Here’s How You Can Make Money Playing Online Games (Seriously)

People playing video games
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

We love to play games online.

They're super addictive. They’re great time-killers.

But we found ways you can actually make money playing games online.

Play Games, Make Money

We’re probably not talking about a ton of money. But it’s possible to scratch up a little cash and/or save some money playing games online.

Especially if you’re just sitting there, waiting at the doctor’s office or the DMV trying to pass the time.

We’ve road-tested some real-deal apps (and weeded out the scams) where you can play games to make and save legit money.

1. Scratch Lotto Tickets… for Free

Scratch off ticket and a penny
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There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, isn’t there? (Scritch scritch scritch.)

You’re spending a couple of bucks on a ticket that could magically blossom into hundreds or millions of dollars. But you’ve got to be rational, too. The chances of hitting a jackpot are less than one in a million.

If you just can’t let go of the idea of getting lucky, you don’t have to spend money to make it happen. There’s a free app for that. It’s called Lucktastic, and it supplies you with new digital scratch-off cards daily — for free.

Each day, a new assortment of tickets is released. The app claims you can win up to $10,000. It boasts 220,000 winners who have taken home a collective $3 million to date.

But like anything that has to do with luck, remain realistic about the odds. Several of us here at The Penny Hoarder have played Lucktastic and have walked away with $1 and some tokens.

You use your tokens to enter contests — basically a raffle where you’re entered to win a prize. For more info, check out our full review.

2. Play Virtual Pinball

Old pinball machine close up
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For most, saving money is the furthest thing from fun. After all, it means you’re taking money away from cool stuff you want to do today and putting it toward adult things like buying a home, your next vacation or an emergency fund.

But we found an app that makes saving actually fun. It’s called WinWin Saving. Let us explain…

First, download the app (for iOS only). WinWin will walk you through how it all works, but here’s the gist: You’ll connect your bank account and set up an automatic amount to stick into your WinWin Savings account.

Plus you can play games (think: classics like pinball and breakout) for chances to win more money to boost your savings.

The more money you’ve saved, the bigger the prizes you play for. Have $25 saved? Play to win up to $25 every day. Have $50 saved? Play to win up to $50. And so on…

So you’re saving money without thinking about it — and playing for a chance to win even more. Fun, right?

The app is free to download. You can use it for 60 days free, then it costs $2 per month after that. Note: You can withdraw your money or cancel your account at any time.

Pro tip: If you’re having trouble getting the pinball into the right hole, tap the pause button at the top-left side of your screen. Turn on easy mode.

3. Accept These Missions and Play for Cash Prizes

Blurred slot machines
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The folks who created Long Game have a game that’s fun and helps you achieve your financial goals.  

You set saving “missions” (such as saving for a vacation), and every time you add money to your FDIC-insured Long Game savings account, you’ll get closer to completing your mission.

As you save and accomplish missions, you’ll earn coins to play mini games for cash prizes. We’re talking slot machines, scratch-offs and spin-to-win wheels, for example.

To create an account, you just need to verify your identity and connect your bank account. Then set how much you’d like to automatically save each payday, as little as $5. Get saving right away, because you’ll get a “boost” in your first week: 40 coins per $1 auto-saved and 3 coins per $1 deposited.

Once you link your bank account, you’ll earn 300 points, so you can start playing while you wait for payday.

4. Put Your Useless Knowledge to, Well, Use

woman on her laptop on the couch
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

With live trivia game shows, you can now play trivia and win money — without putting on real clothes and going to the bar and feeling obligated to buy a beer or appetizer.

Plus, the cash prizes paired with these games tend to be more lucrative.

There are several of these games out there, but because Swagbucks is a reader favorite, we recommend Swag IQ.

Each day, Swag IQ hosts live trivia games. The host asks 10 multiple-choice questions, which will progressively become more difficult. If you can answer all 10, you’ll split the day’s prize with the other winners — we’ve seen prizes around $1,000 a day. If no one wins, it’ll roll over to the next game for an even larger jackpot.

Each prize is awarded in Swagbucks (SBs), rewards points you can exchange for cash or gift cards.

5. Feed Your Love of Gaming

Women playing video games
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Serious gamers like this one because most of its rewards tend to be video-game oriented.

Bananatic is a free site that lets you play, test and review games. As you do that, you can earn the site’s virtual currency, called “Bananas.” You can also take surveys or watch ads to earn Bananas.

You can exchange your Bananas for more video games, prepaid game content, Playstation or XBox gift cards, or Steam Wallet codes — digital gift cards for the popular desktop gaming platform Steam.

You can also get Amazon gift cards, if you want to put your winnings to use on something other than games.

6. Tease Your Brain (and Show off Your Smarts)

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

Feel like giving someone a piece of your mind? The free Brain Battle app serves up a bunch of rapid-fire math and brain-teaser challenges.

Brain Battles is available for Apple or Android devices.

Once you install the app, choose a game to play. Play games to earn tickets for drawings where you can win cash prizes. Winning prizes are paid out through PayPal.

7. Use Trivia to Pay off Your Student Loans

Graduating woman
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Do you have student loans? Do you have lots of useless knowledge? Congratulations! Join the club, there are millions of us.

Givling is a trivia game that hands out cash prizes to players who correctly answer true-or-false questions on a wide range of topics.

You only get 10 seconds to answer each question, so there’s no time to Google anything. Each time you play, you get assigned to a three-person team and answer questions “true” or “false” until you get three questions wrong and strike out.

If you’re on the highest-scoring team when the clock runs out, the three of you split a cash reward. The amount varies based on how much money was raised the day before.

Got student loans? Join the funding queue. Every time the funds raised (through advertising, sponsors and people who pay to play more) hit the $10 million mark, those at the top of the queue get money to pay off their student loans.

You rise in the queue by interacting with ads, buying coins, participating in sponsorship offers or meeting certain goals. (Be warned: There are a whole lot of people in this queue.)

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has a lot of useless knowledge.

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