9 Safe and Legitimate Ways to Get Free Money

A woman's hands count cash.
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder
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The internet is a treasure chest of free cash — you just have to know where to look.

No, you can’t order money-tree seeds or buy a fully loaded cash cannon, but you can complete some quick and simple tasks to start making money online.

There are a number of companies, websites and apps that offer easy money, so we scoured the internet to find the best — and most legitimate — ways to tap into that extra cash.

Ready to start digging for treasure?

1. Find Your Unclaimed Money

State treasuries throughout the U.S. have more than $43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. It’s just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.

In 2017, one South Carolina man hit the jackpot. He got a phone call from his state treasurer letting him know he was entitled to $763,000 in unclaimed money. That’s, like, 63 years of rent.

We advise you to be careful of calls like this; they could be scams. But you can take matters into your own hands and see if you have any unclaimed money floating around.

Check with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.Click your state on the map, and it’ll redirect you to your state’s appropriate search site. (Beware: There are several look-a-like sites out there. Be sure you’re searching legitimate ones.)

2. Find Hidden Money in Your Inbox

It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you 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 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 when there’s a price drop.

To save time, mom and blog manager Aimee B. does the majority of her shopping online — about 90% of it, she estimates. She stocks up on groceries, clothes and household necessities without leaving home.

In the past two years, Paribus has returned Aimee $1,315.41 in free money.

“It really is as simple as giving your email address,” she says. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.

3. Get a Free $350 Bonus When You Open a New Bank Account

Not happy with your bank? Open a new bank account — but first find a promotional offer to earn cash.

We like the Chase Total Checking® account.

You’ll get a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit.

Then you’ll get a $150 bonus when you open a new Chase Savings℠ account, deposit a total of $10,000 or more in new money within 20 days, and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days.

You’re not required to open the savings account to earn the $200 Chase checking bonus.

To get started, visit this Chase Total Checking® page* to apply online, or enter your email address to get a unique coupon to take with you to open your account at any Chase branch.

This coupon expires October 14, 2020, so you’ll need to complete the application before then.

This offer is available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

4. Copy This Woman’s Strategy to Get up to $1,200

We talked to a woman in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who told us about the unique way she received $1,200.

And it’s no huge time commitment. Hendrickson takes a few minutes each morning before her full-time job to complete surveys on Swagbucks.

Companies want feedback when they’re developing new products and services, so they pay Swagbucks to get your opinions. In turn, Swagbucks pays you to answer surveys online. 

Swagbucks will pay you in cash via PayPal. Plus, you’ll even earn a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn $25 (2,500 “SB points”) for completing surveys within your first 60 days.

5. Sign up for This Credit Card for a Free $150 Bonus

If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.

You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.

Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.

The card also offers 5% cash-back on select rotating categories. For example, in one quarter, you can earn 5% cash back on gas. The next quarter? Groceries. The categories continue to rotate throughout the year.

There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.

*The information for the Chase Freedom card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.

6. Get up to $225 in Free Cash When You Watch Cooking Videos

If we told you you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh. 

It’s too good to be true, right? 

But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.  

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.

InboxDollars won’t cover your full rent, but it’s possible to get up to $225 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.

7. Find Savings in Your Monthly Utility Bills

Finding free money doesn’t always mean digging up a treasure chest. You can find hidden money (ahem, savings) by negotiating your bills.

Instead of sitting on hold, use Trim, a digital personal assistant that’ll negotiate your bills for you. We’re not just talking your cable bill, either. It’ll also negotiate your internet, cell phone, home security and XM radio bills.

William Ellis, a Trim user in Ellettsville, Indiana, uploaded PDF copies of his Dish, Comcast and Sprint bills to Trim. That’s all he had to do — Trim worked behind the scenes, eventually notifying him of his savings.

“Yes, anybody can call and do this,” Ellis points out, “but do you?”

Curious how he did? Trim reduced his bills by:

    • $385.20 a year on Dish.
    • $800.18 a year on Comcast.
    • $80.04 a year on Sprint.

Trim reduced Ellis’ bills by a total of $1265.42 per year.

If Trim successfully negotiates on your behalf, it charges an upfront fee equal to 33% of your first year of savings, and you keep the rest. (Hey, Trim’s gotta get rewarded for its expert negotiation skills!) But that’s still a big chunk of savings.

To get started, no need to pick up the phone. Just sign up here and then upload your bills.

8. Get Free Scratch-off Tickets

The odds don’t usually make playing the lottery worth your limited funds. But what if you could get the tickets for free?

Instead of a convenience-store stop, try scratching for free using an 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, in cash or gift cards to popular retailers.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. For more info, check out Lucktastic here.

Wouldn’t you like to make your friends jealous by telling them you won $10,000 with a free scratch-off?

9. Turn Those Crumpled Receipts Into Free Cash

What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.

But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into cash. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for free Visa gift cards.

And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn a bonus towards your first Visa gift card.

Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?

Enjoy Your Free Money, Honey! (Just Be Careful of Scams)

Congratulations! You’ve made it through our list of ways to get free money.

Now, want to go out and find some more money on your own? Just remember: The internet can be a scary place, so be wary of scams. To vet a “free money” opportunity like we do, take these steps:

    • Search the company or website’s name on Google. Read reviews, look up Better Business Bureau ratings, and sign up for scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.
    • Don’t offer your personal or financial information unless you absolutely trust the site. You should never have to pay money in order to receive it.
    • Give the company a call and ask questions.
    • Be skeptical, and if something’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t think you’ll get paid $1,000 for taking a five-minute survey.
    • Peruse a site’s privacy policy to make sure your information isn’t going to be sold to other companies. (That might be why you’re getting all those junk emails and robocalls.)

Overall, just be smart! Or the easiest way is to just keep checking back in with The Penny Hoarder to find more ways to earn free money.