This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
I never thought it would be possible to make money from a smartphone. Maybe it was because my first smartphone wasn’t anything fancy, and barely connected to the internet. But fast-forward to today, and there are lots of apps that pay cash from the palm of your hand.
I have personally used all of these apps and have made some extra money with some of them just by setting up an account, using the apps, and referring the ones I love to friends.
After trying many different money making apps in the last 10 years, I’m sharing the ones that I recommend if you’re looking to make extra money.
Apps That Pay You Real Money to Install & Work
I’m sharing the best apps based on my personal experience, plus some others that I know are legit but haven’t had enough time to test for myself. Through word-of-mouth, I’ve been able to verify that each app is legit and can add to your bottom line.
1. Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
If you’ve ever received a 5 dollar bill in the mail attached to a short questionnaire, you’re probably familiar with Nielsen TV Ratings. The company has a long history of collecting valuable, anonymous data from consumers that helps brands improve their products and services.
Now, Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel is available to anyone who has a smartphone (or another device that connects to the internet). When you join the trusted site for free and download its software on your devices, Nielsen collects anonymous data from your online habits. Instead of answering free paid surveys, you just go about your day as usual.
The company pays a $50 yearly residual for your anonymous data, and provides the opportunity to earn extra rewards. You can sign up for Nielsen here to get started.
InboxDollars is a fun app that pays real money for doing easy micro-tasks online.
Some of the ways to earn money with InboxDollars are to complete surveys, read emails, watch videos, play games, and share the app with friends and family.
You can also get paid to complete offers like testing new apps or signing up for free trials.
The tasks are all easy, and if you like making extra money from your smartphone, it’s worth downloading the app and visiting it in your spare time.
There are more than 17 different ways to make money on Swagbucks. Completing paid surveys is one of the most well-known ways to earn money, but you can also do things like print and use coupons, book your travel plans, play games, complete online searches, and many more.
4. Pinecone Research
If you like completing surveys in your spare time, Pinecone Research is one of the best paying apps to join. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 24, you can join for free and earn $3 per survey you complete.
The questions will almost always relate to something you’ve already done (or you’re interested in doing), so you won’t have to do any type of research to complete them. Pinecone Research is just looking for your honest opinion about different brands and services.
Occasionally, the Pinecone Research may invite you to participate in paid product trials. You will get paid to test a product and share your opinion.
Apps That Pay Cash Back
Everyone spends money. But not everyone realizes that there are apps that will pay you to spend your money. And the nice thing is that you don’t have to step outside of your normal budget to make these apps work in your favor.
Additionally, you can hop off of the couch and into your car if you’re interested in earning money with delivery driver apps.
Instacart is one of the best apps available that allows you to pick up local grocery delivery gigs in your area. If you don’t mind the hustle and bustle of a grocery run, you can earn money for your time.
As a shopper, you can log into the app to peruse current orders. Select the one that you’d like to claim, and start shopping. You won’t have to pay for any of the groceries out of pocket, and you will get paid as soon you’ve delivered the groceries. You also get to keep 100% of any tip the customer gives you.
Instacart offers part-time in-store shopping positions or independent, deliver-as-you’re able gigs. If you’re strapped for time or just want to pick up some deliveries over the weekend, then apply to become an Instacart full-service shopper. You can earn the most money on your own schedule with this app that pays real money.
DoorDash is another popular app that pays you to deliver food to people in your neighborhood. This company focuses on prepared restaurant food. You get to experience the benefits of a delivery driver but with much more flexibility. You can pick up gigs in your spare time, or log into the app and work all week long.
DoorDash delivery drivers, or “Dashers,” earn between $2 and $10 per hour, plus “promotions” during high demand hours, plus 100% of customer tips. You can request immediate payment for a small fee, with the exception of a short waiting period to allow customers to adjust their tips.
Apply to become a Dasher and start delivering food in your area.
Rakuten is one of the best apps that pay real money that I have personally use to make extra money. I’ve earned an easy $300.32–all of which has already landed securely in my PayPal account.
Here’s a snapshot of how it works:
If you’re familiar with affiliate marketing, then think of Rakuten as a way to make extra money by clicking on your own referral link. In affiliate marketing, you typically cannot refer yourself to a product or service, but you can earn cash back using eBates in the same exact way.
You can read more about how the app works in my Rakuten review.
I often shop online at Walmart so when I go to grab something I first go to Rakuten and follow their link to Walmart. An average shopping trip earns users $2.00 cash back. It’s certainly not something that will replace your full-time job, but the money does add up.
8. Ibotta App
Ibotta is similar to Rakuten in that it also offers cash back on everyday purchase. The nice thing about Ibotta is that it focuses on groceries from your local stores whereas Rakuten is used for online purchases. I highly recommend signing up for both so that you can maximize your cash back opportunities! Learn more about Rakuten vs Ibotta to see how they can work together.
Using Ibotta is simple and straightforward. You can submit your receipts, link a loyalty card or make your purchase right through the app. Right now there are 291 participating stores! The popular stores that we all shop at are Walmart, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Walgreens, and CVS Pharmacy. But there are many others, so be sure to check them out.
9. Raise App
Raise is a trusted platform where people like you and I can buy or sell gift cards to any store (online or walk-in) at a discounted rate. I have sold a handful of gift cards that I just couldn’t use for various reasons. I felt it was better to earn extra money from them that would otherwise be stuck on a piece of plastic in my wallet for forever.
I absolutely love when I score a gift card to one of my favorite businesses at a steep discount. For a few months, one of my favorite coffee shops had gift cards ranging from $20 to $75 value listed at a 30% to 40% discount! Who doesn’t love finding a deal on their favorite coffee?! There are other top stores are brands like Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, just to name a few.
Two years ago when I purchased a large gun case for my husband’s hunting gear, I grabbed a few Dick’s Sporting Good’s gift cards at a 10% discount. I did the same thing again when my husband purchased new golf clubs. Neither of these purchases are small, so saving the 10% was completely worth grabbing the discounted gift cards!
You can use this money-making app on your smartphone while on the go at your favorite stores. You can also plan ahead and purchase discounted gift cards from your laptop or tablet.
10. Groupon App
If you’ve ever heard of our shopping on Groupon, you already know that there are some pretty random deals to sift through. But hidden amidst these random deals are some pretty great gems!
My favorite steels from Groupon are the exclusive 50% off Regal Cinemas gift cards or 50% off Starbucks gift cards. If you’re on a tight budget, maybe the movies or a fancy coffee are not on your priority list. But if these are things that you love and cannot forgo forever, then consider saving the extra money and grabbing these 50% off deals through Groupon.
There are so many different deals on Groupon that I can’t begin to touch on. If you are shopping around for fun events in your area, then Groupon typically has admission rates at a discount. If you have a family trip planned to a nearby Zoo or Theme Park, then it’s worth signing up for Groupon to see if they have deals on your exact destinations!
This money saving app really helps you keep your budget in check while still having fun from time to time!
Make Extra Money On The Side with these Money Making Apps
I know that no single app will pay you enough money to replace working a job, but even the smallest changes can add up and make life more comfortable. In my household, there are many things that we are just not willing to go without (vacation, coffee, date nights, etc.), but finding ways to extra money from these already habitual spending habits is a huge win in my book!