If you want to start a side hustle, you might feel overwhelmed when researching your options. Ideas like starting an online business sound great on paper. Similarly, starting a second job is another commonly recommended way to boost your income.
However, if you need to make money quickly and have a packed schedule, starting a business or picking up extra shifts probably isn’t feasible. Plus, it’s nice to start a side hustle that’s flexible, has zero upfront cost, and doesn’t impact your main job.
Luckily, your next moneymaking idea might already be at your fingertips. There’s a variety of apps that pay you cash and free gift cards you can download to start making money today.
While many of these apps won’t seriously boost your monthly income, you can definitely make a positive difference for your finances when you combine several of them.
The Best Apps That Actually Pay You
Finding the right moneymaking app largely depends on your current shopping habits and financial goals. Some apps are ideal for making extra pocket money in your spare time, while others are for more serious side hustlers.
Whatever the case, pick a few apps that pay money and turn your smartphone into an income-generating opportunity.
If you’re not getting paid to shop, you’re missing out on free money. With cash-back reward apps, you earn real money and gift cards for making everyday purchases through your smartphone.
Drop is a U.S. and Canadian reward app that’s a must-download for any frequent shopper.
With Drop, you earn free gift cards for shopping at brands you enjoy. To get started with Drop, simply:
- Download Drop for Android or iOS.
- Link the debit and credit cards you use for shopping to your Drop account.
- Search Drop for cash-back offers at brands and retailers you enjoy.
- Shop online or in-store for those offers with your linked card and earn Drop points.
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 over a dozen other choices.
A $25 redemption requirement sounds steep, but many Drop offers pay 100 points or more for every dollar you spend. Drop also regularly updates offers for more chances to earn.
Like the web version, Rakuten’s app lets you shop online to earn cash back at thousands of retailers. Other perks of the app include:
- Earning cash back for Lyft rides
- In-store cash-back opportunities
- Getting 5% cash back at thousands of restaurants
Plus, Rakuten’s app also has mobile coupons to help you save more. Any cash back you earn is deposited in your Rakuten account. You get paid quarterly through check or PayPal as long as you have at least $5 in your balance.
Check out our Rakuten review for all the details.
If you like apps like Drop but don’t enjoy preselecting offers before shopping to earn, Dosh is undoubtedly one of the best apps that pay.
Like Drop, you link your payment cards to Dosh to let the app track your spending. However, you don’t need to search for offers before shopping; Dosh pays you cash back whenever you shop at an eligible partner.
Dosh lets you withdraw your balance through PayPal, Venmo, or direct deposit once you reach $25. This takes longer to reach than Rakuten’s $5 minimum, but the process is completely passive.
Check out our Dosh app review for all the details.
With Ibotta, you activate in-store and online rebates to earn cash back. Like other reward apps, you preselect the offers you’re shopping for before heading to the store. When you’re done shopping, upload a receipt through the in-app scanner for proof of purchase. Ibotta also lets you link loyalty cards to certain stores which makes earning points automatic.
Ibotta works with hundreds of retailers, including:
Groceries and household products are Ibotta’s focus, but you can also earn cash back for buying electronics, clothing, cosmetics, and health and wellness products. You redeem your balance once you reach $20 through PayPal, Venmo, or various gift cards.
Check out our Ibotta review for all the details.
5. Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping is another moneymaking app that’s a bit different than your average reward app.
Like Rakuten, Capital One Shopping has a powerful browser extension that automatically applies coupon codes at checkout to help you save money online. However, the Android and iOS apps are also nifty moneymaking tools to have in your back pocket.
In fact, the app is basically a mobile version of Capital One Shopping’s website. With the app, you can:
- Earn credits that are redeemable for free gift cards by purchasing from Capital One Shopping partners
- Capital One Shopping helps you find incredible deals at jaw-dropping prices
- Shop online through the app and apply coupon codes to save money
If you’re just looking for cash-back rewards, Rakuten is a better choice. However, if you’re shopping for a big-ticket item, Capital One Shopping’s price comparison tool can find massive savings. Plus, earning free gift cards is another perk.
Check out our Capital One Shopping review for all the details.
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.
6. Fetch Rewards
Unlike most grocery reward apps, Fetch Rewards doesn’t complicate shopping with pre-selecting rebates and meticulously building your grocery list. Instead, you shop for brands you like and upload your receipt to Fetch Rewards. If partner brands appear on your receipt, you earn points, no questions asked.
Fetch Rewards has dozens of brand partners, including:
- Maxwell House
Plus, Fetch Rewards also partners with personal care brands, beer companies, and baby products to help you save beyond groceries.
You only need 3,000 points, or $3, to redeem most gift card rewards. This means you can realistically earn rewards from a single grocery trip. Fetch Rewards lets you redeem gift cards to Amazon, Sephora, GameStop, Old Navy, Staples, Dunkin’ Donuts, and dozens of other retailers.
Check out our Fetch Rewards review for all the details.
While you’re saving your receipts for Ibotta and Fetch Rewards, you should also add ReceiptPal to your list of moneymaking apps.
ReceiptPal is another app that lets you upload receipts for free gift cards and weekly sweepstake opportunities. Once you create an account, you get three points cards to complete each week. Uploading four receipts using ReceitPal’s app completes a points card. You earn 100 points for every card you complete, which is worth about $0.25.
Ultimately, ReceiptPal only makes a few dollars per month unless you get lucky and win a cash giveaway, which is usually a few hundred dollars.
However, almost any type of receipt is eligible for progress towards a points card. If you use other apps that pay you for scanning receipts, you should incorporate ReceiptPal into the mix to maximize your earnings.
Survey and Game Apps
If you want a fast way to make money in your spare time, survey and game apps are an excellent choice.
Companies are willing to pay for your feedback and to try new mobile games. These apps take more effort than cash-back reward apps but are perfect for using while you’re on the go or relaxing at home.
8. Survey Junkie
Many survey websites aren’t worth it because they barely pay anything and take months to redeem your earnings.
Thankfully, Survey Junkie, a leader in the paid survey space, sets the bar for what to look for in a survey website.
Once you create a free Survey Junkie account, you complete a questionnaire that helps match you to relevant surveys. This helps reduce your disqualification chances and also makes surveys more interesting. Considering many survey websites frequently disqualify you mid-survey, which wastes your time, this is a nice feature.
You can answer surveys from your computer, but Survey Junkie also has an Android and iOS app. You cash out through PayPal, direct transfer, or free gift cards. Additionally, you only need $5 in your account balance to cash out, which is realistic to earn after completing several surveys.
Check out our Survey Junkie review for all the details.
If you’re a fan of mobile games, Mistplay is a fun way to earn rewards for downloading and playing new games on your smartphone.
Unfortunately, this loyalty program for gamers is only available on Android. However, earning rewards with Mistplay only takes four steps:
- Download the app and create a free account.
- Browse for mobile games and download ones that seem fun.
- Play and level up in the new games you’re trying to earn Units, Mistplay’s in-app currency.
- Redeem Units for free gift cards to companies like Amazon, Best Buy, and iTunes, or prepaid Visa cards.
There’s a healthy variety of game genres, including strategy, adventure, puzzle, card, and survival games. Plus, new games appear frequently, so you should find a few games that pique your interest.
Mistplay is a slower earner than most apps that pay you, so this app is really for video game fans who enjoy playing mobile games already. Read our Mistplay review for more info.
InboxDollars is another paid survey website that you can use to earn extra cash in your spare time. However, unlike Survey Junkie, InboxDollars offers more than surveys, and lets you earn by:
- Playing online games
- Using scratch-and-win tickets
- Answering polls and watching videos
- Earning cash back for shopping
- Trying coupon codes
There’s also a $5 sign-up bonus. You need $30 to cash out, but the variety of earning methods and sign-up bonus help you reach this requirement faster. Redemption options include PayPal or check.
If you want more earning options than Survey Junkie and Mistplay, InboxDollars’ Android or iOS app is definitely worth testing.
Check out our InboxDollars review for all the details.
If you like InboxDollars’ variety of earning options, Swagbucks is another popular platform you can use to earn rewards in your spare time.
Swagbucks is one of the most recognizable companies in the space and pays out 7,000 free gift cards every day to members according to their website. With Swagbucks, you earn points by:
- Answering surveys and daily polls
- Playing games
- Downloading apps
- Shopping online
- Watching videos
- Searching the web
Surveys are the most consistent way to earn points, although Swagbucks has some lucrative cash-back rewards if you shop online at their partners.
You can download Swagbucks for Android and iOS or use the web version. Reward variety is also a perk, with options including PayPal, charitable donations, and gift cards to companies like Amazon, Walmart, Boston Pizza, Starbucks, and Best Buy.
You won’t become rich from this platform, but Swagbucks certainly has a variety of earning options to give you control over how you earn rewards.
Check out our Swagbucks review for all the details.
Apps That Pay You to Walk
If you want to make money with apps but don’t want to spend time answering surveys or playing games, you might think you’re out of luck.
HealthyWage is a weight loss challenge app that pays you for betting on yourself to get in better shape. If you want to be more active but need an incentive to keep you on track, HealthyWage is the motivational boost you’re looking for.
Making money with HealthyWage takes four steps:
- Calculate Prize. Use HealthyWage’s calculator to set a weight loss goal, time frame, and financial bet. You earn more for losing more weight and betting more money on yourself to reach your goal. A $100 bet and 10% weight loss goal are minimum requirements. You also have between six and 18 months to lose the weight.
- Place Bet. Enter your payment information once you decide your weight loss goal and bet.
- Verify Weight. Use HealthyWage’s Android or iOS app to submit a weigh-in video that verifies your starting weight.
- Lose Weight. You win your initial bet plus interest for reaching your weight loss goal within the time frame of your bet. You use HealthyWage’s app to submit a final video as proof you lost weight.
Factors like your height, gender, starting weight, and age also influence how much you earn for completing a challenge. However, many challenges pay around 7% or more in interest for winning. Depending on how much you bet on yourself, this could be a few hundred dollars over the course of a months-long challenge.
If you like HealthyWage’s betting model but don’t want to focus on losing weight, StepBet is the perfect alternative.
With StepBet, you join a game with other StepBet members and compete to reach a weekly step goal. Most games last six weeks and have a $40 buy-in, which is where the betting component comes in.
If you reach your weekly step goal every week, you split the prize pool with the remaining players at the end of a challenge. If you miss a week, you’re out of the competition and lose your money. Ultimately, this provides a low-risk yet fun way to get your daily exercise and potentially earn some grocery money.
The best part about StepBet is that weekly goals are more personal, making challenges more realistic. StepBet connects to a variety of fitness devices, Apple Health, and Google Fit to calculate your step goal based on your previous exercise levels.
StepBet doesn’t pay as much as HealthyWage on average. However, when you consider the health benefits of walking every day and the low bet requirement, there’s no harm in trying out a StepBet challenge.
If you’re an animal lover, Rover is one of the best apps that pays you while encouraging you to be more active.
Rover connects dog owners with Rover gig workers who want to get paid to help with pet care. On Rover, services include:
- Drop-in visits
- Dog walking
Dog boarding and housesitting are the most common and highest-paying gigs. However, according to Indeed, Rover walkers still earn over $20 per hour.
Plus, making money with Rover is straightforward. Once you create a free account and complete your profile, you list the size of dogs you want to care for and what dates you’re available. You also set your own prices and the services you offer, giving you complete control.
Rover protects workers with up to $1 million in liability insurance, and you get paid within two days of completing a job. If you want a flexible side gig and love animals, apply to Rover and start your own pet care side hustle.
Passive Income Apps
Most smartphone apps that pay you money require effort. If you’re a busy person and just want to relax at the end of the workday without worrying about making money on your phone, these apps aren’t for you.
However, with passive income apps, you can still turn your smartphone into a humble source of extra cash. These apps don’t usually pay very much, but scoring the occasional free gift card is always nice.
MobileXpression is a market research app that pays you for sharing how you use the Internet. This might sound suspicious, but MobileXpression is actually owned by Comscore, a company that measures Internet rankings and provides insights on digital consumer trends.
MobileXpression is only available on Android. Once you install the app, you grant permission for it to run in the background. You earn two credits every week it runs, and 15 credits equal $10. You can redeem credits for gift cards to popular companies like Amazon, Best Buy, and Starbucks.
MobileXpression won’t earn hundreds of dollars per year. However, if you want a free $10 gift card every two months, the app is worth downloading.
16. Nielsen Panel
Nielsen is another leading market research company that’s best known for its Nielsen TV ratings. However, Nielsen is also interested in measuring how consumers use the Internet and has created a computer and mobile panel to pay you for your data.
According to Nielsen, the panel “combines your unique Internet usage with people like you to build a picture of Internet behavior.” In exchange for sharing data, you earn credits that are redeemable for free gift cards to retailers like Target and Starbucks.
You register specific devices to the program once you create an account. If you register at least one mobile device you earn up to $50 per year. Registering a computer earns sweepstake entries, and Neilsen gives away $10,000 per month to members.
If you’re comfortable sharing your data, adding a mobile device to Neilsen’s panel is another way to turn your phone into a passive income source.
17. Panel App
Panel App is another data collection app that pays you for sharing information about your location and shopping habits.
Once you download Panel App for Android or iOS, the app monitors your location and stores you pass by on a regular basis. It then asks location-based surveys such as which stores you shop at in your city.
You earn daily points in exchange for running Panel App in the background of your smartphone. Answering surveys also pays extra points. You earn roughly 1,000 to 2,000 points per month, which equals $1 to $2. Points are redeemable for free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, and the Google Play Store. You can also redeem sweepstake entries for monthly cash prizes and giveaways.
At most, Panel App is around a $20- to $30-per-year program. However, if you combine Panel App with other passive income apps, it’s surprising how much extra money you can make per year without any effort.
18. Current Rewards
Current Rewards is a new app that pays you for listening to music. You can also answer surveys, play games, and watch videos to make money, but music is certainly where Current Rewards differentiates itself.
Current Rewards has thousands of free radio stations available for online and offline listening. As you listen to songs and occasional advertisements, you earn points. Points are redeemable for a variety of gift cards, PayPal cash, and charitable donations.
Current Rewards claims you can earn up to $600 per year by listening to music. This is unlikely for most users because you generally earn around $0.01 to $0.02 per song. However, for serious music lovers, this app can turn into a fun source of passive income and help you discover new hits.
According to a 2019 study by the Upwork and Freelancers Union, 57 million Americans made money freelancing in 2019. With improving technology and the rise of the gig economy, it’s unsurprising that so many workers rely on gig jobs to make some or all of their income.
The bottom line is that If you’re willing to put in physical effort, the gig economy is one of the fastest and most lucrative ways to start a side hustle.
If you have a vehicle or bike, one high-paying gig job you can try is delivering food for DoorDash.
These days, food delivery apps are immensely popular. DoorDash isn’t an exception, and with over 250,000 restaurants across more than 300 cities, there’s plenty of opportunity to make money as a DoorDash courier.
To work for DoorDash, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old and have a Social Security number
- Have access to a motorized or non-motorized vehicle with legally mandated insurance coverage
- Have a driver’s license and insurance
If DoorDash accepts your application, you receive an at-home activation kit that includes an orientation manual, food delivery bag, and the card you use to pay for meals you deliver. Once you complete a W-9 tax form and activate your payment card, you’re ready to fire up the app to accept and complete deliveries in your area.
According to Indeed, DoorDash couriers earn $13.87 per hour. However, you can earn bonus pay for delivering during busier periods. You keep 100% of tips, so there’s variability in hourly earnings based on your market, luck, and customer service skills.
Ultimately, DoorDash is one of the most reliable food delivery side hustles you can try due to its market coverage. If you have a bike, you can also cut out fuel costs and get some exercise while working.
Check out our DoorDash courier review for all the details.
Shipt is a similar gig job to DoorDash, only for groceries. If you’re at least 18, have a vehicle that’s 1997 or newer, and don’t mind grocery shopping, becoming a Shipt shopper is another effective way to boost your monthly income.
As a Shipt Shopper, you’re responsible for every step in grocery shopping, from picking out products to delivering groceries to the customer’s doorstep. Like DoorDash, you review and accept delivery requests from the mobile app. This lets you control when and how you work, so you’re never forced to work specific shifts or drive farther than you want to.
Grocery orders can include special requests and substitution preferences in case the grocery store is out of a product. The app also lets you message customers in case you need clarification. Ultimately, there’s a bit more customer service involvement with Shipt than delivery apps like DoorDash.
However, the pay reflects this extra effort. Shipt states shoppers earn up to $22 or more for delivering groceries. Indeed states shoppers make about $13 per hour on average — plus you keep 100% of your tips.
Actual payment per delivery depends on how difficult a delivery is, the distance to the customer, and whether you get a tip. However, Shipt generally pays more than minimum wage and has lenient hiring requirements.
Check out our Shipt shopper review for all the details.
Like Shipt, Instacart is another app-based side hustle that involves groceries. However, unlike Shipt, there are actually two ways you can make money with Instacart:
- In-Store Shoppers. These are W-2 employees of Instacart who work inside partner grocery stores and assemble orders for delivery. These employees never leave the store, make at least minimum wage, and can work a maximum of 29 hours per week.
- Full-Service Shoppers. These are independent contractors who accept grocery orders through Instacart’s app and then assemble and deliver grocery orders to the customer’s doorstep. The only time full-service shoppers don’t shop for groceries is if they work with an in-store shopper who assembles the order.
As a full-service shopper, you set your own schedule. Additionally, your pay varies based on delivery distance, order difficulty, and tips, but Instacart ensures a $10 minimum payout per delivery.
According to Glassdoor, full-service shoppers earn between $11 and $14 per hour on average. If Shipt is available in your city, it’s likely a higher-paying side hustle. However, Instacart has a wider coverage, and you can also apply for a W-2 position if you want a part-time job that pays well.
Check out our Instacart shopper review for all the details.
22. Uber or Lyft
Another straightforward category of apps that pay you are ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
Requirements vary between companies and cities. However, if you have insurance, a reliable vehicle that’s newer than 2000, and a clean criminal background and driving record, you should be eligible to drive for both companies.
It’s difficult to estimate earnings for both ridesharing companies because your market, driving ability, fuel efficiency, and competition with other drivers impacts pay. According to Salary.com, both Uber and Lyft drivers earn $17 per hour on average. A report from TheStreet found that hourly pay is actually between $8.55 to $11.77 per hour.
If you decide to drive for a ridesharing app, just remember to track your mileage and business expenses because this can impact your tax return if you deduct any expenses.
Mystery Shopping Apps
Another category of apps that pay you is mystery shopping apps.
In the past, companies would hire secret shoppers in person and have them review restaurants and businesses to rate customer service and their overall experience. However, thanks to technology, you can now find work as a secret shopper using your smartphone if you know where to look.
Shopkick is a mix between a mystery shopping gig and rewards app. Once you download the app for Android or iOS, Shopkick lets you earn kicks, the in-app currency, by completing a variety of tasks like:
- Walking into stores
- Finding specific products and scanning their barcodes
- Shopping with a linked credit or debit card
- Uploading receipts
- Shopping online through the app
- Watching videos
Walking into stores and searching for specific products to check whether they’re in stock is a common type of mystery shopping job. However, Shopkick’s variety means you can choose the earning methods that best suit your shopping habits.
Kicks are redeemable for gift card rewards or PayPal cash. Shopkick won’t replace your day job, but if you do some of the shopping for your household, you might as well earn rewards in the process.
24. Field Agent
If you want a more traditional mystery shopping app, Field Agent is the best choice. With over 1 million secret shoppers in seven countries, there’s no denying that Field Agent is incredibly popular.
The best part about Field Agent is that it makes finding mystery shopping work simple. Field Agent’s app displays mystery shopping gigs in your area, the rules for completing them, and how much they pay.
Typically, Field Agent tasks involve:
- Mystery Shopping. Visit stores and complete tasks like checking whether products are in stock and rating customer service.
- Store Audits. Take photos of displays and products on shelves.
- Buy and Try. Field Agent occasionally pays you for buying a product or going to a restaurant and giving feedback.
Most gigs pay a few dollars. Field Agent doesn’t have a minimum payment requirement and pays shoppers through direct deposit or PayPal.
Like Shopkick, Field Agent won’t replace your day job. However, for some fun pocket money and the occasional free meal, it’s the perfect mystery shopping app.
Mobee is another mystery shopping company that’s almost identical to Field Agent. With the Mobee Android or iOS app, you find local mystery shopping opportunities and get paid for providing your insights.
Mobee tasks typically include taking photos of store displays, answering surveys about your experience, and rating customer service.
Every gig you complete pays points that are redeemable for gift cards to companies like Amazon, Target, Starbucks, and Domino’s.
Like Field Agent, Mobee gigs usually pay a few dollars at most. However, if you find mystery shopping work nearby or while you’re already out shopping, it’s a fast way to earn extra cash without going out of your way.
Apps for Selling Stuff
In the past, if you sold something online, you probably used websites like Craigslist or eBay to find buyers.
While these platforms still work, there’s actually a variety of apps you can use to sell stuff to online and local buyers alike. If you want to turn your clutter into cash, this category of apps that pay provides the perfect solution.
Mercari is an online marketplace that lets you sell almost anything right from your smartphone. Once you create a free Mercari account, you can start selling new and used products to buyers across the United States.
Selling on Mercari is also quick and free. To get started:
- Download the app for Android or iOS.
- Take a few photos of what you’re selling.
- Write a title and description for your listing.
- Set your price.
Buyers pay for shipping on Mercari, which is a plus for sellers. Sellers also get protection of up to $200 for loss or damage during transit.
Mercari charges sellers 10% per sale in exchange for using their platform. You also pay a 2.9% plus $0.30 payment processing fee. However, the range of categories and massive user base makes Mercari one of the best options to make money selling stuff you own.
When it comes to selling clothing for cash, Poshmark is one of the most popular marketplaces. Poshmark has millions of users and dozens of popular brands available at any given time. Plus, listing apparel and accessories for sale on Poshmark is as fast as Mercari.
To create a listing, you:
- Download Poshmark for Android or iOS
- Take photos of what you’re selling
- Add a description, title, and price
Listing is free and Poshmark lets you print a prepaid shipping label when you make a sale. There’s a $2.95 fee for sales under $15. Poshmark takes 20% for sales over $15. Either way, Poshmark provides a fast and reliable way to sell clothing right from your smartphone.
Decluttr lets you sell laptops, phones, DVDs, books, consoles, kindle readers, and tablets. To start selling, download the app for Android or iOS and scan the barcode of the item you’re selling. You can also search for the item you want to sell using Decluttr’s database. You’ll enter information about your product’s condition to get an offer price.
As long as Decluttr accepts your item once they inspect it for damages and defects, you get paid. However, Decluttr states they dispose of products that fail their quality assurance inspection rather than return them to you.
If you accept the price, you get a printable, prepaid UPS shipping label. Once Decluttr receives and assesses your shipment, you get paid the next day. You can choose check, direct deposit, or PayPal for payment.
Decluttr has paid more than $400 million to sellers so far. If you’re on a digital detox or purging your house of unused electronics, Decluttr is an excellent app to make some extra cash.
It’s safe to say that technology continues to open doors for people to improve their financial situation. Thanks to technology, it’s now possible to work remotely, start an online side hustle, and even use apps to make money.
Granted, many moneymaking apps and side businesses won’t replace your full-time income. Stick to gig and selling apps if you want the highest income potential. For a more casual side gig, the other categories of apps are an excellent fit.
However, if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck or just want to boost your monthly income, there’s no harm in trying something new.