- Earn money completing brief surveys
- Redeem points for e-gift cards or PayPal
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If you're looking for ways to balance your budget, numerous apps can help you earn extra cash or save money on everyday purchases. These money-making apps make it easy to use your mobile device to pick up a side gig, take online surveys, sell stuff you no longer use, lower your bills, and more. The best money-making apps let you sign up for free, get paid quickly, and set your own hours. Here are our top picks for 2023.
Best money-making apps compared 2023
Surveys & gift cards
Keeping track of your finances
Gas station rewards
Active traders and investors
Selling tech and media
Our recommendations for the best apps to make money
1. Best for online surveys: Survey Junkey
Survey Junkey is an online market research community. As a member, you complete surveys in exchange for virtual points, which you can instantly redeem for e-gift cards or PayPal payments. You'll answer a few questions and create a profile to get started, and then Survey Junkey matches you to relevant surveys. You won't get rich taking surveys, and the company points out that it's not meant to replace a full-time job. Still, it says you can earn $40 monthly by completing three surveys a day.
- Surveys might be expired
- Some surveys have repetitive questions
2. Best for earning gift cards: Swagbucks
Swagbucks lets you earn points by completing easy tasks like answering surveys, playing games, watching videos, and searching the internet. You can also earn cash back and access exclusive deals and coupons when you shop at over 1,500 in-store and online retailers (including grocers). Membership is free, and you can redeem your points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon or Walmart or get cash back from PayPal.
- Multiple ways to earn points
- Redeem points for gift cards or cash
- Low earnings potential
- Some tasks are time-consuming
3. Best for keeping track of your finances: Rocket Money
Rocket Money (the same company behind Rocket Mortgage) is a money management and budgeting app that lets you see all your financial accounts in one place, create budgets, automate your savings, and monitor your credit score so you can save more, spend less, and get (and stay) on track. The app is free, but you'll pay $3 to $12 monthly for premium services, including subscription cancellation, chatting with a money expert, and bill negotiation (which costs 30% to 60% of your first-year savings).
- Numerous budgeting and savings features
- Credit reports and tracking
- Free version is limited
- Bill negotiation service can be pricey
4. Best for delivery drivers: DoorDash
DoorDash "Dashers" make money delivering products from restaurants, convenience stores, pet stores, grocery stores, and more. To get started, sign up and apply online, set up your profile, and then schedule shifts or start dashing right away. You choose when and how much you want to work and earn a guaranteed base rate for every order, plus tips. You can set up free, automatic weekly payouts or get paid instantly after every dash for no fee with DasherDirect Instant Pay.
- Set your own hours
- Keep 100% of your tips
- Vehicle costs (gas, wear and tear, etc.)
- No earnings while waiting for food orders
5. Best for cash back: Rakuten Rewards
Rakuten Rewards (formerly Ebates) offers cash back, deals, and coupons at over 3,500 stores on everything from clothes and electronics to restaurants and ridesharing. Sign up for a free account in less than 30 seconds and start shopping on Rakuten.com, the Rakuten app, or the browser extension. You can also link store offers to your credit card to earn in-store cash back. Rakuten Rewards emails you when it adds cash back to your account, and you'll get a payment every three months by check or PayPal.
- Unlimited cash back
- $10 welcome bonus for new users
- Some cash back rates are low
- Cash back awarded every three months
6. Best for gas station rewards: Upside
Upside (formerly GetUpside) partners with businesses nationwide to provide personalized cash back offers. While Upside offers cash back opportunities at restaurants and grocery stores, it's best known for helping people save at the pump. Download the app, create an account, and let Upside access your location to view offers in your area. From there, you'll find and claim offers, pay with a credit or debit card, and submit your receipt or check-in on the app. Upside validates your purchase, and then you can cash out your earnings to your bank account, PayPal, or a gift card.
- User-friendly app shows map view of offers
- Can stack with existing loyalty programs
- Doesn’t work with cash
- Some locations have few or no offers
7. Best for freelancers: Upwork
Upwork is a freelancing marketplace that connects gig workers with clients. Once you sign up and create a profile, you can pitch projects and bid for jobs in nearly every industry, job, and skill set. You'll invoice clients and track your earnings on Upwork, choose how to get paid (direct deposit, PayPal, Payoneer, or wire transfer), and pay a 10% freelancer service fee on your earnings.
- Pitch projects and bid for jobs
- Payment protection ensures you get paid
- 10% freelancer service fee
- Get paid 10 days after billing period ends
8. Best for active traders and investors: TradeStation
TradeStation is best known for its flagship desktop platform, but on-the-go traders will appreciate its freshly updated mobile app. With a quick and secure login, the app offers sophisticated charting with real-time data, advanced analysis, a streamlined order interface, intuitive order tracking, account monitoring, and more. You'll also have access to pre-built hot lists, news, analyst ratings, and earnings calendars. The app supports stocks, options, futures, and crypto currency trading—with the option to toggle between live and sim trading environments.
- Advanced tools and trade execution
- Commission-free trades
- Not as robust as the desktop platform
- Steep learning curve
9. Best for passive investors: M1 Finance
M1 Finance is a low cost robo-advisor that's ideal for self-directed investors wanting to manage their investing, banking, and borrowing in one app. Offers like an Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured savings account that earns 5% APY (as of Nov. 2, 2023), a Visa credit card that offers up to 10% cash back, and no-fee personal loans may appeal to anyone. Self-directed investors will appreciate M1's competitive margin loan rates, digital tools, and automated investing with dynamic rebalancing to keep your portfolio allocation in check.
- Integrate investment, banking, and borrowing
- Trade automation with dynamic rebalancing
- $10 monthly fee to get the best offers
- No access to advisors or recommendations
10. Best for selling tech and media: Decluttr
Decluttr is a resale app that lets you sell the tech and media products you no longer use, such as old smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, DVDs, game consoles, and video games. To get started, download the app, search for the item you want to sell (or scan the barcode on your media), and get an instant price quote. If you accept it, Decluttr sends a free UPS shipping label. Once Decluttr receives the item, you'll get paid by direct deposit or PayPal within 24 hours. Or, if Decluttr doesn't accept the item for some reason, it will send it back at no cost to you.
- Accepts old and broken electronics
- No fees and quick payments
- Valuations aren’t negotiable
- Decluttr might send your item back
TIME Stamp: Money-making apps can supplement your income
It's essential to set realistic expectations when using money-making apps. They aren't get-rich schemes, and you might not earn enough to make ends meet. And as a gig worker, you won't receive any employee benefits like health insurance, a 401(k), or paid time off—and your earnings may be sporadic.
Still, money-making apps can be an excellent way to supplement your income while enjoying the flexibility of setting your own schedule. Keep in mind that using certain apps together could boost your earnings potential. For instance, if you drive for DoorDash, you can use Upside (or the DasherDirect prepaid Visa) to save at the pump. Every little bit counts when it comes to balancing your budget.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Which apps pay you instantly?
There is usually a delay between the time you earn cash through a money-making app and when you receive it. Depending on the app, the delay could be 10 days or longer. Still, some apps have low minimum thresholds for requesting payouts. For example, Survey Junkie lets you cash out with just $5 in earnings. You may have to verify your bank account or PayPal details before the app can send you money, which could take several days.
Are money-making apps safe?
Many money-making apps are safe. Legitimate ones will be transparent about how they pay and protect users. If you're unsure about an app, research the company, read online user reviews, and check its Google Play or Apple App Store ratings and download statistics.
How much does a money-making app cost?
Most money-making apps are free to download and use, but some offer in-store purchases to unlock premium features or charge user fees, typically deducted from your earnings. Of course, some apps let you earn cash through rebates—meaning you'll need to spend money to make money. In these situations, consider whether you really need the item. It doesn't make financial sense to buy something you don't need just to score a rebate.
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