If you’re anything like most people, chances are your phone is around you 99% of the time (ok, maybe 100% of the time). Instead of mindlessly scrolling, why not put your apps to work for you?
The following money-making apps will do just that – scan for discounts in the background, help you get cash back, offer you discounts, and more. Below, we’re sharing the best apps that pay you in 2021. Some are passive, whereas others need a little more involvement – but all of them offer you something!
We’ll share what our favorite money-making apps are below, plus how to sign up and get started earning.
This article contains affiliate links for which we receive a small commission at no cost to you. We only link to companies we believe are actually helpful to you. You can read our affiliate policy.
Our top recommendations?
- Rakuten – use our referral link to get $10 after your first purchase
- GetUpside – save money every time you get gas!
- Ibotta – earn $20 for using our referral link!
- Postmates – new Postmates drivers can earn hundreds of dollars depending on your city with our referral link
- Swagbucks – get $10 just for signing up with our referral code here
The Best Apps That Pay You in 2021
When you add the Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) extension to your browser, when you shop online at participating retailers, Rakuten asks you if you want to activate your cash back rewards. Once you do, you’ll earn cash back on purchases through your favorite online shopping websites.
RSG’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott, has already earned over $400 in cash back shopping rewards from Rakuten. Depending on how much you shop online (probably a lot more, now!) and the reward offered, you could also regularly earn $100+ per month just from using Rakuten.
You can even shop directly through Rakuten to earn cash back rewards. The money you earn from your online purchases is cashed out to you in the form of a “big fat check” or direct deposit into your PayPal account once a quarter.
The deals change often, so be sure you check back to see what your cash back offer currently is before doing your online shopping.
The Rakuten extension will even automatically apply coupon codes at checkout to save you even more up front.
GetUpside is an app that helps you save up to 25¢/gal of gas, 35% at restaurants, and 15% at grocery stores near you. Yes, it’s that simple!
Use our GetUpside app referral link to download the app and get a sign up bonus.
After you’ve downloaded and opened the app, all you have to do to register as a new user is sign in with Facebook, Google, or create a new account with an email address.
Be sure to allow access to your location when the prompt comes up and you’ll be ready to go.
Ibotta is a way to earn money based on buying your weekly groceries, eating out and more. Cash back can be accrued by shopping in-store or online.
With Ibotta, in general you’ll earn a few dollars cash back on each shopping trip, depending on how much you buy. Managing Editor Melissa earns around $5 each week – but she’s only shopping for two people, so if you’re shopping for a bigger family, you’ll likely earn more.
Ibotta tries to make it as simple as possible to earn cash back on your everyday purchases. For example, you can link your loyalty or rewards accounts to your Ibotta account so that once you check out at the register, using your rewards card, your receipt will automatically be uploaded to Ibotta and you’ll earn cash back within 24 hours.
If you don’t link your loyalty or rewards accounts, you can simply submit your receipt to earn the same cash back. Or, you can even pay with Ibotta at more than 50 popular stores and restaurants to earn instant cash back. You can set up alerts on your phone so you know when you’re near a store that partners with Ibotta to help you earn that cash back.
Just signing up for Ibotta will earn you a $20 welcome bonus as of the writing of this article. You must have a minimum of $20 in your Ibotta account before you can transfer the money to your bank account.
Similar to Ibotta, Dosh offers cash back for your everyday purchases. You can earn $5+ per shopping trip depending on where you shop and how much you buy.
Once you accumulate at least $25 on your Dosh account, you can transfer your earnings to your bank, PayPal or Venmo, or you can donate it to charity.
According to their website, they offer cash back for shopping, dining out and even booking hotels. If you’re a traveler, this app will definitely help you save as you go.
With Dosh, you connect your credit cards or debit cards that you use for your everyday shopping. Once you swipe your card, you’ll automatically start earning cash back from the brands you know and love.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the brands that participate with Dosh to help you earn instant cash back.
The Pei app allows you to shop with linked debit and/or credit cards and earn cash back rewards in the form of Bitcoin or USD.
They now also have a Pei plugin for Chrome. This will allow you to earn cash back while shopping online, earning you up to 30% cash back based on the merchant. Learn more about how Pei works and how to earn even more with Pei at our Pei app review.
You can use our promo code 1kuWK44y5 to get a $20 sign-up bonus! This Pei referral link will take you straight to the referral code.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have your own code you can share with friends and family to earn more.
This app shows you available gigs in your area. With Gigwalk, you can earn up to $100 per gig, depending on the gig.
If you have a spare 10 minutes or are looking for something that takes a few hours to do, and get paid accordingly, you can use Gigwalk to find, “apply to”, and once approved, complete tasks.
According to Gigwalk’s website, “Gigs are primarily posted by consumer brands and retailers seeking on-the-ground visibility into the conditions of their products or events across multiple locations.
They are looking to verify products are available on the shelf and displayed/priced correctly or that marketing events are done accurately and on-time. Most Gigs require you to document your work and product/event compliance or noncompliance through geo-tagged photos.”
Once you have completed your task and the customer approves that the gig is complete, then you get paid directly to your PayPal account. Also according to their website, you can get paid anywhere from $3 to $100 or more.
Once you click on a gig that you’re interested in, it will tell you approximately how long the task should take along with details needed to complete it.
The Best Side Hustle Apps
Instacart is a way to earn money while grocery shopping for other people! Depending on your location and the available market, you may be able to get either an in-store shopper position or a full-service position which would be doing the shopping as well as delivering the food directly to the customers.
Instacart shoppers can earn $20+ per hour.
You choose when you want to go “online” and be available to pick up orders to work on. You’ll also see upfront what you’ll be paid for each order so you can choose for yourself if it’s worthwhile or not.
With Postmates, you’d be part of a driver fleet, ready to make deliveries directly to customers. After you sign up and are approved, you’ll receive a starter kit in the mail. You must wait for this kit to arrive before you can start making deliveries. As part of the kit you’ll receive a Postmates card that will be used to complete purchases.
Postmates drivers can earn up to $27 an hour.
You’ll be more likely to earn more if you stick within the peak hours listed above.
DoorDash is mainly delivering fast food or restaurant orders to customers. Obviously, you’ll want to be as quick as possible because if you deliver the food cold, the customer is likely to lower your tip earnings. Like the others, you choose your own hours, so you can work whenever it’s best for you to do so.
DoorDash delivery drivers can earn up to $18 per hour.
Since DoorDash is geared toward delivering food from restaurants, keep in mind that mealtimes are likely to be busier for you and more worthwhile for maximum earnings and keeping busy.
The customer pays for the food through the DoorDash app, so all you have to do is go to the restaurant, pick up the correct order and deliver it to the provided address.
The Best Apps That Pay You to Watch Videos and Play Games
Billed as “The Loyalty Program for Gamers”, Mistplay is a way for you to play games to earn gift cards and rewards. The app is free and the signup is easy. Once you do that, start playing from their game selection to start earning points towards gift cards.
Mistplay is currently only available for Android users. It does take time to earn points, so this is not a way to help pay for the bills, but will give you a little extra “fun” money.
Lucktastic can seem a little overwhelming with all of the advertisements on the home screen, but basically, you play scratch cards to earn tokens.
The tokens are then able to be used to redeem instant rewards such as e-gift cards or to gain entry into a contest that they have on their platform.
The Best Apps That Pay You to Do Tasks and Take Surveys
Signing up with Swagbucks is easy, and just for signing up, you’ll earn a $10 bonus. You can redeem your Swagbucks points for cash back, gift cards, and more, and redeeming your points is easy. Benefits of Swagbucks includes:
- Tons of opportunities to earn cash back, including browsing, shopping, taking surveys and more
- Unlimited earning potential per day
- Cashing out is quick and easy
- For every person you refer to Swagbucks, you’ll earn 10% of what they earn – forever!
Managing Editor Melissa regularly earns several hundred dollars a year just from using Swagbucks to search for things online – she doesn’t even take the surveys! You could earn that and more depending on how much you log into Swagbucks and participate in their daily bonuses.
The Best Apps That Pay You to Watch Ads & Other Passive Income
Nielsen is a set it and forget it app. You download, register your devices and start earning rewards while the app tracks your digital trends in the background. Their website says they give away $10,000 each month. Get a chunk of that by signing up for it today.
Fronto will pay you by watching ads as you unlock your screen. After downloading the app on your Android device (not available for iOS), upon unlocking your screen, you’ll have the option of swiping left and watching an ad (or participating in some kind of promotion) or swiping right to continue on to your home screen.
If you choose to watch the ad, you’ll start earning approximately $20 a month. You can get payouts either as an Amazon gift card or via PayPal.
While Bing is not necessarily an app, you can earn points by reading the news daily. It gives you points for every article you look up under the Bing.com search, as long as you’re signed into your Bing rewards account.
You have a wide variety of gift cards you can choose from including AMC theaters, Walmart, Amazon, Dunkin Donuts and more. You can also spend your points to enter sweepstakes and giveaways. It takes a while to earn the points, but when you do, you’ll get real gift cards.
There are also bonuses, quizzes on the news and streaks that help you earn more points.
The Best Apps That Pay You to Scan Barcodes and to Use Your Phone
With Shopkick, scan the barcodes of items that you’re buying and earn reward points or “kicks” as they like to call them. Once you earn enough kicks, you’ll be able to redeem them for gift cards. According to their website, most Shopkickers can earn a gift card in about a week.
The Best Apps That Pay You for Mystery Shopping and Receipts
Download the Mobee app, find mystery shopping missions near you, complete the mission by answering questions or taking pictures inside the store, then redeem your rewards.
For every approved, completed mission, you earn points that you can redeem in as little as 48 hours. One point is worth approximately one cent.
2. Receipt Hog
Submit your shopping receipts to the Receipt Hog app to earn passive income. You earn either coins or spins, depending on the retailer. Coins add up to cash that you can spend.
Redeem them through PayPal credit, an Amazon e-gift card or a magazine subscription.
The Best Apps That Pay You to Exercise
Earn points by exercising. Track through an approved fitness app attached to the Achievement app. You can also earn points for logging the foods you eat, weighing yourself, meditating and more.
You get paid $10 for every 10,000 points you earn and you’re paid within about a week of redeeming your points. Get paid via PayPal, Tremendous or donate your earnings.
Managing Editor Melissa has linked Achievement to her FitBit, and regularly earns $10 every month or so (depending on how diligent she is with wearing her FitBit). If you have an Apple Watch, FitBit, Garmin or other tracking app, sync it with Achievement and get paid every time you sleep, track your food, exercise, and even drink water!
With HealthyWage you’ll earn money, but you have to put a wager on yourself and lose the weight to get there. You choose how much you want to wager, how much weight you want to lose and how much time you think it will take you to lose that weight.
If you meet your goal or exceed it, you’ll earn money off of your own bet. You can wager as low as $5 a month or up to $995 a month.
For example, if I wager $10 a month and say I want to lose 30 pounds and it will take me 12 months to lose that weight, my prize money range is $131-$306.
The more you wager and the lower the number of months it will take you to lose your weight, the more money you could get paid out at the end.
Summary: Yes, There Are Apps That Will Pay You!
You can earn money just by watching some ads, playing games or doing the everyday shopping you do anyway. Some apps require more effort and some require little to no effort. Choose the ones that are right for you and see your “fun” money bank increase.
Don’t expect any of them to pay the bills, but who doesn’t like getting free stuff for doing things you’re already doing anyway? Load up your favorites and have fun!
Which one of these apps would you sign up for – or have you signed up for?
Earn Free Gift Cards For Uploading Receipts
Here's an extremely popular cash back app that is growing like crazy right now and this app offers plenty of opportunities to earn cash back on everything you buy from any store.
Sign up here or read our review for more info.
Get started as a gig worker today! Learn more:
- Is driving for Doordash worth it?
- Postmates Driver Pay
- Instacart Shopper Pay
- Uber Eats Driver Review
- Best food delivery service to work for
- Rideshare insurance
-Paula @ RSG