you can earn around $150 per year in passive income.
Unfortunately, the Data Wallet app is currently only available to iOS users
13. Sweatcoin – Earn Money To Walk
We don’t have a sound estimate with Sweatcoin since it’s one of the newest apps on this list. Sweatcoin pays you for walking and having them track you where you go.
You earn points in the form of Sweatcoins (SWC). You can use these points to redeem prizes such as sunglasses and iPhone charger adapters.
Investment Adviser Apps: Automatically Invest Your Spare Change
All of the apps in this list are considered investment adviser apps. They only require $5 to get started (which you can free get by just signing-up for each one), and they automatically take your cash and advise you in what to invest for using your cash.
The great thing about these apps? Not only do they all provide a $5 sign-up bonus to get you started on your investments, but all of the trades are commission-free as well.
For these apps we’re not going to include a sign-up bonus. Obviously, the more money you deposit, the more money you’re expected to earn. The apps are great for those who are new to investing and want to learn about it.
All of these apps will invest in Exchange Traded Funds or ETFs for short. These are securities that act like a group of stocks that are said to be much less riskier than buying a single stock alone.
If you want to opt out of using these apps at any time, you can choose to withdraw to your bank account at any time.
14. Stash Invest – $5 Sign-up Bonus
Stash takes your financial information and your age and gives you suggestions on what you should buy based on your preferred risk level. Stash differs from the rest of these apps in that they also let you invest in your interests as well.
For example, if you’re a firm believer in solar energy, Stash will recommend a couple of investments for you. A lot of these investments also have dividends, meaning you’ll automatically receive cash just for being invested in the stock. It’s like receiving a bonus once every 3 months.
Stash also has a great educational section if you’re interested in learning more about the stock market and investing.
While it doesn’t cost anything to register as a new user, you are required to either pay $1 per month or .025% of your total investment amount if you have over $5,000. This is the one downside to this app.
Want to earn even more cash? You and your friend both get a $5 bonus when your friend signs-up using your referral link.
15. Acorns App – $5 Sign-up Bonus
The Acorns App works in a very similar manner to Stash with the exception that you can’t really choose your ETFs. Instead, you’re given 5 different risk levels that range from conservative to aggressive.
Typically young investors – provided that they aren’t in any substantial debt – will be suggested to take part in an aggressive investing style.
For those looking to have the app do almost 100% of the investing for you, this is a great place to look.
What I love about this app is the spare change option. If you link your credit card to your Acorns account, each time you spend money the card will automatically round your purchase up to the nearest dollar. The difference between your actual purchase price and the the amount spent on your card will be deposited into your account.
This app also requires that you pay $1 per month or .025% of your total investment amount over $5,000, exactly like the Stash app. However, college students don’t have to pay anything for up to 4 years. A valid edu email address in order to determine if you’re a college student.
When a friend signs-up using your referral link you get a $5 bonus and so does your friend.
16. Clink – $5 Sign-up Bonus
Clink works a little bit differently than the other two investment adviser apps on this list. They suggest that you invest $1 per day, and this amount can automatically be withdrawn from your checking account.
Not only that, but Clink investors can choose to invest a certain amount of their spending. For example, if you spend $10 on a meal and choose to invest 10% of what you spend, you automatically invest $1.
Like the other apps on this list, there is a $1 monthly fee for using the app, but registration is 100% free. Get a $5 bonus when a friend signs-up using your referral link – your friend also earns $5 in their account.
Lock Screen Apps: Make Your Phone A Billboard
All of the apps in this section pay you to unlock your screen. When you install them, an ad will appear each time you unlock your screen. Get paid to engage or disengage in the ad. This is considered a passive income since you’re basically just using your phone like you normally would.
You will not get paid each time you unlock your screen. Each app has a different algorithm at play, so it’s difficult to determine exactly when you’ll receive cash for unlocking your phone. All of the earnings on this list are based off of best estimates.
Keep in mind that you can use more than one of these apps at the same time. You’ll just have to swipe that many more times to get past them all.
17. SlideJoy – $120/Year
When you first register for Slidejoy you automatically receive a $.20 bonus in your account just for being a new member. When your phone locks up, slide left to learn more about the ad, or swipe right to skip straight to your home screen.
No matter which way you swipe, you’re still going to get paid. In short, it doesn’t matter whether you engage with an ad or not.
You need a minimum of $1 to cash out to Square Cash, PayPal or Google Play. You can also choose to donate to charity.
What I really love about SlideJoy compared to the other lock screen apps on this list is their referral program. Earn 20% of all of your friends’ earnings for life.
18. Adme – $120/Year
Similar to SlideJoy, Adme will pay you regardless of whether you engage with the ad or not. You get a $1 bonus for registering as a new user and can cash out once you reach a minimum balance of $10. Cash can only be redeemed to a verified PayPal account.
You can earn additional cash by referring friends. For each friend that you get to sign-up that uses your referral link, you earn a bonus of $.50 cents.
It was quite difficult to determine exactly how much I was earning with Adme, but I did my best estimate at anywhere from $10 – $15 per month. To play it on the safe side, I would say roughly $120 per year.
19. Fronto – $120/Year
Front seems to be at the forefront of the lock screen apps when it comes to pay, yet it was still difficult to determine exactly how much you can earn with this app.
Some users report only earning $5 per month while others report making as much as $20. Again, to keep it on the safe side we’re going to say $10/month for a total of $120/year.
I suggest saving until you reach a balance of $25 to cash out since your points will go a lot further.
The main difference about Fronto is that you will earn more to engage with ads. However, if you skip straight to the home screen, you’ll still earn a bit of cash.
20. Whaff Locker – $120/Year
Whaff Locker gives you a bonus of $.30 cents when you sign-up using the affiliate code BQ17928 when you register as a new user. Unlike other lock screen apps, you’re always given $.03 cents when you unlock your screen.
Yet this doesn’t mean you can constantly unlock your phone to keep receiving more money, as they will limit your account to the amount you can earn per day.
We estimate that you can earn about $10/month unlocking your screen.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve received numerous questions about these apps via email. I’ve decided to put them in a list of frequently asked questions in order to make things easier for the readers.
Is my privacy protected?
It should be. All of the apps on this list submit your data in an encrypted form and anonymously. In other words, there’s no way to chase any of the information that you submit back to you.
How is it that these companies are able to pay?
By giving them access to collect data on your phone, these companies are able to collect information and sell it as market research. Companies then use this information to help improve their products and services for consumers like you and I.
Why isn’t this app working on my smartphone?
You may run across the issue in which a particular app won’t work on your smartphone. If this is the case, it could be because the OS on your phone is too out-of-date or your phone is lacking in performance. We suggest buying a used phone or refurbished phone on Amazon Warehouse that’s of decent quality to support all of these apps.
These apps are great! Do you have any others that you recommend?
We hope you enjoy this list, as we try to only list the apps that actually work. If you enjoyed this article, we also think that you’ll enjoy the following:
- 25 Survey Sites That Will Earn You An Extra $600+/Month in Extra Income
- Earn $12+/Hour taking online surveys with Vindale Research – $2 sign-up bonus
- 101 Ways to Make Money Right Now
Passive income apps have really helped me increase my side hustle. I’ve easily made over $1,500 from the past year implementing as many apps as I can that I’ve listed on this article.
If you have any experience with these apps or see one that’s not on the list and should be, feel free to let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it! Thanks for reading and happy frugaling.