*This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and purchase an item we receive some diaper money at no additional cost to you. See our full disclosure here.*
On our path to financial independence we are constantly looking for little life hacks that will make us a few bucks here and there. As a rule we try and find things that have a high money to time/effort ratio. Once I started searching things about saving money, Big Brother started showing me ads for various money making apps. I had never spent time looking into these before because I just assumed they were scams. However, after about 6 months of using some of these apps, (Melissa using some much longer) I can now say they are legit.
We’ve made a decent amount of money from them with little effort. I know there are tons of these apps so I just wanted to break down the ones that we currently use. I’ll keep the descriptions brief so you can just get a quick idea of what they do and how you can start earning. Most of these companies have referral programs as well, so if you decide to check one out, please use the links in the post to support us (you also get a bonus for using them). Because that would be awesome for both of us.
If you only start using one of these apps to make money, let it be this one. Formerly know as Ebates, Rakuten is a shopping rewards company. Several of the apps I will mention use affiliate networks to get you cash back. Basically they have relationships with lots of companies, so if they drive business to those companies they receive a commission. You get cash back because Rakuten gives you a portion of the commission they are making.
To use Rakuten, after creating an account, simply use their app and find the company you want to make an online purchase through (i.e.: Amazon, Gap, Target). Then click through to that website and shop away. That’s it! Once your transaction goes through you will see money in your Rakuten account. There have been times where my purchases weren’t immediately credited but you can dispute them and they usually give you the credit after that. They pay out quarterly and can send you a check, gift card, or send money to your paypal. Use our referral link and get $10 back after your first qualified purchase.
Melissa and I started using this before the holidays, and between our holiday spending and the referral bonus we each got when I referred her, we have made close to $100 from this app alone! That’s FREE MONEY!
Drop uses two ways to make money, the first is an affiliate network similar to Rakuten. They have relationships with some companies that Rakuten doesn’t so it’s always a good idea to check both apps to see where you can get the most cash back. The second way to earn points is by making purchases with a linked credit/debit card. Linking cards is another common practice with several of these apps. All you do is link your credit card to your account and anytime you make a purchase at one of their partners you earn points.
When you create your account you can choose a few “boosted” brands which you get more points for using. They will also boost points on random brands each day. One fun unique thing about this app is after you make 5 purchases with one of your boosted brands they let you play the old school snake game to earn points as well. I like Drop because I earn money passively. I will check the app and have points I didn’t realize just from making a random purchase that happened to be one of their partners. Paypal and checks aren’t an option with Drop, you can get gift cards to various places including Amazon which is what we typically do. (Melissa cashed in a ton of points at Christmastime to get $80 in Amazon credit.)
Use our referral code (zvx4m) to sign up and get $5 back for linking your first card and verifying your email. Just go to the website and put your phone number in and you’ll get a text link to the app. Or you can download the app directly from the App Store.
This app gives you several ways to make money. Ibotta has affiliate partners similar to Rakuten. You can also earn points from scanning receipts. Where I think Ibotta shines the most is the ability to link loyalty cards to earn cash back in stores. We mostly use it when we go grocery shopping. We link our Frys card and check the app before going shopping. There will be offers for cash back on various items and if that item is on our list we will just add that and get cash back for purchasing it. They also will often have offers that are “any item” offers, so any brand of milk, any brand of ice cream, or occasionally even just scanning a receipt, even if there aren’t matched offers, will get you cash back. Its an easy way to save extra money on groceries. You can cash out with gift cards. Some people say they save hundreds, but in the past two years we’ve actually only earned $70. It isn’t tons, but again, FREE MONEY. You can sign up here.
Scan grocery receipts and get points. It’s that easy to get cash back. You will get more points for certain items, but even if there isn’t anything huge on your receipt, you’ll get 25 points just for scanning. I’m not sure every store they accept receipts from but the app will tell you if it qualifies or not. It definitely works on grocery stores, and I have received points for Walgreens as well. This app is especially great for people that buy a lot of brand name things while shopping, such as soda or frozen items or chips and snacks, since all of those tend to have really high point redemptions. Just scan all your receipts to see what types of stores and items they will accept. You can cash out with gift cards. Use our referral code (9X6F8) to sign up and get 2000 points after your first receipt scan. We just started using this a couple months ago, and already have redeemed a $10 Amazon gift card!
There are 4 ways to earn money with Shopkick.
- Just walking into a store
- Scanning designated items with your phone in the store
- Purchasing a designated item and scanning your receipt
- Making a purchase with a linked card.
This app is cool because you can earn money without making any purchases at all. The only thing I struggle with is remembering to use it, which is a bummer, since there are big stores we frequent that have a bonus just for walking in! When you open the app it will list a bunch of big name companies like Walmart, Walgreens, Target, and a bunch of grocery stores based on your proximity to them. How you can earn points with each one changes all the time and is designated by symbols next to the company name. So anytime you go shopping I would open it up to look for opportunities.
Once you click on the company name you can see how to earn points. There will be a list of items you can scan and a list you can buy to earn points. With the scanning you just find the product and use your camera on your phone to scan it and boom points. No purchase necessary. If you do end up purchasing an item listed just make sure to scan your receipt and use the card you have linked for max potential points. Shopkick allows you to redeem points for gift cards to various companies starting as low as $2 redemptions. If you use our referral code ( YAY401584) to sign up and you will get 250 points after your first walk in or scan.
I love Pei because it doesn’t require me to do anything but link a card to make money. You get points on the app for making purchases with their partners but it requires nothing from you after your initial account setup. Points don’t add up very quickly, but it’s completely passive so you won’t be spending any time on it, so it’s just FREE MONEY. Are you seeing a theme here? Things that are easy and free, we are all about. You can cash out with PayPal, Bitcoin, or a gift card. Use our referral code (awag8e) to sign up and get $2.50 after your first qualified purchase.
This app is made for active people. All you do is link up a fitness tracking app (Apple Health, Fitbit, Strava) and you get points for being active. That’s it’s. It’s takes a while to earn points to cash out but you don’t have to do anything other than move your body to earn them so I don’t mind. Occasionally you can answer one question surveys for a few points. I just got my first $10 after 5 months. So it’s not a big money maker but it’s the epitome of a passive money maker. Just set it up and you can forget about it until you get your email saying you have money waiting for you. You can cash out with PayPal on this one as well. Use our referral link and get 100 points for creating an account and linking and app.
Surveys on the Go
There are a lot of survey apps out there. This one has worked really well for us. What we like about this app is that the surveys seem to pay out better than other apps. They have quick surveys (5-7 minutes) and occasionally have longer ones you can qualify for. We were able to do one where we tracked the food our one year old ate for 5 days and that paid $20. Another time we tracked the TV shows our 6 year old watched over 2 days and that one paid $12.
I also love that even if you answer a few questions and don’t qualify they give you $0.10 just for trying. The one drawback to this one is that the survey numbers are limited. I typically see them pop up when I’m out and around stores, but I usually only see a few a week. This app allows you to get paid through gift cards or Paypal. No referrals available with this one.
This is one of the more popular survey apps. What they have going for them is they have a ton of surveys. It seems like an endless supply of surveys. They are up front about how long they will take and how many points you get, and also offer a small amount of points even if you don’t qualify for the survey. They also offer other opportunities after you fill out your profile such as product testing and focus groups. If you want an app that will give you something to do when you are lounging or watching tv this is the app for you.They offer gift cards and paypal as redemption options. You can create an account here.
This app is for people who use Uber and Lyft a lot. There are two ways to earn points. Once you link a card with the app you get points for taking a ride with Uber or Lyft, and for eating or drinking at a restaurant partner. The idea behind the app is to reward people for not driving drunk.
After linking your Uber and Lyft accounts you just need to request your ride through the Freebird app and get points once your ride is complete. Your Uber and Lyft app still give you information about the ride while it’s in progress so if you don’t like the Freebird interface you still have the option of using the native app.
When I went on a business trip to New York I had to use Uber to get around for a week. With the sign up bonus, a referral bonus and the rides I took I made $45 in a week. You get the cash back on your linked card. Use my referral code (f8839) to sign up and get $5 after each of your first 2 rides.
Like I said before there are a ton of money making apps out there. We have found success with these, and I’m sure you will too. If you have any apps that you use that we didn’t mention please share them in the comments.