The 12 Best Apps That Help You Earn Money for Doing Almost Nothing
We already spend hours on our phones each week. Apple has made us keenly aware of that with its weekly screen time reports.
Why not turn those hours into some money?
There are dozens of money-making apps on the market these days — for both Apple and Android users. You can earn money by taking surveys, playing games, watching videos, investing — and even shopping.
The 9 Best Money-Making Apps
Trust us when we say we’ve tested a ton of apps. We weeded out the duds and compiled a list of our favorite top-rated money-making apps.
1. InboxDollars: Get Paid to Watch Videos
Most of you already know about InboxDollars, but did you know that it will pay you to watch videos? The site hosts a ton of stuff to watch, including cooking, entertainment, news and health shows. Every time you watch one, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
(Never used InboxDollars before? Here’s our guide for beginners.)
Pros: With InboxDollars, you earn cash, so you don’t have to worry about exchanging points. It also offers more ways to earn, such as taking surveys, playing scratch-off games and searching the internet.
Cons: You have to earn $30 to cash out, which is a bit high compared to other sites on this list. You’ll also have to pay a $3 transaction fee.
Payment method: Check via mail.
Pro tip: Earn a $5 bonus just for signing up and watching your first video.
Available on Android (rated 4.3 stars) and iOS (rated 4.4 stars).
2. MyPoints: Share Your Opinion
MyPoints is a platform that aggregates market research survey opportunities for its users. It’s been around since 1996.
Through MyPoints you can earn gift cards for taking polls and filling out surveys. Once you complete your first five surveys, you’ll earn a $5 bonus.
Pros: You receive points even when you don’t qualify for a survey. Additionally, it’s an easy-to-use portal that offers multiple ways to earn points, including participating in polls and watching videos.
Cons: MyPoints connects you with surveys on third-party consumer marketing sites, so you’ll often navigate away from the site’s portal. Users report difficulty qualifying for surveys. (I qualified for not a single one of the five I recently attempted.)
Payment method: Gift cards to popular retailers, including Amazon, Old Navy and Starbucks.
Pro tip: Snag a $5 bonus after you qualify for and complete your first five surveys.
Available on Android (rated 3.5 stars).
3. Ibotta: Earn Money While You Shop
The Ibotta app allows you to earn cash back on a number of purchases — from groceries to Uber rides to Amazon purchases. Simply take a photo of your receipt or shop through the app.
Pros: Ibotta is a great way to earn cash back on items you already buy, both in store and online. Occasionally, you’ll find freebie offers in the mix, too. We talked to Nancy Frost, who earned $432 in cash back in a year.
Cons: Be careful about buying items you don’t really need just because you’ll get cash back. It’s tempting.
Payment method: Hit $20, then cash out via PayPal or Venmo, or opt for a gift card to a popular retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, Target or Walmart.
Pro tip: Download Ibotta through The Penny Hoarder to pocket a $20 sign-up bonus after redeeming your first 10 offers within 14 days.
Available on Android (rated 4.5 stars) and iOS (rated 4.7 stars).
4. Lucktastic: Win Big With Free Scratch-offsIf you’re lounging on the couch and scrolling through your phone, download the Lucktastic app, which allows you to play free scratch-off tickets for a chance to instantly win $1 to $10,000.
Pros: Lucktastic is free to download and use. If you have free time, you have nothing to lose.
Cons: Actually winning money might be rare, according to user reviews. However, we interviewed a single dad who won $5,000.
Payment method: Earn at least $2, then cash out for an instant gift card. Hit $10 or more, and you can opt for a check in the mail.
Pro tip: Have a charger on hand to stay powered up.
Available on Android (rated 4.2 stars) and iOS (rated 3.2 stars).
5. Nielsen Consumer Panel: Get Rewards for What’s in Your Fridge
You’re probably familiar with Nielsen, the market research company. It’s always tracked TV ratings, but now it wants to peek into you fridge. The Nielsen Consumer Panel app rewards you for scanning the barcodes of your grocery items.
Pros: Joining this market research panel is super simple. Download the app, and scan the barcodes of items you’ve purchased. Share your data with Nielsen to earn points.
Cons: You won’t earn cash or gift cards — just prizes.
Payment method: Earn points you can redeem for gifts, which could include toys, electronics or household appliances.
Pro tip: If you’d rather not use the app, you can request a handheld scanner.
Available on Android (rated 3.7 stars) and iOS (rated 4.4 stars).
6. Acorns: Invest Your Spare Change (and Get a Free $5)
Investing is a great way to potentially earn money over time. If you’re looking to get started, try the Acorns app, which will allow you to invest small amounts of money.
Pros: Be as hands-on or hands-off as you’d like with Acorns. Its round-up feature automatically rounds up each transaction and invests your digital change. The app helped Jeremy Kolodziej stack up more than $2,000 in investments in about two years.
Cons: Acorns costs $1 a month for accounts with balances under $1 million. So it’s a bummer it isn’t free, but think about it like this: You can get one year of investing for the cost of one month of Netflix.
Payment method: There are no restrictions or fees on withdrawals. Cash out as often as you’d like, though investing works out better if you hang out long term.
Pro tip: When you sign up for Acorns through The Penny Hoarder, you’ll snag a $5 bonus, basically giving you five free months of using the app.
Available on Android (rated 4.4 stars) and iOS (rated 4.7 stars).
7. Rover: Get Paid to Play With Pooches
On Rover, you can choose to offer a variety of services, including dog walking, overnight boarding at your home or theirs, and daycare. Rover says sitters can earn as much as $450 a month.
Pros: Is there anything better than hanging out with dogs? But seriously. With Rover, you set your own hours and your own rates. Also choose which services you’d like to provide.
Cons: In order to establish a positive reputation on Rover, you might need to initially set your hourly rates lower until you break into your city’s market and garner some positive reviews.
Payment method: You set your own rates. (Rover keeps a small percentage as a service fee.) You can receive payment directly to your bank account. It’ll take up to 72 hours for funds to transfer.
Pro tip: Boarding is the app’s most popular service, so offering it can get you more gigs.
Available on Android (rated 4.2 stars) and iOS (rated 4.9 stars).
8. Foap: Cash in on Your iPhone Camera Skills
Take decent photos on your smartphone? Sell those photos through Foap. List your photos on the app’s marketplace, then when someone purchases the license to the photo, you’ll earn 50%. If it sells for, say, $10, you’ll earn $5 every time.
Pros: Phones these days have awesome cameras, so it’s easier to take high-quality photos. Once you snap the perfect shot and upload it to Foap, the work’s done. You just wait for a sale.
Cons: There’s no guarantee your photos will sell. Additionally, don’t expect to make hundreds of dollars; this is just a fun side gig.
Payment method: You’ll earn 50% of the sale and cash out via PayPal.
Pro tip: Be sure to add relevant tags to your photos. Just like on Twitter or Instagram, it’ll help users find your photos.
Available on Android (rated 3.8 stars) and iOS (rated 4.5 stars).
9. Job Spotter: Help Job Searchers (This Is So Easy!)
If you walk around your town, Indeed’s Job Spotter app could be a great way to make some extra money. When you spot a “help wanted” sign, take a photo, and upload it to the app to earn points.
Pros: “Help Wanted” signs are everywhere these days, so they shouldn’t be too difficult to find. All you have to do is snap some quick photos and enter the business’s information.
Cons: If you live in a small town or don’t get out a lot, it could be difficult to find qualifying signs.
Payment method: Exchange points for Amazon gift cards. You’ll earn up to 150 points per submission.
Pro tip: Earn more points if the sign is for a small business and mentions a specific job title, if the business accepts in-person applications and if the photo is in focus.
Available on Android (rated 4.3 stars) and IOS (rated 4.3 stars).
10. Letgo: Cash in on Your Old Stuff
If you have old stuff you haven’t even looked at in the last year, why hang onto them? Try selling them to folks in your area through an online marketplace like Letgo. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.
Pros: You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This intuitive app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Another major plus? Letgo doesn’t snag any percentage of the sale, so everything you earn is all yours.
Cons: There’s no guarantee that you’ll sell your goods. Your items might sell like hotcakes in record time...or they continue to collect dust in your closet for a little while. But that’s a risk on many online marketplaces, so buckle up and be patient.
Payment method: Letgo is just the online platform you use to advertise your items for sell — not to complete the sale. Its recommendations? Meet in person in a public place and transfer money only after the buyer inspects the item.
Pro tip: Take cash, or use a secure payment platform like PayPal. Don’t take a “certified check” — Letgo says this is a common scam. Shipping items is discouraged, as well.
Available on Android (rated 4.5 stars) and iOS (rated 4.4 stars).
* App ratings are accurate as of January 2019.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s all about making some side money.