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

Portrait of senior man runner setting up the app for the sport exercises.
xavierarnau/iStock
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We provide you with accurate, reliable information. Learn more about how we make money and select our advertising partners.

  1. 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 14 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.

  2. 1. InboxDollars: Get Paid to Watch Videos

    A woman sits on a sidewalk bench and uses her laptop.
    Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

    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).

  3. 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).

  4. 3. Ibotta: Earn Money While You Shop

    Nancy Frost uses the Ibotta App
    Matt Roth for The Penny Hoarder

    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).

  5. 4. Lucktastic: Win Big With Free Scratch-offs

     If 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).

  6. 5. Nielsen Consumer Panel: Get Rewards for What’s in Your Fridge

    Woman looking inside the refrigerator and choosing groceries for a meal.
    EXTREME-PHOTOGRAPHER/Getty Images

    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).

  7. 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).

  8. 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).

  9. 8. CoinOut: Take a Picture of Your Receipt

    A man is sitting in at a table uses his phone and drinks an iced coffee.
    Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

    As seen on Shark Tank, CoinOut is a shopping rewards app. Earn cash back when you snap a photo of a receipt — any receipt, from any retailer, featuring any item. (Similar apps are a lot pickier.)

    Pros: The app is totally free, it’s smooth to use, and the best part is that your earning potential isn’t based on how much you spend.

    Cons: A couple of Penny Hoarder staffers dug out receipts — a $5 Wendy’s order and a salad from a local sandwich shop. One collected 5 cents, the other 4 cents. Basically, this app won’t make you rich, but it’s still an effortless way to pocket extra cash.

    Payment method: You can cash — ’hem, coin — out once a week for an Amazon gift card or funnel the money right into your bank account or PayPal.

    Pro tip: The better condition your receipt is in, the more you’ll earn back, so resist crumpling it into a ball.

    Available on Android (4.5 stars) and iOS (4.7 stars).

  10. 9. MoneyLion: Get Rewarded for Paying Your Bills

    MoneyLion is a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances. You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.

    Pros: If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend. The app also offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.

    Cons: To access the full benefits of MoneyLion, sign up for MoneyLion Plus.  The fee is $29 per month, but it’s free if you log onto the app every day.

    Payment method: Once you earn 2,500 points, cash out for a $25 gift card to Starbucks, Target or thousands of other retailers or restaurants.

    Pro tip: Try the free version first, and see what you think.

    Available on Android (rated 4.3 stars) and iOS (rated 4.5 stars).

  11. 10. Decluttr: Cash in on Your CD Collection

    a stack of CDs on a shelf.
    alexat25/Getty Images

    If you’ve got stacks of old CDs, DVDs, video games or even an old phone, send them to Decluttr for extra cash. Simply scan the items’ barcodes through the app, and get an instant trade-in price estimate.

    Pros: Once you get your trade-in estimate, grab a box, and use the free Decluttr shipping label to ship your items. You get paid the day after Decluttr receives the goods.

    Cons: Cleaning out your DVD shelf won’t make you rich, so don’t be disappointed if Decluttr doesn’t offer you a purse-full of cash.

    Payment method: Get paid via direct deposit, PayPal or check within 24 hours of the Decluttr team receiving your order.

    Pro tip: Use our exclusive code, FREE5, at checkout to get an extra $5 for your order.

    Available on Android (rated 4.0 stars) and iOS (rated 4.3 stars).

  12. 11. Achievement: Get the Props You Deserve for Being Active

    A woman holds a stretch pose on a city street.
    Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

    If you live an active lifestyle (or need an incentive to become more active), the Achievement app will reward you for making healthy moves, including upping your step count and logging your sleep.

    Pros: Achievement connects to your phone’s health apps and runs in the background, so it works passively. Many users report being happily surprised when logging on and checking their progress.

    Cons: It can take a while to stack up enough points to cash out.

    Payment method: Once you earn 10,000 points, you’ll score $10, which you can deposit directly into your bank account.

    Pro tip: Achievement connects to more than 30 Android and iOS health-related apps, including MyFitnessPal and Garmin. The more apps you connect, the more earning opportunities.

    Available on Android (rated 4.5 stars) and iOS (rated 4.7 stars).

  13. 12. SlideJoy: Earn Every Time You Look at Your Phone

    If you don’t mind advertisements popping up on your phone’s lock screen, install Slidejoy. You’ll earn “carats” (or points), which are exchangeable for cash or gift cards.

    Pros: This is a passive way to earn some extra money; just use your phone like you normally do. You don’t even have to engage with the ads.

    Cons: You won’t get to set a pretty background photo on your phone. Instead, you’ll see an ad. The app is only available for Android users.

    Payment method: After you’ve used Slidejoy for more than a month and have accumulated more than 2,000 carats, you can cash out via PayPal or for a gift card.

    Pro tip: If you’re feeling charitable, donate your earnings to a charity through the app. You’ll earn an immediate 20% carats back.

    Available on Android (rated 4.3 stars).

  14. 13. Foap: Cash in on Your iPhone Camera Skills

    A person using their smartphone to capture a beautiful landscape.
    Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder

    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).

  15. 14. 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).

  16. 15. Letgo: Cash in on Your Old Stuff

    A woman sits on her couch, and she is surrounded by clothing items.
    Tinatin1/Getty Images

    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).

  17. 16. Bonus: This App Ensures the Self-Employed Aren’t Screwed by Taxes

    Whether you’re a freelance writer, designer, realtor, Airbnb host, driver or courier, your focus and energy pores into your business and ultimately your income — but sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of all the numbers.

    With income, expenses, mileage and those quarterly estimated taxes, a spreadsheet doesn’t always cut it. Instead, use Hurdlr, a free app dedicated to helping self-employed entrepreneurs track and streamline their money — and taxes.

    Hurdlr’s easy-to-navigate dashboard clearly showcases your money streams in real time (both before and after taxes), and the tool makes filing taxes actually easy. Seriously!

    You can file your taxes through the app or send your reports directly to your CPA. It’ll also help you maximize your income by identifying all available deductions. Hurdlr reports its users find, on average, more than $5,600 in deductions annually. That’s $5,600 right back into your pocket — or into your business — all thanks to Hurdlr.

    Available on Android (rated 4.5 stars) and IOS (rated 4.6 stars).

  18. * 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.