If you’re looking to bring in extra cash in your free time, there are a growing number of apps that pay users to perform simple tasks. Whether by taking surveys, viewing advertisements, performing basic market research, or even just exercising, you can earn money and gift cards right through your smartphone.
In this article, we’ll explore how to make money using apps on your phone and look at the different ways that apps can pay you. We’ll also recommend 13 of the best money-making apps and answer some frequently asked questions.
Making Money From Apps
There are several different ways you can earn money through smartphone apps. These are loose categories of apps that pay users, though it should be noted that several apps have sprung up that fit into more than one of these categories. For instance, the app Swagbucks, which we’ll discuss in more detail shortly, offers rewards for taking online surveys and cash-back for shopping. Let’s get to the different types of apps.
Survey apps pay users for taking online surveys and offering opinions on consumer products, insights into their spending habits, and more. Marketers pay varying rates for the surveys. Some offer gift cards, while others offer direct cash for the work.
Rewards apps pay out users for things they’re already doing. Some of these are cash-back apps, which allow you to upload receipts from your normal shopping then earn gift cards or cash rewards based on what you purchased.
These apps can be a nice way of earning money back on normal spending and — combined with a cash back credit card — can earn you significant savings on your shopping.
There are also rewards apps that reward you for non-shopping behaviors you’re already doing, like exercising (Sweatcoin) or using the lockscreen on your phone (Slidejoy). These apps can be a good form of passive income. (Read more in our guide to making passive income.)
In-Person Market Research Apps
While surveys are a form of market research, there is a broader category of apps out there right now that pay people to explore their city or town, and let the app know what consumer products are available in certain retailers, what those items cost, and more.
Users can walk around their town, visit a suggested store, take photos of prices and items that are available, then get paid for the work. Examples of this type of app include GigWalk and Field Agent.
Product Testing Apps
These money making apps will ask you to test out software, evaluate online products, and even play online games.
Affiliate Linking Apps
Affiliate linking is a way for major retailers like Amazon to offer rewards to marketers who share specific links to products on their platform. Affiliate linking apps ask users to visit their website before they go shopping then follow links to their favorite online retailers through the middle-man site. They’ll pay you a cut of the reward they got, either in cash or through a gift card.
Different Ways That Apps Pay
There are different ways that apps allow you to make money and also different ways that apps pay you for the work you did. Let’s dive into some of those options:
Gift cards are a very popular form of payment through these online apps. These can include gift cards for Target and other retail stores, Visa gift cards (which can be used like a credit card), Amazon gift cards, and more.
PayPal is one of the most popular money apps. It’s easy to set up, safe, and secure. Available as an iOS app or Android app, PayPal connects securely with your bank account and allows you to get paid safely online.
Direct deposit is not a very popular form of payment through these apps because it requires connecting with your bank account and transferring money, which can lead to fees, depending on your bank. Some apps do use direct deposit, however, and just require you to provide basic banking information to get paid.
13 Apps That Can Make You Money
We’ve established how apps pay you and how some of their business models operate. Let’s look at some of the best apps for making money online.
Ibotta is a cash back app that allows you to earn money for shopping at Walmart, Kroger, Food Lion, and other popular retailers. What’s nice is that you earn cash back after the fact — you simply do your normal grocery shopping at a supported retailer (see a list here), then take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the app. They’ll match the offers to items you purchased, and you’ll earn cash back on your purchases. Simple.
Swagbucks is a free app, available on iPhone and Android, that allows you to earn gift cards by taking surveys, watching video advertisements, and shopping online. The interface is easy to use, and it can be a nice way to earn a little extra cash.
iPoll is another app that allows users to earn cash by participating in online surveys. They pay out in Amazon gift cards, PayPal cash, and iTunes gift cards.
Ebates is an app that gives cash back and reward cards for shopping through their affiliate links. From a user standpoint, it’s incredibly easy. EBates just asks that you visit their site before making online purchases and follow their affiliate links to do your normal shopping. The company is headquartered in San Francisco.
Sweatcoin is an app that pays you to sweat. Really. It’s a digital fitness app that offers you incentives to exercise, measuring all the steps you take in a given day, then paying out in digital currency that can be used for discounts at retailers.
6. Google Opinion Rewards
Google Opinion Rewards is another app that allows users to answer surveys to earn rewards, which are paid out in Google Play credits.
Shopkick allows you to earn gift cards while shopping at your favorite stores. The app combines elements of market research and cash back for shopping. It asks users to walk into stores and scan items to compare prices (which is its market research component). But it also allows users to earn by making in-app or in-store purchases and then submitting receipts.
InboxDollars is an app that pays you to read advertisers’ email, take surveys, play online games, and more. Most online surveys pay between $0.50 and $5 and take 3-10 minutes to complete. InboxDollars also offers a $5 signup bonus.
BookScouter is an online platform for buying and selling used textbooks. Users can buy a few textbooks from one source, then resell them for a profit either on Amazon, eBay, or the app itself.
Gigwalk is an app that asks you to walk around your neighborhood, collecting market research. Find what things cost near you, then report it through the app. You get paid directly through your PayPal account, and it can be a great way to bring in a little extra cash while exploring your neighborhood.
11. Field Agent
Field Agent is similar to GigWalk in that it encourages users to explore their cities and towns, then provide location-based information on consumer pricing and habits in your area. Basically, you walk around, explore different stores, and let the app know how much people are spending in your area.
Slidejoy is an app that lets brands advertise on your lock screen. It’s a great way to earn passive income. You’ll get gift cards and rewards by putting your lock screen to work.
AppTrailers asks users to watch trailers for upcoming apps, then earn their “Reward Points,” which can be redeemed for gift cards or payment through the PayPal app.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve talked about how these apps can make you money and looked at 13 different apps that offer payment. Let’s get to some frequently asked questions.
1. Which is the best app for making the most money?
It all depends on how much time you’re willing to invest and what you’re looking for. If you want to bring in a little extra revenue without putting in much time, an app like Slidejoy can help you make some cash just by allowing advertisers to use your lock screen.
If you’re willing to put in a lot of time and don’t mind being paid out in gift cards, an app like iPoll or Swagbucks can bring in cash. If you just want cash back on shopping you’re already doing, Ibotta is great. It’s all about how you want to earn and what’s important to you.
2. Do I need a special PayPal account to get paid?
3. Can I turn these apps into a full-time job?
It’s extremely hard to make these apps a full-time job. While they can be a great source of extra income, it’s difficult to convert the earnings from these apps into a livable wage. There’s no such thing as free money (unfortunately), and most of these apps will require some investment of time. But used smartly, they can bring in extra income, and earn you savings and rewards on shopping you’re already doing.
Making Extra Money From Apps
If you’re looking to make money online in your spare time, these iPhone and Android apps can help you bring in extra income. Whether by taking surveys, earning cash back rewards, or simply going for a walk, these apps can be used smartly to cut costs and increase your earnings — all from your phone.