We’re hooked on our devices, but did you know your smartphone can actually make you money every month? Here are some of my favorite money making apps.
Some are completely passive after you set them up, while others take a little more time.
I’ve broken these down by category, and encourage you to pick and install the ones that make the most sense for you.
For each, we’ll take a quick look at how they work and how you can earn money and get paid for using them.
The Best Cash Back Apps
The first category you’ll want to be aware of is cash back apps. Many of these will basically give you free money just by tracking the spending you’re already doing.
And of course, this is on top of the credit card rewards I hope you’re already earning too!
Pei is my favorite new automatic cash back app.
After you sign up and sync your card, you’ll automatically earn an extra 1-10% cash back at many stores and restaurants.
Your card is secure with Pei uses bank-level 256-bit encryption for end-to-end encrypted communication, and uses 2-factor authentication when linking your cards.
Once you earn $15, you can cash out via PayPal, a gift card, or–if you’re a crypto enthusiast–Bitcoin.
So far I’ve earned Pei points from Target, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, 7-Eleven, In-N-Out, Papa Murphy’s, and more.
Here’s my full Pei review if you want to learn more.
Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
The Rakuten shopping app (formerly Ebates) is a well-established leader in money saving apps–the company’s been paying users back for over 20 years!
The app offers cash back, in-store cash back, and a cash back button extension for online shopping. Shop almost every retailer on the planet and earn up to 40% cash back.
I look forward to my “Big Fat Checks” every quarter!
I like the Fetch Rewards app because it’s so easy. It’s not fully automatic like Pei above, but you can combine the two to earn extra cash back just by snapping a picture of receipt.
Fetch has partnered with over 250 popular brands, and when you buy any of those, you’ll earn points.
You can then redeem points for gift cards to retailers like Best Buy, Sephora, Staples, Gap, and more. (I’ve been cashing in for $10 Amazon gift cards.)
It’s also kind of a cool tool to track your spending across time and across different stores:
Get 4000 free points ($4) when you enter referral code APREWARDS!
Earny is the #1 price protection app, automatically rewarding you with price difference payments if something you bought goes on sale.
To get started, just link the email you use for online shopping.
It might feel a little weird giving some company access to your email like that, but there is some safety in numbers — Earny has over 3 million users and 16,000 customer reviews.
And according to the site, the average user gets $75 cash back. (Earny charges $2 a month for their service.)
From there, Earny looks for items you purchased online with your credit card by searching through your e-receipts. Then it attempts to claim cash back for any subsequent price drops on your behalf, depending on the store and credit card price protection policies.
Love to travel? The app also allows you to track price drops for hotels when traveling. If the app finds a lower price it tells you can rebook the hotel at the lower rate. Rates can be as much as 60% off advertised prices.
Free Alternative: Paribus. Paribus is a free price protection tool that works similarly to Earny and is owned and operated by Capital One. In one case, Amazon was late in delivering an order of ours, and Paribus automatically detected that and negotiated a $10 Amazon gift card as compensation.
For a while, Drop was a little more awesome than it is now.
You’d earn an extra 1%-ish cash back at your 5 favorite stores. Then they dropped it to your 2 favorite stores.
Originally, you could cash out after earning $10. Then they raised it to $30 if you haven’t shopped through one of their in-app partners.
But here’s a reason Drop is still worth signing up for: you can double-dip with Pei (see above) at your 2 favorite stores.
I was surprised to see my account was still racking up points at Trader Joe’s at Target :)
That means if you’re getting 1% cash back from your credit card already, you can effectively triple that just by signing up for these two apps.
Important: Use referral code Sidehustle when you join for 5000 free Drop points (worth $5)!
Other Cash Back Apps to Consider
Ibotta – I still use Ibotta every week to check for extra cash back on our grocery purchases, but it’s not as easy to use as Fetch (see above). You still have to scroll through each store’s listing and pick and choose which offers or products you bought.
Wikibuy – The Wikibuy browser extension automatically scours thousands of shopping bargains, offers, and coupons from retailers while you’re shopping online. If there’s a better price out there, this free tool will find it. (Affiliate disclosure: Wikibuy compensates me when you sign up for Wikibuy using my link. Thanks!)
Seated – Seated is a cash back app for dining out, where you can earn up to 30% cash back on your meal. When I looked, it was mostly fancier, higher-end restaurants, so this one might not actually be a huge money saver unless you were going to eat there already! Currently only available in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, with more cities being added soon.
Dosh – Does works similarly to Drop and Pei, meaning there are no codes or receipts to upload. You’ll earn automatic cash back at lots of locations locally, but Pei seemed to work at more stores for me. Where Dosh is perhaps most interesting is in booking hotels — when you book through the app you can get up to 40% cash back at 600,000 hotels!
Honey – The Honey browser extension is an alternative to Rakuten, but doesn’t seem to be as robust or have as many deals. You can add Honey to Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera, with a smartphone edition apparently in the works.
Freebird – The Freebird app gives cash back rewards using Uber and Lyft and dining out. When you’re meeting friends for lunch, drinks or dinner, checkout the FreeBird app before to plan your cash back money saving offer. This one is great for heavy ridesharing users.
Be Frugal – Another Rakuten alternative that pays you up to 40% cash back when shopping online after adding their Chrome extension. Be Frugal supports 5000+ stores and will give you a $10 bonus for signing-up. You can cash out via Pay Pal, direct deposit, or request a check in the mail.
GetUpside – Use the free Upside app to get up 25¢/gallon cash back on gas at 5,000+ gas stations in Texas, and up and down the East Coast, including all the big brands (Shell, BP, Exxon, Marathon, Sunoco, etc). The company is expanding to groceries and restaurants, and opening up in new areas as well.
Yelp – I tend to think of Yelp as just the go-to site for restaurant reviews, but they actually have a cool cash back component as well. You can earn up to 10% cash back when you dine at selected restaurants. Just link the card of your choice, and the cash gets credited back to your debit or credit card.
Receipt Hog – This app pays you for uploading your receipts from purchases, and has paid out over $2.5 million to users. (The company uses your receipts for marketing research.) The more receipts you upload, the more you earn in coins. You can redeem those coins for sweepstakes entries or simply get paid via PayPal or an Amazon gift card. Apparently Receipt Hog got a little too popular though; when I downloaded the app, I couldn’t jump right in, but got waitlisted instead.
Apps That Pay You to Take Surveys and Play Games
Turns out there are tons of ways to make extra money sharing your opinion with brands. These apps facilitate those surveys and other offers.
It’s worth noting here that these apps probably won’t make you a ton of money, and do take time, but could perhaps add $15-30 a month to your bottom line if you use them consistently.
Swagbucks is a recognized leader in the online survey space. The long-running app has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to users over the years.
You can earn rewards for shopping online, answering surveys, playing games, and watching videos (read: ads). Cash out for gift cards from major retailers.
With Survey Junkie, you get to be the influencer — and give your opinions to hundreds of partner brands.
As one of the highest paying survey apps, Survey Junkie offers popular gift cards and cash outs via PayPal. Join the 3+ million members and get started today.
Mistplay is an interesting app that rewards you for discovering and playing new games on your phone. (Android only)
The more you play, the more “units” you earn. Then you can cash in those units for gift cards to your favorite stores.
Get paid to speak your voice and leave feedback and opinions filling out surveys with Toluna Influencers.
With this app, you can complain about a brand or inspire your friends by sharing a great experience.
Once you rack up enough rewards, you can redeem rewards as gift cards at major retailers such as iTunes or Amazon.
Other Survey and Game Apps to Consider
Prize Rebel – Prize Rebel has one of the better interfaces among online survey sites. You can earn $10-12 an hour doing surveys or completing other tasks. (Just avoid the low-paying ones.)
Opinion Outpost – Cash out at just $5 via PayPal or Amazon gift cards. Each survey enters you into a $10,000 quarterly drawing.
American Consumer Opinion – ACOP is a popular market research company that pays $0.05 to $0.50 (in their own point system; redeemable for cash via PayPal) for completing short screener surveys and up to $50 worth of points for longer market research surveys.
My Soap Box – “We ask, you earn.” Share your feedback on the things you use, buy, and do every day to earn rewards.
PaidViewpoint – Get paid within a couple of days with cash and gift cards the PaidViewpoint App answering quick surveys. The surveys take 5-10 minutes, and the app makes the questions pretty fun so it’s enjoyable to do.
Mystery Shopping and Audit Apps
Shopkick is an interesting app that allows you to earn rewards in multiple ways, including simply walking into a qualifying store.
Other ways to earn points (called “kicks”) include shopping with a linked card, scanning barcodes on selected products, viewing online products, watching videos, and visiting online stores. These points can then be redeemed for gift cards at stores like Starbucks, Amazon, and Target.
My guess is you find a mall or strip mall with several Shopkick retailers, you can earn several dollars just by walking around.
Field Agent presents a list of tasks you can do based on your location. If you happen to be driving around somewhere and the store in the list is near, just accept the task and start earning money.
Most of these gigs involve evaluating product displays or checking on inventory. They typically pay $3-10 apiece, depending on complexity and the time involved.
Major retailers like Costco and Walmart are listed for product surveys and audits. No purchases are necessary.
Just load the Field Agent app on your phone and start earning quick cash while on the go.
Gigwalk works on the same premise as Field Agent. The app pays you real money for completing gigs available near you.
Gig Walkers can earn anywhere from $3-100 for certain tasks, though there wasn’t much selection near me when I checked.
Indeed’s Job Spotter app will give you reward points for snapping pics of Help Wanted signs in your town. Then, trade those points in for Amazon gift cards.
This won’t make you rich though; according to some friends, it can take submitting several different signs just to earn enough for a $1 gift card.
Apps That Pay You to Drive
Lyft and Uber
Obviously these two ridesharing services are some of the most popular apps to make extra money.
With millions of users, they pay you to drive your neighbors around. Rates and earning potential vary by city, but you can set your own hours and earn tips for providing a great, safe experience for your passengers.
Lyft is currently offering a $1000 first month guarantee.
One potential “hack” you might not know about is that both Uber and Lyft have a feature called “destination mode.” What this allows you to do is tell the app where you’re going, and only accept rides from passengers heading in the same direction.
Several Side Hustle Nation readers report using this to offset the costs of their morning and evening commutes.
The app tracks your location and automatically detects your speed and smartphone use. When your drive is over, you earn points on the distance traveled.
Those points are redeemable as gift cards. If you have a long commute, this could be an easy way to rack up some free gift cards.
In a brief test, I found that each mile I drove was worth $0.0013, or a little over a tenth of a cent. If that rate holds up over time, every 100 miles of driving would earn you $0.13.
The app scolded me for speeding too, so maybe I went slower I’d have earned more?
Still, at that rate it would take me 3800 miles — or roughly 6 months because I don’t drive a lot — to earn enough for a $5 gift card. I ended up deleting the app because it was a battery hog.
Related: OnMyWay works similarly, but users complain that they can’t actually cash out their earnings unless they refer 250(!) other users.
Other Apps that Pay You to Drive
Postmates – If you don’t like the idea of driving other people around or having other people drive your car, delivering takeout orders with Postmates could be an option for you. Ride, drive, or walk to make local deliveries in your town and earn up $27 an hour doing so.
DoorDash – “Dashers” make up to $25 an hour as food delivery drivers.
Instacart – Get paid to shop for and deliver other people’s groceries. Enjoy weekly payouts and a flexible schedule. Check out our full Instacart Shopper review here, with insights from a side hustler earning an extra $450-500 a week.
Apps That Pay You to Exercise
HealthyWage is an interesting concept that allows you to win money (up to $10,000!) by betting on your own weight loss goals.
The downside is you have to put up the money first, and then win it back plus your prize when you reach your goal weight.
Achievement is another app that pays you to track your steps. The My Achievement app partners up with health companies for market studies. You get to be a part of cutting edge medical research, and get paid for it.
You can earn money by taking steps to become healthier, such as tracking steps, sleeping, logging meals, opting into challenges, completing surveys, tweeting, and more.
Achievement connects with apps like Apple Health, Samsung Health, Fitbit, Strava, MyFitnessPal, and Garmin. Earn $10 cash for every 10,000 points. Cash is paid through PayPal or directly to a bank account.
The free Sweatcoin app pays you for walking outside. Technically you get paid in the app’s “coin” currency, but those points can be redeemed for goods and experiences through the app.
If you’re already doing a lot of walking, this is a cool way to passively earn some rewards.
Rover and Wag
According to Rover, top dog walkers are earning $1000 a month.
Apps That Pay You for Using Your Phone
We give so much of our data away every day for free to companies like Facebook, so it’s probably not that far a stretch to actually get paid for what you share. Here are some options to do just that.
Mobilexpression is a market research panel that pays you in exchange for data from your mobile phone.
Download their app and allow it to work in the background recording your browsing habits while on your phone. By participating with Mobilexpression, you’ll earn weekly credits redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers.
Realistically, this is an un-intrusive background app that will probably earn you around $20 a year in passive income.
Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
From the same company behind National Consumer Panel, Nielsen rewards you for sharing internet usage behaviors. Simply download the app to all of your registered devices. The app is not intrusive and won’t slow down your devices.
As they track your usage, you earn points. Users can redeem points for prizes and sweepstakes entries.
The S’more app works by showing ads on the home screen of your Android phone. You can earn $0.10 a day for every day you unlock your phone at least once, plus extra points for completing surveys and other offers.
The app has over 1,000,000 installs, but recent reviews complain about points expiring without notice and the app being a battery hog.
Apps to Make Money Selling Stuff
Clean out your closet or become a wholesale reseller. Many folks earn quick extra cash selling part-time on Ebay and Amazon. Listed below are competing apps that are very popular to make quick cash.
Let’s discover the best apps for side hustle opportunities selling stuff online besides Ebay and Amazon.
Bookscouter makes it easy to see which books–especially textbooks–have any value.
When you scan the book’s barcode, the app will search the ISBN to see what your book is selling for on various sites. You can then decide which vendor site is the best place to sell your book for the maximum amount.
Make money selling your used CDs, DVDs, and video games using this app.
Decluttr will tell you how much your items are worth–usually a depressingly low amount–and even give you a pre-paid shipping label to send them all in.
Where Decluttr lacks in high payouts, it makes up for in ease-of-use. It’s certainly easier than attempting to photgraph, list, sell, and ship all your items individually.
Amazon Seller App
The free Amazon seller app is your gateway to the world of Amazon FBA — fulfillment by Amazon. The app will let you scan the barcodes of various products and see what they’re selling for on Amazon–and what your profit would be after fees.
I used this app, along with a lot of shopping, to earn over $600 on the side.
With the Poshmark app, you can make extra cash selling new and used clothing and accessories online. The app also just added a home goods section.
The great thing about this app is that once you sell something, they send you a free prepaid shipping label for USPS Priority Mail.
As far as pricing, the app takes 20% of the purchase price as their fee, with a minimum of $2.95.
Still, you can take pics straight from your phone to load up on the app, pick categories, and make a description of your item. Used designer clothing is a big seller on Poshmark.
The Mercari app is a competitor of Poshmark, though Mercari’s fees are capped at 10%.
There is a lot of traffic to the site, but if you sell items for $10 bucks and below, you’ll pay an extra $2.00 for direct deposit, on top of the 10% fee.
The Tradesy app is known for selling higher end authentic items from brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Coach. Tradesy offers seller protection and trusted service features.
For example, you’ll have to verify the authenticity of the item you’re selling — but that protects you from buyer fraud.
Sellers pay a competitive 19.8% commission on items sold for more than $50. Then you can withdraw your earnings for a small 2.9% Safe Transfer Fee that covers payment processing.
The OfferUp app is free smartphone app lets you sell stuff locally. It’s a great app to sell household items and items that are way too large to ship. You can sell electronics, furniture, and even cars.
Take a photo and start selling within minutes.
Buyers can reserve an item with an authorized payment before meeting up in person. The advantage of using this app is that you can view buyer and seller ratings (compared to Craigslist, where you’re usually going in blind).
If you use their payment system, OfferUp charges a 7.9% per fee.
Other Money Making Apps You Should Know About
Turo is a leader in the peer-to-peer car rental space. Your car probably sits idle at least some of the time and the idea behind Turo is to put that idle time to use — and earn $500 a month or more.
They’ve even got a cool little “carculator” on their site to estimate how much you might earn:
Naturally nicer, newer cars in popular travel destinations earn the most, and I’ve actually heard of people taking out leases on cars specifically to rent them out on Turo.
A couple friends used the Turo platform to essentially get a free Tesla!
Listing your car is simple and takes about 10 minutes.
- GetAround – GetAround is a similar concept to Turo, and has car owners earning up to $10,000 a year.
- RV Share – Rent out your RV when you’re not using it for $200 or more per day on RV Share, “the largest and most trusted RVing community. Top renters earn $15-30k a year.
- Outdoorsy – Rent out your RV on the Outdoorsy.com peer-to-peer marketplace and earn $150-$350 per day. The company handles bookings and payments, and carries $1 million in insurance should anything happen to your rig on the open road.
Trim technically isn’t an app, but it is a unique program that will help you save money. Sign up, download the app, and connect your accounts to Trim.
They’ll analyze your spending and find ways to save you money. This includes negotiating to lower your bills, like cable and Internet. Trim also can help you cancel forgotten subscriptions and recurring charges costing you money every month.
I was a little skeptical but Trim negotiated more than $300 in annual savings off my Comcast bill! (For that, they charge 25% of their savings upfront.)
Robinhood is an online brokerage that gives new customers a free stock when you sign up.
It’s a random draw–not your choice, unfortunately. I got Groupon (currently worth about $3.00), but apparently Apple, Microsoft, and even Berkshire Hathaway are options.
Airbnb is of course one of the most well-known sharing economy platforms and has disrupted the entire hotel industry.
I’m a fan of Airbnb as a user, but have yet to attempt it as a host. Still, if you have an extra room and don’t mind meeting a rotating cast of house guests, it’s a fantastic way to offset your living expenses.
Your rates are going to be dictated by your local competition, which could be anywhere from $40 to $300 a night. And as Jasper pointed out on the podcast, if you have hotels in your city or town, you know there’s at least some demand.
SHN Bonus: Get $35 off your first stay.
The Neighbor self-storage platform connects people with storage needs with those who have extra space. If you’ve got some excess storage capacity in your garage or elsewhere, list your space here to fill it and get paid.
According to the site, hosts are earning up to $15,000 a year running their own mini self-storage operations.
TaskRabbit is one of the largest sharing economy platforms, and you can create a profile specializing in everything from running local errands, assembling furniture, local admin temp help, and even virtual support jobs.
Rates vary widely based on what service you’re providing, but I’ve seen tasks anywhere from $15 an hour all the way up to $100 an hour or more for specialized handyman skills.
Conclusion: There Really Are Apps That Pay You!
Yes, you can turn your smartphone into a money making machine by installing a few apps.
Hopefully a few on this list were new to you and you decide to give them a shot. Feel free to report back on your results in the comments below to help future readers!
I haven’t tried all of them, but the handful I do use have already netted me well over $1000 in benefits. I think with a little effort and attention you can have a similar experience.
The Most Overlooked Money Making App?
While these apps are great, the most overlooked money making app that’s already on your phone is … wait for it … the phone itself!
As in, call a prospect, figure out their pain points, and make a deal to help them. John Logar’s a pro at doing just that, and I encourage you to check out our full interview.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are there really apps that pay you?
Yes! I’ve turned my phone into a money maker by installing several of these, and many work automatically after you set them up. Check the full list on Side Hustle Nation for more info.
What are the best cash back apps?
My favorite cash back apps are Pei, Drop, Ibotta, and Fetch Rewards. Pei is awesome because it works at tons of locations automatically, with no receipts to scan. Check the full list on Side Hustle Nation for more info.
What apps pay you to play games?
Several apps pay you to play games, including Swagbucks, Mistplay, and others. Still, there are other apps where you can make more money so be sure to check the full list on Side Hustle Nation for more info.