15 Legit Ways to Get Free Money

money hanging from a clothes pin.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder
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You can legitimately get free money if you know where to look. The government is one big source, and various companies offer ways to find free money, too. The money might even already be yours; you just need to claim it. Use this guide to find and compare legit ways to get free money – and learn how to qualify for it and get into your bank account.

Legitimate Places to Get Free Money (and Free Stuff)

We can vouch for these ways to get free money. They are legitimate. But be aware that lots of scammers are out there. (See the end of this article for more on that.)

1. This Free Debit Card Gives You Cash Back on Every Purchase

Albert Bell shops at Whole Foods in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta GA.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got special treatment wherever you went? You can actually get rewards wherever you shop, using this free debit card from Discover.

You’ll earn 1% cash back on every single purchase you make using your Discover® Cashback Debit account, on up to $3,000 monthly.* There’s no impact on your credit score for signing up and no minimum balance requirements ever.

Need groceries? Tap your card for cash back. You can also get paid sooner with Early Pay direct deposit, protect against overdrafts and access to over 60,000 ATMs without fees. You can handle all of your banking needs through the app and connect a virtual wallet like Apple Pay to amplify your rewards. And on top of all that, checking-account deposits are FDIC-insured up to the maximum amount allowed by law.

Does your bank do all that? If not, open a free Discover checking account to get special treatment from a bank that will actually put money back into your account.

*See website for details.

2. Get Paid $225/Month While Watching Movie Previews

If we told you that you could get paid while watching videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh.

It’s too good to be true, right?

But we’re serious. By signing up for a free account with InboxDollars, you could add up to $225 a month to your pocket. They’ll send you short surveys every day, which you can fill out while you watch someone bake brownies or catch up on the latest Kardashian drama.

No, InboxDollars won’t replace your full-time job, but it’s something easy you can do while you’re already on the couch tonight, wasting time on your phone.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million. 

Signing up takes about one minute, and you’ll immediately receive a $5 bonus to get you started.

3. You Might Have Unclaimed Money Awaiting You

One in seven Americans have money waiting to be claimed, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). For example, former Penny Hoarder Robin Hartill wrote about her experience finding $81 in a 30-second search and submitting a claim three minutes later.

Here’s how to search:

  • Go to NAUPA’s website, unclaimed.org, scroll down to “Find Your State or Province,” and click on your state’s name in the popup list or map.
  • On your state’s website, enter your name, run the search and get your results. (For example, Hartill used Florida’s site to find and claim her $81.13.)
  • Also, visit MissingMoney.com to do a nationwide search. Again, just enter your name. (It’s linked from NAUPA’s website, or you can use the link to go straight there.)

Comparing the Ways to Get Free Money

The Way Amount Eligibility Difficulty
Search for unclaimed money $0 to thousands Everyone Easy
Government aid Thousands in food and services Low-income people Takes time and effort to qualify
Student aid Thousands in money for college Students with need Takes time and effort to qualify
Discover cash-back card 1% cash back Everyone Easy
Inbox Dollars video watching $5 for signup,
Up to $225/mo
Everyone Easy-Medium
Acorns app $5 for signup Everyone Easy
MyPoints surveys $5 Amazon card Everyone Easy-Medium
Send junk mail $20 every 6-10 wks

Everyone Easy
Birthday freebies Usually a $5-10 value Everyone Easy
Crowdfunding Whatever people will send you Everyone Hard
Sweepstakes $0 to gazillions Everyone Easy

4. You Might Be Eligible for Government Assistance

The federal government provides assistance for people in need. This includes food stamps and help with housing, utilities, healthcare insurance, and more. and more. To see if you qualify, start at usa.gov.

5. You Might Be Eligible for College Financial Aid

The federal government provides grants and subsidized loans to help needy students pay for college. This process usually starts by filling out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA also serves as a gateway for merit scholarships offered by colleges.

6. You Can Win Free Money Playing Games Online

Be careful about putting your own money into games, but there are actually games that pay real money if you win. Of course, you can lose money, too. Check out our game ratings in 22 Legit Games That Pay Real Money.

7. This App Gives You Up to $500 in Free Stock

It’s not really free cash, but free stocks are almost better because they have the potential to increase in value over time.

So, whether you’ve got $5, $100 or $800 to spare, you can start investing with Robinhood.

Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use.

What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account (it takes no more than a few minutes), Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.

8. Get Up to $100,000 From This Company

Need a little extra cash to pay off credit card debt, remodel your house, or make a big purchase?

We found a company willing to help.

Here’s how it works: If your credit score is at least 620, AmOne can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 6.40% and terms from 6 to 144 months.

AmOne won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars.

Totally worth it.

9. Acorns: Invest Your Spare Change (and Get $5)

Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common: They own a company, or part of a company.

But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

That’s why a lot of people use the Acorns app. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $5. And with the recent sell-off in stocks, you might be able to buy them for cheaper than earlier in the year.

That’s right — Acorns allows you to invest in a bundle of well-known companies, letting you own a little of each of them while spending as little as $5. The best part? When these companies profit and issue dividends, you can profit, too.

It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Acorns will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you make your first investment.

10. Take 5 Surveys and Get a Free $5 Amazon Gift Card

Jessica Warden walks through the city in New York, NY.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

Listen. We all spend too much money on Amazon, but here’s an easy way to get $5 toward your next order: Take five online surveys through a website called MyPoints.

MyPoints is a research company that’ll pay you to answer questions about different products and services you use. In return, it’ll give you free gift cards. You can even do this from your phone.

To date, MyPoints has paid people more than $236 million in gift cards.

To get your $5 Amazon gift card, just sign up and complete your first five surveys.

11. Send This Company Your Junk Mail

How many ads do you receive in your mailbox each day? What about in your inbox?

The Small Business Knowledge Center is a market research firm that studies the way companies advertise via mail and email marketing — and it wants to see what you’ve been receiving.

Sign up as a panelist, and start sending your qualifying junk mail in, via postage-paid envelopes. You can also forward your emails. You’ll earn points along the way, which you can redeem for a Visa debit card.

The site says frequent participants earn up to $20 every six to 10 weeks — not bad for getting rid of your junk mail.

12. Get Free Stuff on Your Birthday

Many businesses offer free products or services on your special day. In fact, we maintain a giant list: 108 Places That Will Give You Free Stuff on Your Birthday. Happy Birthday to us!

13. Solicit Money on Crowdfunding Platforms

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe have revolutionized the way individuals and startups raise money. Whether you’re looking to fund a creative project, cover medical expenses, or get your startup off the ground, these platforms offer a way to reach out to the public for financial support.

To be successful, create a compelling campaign that clearly communicates your goals, why you need the funds, and what benefits donors will receive in return. Use social media, email newsletters, and personal networks to spread the word about your campaign. Remember, transparency and regular updates can help build trust with your backers and potentially lead to more contributions.

14. Enter Sweepstakes and Contests That Don’t Ask for Any Payment

Sweepstakes and contests are a fun way to try your luck at winning free money, prizes, or experiences. Many companies and brands host these promotions as part of their marketing efforts.

To find legitimate opportunities, look for contests on reputable websites, social media pages, and through trusted brands. Always read the terms and conditions to understand the rules, eligibility requirements, and if any purchase is necessary. Remember, legitimate contests won’t ask for payment to enter or claim a prize.

15. Ask Friends or Family

This is definitely a common way for people to get money, but we don’t advise it, especially if there’s no payback plan. Free money and friends usually don’t go well together. But hey, maybe your friends won’t mind. Right?

A Warning About Money Scams

While the allure of free money can be tempting, it’s essential to approach any offer with caution and skepticism. The internet is rife with scams designed to prey on the hope and desperation of people looking for financial relief. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:

  • Too Good to Be True: If an offer promises large amounts of money with little to no effort or requirement, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate opportunities to receive money, such as government programs or company offers, typically have specific eligibility criteria and processes.
  • Upfront Payment Requests: Be wary of any scheme that asks for money upfront as a condition to receive a larger sum later. Scammers often use this tactic to exploit victims, leaving them out of pocket with no return.
  • Pressure Tactics: Scammers frequently use high-pressure tactics to rush you into making decisions without proper consideration or verification. Genuine offers will allow you the time to research and think about the opportunity.
  • Vague Details and Lack of Transparency: If the details about how the money will be made or distributed are vague or if there is a lack of clear, transparent information about the organization behind the offer, it’s a strong indication of a scam.
  • Unsolicited Offers: Be cautious of unexpected offers, especially if they come via email, social media messages, or phone calls from unknown sources. Scammers often use these channels to reach potential victims.