So if you’ve ever looked for some free and easy ways to save money, or make a little money on the side, you’ve probably heard by now that there are lots of phone apps out there that can help.
Fresh out of college I found myself with a fair bit of student loan debt, and it was obvious that I needed to cut down on expenses everywhere I could, so naturally I looked into this a bit.
I have tried a TON of free “money making” apps.
And wanting to make sure I picked the right ones, I read tons of lists (sort of like this one) to find the best free money earning apps out there.
I’m going to be honest, they drove me crazy! Because almost every one of the lists I found were promoting every single option that gives a referral bonus, whether they were worth it or not!
So I have made this list based on both the apps that worked really well, AND the ones that did not, and I’ll be as straightforward as possible with you
If you’re looking for some free ways to passively save or make some money, these are the best money earning apps available in 2018… in my experience.
Just bear in mind, these do require that you have a smart phone, which if you clicked on this, is probably already the case.
Best Money Earning Apps of 2018 Listed
- Dosh (Get a $5 welcome bonus using this link)
- Ebates (Get a $10 welcome bonus using this link)
- Inbox Dollars (Get a $5 bonus using this link)
- Ibotta (Get a $10 bonus using this link)
- S’more (Get $0.25 to sign up here)
- Robinhood (Get a free stock when you sign up here)
- Receipt Hog
- Swagbucks (Sign up here and get a $5 bonus)
- Field Agent
Dosh is a fairly new app. It’s one of the MANY in the cash back family.
Essentially, the way it works, is that you download the app for free, link your credit or debit card to the app, and then every time you use that card to make a purchase at a store that’s on their list of qualifying stores, they give you some money back on it.
It’s super easy, super passive, and you can completely forget it’s even there until you suddenly have $20 to withdraw from it.
What I like about this app is that while most similar apps, like Drop, will just give you points towards gift cards (to basically spend more money), you have the option of getting Dosh cash sent to your PayPal, or even direct deposited in your bank, so that you can do whatever you want with it. Put it in savings. Use it to pay bills. You name it.
The other thing I love about Dosh is that you can actually make decent money by referring this to your friends (and beyond). Rather than simply using the app, you can also get anywhere from $5 to $15 (depending on the promotion at the time) for every person that gets the app, and links a card, per your recommendation! Think outside of the box – recommending a free app that will SAVE people money is a really easy sell – post it to dozens of public Facebook groups related to shopping, buying, selling, or saving money! There are people that have made thousands of dollars in a couple weeks doing this.
There are some catches as well. Take a look at the pros and cons of Dosh here:
- Extremely easy to use, and almost entirely passive
- Ideal if you frequent restaurants, fly often, or book hotels often (it’s perfect for travelers)
- Pays actual money (not just points and gift cards)
- Easy and lucrative to refer friends, because it’s free for everyone
- Great if you use Sam’s Club, or Forever 21 regularly
- The list of qualifying businesses, especially in small towns, is very small
- Most rewards are related to travel
- Some may be uncomfortable with linking a card
Dosh can be frustrating because of the limited number of participating businesses, but it’s an easy and passive way of saving money, and it’s my favorite in this category! You can download it HERE and GET A $5 Sign-Up Bonus!
The way Ebates works is this: every time you purchase something online, from Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, or any one of thousands of stores, go through Ebates first and they’ll give you some money back on it.
The number of stores that will give you money back through Ebates is ENORMOUS. Sometimes these may be amounts of only 3%-5%, but many will pay much more than this.
For example, I purchased my wife a $30 bouquet for Valentine’s Day, through Florists.com. The 30% cash back from Ebates meant I got over $8 back of what I paid!
This screenshot was my Ebates account in less than a month of getting Ebates:
It’s often a debate whether or not it’s cheaper to shop online or in-store. You may have to pay shipping online, and gas to get to a store, but the reality is there are more and more ways to avoid shipping costs now (Amazon, for example, will ship for free on an order over $25, or if you have a free-trial or subscription of Prime).
Ebates will give up to $75 back on your phone plan if you sign up with Verizon, $30 if you host your website through HostGator, and $150 for getting Dish network, just to name a few non-shipped options.
You can make it even EASIER by applying the Cash Back Button, which will attach to your browser so you get the cash back automatically, without even having to go to Ebates first.
Now I want to be careful recommending this one, and make sure you read this fully before signing up for this!
Inbox Dollars is a free website, but MANY of the ways you can make money through it are a complete waste of time, and not worth the small return on your investment.
There are many ways of making money through Inbox Dollars:
- Taking “paid” surveys
- Watching vidoes
- Downloading apps or joining free survey sites
- Using the Inbox Dollars search box to serf the internet
- Shopping through Inbox Dollars (similar to Ebates)
- Answering a daily trivia question
There are TONS of ways to make money through Inbox Dollars. The ONLY ones that are really worth it are: signing up for free stuff you would get anyway, joining something like Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, or Hulu, and watching the videos.
Inbox Dollars will pay you, on average, around $0.10 for every 20-30 minutes of their TV that you watch. The thing is, you can leave the TV running on your phone, through this app, and go about your day, completely ignoring it.
Plug your phone into the wall at work, hit play, check on it periodically to apply the earnings to your account, but otherwise just forget it’s there!
It may be a slow way of earning, but you can do it almost 100% passively.
If you work 8 hour days, 22 days a month, it’s safe to say you could pocket an extra $50 per month by making this a habit.
I only remembered to do it about half of the time, and this was my earning after a couple months:
You can start using it for free HERE and get a $5 Sign-Up Bonus Instantly! Just remember, DON’T DO THE SURVEYS! Surveys will waste massive amounts of time, and rarely ever pay enough to compensate it. Inbox Dollars will notoriously ask you tons of questions, and then disqualify you and pay you nothing.
The only survey/product testing website I would recommend is Product Report Card.
By far one of the best cash back apps that you need to be using is Ibotta! It’s the only “grocery app” that I recommend, because others I have tried like Shopkick, and Checkout 51 (unless you buy in bulk) have been abysmal.
You can read my more in-depth review HERE.
This is how it works:
- Buy your groceries
- Check Ibotta for matching offers
- Scan your receipts (and sometimes barcodes)
- Ibotta gives you money back on them
It’s by far the best of these apps because it’s easy to use, it pays you in MONEY, and there are tons of options for you to scan.
This is a screenshot of my earnings after only 2 months of using the app:
And this is from groceries that I was buying ANYWAY! Eggo waffles, Ritz crackers, Red Baron frozen pizza, Green Giant green beans, often ANY BRAND items of milk, eggs, or butter, and so on. The $48 amount + $6.81 coming in is ONLY from purchasing my regular groceries, and household items (like hair gel) and getting cash back on them.
– A grocery app that pays in money, instead of points and gift cards
– The only one I’ve found that actually has a wide variety of options
– Fairly easy to use
– Pays quickly
– TONS of participating stores
– It’s free money!
– Sometimes the items that qualify for bonuses will be the more expensive items.
– Only seems to pay through PayPal at this point
– Only available in the U.S. and Puerto Rico
S’more is a fresh new entry in the long list of lockscreen apps.
Basically, this is how it works – you download the app, it puts an ad on your lockscreen so you have to swipe twice to get into your phone, and it pays you $0.10 per day to keep it there.
It’s 100% free, of course, and it’s really just a matter of whether or not you have the patience to put up with seeing an advertisement on your lockscreen, with the time and date.
I recommend S’more above the rest because it pays you a very consistent $0.10 every day, while many others will only award points or cash sporadically.
– it’s an extremely easy and passive $3 each month
– A little coffee money can never hurt
– it’s surprisingly easy to just get used to
– it’s better than others, like Slidejoy, because it pays consistently
– The payments are extremely small, like any lockscreen app
– This is one of the only apps i recommend that pays only in points for gift cards (like Amazon and Starbucks)
– Can be annoying, especially at first
S’more is a very simple free app, that will pay you a little pocket change for doing nothing other than opening your phone once a day. If your budget is tight right now, try it out HERE and get a free $0.25.
Ok, here’s the thing; I specialize in helping people grow their money. This is what I do for a living.
There are a lot of different ways that you can do this, and using safe retirement investments is ALWAYS a smart road.
With a good lump sum of money, and a bit of time, an annuity can guarentee you an excellent income for life.
There are some Indexed Universal Life policies that are hitting 12% interest rates on the cash value (compare that to a savings account for a second…) , and your money withdrawals are not only 100% tax free, but it won’t even affect or raise your tax bracket.
There are plenty of good ways of growing money.
But perhaps the most potentially lucrative money-growth opportunity is through investing in stocks. Many people who aren’t familiar with stock trading (and even many who are, hit some bad trades, and got cynical) will talk about it like it’s the lottery. This isn’t necessarily true at all.
It’s a riskier investment, but I would suggest that penny stocks (combined with some strategy and a knack for timing) are the easiest way to grow small amounts of money into massive retirement fortunes.
Think about it, many penny stocks start out at $0.05 per share! You could get 100 shares of this with a $5 dollar bill. Penny stocks are extremely volatile, because they’re so young, so if you aren’t choosing well, it could easily go bust… but it could also launch to $400 per share, and you would then be in possession of an extra $40,000, on a $5 investment.
Even if it climbs only a few dollars, it’s a fairly significant gain.
If you understand that penny stocks are so much about human nature, emotions, and greed (more than they are about numbers and algorithms), you can become extremely effective at sensing when other people think they found the next Amazon or Google. It could be a totally rotten stock, but if you know how to jump into the wave, and back out, you can make small, fast gains with ease, and grow your money exponentially.
The biggest issue with trying to trade tiny penny stocks, with tiny amounts of money, is that the vast majority of places to trade will also charge you trading fees and commissions on your earnings.
This is where Robinhood comes in.
The Robinhood app not only makes buying and selling stocks super easy (for once), but it is also one of only 2 options I have ever found that is 100% free to use!
I opened an account with Robinhood, did my research, and made a 65% gain on my money in less than 3 weeks. Sell it. Then do it again. It’s fast growth.
The Pros of Robinhood:
– No hidden fees, no trading costs, no commissions, period.
– Incredibly simple and easy to use
– A perfect option for beginners that gives you more control than something like Acorns
The Cons of Robinhood:
– The #1 issue I have with Robinhood is that the options for small penny stocks and cryptocurrencies is fairly limited
– If you’re more advanced in trading, it may be TOO simple
I have another account with TD Ameritrade, which is excellent, for when I am trading more obscure penny stocks, but Robinhood is by far the best trading app I have ever found, and makes the whole process so much more affordable!
For free trading you can join Robinhood HERE, and you and I will both get a free stock.
Receipt Hog is a pretty straightforward app.
Take those grocery receipts that you scanned for Ibotta, and also scan them on Receipt Hog.
Receipt Hog doesn’t care about specific products, as long as the store you shop at is on their list they will give you credit just for snapping a picture of your receipt on the app.
This is fantastic because you are unlimited by super specific eligible products – as long as you have a receipt with SOMETHING on it, you can be rewarded.
– All you need is receipts to scan, even if you’re collecting them from your Mom!
– Points can be cashed in for money through PayPal, or pre-paid Visa cards
– Takes almost no time, and is very easy
– No worries about qualifying products
– Receipt Hog does not pay a ton
– Currently only available in the U.S. and the U.K.
Swagbucks is nearly identical to Inbox Dollars.
Although it looks better, more modern, and runs more efficiently, Swagbucks isn’t quite as good as Inbox Dollars in my experience, and here’s why:
1. You usually can’t leave the videos running if your screen is not open to the videos.
2. It is based on a points system (swagbucks) instead of actual cash, and although the swagbucks can be turned in for money, it’s easier for sites like this to get away with awarding extremely small amounts of money and make it sound like a lot
This doesn’t mean that I don’t endorse Swagbucks!
It DOES offer an absolutely massive number of ways to make money, many of which are completely free. Considering that you can get an easy $5 bonus for signing up HERE, and $3 every time you get a friend to join it for free, it’s worth adding.
Just remember, don’t waste your valuable time on surveys! By all means, leave those vidoes running, but don’t do surveys. You may not hear this much online, but I assure you there are better and more valuable uses of time.
I was pretty skeptical about Field Agent when I first checked out the Google Play reviews of the app (though it holds almost 5 stars in the Apple store), until I noticed that the majority of negative reviews were by people that expected the app to replace a full time income… let me just emphasize – that’s not what this app is for.
I decided to try the app out for myself.
This is how it works: you can scroll through a variety of “jobs” on the app, which are basically “paid to shop” opportunities. And some of the options are super easy ways to put a few extra bucks in your pocket while you’re at the store! It typically involves buying certain products, asking an employee for help, or taking a couple pictures of something. They usually pay between $3 and $12.
For example, I needed to buy brake lights for my car a few weeks ago – Field Agent would pay me about $3 to go to Auto Zone and buy car washing soap (they also reimburse you fully), so I not only got free $6 car soap but I also got almost the entire cost of my brake lights back in cash.
I got another $7 yesterday just for picking up my groceries from Walmart, snapping 3 pictures, and answering a 1 minute survey.
It’s NOT a big money maker – the point is to reduce your costs without having to change your shopping habits.
While Givling is NOT a money earning app (at least not consistently) I had to include it on this list because it’s pretty great.
Givling is a trivia app that you can plan twice a day for free. Every day there is an opportunity to win a different amount of money (ranging from $100-$1,000), but it when you allow it to play ads it goes towards crowdfunding students loans and mortgages!
The app donates it’s earnings towards paying off $50,000 of a student loan, or $25,000 of a mortgage. By joining the app your name will going into a queue, which is essentially a lottery, for having your loan paid off.
The chances of your loan actually being paid are pretty low, but being put into a lottery for a loan repayment just for playing a fun, free trivia game is still a sweet deal!
If you want to use my code JM10956 when joining I would appreciate it! It gives me an extra free plan :).
Those are by far the best money earning apps that I have experienced, A penny saved is a penny earned, as they say, and these apps (along with a few other habits I mention HERE), collectively save me around $1,000 a year just by shaving off my living expenses.
If you’re looking for ways to make SUBSTANIAL income online you can read about my top recommended options at these posts!: