In the 21st century, the get-rich-quick scheme is alive and well. No matter where you are from–be it Wall Street or a remote island in the Philippines–everyone wants to know what the best apps to make money fast might be. But, while there are undoubtedly legit money-making apps out there, they usually don’t work the way people think they work.
There’s an old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Keep this in mind as you peruse the apps to make money online. Are there any legitimate apps to make money? Absolutely–and there are plenty of options. But none of these apps are going to give you money for doing nothing.
So you might have ruled out the notion of selling feet pics online, so you’ll need to decide what it is you want to do for your money. The primary ways that legit money-making apps work are by:
- Rewards programs that provide cashback when you shop or make purchases online
- Apps that allow you to start a freelance business doing gig work
- Apps that pay you to do surveys or complete simple tasks like watching advertisements
- Game apps
- Random motivation apps like exercise tracking or other activities
Cashback apps are the 21st-century version of clipping coupons. They each work slightly differently, but the idea is that by tracking everything you buy online or in-store, you can earn points or cashback. Some pay only in points, some in gift cards, and some in good old-fashioned hard cash. Regardless of how they payout, these apps are providing a partial rebate after you make purchases–so they aren’t really paying you.
The amount of work you have to do to get your cashback varies, as well. So too does the reward amount–some are very small, while others are more substantial. In addition, many sites have incentive bonuses to get you to sign up.
One of the most limiting things about these apps is that they only work with participating retailers. So you probably won’t find yourself shopping at your favorite stores. Instead, you’ll need to poke around the participating retailer’s websites until you can find the products you’re looking for. It is, after all, a form of marketing to get you to use other sites.
Swagbucks are earned by either making purchases, which is a form of cashback, or rewarding you for surveys and other tasks (see below). Payouts are low, but then it’s not very difficult to accumulate a lot of Swagbucks.
Rakuten, formerly Ebates, will give you up to 40 percent back on some purchases. They work with retailers, restaurants, and some food delivery services. To use it, you simply make your purchases through the Rakuten app. Payments are made every three months.
Ibotta started for groceries but now works with over 1,500 brands and chains. You can either make purchases through the app online or submit your receipts after you make in-store purchases.
This site is only for US residents. It is affiliated with over 2,000 stores, including some big names like Walmart and Home Depot.
Gig Work Apps
If you’re looking to start your own business as a freelancer, the internet has tons of websites and apps that can help. The 21st century is beginning to take shape into the gig economy century. Of course, everyone is familiar with Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. These are apps democratizing services that were once closed industries with high barriers to entry.
Beyond these now-famous apps, dozens of other websites allow you to do whatever it is you do and get paid for it. Even full-time employees and career professionals have online side hustles. And unlike some of the other legit apps to make money, these apps provide a venue from which you can create a profitable business. In other words, the potential earnings are significantly higher.
Fiverr is an online freelance marketplace that allows you to post jobs you will do for people. The idea started with the idea that if you need a simple task done, you could go to this website and get it done for a “fiver” ($5). Freelancers often offer a simple task but rely on upselling their clients from the simple, cheap task to the more expensive one. Or, more commonly, they simply offer bigger jobs that charge more.
Upwork is the go-to freelance marketplace. As a freelancer, you’ll have to jump through some hoops and get your business approved. You’ll also need to have an outstanding portfolio of work. You must bid on jobs and compete with other candidates to land the contract.
If you’re an established professional in your field, setting up an Upwork profile and offering your services is a no-brainer. You’ll be competing, but since most people on the platform are beginners, you’ll be well set up to get top-dollar. On the other hand, if you’re starting out and your portfolio is lacking, you will likely be bidding for the lowest paying jobs from questionable clients.
All sorts of professionals work on Upwork, from photo and video editors, writers, and graphic designers to management consultants and legal professionals.
DoorDash allows you to deliver food for customers. They place the order at their favorite restaurant, and you drive it to them. It’s like Uber, but you don’t have to have people in your car.
Likewise, Instacart allows you to deliver people their groceries. They place their order online, then you go pick up their groceries and deliver them to their door.
Airbnb allows you to lease out unused spaces to guests for short or long-term rentals. People use Airbnb in place of hotels or vacation rentals.
You can offer anything from rooms in your house to your entire house or apartment. There are even boats, cottages, and cabins for rent on Airbnb. Often, the more unique the setting, the more interest you’ll have.
Uber and Lyft
These apps allow you to start your own taxi service. Users hail a ride on the app, and then you pick them up and take them where they’re going in your vehicle. The company keeps a cut of the fees and sets the rates, so you have to figure out if it will cover your fuel and vehicle usage costs.
Foap sets up missions that you can accomplish and get paid. The idea is that the app collects specific things companies are looking for. Maybe it’s an image of a multi-generational family playing tennis or a video of ducks in a park. They then set up competitions that you can join, and if your image, video, or submission is chosen, you’ll get paid.
If you have a crafty hobby or enjoy making things around your home, Etsy allows you to set up your own eCommerce shop to sell your goods. You’ll find many things on Etsy, but mostly they are custom-made or homemade items.
Everyone knows about eBay–it’s been around forever. But a lot of folks make money regularly on eBay by flipping found items. If you’re a crafty shopper and like antiquing, setting up an eBay shop can be pretty profitable. If you find the right items and get good at the system, this can provide a full-time income.
Survey or Ad Apps
Often closely tied or combined with cashback apps, survey apps are designed to pay you a small amount for answering marketing questions. The payouts are a few cents each time, but then again, the surveys are usually short and only take a few minutes at the most.
All of these apps work more or less the same way. They all offer a variety of ways to earn points, from completing surveys to playing games. Here are a few of the top websites in this category.
- Survey Junkie
Game Apps That Pay Real Money
There are a few sites that will pay you to play games online.
This site is the digital version of the scratch-off lottery ticket. You download the app and then play daily scratch card games to earn rewards. Rewards vary from gift cards to vacations to cash.
Mistplay lets you play new arcade-style games and win rewards. The rewards are gift cards to Amazon, Google Play, PayPal, and more.
Other Apps that Pay
Here are the apps that are lumped into the “other” category. There are quite a few variations here, but the general theme is that they pay you for some amount of work or information.
In the information column, we have apps that are used to collect data. These are used for marketing purposes. In some instances, these apps want to know what you’re shopping for or what you’re searching for on Google. MobileXpression is an example. This app pays you to have it installed, and it tracks your internet usage on your phone.
Likewise, the Nielsen marketing research company will pay you $50 per year to participate in their studies by downloading their app.
In the work column, we have a few apps that are designed to incentivize tasks. Sweatcoin is a fascinating example of an app that pays you money to exercise. Most of us need a little incentive to set healthy habits, so Sweatcoin is designed to provide that. The app tracks your steps and pays out in “sweatcoins,” which can be traded for electronic devices, PayPal cash, or sporting goods.
The app pays you to meet your exercise goals by paying you for your daily step count. The app counts more than 40 million users.
Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel
The Nielsen app collects your internet usage data in the background while you use your computer as usual.
This is another app that tracks your internet usage for marketers.
As you can see, there are quite a few legit apps to make money. The payouts may be low, but then again, these apps are paying you to do things that you might have already been doing. Whether it’s participating in a marketing survey or tracking or starting an online freelance business, apps are a great way to supplement your income.