You might feel overwhelmed when researching your options for starting a side hustle. Ideas like starting an online business sound great on paper, and another common suggestion is taking on a second job.
It’s nice to start a side hustle that’s flexible, doesn’t cost anything upfront, and doesn’t interfere with your main job. However, if you need to make money quickly and have a full schedule, starting a business or picking up extra shifts probably won’t work.
There’s a variety of apps that pay you cash and free gift cards you can download to start making money today.
Even though many of these apps won’t seriously boost your income, when you combine a few, you can definitely make a difference.
The Best Apps That Actually Pay You
The right money-making app depends on your shopping habits and financial goals. Some apps are perfect for making extra pocket money in your spare time, while others are for more serious side hustles.
Regardless of what you do, you should pick a few apps that will pay you money, and then turn your smartphone into a source of income.
Gaming And Survey Apps
You can make money with survey and game apps in your spare time if you’re looking for a quick way to earn some extra income.
The companies will pay you to try new mobile games. These apps are a bit more work than cash-back reward apps, but they’re great for when you’re on the go or at home.
1. Survey Junkie
Some survey websites aren’t worth it because they barely pay anything and take months to redeem your earnings.
Survey Junkie, a leader in the paid survey space, sets the bar for what to look for.
Creating a free Survey Junkie account lets you fill out a questionnaire to get matching to relevant surveys. Since many survey websites disqualify you mid-survey, this is a nice feature since it saves you time. It also reduces your disqualification chances.
Besides answering surveys on your computer, Survey Junkie has an app for Android and iOS too. Cash-out via PayPal, direct transfer, or gift cards. After completing several surveys, you need only $5 to cash out, so it’s easy to earn.
You can also earn extra cash on InboxDollars, a paid survey website similar to Survey Junkie. However, unlike Survey Junkie, you can earn by:
- Online gaming
- Scratch-and-win tickets
- Watching videos and answering polls
- Shopping and earning cash back
- Using coupons
Also, there is a $5 sign-up bonus. You must earn $30 in order to cash out, but the variety of earning methods and sign-up bonus makes it easier to attain this requirement. Redeeming options include PayPal or check.
If you wish to earn more money than Survey Junkie and Mistplay, InboxDollars’ Android or iOS app is definitely worth a try.
Swagbucks is another popular platform you can use to earn rewards in your spare time if you like InboxDollars’ earning options.
On their website, Swagbucks pays out 7,000 free gift cards every day to their members. You earn points by:
- Daily polls and surveys
- App downloads
- Buying online
- Video watching
- Surfing the web
While Swagbucks has some lucrative cash-back rewards if you shop online at their partners, surveys are the most consistent way to earn points.
The rewards are also varied, with options like PayPal, charitable donations, and gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, Boston Pizza, Starbucks, and Best Buy.
Swagbucks won’t make you rich, but it offers a variety of earning options allowing you to choose how you earn money.
Make everyday purchases through your smartphone and earn real money and gift cards with cash-back reward apps.
4. Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping is a moneymaking app that’s different from other reward apps.
With Capital One Shopping’s browser extension, you can automatically apply coupon codes at checkout to save money. Its Android and iOS apps are also great moneymaking tools.
It’s basically a mobile version of Capital One Shopping’s website. With it, you can:
- By shopping with Capital One Shopping partners, you can earn credits for free gift cards
- Get jaw-dropping deals at Capital One Shopping
- Save money when you shop online through the app
Capital One Shopping’s price comparison tool can find massive savings on big-ticket items, and it offers free gift cards as well.
Drop is a must-download reward app for frequent shoppers in the U.S. and Canada.
Using Drop, you can earn free gift cards when you shop at brands you love.
- Get Drop for Android or iOS.
- You can link your debit and credit cards to Drop.
- Find cash-back offers from brands and retailers you love.
- Earn Drop points when you shop online or in-store.
You can redeem Drop points for gift cards once you reach $25, or 25,000 points. Gift card options include Amazon, Boston Pizza, Starbucks, Sephora, iTunes, Gap, and more.
Many Drop offers to offer 100 points or more for every dollar you spend. Drop also updates offers regularly for more chances to earn.
Rakuten is best known for its money-saving browser extensions, but its app pays cash rewards too.
Rakuten’s app lets you shop online and earn cash back at thousands of retailers.
- Lyft cash back
- Cash back opportunities in-store
- Cash back at thousands of restaurants
You can earn cash back through Rakuten’s app. You get paid quarterly through check or PayPal as long as you have at least $5 on your account.
It is undoubtedly one of the best apps that pay if you don’t enjoy preselecting offers before shopping.
You link your payment cards to Dosh to track your spending. However, you don’t have to search for offers before shopping because Dosh pays you cash back on eligible purchases.
Dosh partners with hundreds of retailers, so you can earn cash-back rewards at places like Walmart, Macy’s, Domino’s, Sam’s Club, and Target.
With Dosh, you can withdraw your balance through PayPal, Venmo, or direct deposit once you reach $25.
It’s certainly worth downloading Ibotta if you want to save money on groceries.
You earn cash back with Ibotta by activating in-store and online rebates. Like other reward apps, you preselect the offers you’re shopping for.
Ibotta also lets you link loyalty cards to certain stores, so you can automatically earn points when you shop.
With Ibotta, you can save at:
In addition to groceries and household products, Ibotta offers cash back on electronics, clothing, cosmetics, and health and wellness products. You can redeem your balance via PayPal, Venmo, or different gift cards once you reach $20.
9. Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is probably the most beginner-friendly app like Ibotta.
Brands that partner with Fetch Rewards include:
- Maxwell House
Fetch Rewards also partners with personal care brands, beer companies, and baby products.
A single grocery trip can earn you 3,000 points, or $3, to redeem most gift card rewards. You can redeem Amazon, Sephora, GameStop, Old Navy, Staples, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more.
It’s hard to beat Upside when it comes to apps that help you save on gas. With Upside, you can find cheap gas stations in your area and also save up to $0.25 per gallon at popular stations like:
- Circle K
Cashback is earned by claiming gas offers in the Upside app and submitting a picture of your receipt for proof of purchase within 24 hours.
Additionally, Upside is adding restaurant partners, so you can earn rewards when eating at Dunkin’, Burger King, Qdoba, Popeyes, and Wendy’s.
When claiming groceries and fast food offers, you have up to 24 hours to shop for groceries and up to four hours to head to the restaurant.
Once you earn $10, you can redeem cash back for Amazon, Best Buy, Starbucks, and Target gift cards. PayPal redemptions and direct deposit redemptions under $10 come with a $1 fee.
With Upside, you can stack coupons and cash-back credit cards. But doing so may reduce your Upside cash-back earnings to account for savings from the other promotion.
In any case, Upside is still one of the best apps for paying for gas, and the addition of grocery and restaurant rewards makes it even better.
Add ReceiptPal to your list of moneymaking apps while you save receipts for Ibotta and Fetch Rewards.
With ReceiptPal, you can upload receipts for free gift cards and weekly sweepstakes opportunities.
Each receipt you upload through ReceitPal’s app earns you 100 points. Each point is worth $0.25.
In the end, ReceiptPal only makes a few dollars per month unless you win a cash giveaway.
ReceiptPal pays you for scanning receipts, so if you already use other apps that pay you for scanning receipts, incorporate ReceiptPal into your mix.
Apps That Pay You With Stocks And Cash
A lot of money-making apps pay you with free gift cards or PayPal cash. It’s a fast way to earn rewards, but once you spend it, it’s gone.
Certain investment apps pay you with free stocks and cash. If you want a bright financial future, this category of apps is the best.
Acorns are offering a $75 bonus when you open an Acorns Checking account and make two direct deposits.
Investing with Acorns is one of the easiest ways to begin investing.
In micro-investing, you invest small amounts instead of lump sums. For example, you might invest $50 to $100 from every paycheck into stocks or even buy fractional shares every week.
When you buy something, Acorns automatically rounds up spare change and invests it for you. For example, if you spend $5.25 on a sandwich, Acorns automatically invests $0.75 more.
It might seem insignificant, but Acorns helps beginners build good habits. Plus, Acorns invests in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that fit your risk tolerance, so you can choose portfolios with a higher concentration of bonds or stocks.
The Found Money program lets you earn cash back at over 350 companies, including Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, and Walmart. Acorns invest your cash back automatically.
You can invest in various IRAs, earn Found Money, round up spare change to invest, and open an Acorns checking account. Plus, you’ll get a $10 bonus investment if you open a new account and deposit at least $5.
Robinhood pays you with free stocks and lets you invest.
You can also invest in fractional shares, which isn’t a given with most Robinhood alternatives. Robinhood offers commission-free trading and lets you invest in stocks, ETFs, options, gold, and cryptocurrency.
For beginners, Robinhood offers an intuitive mobile app that lets you manage your entire portfolio.
You can also get up to $225 worth of free stock by opening a Robinhood brokerage account. Robinhood claims that most of the stocks awarded this way are worth between $2.50 and $10. To get the freest money, take advantage of brokerage account promotions.
For IRAs, stick with brokers like Webull or M1 Finance, two other popular online brokers. Robinhood only offers taxable brokerage accounts.
With SoFi, you can manage your finances and win $1,000 in free stock.
As a mobile-focused investing platform, SoFi offers more than just taxable brokerage accounts.
- Loan Refinancing
- Loans for personal use
- Loans for students
- Loans for mortgages
- Credit cards issued by SoFi
- Insurance coverage for life
- Insurance coverage for homeowners and renters
- Auto insurance
- Investing actively and automatically
Its mobile app lets you invest in stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and fractional shares commission-free.
The SoFi robo-advisor service automates your investing to match your risk tolerance. Unlike most robo-advisors, SoFi charges no annual management fees.
If you prefer active investing, you can win free stock for opening an account with SoFi Active Invest. To win free stock, open a new account and play the SoFi Invest Claw Game. You pick a mystery box like an arcade claw game, but you win between $5 and $1,000.
In the end, SoFi is a robust personal finance app that helps you get out of debt and invest for the long term. With the promotion, you can also open a SoFi Active Investing account and start investing now.
Over the past several years, Webull has rapidly grown in popularity by providing research tools, a stock screener, and commission-free trading for stocks, options, and ETFs.
IRAs such as Traditional, Roth, and Rollover are also supported by Webull.
Beginners can take advantage of Webull’s sign-up bonuses to get up to $2,300 in free stocks by joining Webull.
Here’s how to get free stocks:
- Open a Webull brokerage account and receive a free stock worth $3-300.
- Add $5 to your Webull account and get another free stock up to $2,000 in value.
Even if you score $10 to $100 in free stocks, you can start investing immediately.
Also, Webull is a commission-free online stock broker, so you can keep investing in stocks and ETFs to keep growing your wealth.
Apps That Pay You To Literally Walk
Making money with apps might seem impossible if you don’t want to answer surveys or play games.
The latest technology allows you to earn passive income while walking, thanks to apps that pay you for walking.
The HealthyWage app pays you to be active and lose weight. It is the motivational boost you need to keep you on the right track to a healthier lifestyle.
HealthyWage makes money in four steps:
- Set a weight loss goal, time frame, and financial bet with HealthyWage’s calculator. You can earn more money by losing more weight and betting more money. A $100 bet and a 10% weight loss goal are minimum requirements. You have between six and 18 months to lose weight.
- Once you decide on your weight loss goal, enter your payment information.
- Submit a weigh-in video using HealthyWage’s Android or iOS app.
- You win your initial bet plus interest if you lose weight within the timeframe of your bet. You use HealthyWage’s app to prove your weight loss.
Challenges pay out around 7% or more in interest for winning, depending on factors such as your height, gender, starting weight, and age. Over the course of a month-long challenge, this can amount to several hundred dollars.
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t risk your money on a weight loss challenge. If you want a fun and lucrative challenge that encourages a healthy lifestyle, try HealthyWage.
StepBet is the ideal alternative to HealthyWage if you don’t want to focus on losing weight.
StepBet is a game where you compete against other StepBet members to reach a weekly step goal. Games last six weeks and have a $40 buy-in, hence the betting component.
In a challenge, if you reach your weekly step goal, you split the prize pool with the remaining players. This provides a low-risk, yet fun way to get your daily exercise and earn some grocery money at the same time. If you miss a week, you’re out of the competition.
With StepBet’s weekly goals, challenges are more realistic since they are based on your previous steps. It connects to a variety of fitness devices including Apple Health, and Google Fit.
Although StepBet doesn’t pay as much as HealthyWage, there’s no harm in trying a StepBet challenge when you consider the health benefits of daily walking.
One of the best apps for animal lovers is Rover, which pays you and encourages you to exercise.
Gig workers on Rover help pet owners get paid for pet care. Services include:
- Drop-in visits
- Dog Walking
Rover walkers earn over $20 an hour, despite dog boarding and housesitting being the highest-paying gigs.
Once you create a free account and fill out your profile, you list what dogs you want to care for, what dates and times you are available, and set your own prices.
Rover covers workers with up to $1 million in liability insurance, and you get paid within two days. If you love animals, apply to Rover and start your own pet care business.
Apps That Pay You Passive Income
The majority of smartphone apps that pay you money require effort. If you’re busy and just want to relax at the end of the day, these apps might not suit you.
With passive income apps, you can turn your smartphone into a source of extra cash. These apps rarely pay much, but you may score a free gift card occasionally.
Have a spare bedroom? Extra space in the garage? A shed you don’t use? An extra parking spot (or more)?
With Neighbor.com, you can make money by renting out other people’s stuff without the awkward guest interactions or the post-checkout clean-up.
It’s safe knowing their stuff and your place are protected with a $1 million host liability policy and $25,000 renter coverage. You don’t have to worry about collecting your rent, and you can text renters to get in touch.
You can earn money by sharing how you use the Internet with MobileXpression, a market research app owned by Comscore, a company that measures Internet rankings.
Only Android users can use MobileXpression. It earns two credits every week it runs, and 15 credits equal $10. You can redeem credits for Amazon, Best Buy, and Starbucks gift cards.
You won’t earn hundreds of dollars with MobileXpression, but you’ll get a free $10 gift card every two months.
21. Nielsen Panel
Besides Nielsen TV ratings, Nielsen is also interested in measuring how consumers use the Internet and have created a computer and mobile panel to pay you.
The panel “combines your unique Internet usage with people like you to build a picture of Internet behavior.” You earn credit that you can redeem for free gift cards to Target and Starbucks in return for sharing data.
After you create an account, you register specific devices. If you register at least one mobile device you earn up to $50 per year. If you register a computer you earn sweepstake entries, and Neilsen gives away $10,000 per month.
You can also make money from your phone by adding a mobile device to Neilsen’s panel.
22. Panel App
You can earn money by sharing your location and shopping habits with Panel App.
Panel App for Android and iOS monitors your location and stores you pass by on a regular basis. The app then asks location-based questions like which stores you shop at.
Using the Panel App in the background of your smartphone earns you points every day. Answering surveys also earns you points. You earn around $1,000 to 2,000 points a month.
Sweepstake entries can be redeemed for monthly cash prizes and free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, and Google Play.
If you combine Panel App with other passive income apps, it’s surprising how much extra money you can make per year without even trying.
23. Current Rewards
With Current Rewards, you can earn money by listening to music. You can also answer surveys, play games, and watch videos.
You can listen to thousands of free radio stations online and offline. As you listen, you earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards, PayPal cash, and charitable donations.
Generally, you earn $0.01 to $0.02 per song when listening to music, so it is unlikely for most users to earn $600 per year by listening to music. It can, however, become a fun passive income source for music lovers.
Apps That Pay You Based On Gigs
Upwork and Freelancers Union reports that 57 million Americans made money freelancing in 2019. With improving technology and the gig economy, it’s not surprising that so many workers rely on gig jobs.
The gig economy is a fast and lucrative way to start a side business if you are willing to put in some physical effort.
Delivering food for DoorDash is a high-paying gig job you can try if you have a vehicle.
With over 250,000 restaurants across more than 300 cities, DoorDash has plenty of opportunities to make money as a courier.
- Have a Social Security number and be at least 18
- Access to a motorized or non-motorized vehicle with legally mandated insurance
- Insurance and a license
A DoorDash activation kit includes an orientation manual, food delivery bag, and payment card. In order to accept and complete deliveries in your area, you need to fill out a W-9 tax form and activate your payment card.
DoorDash couriers earn $13.87 per hour. However, you can earn bonuses if you deliver during busier periods. You keep 100% of tips, so your hourly earnings can vary depending on your market, luck, and customer service.
DoorDash is a reliable food delivery side hustle due to its market coverage, and if you have a bike, you can get some exercise while working.
The Shipt gig job works similarly to DoorDash, only for groceries. If you’re 18 or older, have a 1997 or newer vehicle, and don’t mind grocery shopping, becoming a Shipt shopper can boost your income.
From picking out products to delivering them to the customer’s doorstep, Shipt Shoppers oversee every step of grocery shopping. Using the mobile app, you can accept and review delivery requests, so you never have to work specific shifts or drive farther than you want.
A grocery order can include special requests and substitution preferences if a product is out of stock. Shipt’s customer service is a bit more involved than delivery apps like DoorDash. You can also message customers.
Shipt states shoppers earn up to $22 or more for delivering groceries. Indeed states shoppers earn about $13 per hour on average – plus tips.
Generally, Shipt pays more than minimum wage and has lenient hiring rules. However, the payment per delivery depends on the difficulty of the delivery and the distance to the customer.
Instacart is another app-based side hustle that involves groceries. However, unlike Shipt, there are actually two ways to make money with Instacart:
- In-Store Shoppers. Assemble orders for delivery inside partner grocery stores by Instacart’s W-2 employees. These employees never leave the store, make minimum wage, and can work up to 29 hours a week.
- Full-Service Shoppers. The independent contractors assemble and deliver grocery orders to customers using Instacart’s app. When full-service shoppers work with an in-store shopper who assembles the order, they don’t shop for groceries.
The minimum payout for full-service shoppers is $10. Your pay is determined by delivery distance, order complexity, and tips.
On average, full-service shoppers make between $11 and $14 per hour. If Shipt is available in your city, it’s likely a better side hustle. If you’re looking for a part-time job that pays well, you can also apply for a W-2 position with Instacart.
27. Uber or Lyft
The rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft are another straightforward category of apps that pay you for your time.
You will be eligible to drive for both companies if you have insurance, a reliable vehicle that is 15 years old or newer, and a clean criminal background and driving record.
For both ridesharing companies, earnings are hard to estimate because the market, driving ability, fuel efficiency, and competition affect your earnings. Surge and Boost pricing gives you the flexibility to earn more during peak driver demand times. Keeping track of mileage and expenses can impact your tax return if you decide to drive for a ridesharing app.
Mystery Shopping Apps
A mystery shopping app is another type of app that pays you to perform tasks.
As a matter of fact, companies used to hire secret shoppers to review restaurants and businesses for the purpose of rating customer service as well as the overall experience the customer had.
If you know where to look, you can now find work as a secret shopper using your smartphone, thanks to the advancement of technology.
It is a combination of a mystery shopping gig and a rewards app. If you download the Shopkick app for Android or iOS, you will then be able to earn kicks, the in-app currency, through a variety of tasks, including:
- Scanning barcodes for specific products
- Linked credit or debit card shopping
- Adding receipts
- Using the app to shop online
Shopkick’s variety means you can earn in the way that best suits your shopping habits, whether it’s looking for specific products in stores or checking whether they’re in stock.
The kicks you earn can be redeemed for gift cards or PayPal cash. Shopkick won’t replace your day job, but if you do some shopping for your household, you might as well earn rewards.
29. Field Agent
Field Agent is a more traditional mystery shopping app with over 1 million secret shoppers in seven countries.
Field Agent’s app shows you mystery shopping gigs in your area, how to do them, and how much they pay.
Field Agents usually do these things:
- Do mystery shopping to find out if things are in stock and rate customer service.
- Make an audit of the store. Take pictures of the displays and products that are on the shelves.
- There are times when Field Agent will pay you for buying a product or for visiting a restaurant and giving your feedback on the experience.
Gigs typically pay a few dollars. Field Agent pays shoppers through direct deposit or PayPal.
For some fun pocket money and the occasional free meal, Field Agent is the perfect mystery shopping app.
With Mobee, you can locate mystery shopping opportunities and get paid for providing insights into your local area.
Mobee tasks include taking pictures of store displays, rating customer service, and answering surveys.
Points earned on gigs can be redeemed for gift cards to Amazon, Target, Starbucks, and Domino’s.
Mobee gigs pay a few dollars at most. However, if you find mystery shopping work nearby or while you’re already out shopping, it’s a quick way to earn extra cash.
Apps For Selling Items
If you used to sell something online in the past, and you were looking for a buyer, you likely used websites like Craigslist or eBay as a source of buyers.
You don’t necessarily need to use these platforms anymore, as there are a variety of apps that you can use to sell stuff to buyers online and in person. This category of apps that pay is the best-suited solution for those who want to turn their clutter into cash.
With Mercari, you can sell a variety of products directly from your smartphone. Once you set up a Mercari account for free, you will be able to sell new and used products to buyers across the country anywhere you have a smartphone.
You can also sell on Mercari for free. Here’s how:
- Get the app for Android or iOS.
- Take photos of what you’re selling.
- Put a title and description on your listing.
- Price it.
Sellers also get up to $200 in protection against loss or damage during transit with Mercari.
As a seller, you’ll pay 10% per sale, plus a 2.9% plus $0.30 payment processing fee. However, the range of categories and massive user base make Mercari an excellent choice for making money.
Poshmark has millions of users and dozens of popular brands available at any given time. You can list apparel and accessories for sale on Poshmark as quickly as Mercari.
Create a listing by:
- Get Poshmark for Android or iOS
- Take photographs of the items you are selling
- Include a description, title, and price
Poshmark offers a fast and reliable way to sell clothing right from your smartphone. Listing is free and Poshmark generates a prepaid shipping label.
Decluttr is one of the most reliable websites for selling your old phone for cash or getting rid of other electronics.
The Decluttr app lets you sell laptops, phones, DVDs, books, consoles, Kindle readers, and tablets. To start selling, download it and scan the barcode. You’ll enter information about the condition of your product to get an offer price. You can also search Decluttr’s database for your item.
In case Decluttr accepts your item after inspecting it for damage and defects, you get paid. However, Decluttr states they do not return products that fail their quality assurance inspection.
Upon acceptance, you get a prepaid UPS shipping label. Once Decluttr receives and assesses your shipment, you’re paid the next day via check, direct deposit, or PayPal.
Decluttr has paid over $400 million to sellers so far. If you’re on a digital detox or trying to get rid of unused electronics, Decluttr can help.
In the world of financial technology, we are in a position to see more and more ways for people to improve their financial situation. Because of technology, it is now possible to work remotely, start a side hustle online, and even use apps to make money.
The truth is that many moneymaking apps and side businesses are not going to replace your full-time income. If you are looking for the most income potential, you should stick to gigs and selling apps. For a more casual side gig, other categories of apps are excellent.
Nevertheless, if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck or if you’re just looking to boost your monthly income, there’s no harm in trying something new out.