14 Best Mobile Apps That Help You Earn Money for Doing Almost Nothing

13.5M Views
Woman using mobile apps to make money
andresr/Getty Images
Honest Abe

Disclosure:

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.


We’ve all got smartphones these days, and almost everything we do on them requires using an app.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could make extra cash just for using them? Well, you can.

You’re not going to get rich by downloading mobile apps that pay you, but you can use these to earn a passive income every month.

Considering some of them require you to do nothing — just watch videos or participate in paid surveys — it doesn’t seem like a bad deal to make a few extra bucks. Plus, they’re free from the app store for iPhone or Android. 

Top Money-Making Apps

To get you started, here are some of our favorite money-making apps:

  1. 1. The Ibotta App: Pays You for Taking a Picture of Your Receipts

    ibotta app
    Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

    Yeah, did you know you can get paid cash back just for taking a picture of your receipt? Well, basically.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. Sign up for Ibotta here (you just need a name and email address to start).
    2. Browse through the cash-back offers in your area and take note the next time you go to the store (the offers change every week). For example, we’ve seen local offers for 2% cash back on Best Buy purchases, 25-cent cash back on Target purchases and $3 cash back on an appetizer from any restaurant. Pretty cool, right?

    Once you’ve reached at least $20 in earnings, you can request payment via PayPal or Venmo. And right now, Ibotta is giving new users a $10 sign-up bonus when you redeem your first receipt.

  2. 2. i-Say App: Pays You for Voicing Your Opinions

    ipsos i-say app
    Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

    You might recognize the Ipsos Panel name because it’s the same company that does most of the political polling during elections. It also has a survey app called i-Say that pays you for your opinions.

    Some of the top-end surveys can pay up to $95, but those are rare and can take a while to complete.

    Most surveys pay a buck or two and only take 10 to 15 minutes. Also, i-Say rewards you with points you can redeem for cash via PayPal or gift cards to Amazon, iTunes and others. (For example, you can redeem 1,000 points for a $10 PayPal deposit).

    Here’s the link to sign up with Ipsos i-Say.

  3. 3. Lucktastic: Get Free Virtual Scratch-off Tickets

    A young couple buying lottery tickets at a kiosk.
    urbancow/Getty Images

    There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.

    Instead, try using a free app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens, enter contests and play games.

    The app is free to download — and play. Get scratchin’.

  4. 4. Acorns App: Invest Your Pocket Change — and Get $5

    man shopping online from his laptop

    Negative Space/Pexels

    Acorns is a mobile app that connects to your bank account, credit and debit cards to save your digital change. It automatically rounds up purchases with your connected accounts and invests the difference in your Acorns account.

    This Penny Hoarder accidentally saved $116 — about $35 a month — by connecting one debit card to the app and forgetting about it.

    At that rate, you could spend 10 minutes setting up your Acorns account and easily put away $420 this year. Plus, Acorns gives you a free $5 when you download the app and make your first investment.

  5. 5. ShopTracker: Share Your Purchase History

    college student using smartphone outdoors on campus
    lolostock/Getty Images

    This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history with them. And they’ll pay you for every month you share!

    When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information, including the order date, product title, category, ISBN number, release date, condition, seller, list price per unit, quantity and other details.

    Before you jump in, you need to know:

    • This will be a waste of time if you don’t shop on Amazon.
    • You must be 18 and live in the U.S.

    All good? To earn your first gift card today:

    1. Sign up and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer or Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
    2. Open the app and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history. You’ll receive your Visa e-gift card code for $3 via email within 48 hours.
    3. Take a couple minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $3 each month.

    Your information is securely collected by The Harris Poll, a trusted market research company for more than 20 years. Additionally, ShopTracker removes your name, shipping address and any personal payment information before reporting your purchase history.

  6. 6. Drop: Pays You for Making Regular Purchases

    person putting a credit card into a credit card reader.

    skynesher/Getty Images

    There’s a new rewards platform on the market.

    Drop is a financial tech company that rewards you for your purchases.

    As a Drop user, all you have to do is link your credit and debit cards. When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, whether you’re grocery shopping, hailing an Uber or ordering a pizza. The points will add up, and users can then exchange them for gift cards to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.

    It’s the ultimate loyalty card — without the card.

  7. 7. Paribus: Stop Deleting Your Emails

    Cropped shot of a man using a laptop and a cellphone

    PeopleImages/Getty Images

    It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued?

    One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.

    Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping.

  8. 8. Digit: Sneakily Puts Money in Your Savings Account

    Concept is saving money for future. Jar is open and money is popped out. arrow sign is showing different direction of money.
    crazydiva/Getty Images

    Digit is a smart savings app that reviews how much money you have in your checking account and automatically sets aside an amount you can afford to save.

    Digit automatically adjusts how much it pulls from your account, depending on how much is available. If your income goes down, you won’t be committed to an automatic transfer that could overdraw your account.

    Digit even covers overdraft fees caused by its withdrawals, so you’re safe if this ever happens (and you know the company works hard to prevent it from happening).

    Get started with Digit here.

  9. 9. Trim: Find Out Where You’re Wasting Money

    Paolo Cipriani / Getty Images

    We all sign up for stuff. Sometimes it’s easier to put subscriptions on a recurring payment and forget about it — looking at you, Netflix.

    If you can’t keep track of them all, check out an app called Trim. Once you sign up and connect your bank account and phone number, it analyzes your transaction history for recurring payments.

    When it finds one, the app sends you a text and cancels any subscriptions you don’t want to keep.

  10. 10. WinWin: Play Virtual Pinball

    woman looking at her phone outside
    Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

    For most, saving money is the furthest thing from fun. After all, it means you’re taking money away from fun stuff you want to do today and putting it toward adult things, like an emergency fund.

    But we found an app that makes the saving process actually kind of, sort of fun. It’s called WinWin. Let us explain…

    First, download the app (for iOS only), and WinWin will walk you through how it all works, but here’s the gist: You’ll automate your savings, plus play games for chances to win more money to boost your savings.

    You can earn instant prizes by playing the daily games (think: classics like pinball and breakout). The more often you play, the more chances you have to win daily prizes — which include free plays (i.e. another chance to win) and cash prizes between 10 cents and $5 that go into your WinWin savings account.

    So you’re saving money — and playing for a chance to win even more. Fun, right?

    The app is free to download. You could score your first month free (depending on the outcome of your first game: pinball, word search, whack-a-mole or brick-breaker), 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.

    Start saving for tomorrow — by playing WinWin today.

  11. 11. HQ Trivia: Be Part of a Popular Game Show

    Group of people sitting on a staircase with smart phones
    pixelfit/Getty Images

    If you’re one of those people who can pull useless pieces of knowledge from out of nowhere, you’ll want to download this app.

    It’s called HQ Trivia. With at times more than a million players logging on at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern each day to play, you might’ve heard of it.

    “Quiz Daddy” Scott Rogowsky is the game’s main host. He asks 12 questions. You’ve got three multiple-choice options and 10 seconds to answer each. If you get all 12 questions correct, you’ll split the grand prize (around $2,000 lately, though up to $25,000 on randomly chosen special occasions) amongst the other winners.

    The HQ Trivia app is available for iPhone and Android.

    Pro tip: Share your personalized referral code with friends and family to get an extra life. Trust us: You’ll want it.

  12. 12. MobileXpressions: Get Paid to Download This App

    A number of companies will actually pay you for downloading apps on your smartphone or computer —  this is a great way to boost your passive income!

    One we love is called MobileXpression. After you’ve installed this app on your smartphone for one week, you get to play an instant rewards game for a prize (everyone wins something). We’ve seen users win a $25 Amazon gift card, but some of the other prizes include iPads and Samsung TVs.

    The app collects data and helps companies better understand web and mobile usage — such as what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps, and what types of sites and apps are popular (or not).

    Try it out for iPhone or Android.

  13. 13. Decluttr: Sell Your Old Electronics

    The decluttr app helps you make money from selling electronics

    sestovic/Getty Images

    Have a bunch of movies or CDs collecting dust on a shelf? Decluttr will pay you for them!

    Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware, such as cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods. Plus, enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-ins!

    You scan each product’s barcode with your phone, and Decluttr makes an offer.

    Prices vary — usually about 50 cents to $3 per item — but you can unload your media in bulk to make an extra $50 to $100 this week. And you’ll never have to look at them again.

    With Decluttr, you can sell stuff online without having to deal with individual listings and buyers.

    And shipping is free. The company emails you shipping labels to cover the cost. Just print the label, pack your items in any box and ship it.

  14. 14. Shopkick: Earn Money When You Walk Into Stores

    a hand holding a phone showing the shopkick app
    Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

    Sick of shopping online and have decided to venture out into real life? Download the Shopkick app first.

    Once you sign up, the app pays you in “kicks” for walking into certain stores (including Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx and more). These kicks can then be redeemed for gift cards to Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora, Best Buy and more.

    It pays you even more kicks for scanning items in stores and purchasing them with a connected credit or debit card, as well as for scanning receipts and mobile shopping.

    Love these ideas? Here are 32 other moneymaking opportunities.

  15. 15. Stash App: Helps You Start Investing — With a $5 Bonus

    a close up shot of dollar bills

    Gordan1/Getty Images

    It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money.

    Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

    But Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000.

    Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money.

    But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

    Bonus: Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to fund your first investment — so you’ll get a $5 bonus to get started!


Do you think this article might help you put more money in your pocket?Thumbs UpThumbs Down