31 Free Apps That Help You Make Money With Your Phone
Chances are you’re one of the two-thirds of Americans who has a smartphone. And those don’t come cheap. So why not put a dent in your phone bill and use the thing to earn some money?
We searched high and low to put together this list of free apps that will help you make money. You can earn rewards that are redeemable for cash and gift cards by doing some pretty simple, mindless tasks on your phone: playing games, browsing the web, taking surveys, watching videos, taking photos and more.
While these apps will definitely make you a buck or two, don’t expect to make enough to quit your job. Still, those pennies and dollars definitely add up. Using these apps could be a great way to sock away some extra cash for a big purchases like a Need a Vacation? 10 Creative Ways to Save for Your Next Big Trip or holiday shopping.
Get Paid to Kill Time
Got a few minutes while you’re standing in line or waiting at the doctor’s office? Instead of spending your downtime on Facebook or scrolling through Instagram, why not download one of these apps to make a few bucks? These apps pay you to take surveys, play games or test out new tools.
Android users can download Cashpirate to earn money playing games, watching videos, downloading apps and taking surveys. You’ll get “coins” for these activities, which you can then cash out through PayPal or for gift cards. New activities are added throughout the day, so it’s worth checking whenever you have free time. For a more detailed explanation, check out this reddit thread.
2. ESPN Streak for the Cash
Sports-obsessed? This one’s for you. With the ESPN Streak for the Cash app, you make predictions for upcoming games in 10 different sports. If you keep a long streak of correct predictions going, you get cash rewards.
3. Google Opinion Rewards
Google Opinion Rewards lets Android users earn free apps, music, movies, games and books through the Google Play store. Get credits in exchange for taking short, anonymous surveys on your phone. Credits vary depending on the length of the survey.
With the GrabPoints app, all you have to do is watch videos or GrabPoints TV on your phone to accumulate points. Other ways to accumulate points: Take surveys, download and test apps, play games and refer your friends to join. Redeem your points for gift cards to Amazon, Target, iTunes, Gap and more. For now, GrabPoints is only available for Android. An iOS app is coming soon.
Like playing games on your phone? Why not get paid to do it? Sign up for InboxDollars and you can immediately cash in on their $5 new member bonus. Then you’ll get paid to play games like Solitaire, Bejeweled and Wheel of Fortune. You can also earn money by taking surveys. Once you’ve racked up $30, you can request a payout via check, which you can expect in a couple of weeks.
6. i-Say Mobile
Take surveys on your phone with through i-Say, and get points you can redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards to Amazon, iTunes and other stores. You’ll earn about $1-2 by taking 10-15 minute surveys. i-Say also has a loyalty structure, meaning once you get going and take more surveys, you get bonus loyalty points.
7. Perk Pop Quiz
Trivia fiends will love this one. Download the Perk Pop Quiz app and pick from one of the many trivia categories -- The 90's & the 2000's, Music & Movie Quotes and Famous Slogans are just a few. The more correct answers you rack up, the more points you get. You can redeem those points for gift cards to Amazon, Starbucks, Nike, GameStop, Target and other stores.
8. User Testing
Before new apps launch, companies pay users to test them out. Sign up at usertesting.com to apply to become one of their testers and take a sample test. Once approved, test apps on your phone and get paid for what you think. For every 20-minute session you complete, you get $10 via PayPal within seven days. For this one, you’ll need to try the apps, and then submit a voice recording with your feedback.
Save and Make Money on Groceries
If you’re a true Penny Hoarder, you likely cook at home more than you eat out, which means a big part of your budget goes towards buying groceries. Take advantage of these apps, many of which offer 5 Ridiculous (but effective) Ways to Save On Your Groceries on groceries you already buy.
9. Checkout 51
Checkout 51 is a rebate app for your phone. Each Thursday, they update their list of offers and rebates. Select the ones you want, buy those items at the store and snap photos of the items and your receipt. Once your account reaches $20, they’ll send you a check.
Ibotta is a rebates-made-easy app. Instead of mailing in your receipt and UPC and waiting for a rebate check, scan UPCs of groceries you’ve purchased, snap a photo of your receipt and collect rebate cash through PayPal. Use Ibotta to get rebates on stuff you already buy at the grocery store like eggs, milk and bread. The catch: You have to buy certain brands and can only shop at certain stores.
11. Nielsen Homescan
Sign up to become a Nielsen Consumer Panelist, then use your phone to scan what you buy at the grocery store. You’ll accumulate points with each scan. The longer you stick with it, the more points-earning potential you have. You can cash in those points for gift cards or items from the NCP catalog (items include electronics, jewelry, household items and toys.)
Bonus: Even if you don’t actively scan your groceries after every shopping trip, Nielsen Mobile Panelists get paid $50 a year just for keeping the app on their phones.
12. Receipt Hog
Similar to Ibotta, Receipt Hog gives you cash payouts for shopping. But unlike Ibotta, you don’t have to buy certain items or shop anywhere in particular. All you have to do is snap photos of any and all receipts. You can also take paid surveys on the app. Receipt Hog rewards you with Amazon Gift cards or cash via PayPal.
SavingStar is another app that offers cash back on your groceries. Before you shop, check the app to see what offers are available at your grocery store or drugstore. Scan your receipt to redeem the offers, then get cash deposited into your bank account or PayPal account. Bonus: SavingStar’s Healthy Offer of the Week gives you 20% off on that week’s designated produce item. Past Healthy Offers have included bananas, apples and tomatoes.
14. Walmart Savings Catcher
Scan your Walmart receipts, and the app will compare sale prices of items you bought at other stores in your area. If it finds a lower price elsewhere, you get the difference as a Walmart eGift Card. You can print out the gift card or save it on your phone to use during your next Walmart trip.
Do Odd Jobs
You can make a bit more cash with apps that require you to do a little work. These apps are middlemen between you and big consumer brands that want to check in on their products in various stores and ensure consistency. It’s kind of like doing market research — and you’re the collector of the data. Keep in mind that these apps need to track your location to find jobs, which can drain your battery.
15. Field Agent
Becoming a Field Agent is kind of like mystery shopping — except you don’t have to buy anything. Download the Field Agent app and look for assignments in your area. You may be asked to take photos of displays in stores, scan barcodes and record prices. You’ll be paid $2-8 for these short jobs, and can collect your cash via PayPal.
Similar to Field Agent, use Gigwalk to find small, paying gigs in your area. Large companies want to keep tabs on in-store displays, see if products are available and check to see if prices are correctly displayed, and Gigwalk helps connect them with locals. So you’ll visit stores, snap photos and respond to questions.
Gigs can take anywhere from five minutes to a few hours to complete, and pay anywhere from $3 to $100 via PayPal. To get offered those higher-paying gigs, you need to prove yourself as a reliable and active Gigwalker.
Next time you’re out shopping, pull up iPoll to see if you’ve got any opportunities to snap photos, take surveys or offer your opinion to earn cash. iPoll gives you “missions” to complete at grocery stores, retail stores and other shopping locations. You can redeem your rewards for gift cards, airline miles and magazine subscriptions, to name a few. Bonus: Right now they’re offering a $5 sign-up bonus.
Download the Rewardable app and look for tasks nearby. You might be asked to snap photos of signs of a display in store, report on how well shelves are stocked and record the prices. The tasks take a few minutes and are worth $4-7. There are also smaller tasks that help you earn “acorns”; these jobs are easier to complete, but are worth less. Rewardable pays out your earnings via PayPal.
Sell Photos, Books and Clothes
Instead of physically taking your items somewhere to sell them, stay at home and sell from from the comfort of your couch.
Want to clear out your bookshelves? Bookscouter will let you know which buyback company will give you the most bucks for your books. Scan each book’s barcode, compare vendors to see which one will offer you the most cash, then fill out your info to get a prepaid shipping label.
You already know you can make money by selling everything from coupons to used books to other people’s clothes on eBay. But did you know the site has an app you can use to snap a photo, write a description and upload a listing? It’s an easy way to become an eBay seller in just a few minutes. Just keep in mind that the site keeps a percentage of your sales.
Turn your smartphone photos into cash with Foap. It’s a stock photography website, so you need to have an eye for taking quality photos. Once you download the app and sign up for an account, you can add your photos to the marketplace. When someone buys your photo, you make $5. So if 20 people buy the same photo, you make $100.
22. Popular Pays
If you’re Instagram “famous,” meaning you have thousands of followers, get the Popular Pays app. Brands will pay you to take photos of their products and broadcast them to your followers through your Instagram feed.
Prices vary depending on the brand and how many followers you have. You can also get stuff like free coffee if you have at least 500 followers.
Get Paid to Shop
While you’re already out shopping, keep these apps handy to make a few extra bucks.
Mobee is a mystery shopping app that asks you to rate the customer service, cleanliness and other criteria at stores in your area. Once you complete a “mission” by answering five to 10 questions, you get points you can redeem for gift cards, prizes or cash.
We tried a Mobee mission at Subway that paid $8. Though the payouts aren’t as high as other mystery shopping companies, we can’t complain about a free sandwich!
Shopkick pays you simply to enter certain stores such as Macy's, Target, Best Buy and JCPenney. You get “kicks” to walk in the store, scan barcodes and make purchases. You can redeem your kicks for gift cards to Target, Starbucks, Sephora and other stores.
Passive Income: Make Your Phone a Billboard
These apps all fall into the passive earning category, meaning you don’t have to do anything special to rake in the rewards. It’s an easy way to make a few extra bucks without much work.
To earn from most of these apps, you simply agree to be served ads on your phone’s locked screen. So if you don’t mind seeing ads every single time you pick up your phone, this is a great way to make some passive cash. These apps are all Android only.
With AdMe, you keep your Android lockscreen as-is, then get served ads once you unlock your phone. You’ll get $1 upon sign-up, then will slowly rack up more cash as you normally use your phone.
It’s hard to say how much you’ll make. AdMe knows people try to game the system by constantly unlocking their phones, so they’ve got a secret algorithm that factors this in and minimizes fraud. They simply tell you to use your phone as you normally would, and they’ll reward you. Once you hit a $10 balance, you can get your cash through PayPal.
26. Bing Rewards
Want to get paid to search? Sign up for Bing Rewards and go to your dashboard on your phone. Use Bing as your search engine and make an extra $5-10 per month. You get paid in gift cards for stores that include Amazon, Target, Sephora and Starbucks.
With SlideJoy, you’ll see an ad, news story or promotion every time you look at your Android phone. You’ll get around $6 per month, depending on how many advertisers they have that month. Payouts are through PayPal.
ScreenPay sends offers or promotions to your Android lock screen. You can boost your earning potential by referring friends to join and by sharing more info about your interests and demographics. When you join, you’ll get credited $1, then $3 every month afterwards. Once you hit $5, you can cash out through PayPal.
Get Paid to Share Data
Companies want to learn how consumers use their phones, and they’re willing to pay you if you allow them to peek in. These apps run in the background, anonymously transmitting your data to companies. And allegedly, they don’t slow down your phone or drain your battery.
Information these apps collect includes the times of day you browse the web most, how long you stay on websites, which websites are popular and which ones aren’t.
29. Screenwise Panel
Join the Screenwise Panel and download the app to earn an instant $6, then earn $3 for each week afterwards. If you use it during your birthday month, you get $5 more. Cash out these rewards for gift cards at Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, Starbucks, CVS, Walmart and other stores.
30. Media Research Panel
Sign up for the Media Research Panel and agree to let the company collect data about your cell phone usage. You’ll be paid $5 per month, per device. Simple as that! Plus they’ll send you a $5 bonus after the 12th week.
31. Smart Panel
First, you need to take a three-minute survey to see if you get approved. Then you can download the Smart Panel app, keep it on your phone for two weeks and get $15. For every additional month you keep the app on your phone, you get $5. You redeem your rewards as an Amazon gift card or through PayPal.
Your Turn: Which money-making smartphone apps make you the most? Which ones are not worth downloading?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Betsy Mikel is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter. She loves biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria.