The average person spends about 4 hours a day on their cell phones—and about 90% of that time is spent using apps. So why not turn your mindless scrolling into cold, hard cash? We rounded up our favorite money-making apps, from apps that help you earn cash back on online purchases to those that pay you for your opinions, to those that will invest your spare change for you, even apps that will pay you to exercise. Yes, really. Read on to see which apps made the list.
The 9 Best Money-Making Apps of 2020
- Ebates: Best for Bargain Shoppers
- Shopkick: Runner-Up, Best for Bargain Shoppers
- ibotta: Best for Automatic Payment
- Foap: Best for Photographers/Videographers
- Google Opinion Rewards: Best for Surveys
- iPoll: Runner-Up, Best Survey App
- Acorns: Best for Investors
- Slidejoy: Best for Passive Earning
- Sweatcoin: Best for Fitness Buffs
Best for Bargain Shoppers: Ebates
Also a great browser extension for those on a desktop computer, Ebates has a solid money making app, as well. With this tool, you can use in-store coupons, scan items as you go to compare prices, and perhaps its most well-known feature – earn cash back on certain purchases from certain retailers.
Here’s how it works: Once you download and start using the app, you’ll earn a set percentage of cash back when you shop with Ebates’ list of 2,500-plus eligible retailers. While cash back is usually between 1 to 2%, we’ve earned as much as 10%. You’ll also get access to in-store coupons and other perks. Ebates even compares coupons for you, so you can be sure you’re getting the very best deal.
Another plus of this app? Once you sign up and start using it, you’ll automatically get paid every three months, as long as you’ve earned at least $5.01. Ebates is an industry staple in the world of money-making apps. Founded in 1999, it’s doled out more than $1 billion in cash back to its customers.
Runner-Up, Best for Bargain Shoppers: Shopkick
If you love to shop, and frequently find yourself at your favorite retail destination browsing the aisles, then Shopkick is a great money-making tool. Though to be fair, Shopkick pays solely via gift cards, so keep that in mind.
Making money with Shopkick is easy. You download the app, then engage in one of eight activities: walk into the store, no purchase necessary (yes, it’s just that easy), scan barcodes of select products (again, you don’t have to buy anything), purchase items at an eligible store with your Shopkick-linked card, purchase items and submit your receipt, visit online stores or view online products (no purchase necessary), make an online purchase with a Shopkick partner, or watch in-app videos.
While you aren’t paid in actual cash with this app, you don’t always have to make a purchase to earn, which is a nice perk.
Best for Automatic Payment: ibotta
ibotta is another great cash-back app, and you have three options to make money using it: Upload your receipt to the app when you purchase eligible items; link a store loyalty card before you shop to get access to special offers; or make purchases at eligible stores via the ibotta app.
With ibotta, you’ll have to complete tasks within the app to get access to its money-saving tools, which can be a drawback, depending on how much free time you have. You’ll also have to manually upload receipts, and there are only about 300 eligible retailers. However, you can get cash deposited directly into your ibotta account, which you can then withdraw. No waiting on checks via snail mail or trying to navigate cryptocurrency.
Best for Photographers/Videographers: Foap
Great for aspiring photographers and videographers, Foap is a money making app that makes it simple to sell your photos and videos. Simply download the app, then upload your photos and videos to your online portfolio.
If your work is purchased by an agency, brand, or another user on Foap, then you’ll get paid, but you’ll share the profits with Foap 50/50. So, if Foap sells a photo for $10, you’ll make $5. But one photo can sell more than once, which is a nice plus. You can also submit photos to a specific project (Foap calls them Missions) for the chance to be paid hundreds for your photo.
Best for Surveys: Google Opinion Rewards
Opinionated readers, this one’s for you. Backed by the world’s most popular search engine, Google Opinion Rewards is a definite must-download for those looking to profit from their smartphone addiction—and get paid for being opinionated.
Here’s how it works: Download the surveys app and complete short surveys on everything from hotels to TV shows to merchants whenever you have a free moment. Think in line at the bank, waiting for the bus, even in the bathroom. You’ll be paid with Google Play credits or via Paypal for each survey you complete. Pay ranges from $0.10 to $1 per survey.
Runner-Up, Best Survey App: iPoll
Another paid survey money-making app, iPoll is a bit less technologically savvy than its Google counterpart. Download the app and provide some personal information to get started. Then complete missions, such as visiting a store and snapping a photo or testing a product. Or, be alerted of new surveys the moment they hit the airwaves.
Once you complete your missions or surveys, visit iPoll.com to cash out. Though, to be fair, you don’t actually earn cash. Rather, you earn rewards like gift cards, airline miles, and the like. But if you’re a big shopper or frequent flier, it just might be worth it.
Best for Investors: Acorns
If you like to be a bit more invested in your money making app, try Acorns. Download the robo-investing app and link your bank account. With every purchase, Acorns will round up to the next dollar and automatically invest your spare change into a portfolio of ETFs, which are diversified across 7,000-plus stocks and bonds. You can also sign up for recurring investments with Acorns. Invest just $5/day and watch your portfolio grow.
Keep in mind that Acorns charges a $1/monthly fee, so factor that into your earnings. But with that, you’ll get a diversified portfolio, automatic rebalancing, investment support from Acorns’ support team, and mobile access to all your accounts.
And if you really become a fan of Acorns, you may also try the company’s other offerings: Acorns Later, an IRA, and Acorns Spend, a checking account and debit card.
Best for Passive Earning: Slidejoy
Advertisements are everywhere. Why not your cell phone, too? Slidejoy pays for the prime real estate that is your phone’s lock screen. (Did you know the average iPhone user unlocks his or her phone 80 times a day?)
Here’s how it works. Once you sign up and install Slidejoy, you’ll start seeing ads on your lock screen. You then can swipe left to get more info on the ads, swipe right to go to your home screen, or swipe up to see more ads. For every swipe, you’ll earn ‘Carats,’ which will be credited to your account the next day. Earn 1,000 ‘Carats’ and get $1.
Slidejoy pays via Paypal or with gift cards to various retailers. Think: Amazon, Google Play, and Walmart. Another plus? You can also donate your earnings to your favorite charity. Slidejoy calls these app users Heros, which we have to say, is a nice pat on the back.
And you’re wondering if this app drains your battery, the company’s answer is a very resounding no.
Best for Fitness Buffs: Sweatcoin
Getting outside for a workout can be tough. But download the Sweatcoin app, and watch your motivation skyrocket. After all, the app pays you for the steps you take. But full disclosure: You’re paid in cryptocurrency, a digital currency. (Think: Bitcoin.)
Here’s how it works. Download the Sweatcoin app, and keep it running on your phone in the background at all times. Then, get moving. You’ll earn 0.95 Sweatcoins for every 1,000 steps you take. Once you earn a certain amount of Sweatcoins, you can redeem them for goods like anti-gravity yoga classes (yep, that’s a thing), an Apple Watch, an iPhone, even vacations.
But here’s the rub: Most items will cost you around 20,000 Sweatcoins. If you walk 10,000 steps/day, you’ll earn 9.5 Sweatcoins. Walk 10,000 steps daily and it will still take you almost six years to earn 20,000 Sweatcoin. So this app is really for the serious movers and shakers, not casual fitness enthusiasts.