19 Best Money-Making Apps for Earning Passive Income

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Wouldn’t it be cool if you could make extra cash just for using your phone? Well, you can.

You’re not going to get rich by downloading mobile apps that pay you, but you can use these to earn a passive income every month.

Plus, they’re free from the app store for iPhone or Android.

Top Money-Making Apps

To get you started, here are some of our favorite money-making apps:

1. Earn Money While You Watch TV

Surveys aren’t our favorite way to make money, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch — or shielding your eyes while being forced to watch “Final Fantasy 113” — why not click a couple buttons and earn a few bucks?

There are a bunch of paid survey sites out there, but two of the best we’ve found are Swagbucks and MyPoints. Both are run by companies rated A by the Better Business Bureau.

On MyPoints, you’ll earn a $5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.

2. Get Free Virtual Scratch-off Tickets

There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.

Instead, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $10,000. You can also earn tokens, enter contests and play games.

The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free.

3. Earn Cash Every Time You Shop (and a $10 Bonus)

We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.

Here’s how it works:

Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen include:

Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list and earn cash back!

It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued?

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.

5. Build Your Savings Without Trying

Saving money is tough. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn’t even notice?

Digit makes that possible.

This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1% bonus every three months.

Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.

If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.

6. Invest Your Pocket Change — and Get $5

If you’re like most of us and wish your money would just take care of itself, consider starting an investment account through Acorns.

You can start small and stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.

Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.

The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year!

At that rate, you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.

The app is $1 a month for balances under $5,000, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.

7. Download This App (Yep, That’s It!)

A number of companies will actually pay you for downloading apps on your smartphone or computer —  this is a great way to boost your passive income!

One we love is called MobileXpression. After you’ve installed this app on your smartphone for one week, you get to play an instant rewards game for a prize (everyone wins something). We’ve seen users win a $25 Amazon gift card, but some of the other prizes include iPads and Samsung TVs.

The app collects data and helps companies better understand web and mobile usage — such as what times of day people browse, how long they stay on websites and use apps, and what types of sites and apps are popular (or not).

Try it out for iPhone or Android.

8. Play the Slots — and Bank $5 for Your Savings Account

Are you more of the “sit at home and play video games” type of person but you’re making yourself read this because you’re determined to get this adulting thing down?

The folks who created Long Game have you covered with a game that’s fun and helps you achieve your financial goals.  

As you save and accomplish missions you’ll earn coins to play mini games for cash prizes! We’re talking the classics, like slot machines, scratch-offs and spin-to-win wheels.

Once you link your bank account, you’ll earn 300 coins, so you can start playing while you wait for payday. If you sign up before November 30, 2018 and enter the code PENNY5, you’ll also get a bonus $5 in your account!

Penny Hoarder Carson Kohler uses Long Game to save money. Every two weeks, it sneaks $5 out of her bank account and rewards her with coins.

In two months, she’s saved $35.70, just by playing games on her phone. Plus, her winnings amount to a gain of about 2% — way higher than interest on any other savings account she has.

9. Let This Bot Optimize Your 401(k)

You have a 401(k) — kudos for that, but is it doing what you need it to?

If you’re like most people, you have no idea whether your 401(k) is on pace for your retirement or just sputtering along.

Chances are, your 401(k) could be doing a lot better. Take control with help from Blooom, an SEC-registered investment advisory firm that can optimize and monitor your 401(k) for you and keep it speeding toward retirement.

It just takes a few minutes to get a free 401(k) analysis  that will show you whether your investments are allocated properly and whether you’re losing money paying hidden investment fees. It’ll even tell you just how much more money your account could earn by the time you want to retire.

After that, if you sign up, it’s just $10 per month to have Blooom monitor and maximize your 401(k). Bonus: Penny Hoarders get the first month free with the code PNNYHRD.

Think of Blooom like a mechanic constantly fine-tuning your car’s engine so it gives you the best possible performance and gas mileage. Except it’s your 401(k) — and your future.

10. Share Your Amazon Purchase History

This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history. And you’ll be paid for every month you share!

When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information.
To earn your first gift card today:

11. Get Rewarded for Paying Your Bills On Time

Your parents probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.

As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.

This invention kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.

MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.

You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.

You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.

If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.

The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.

12. Find out Where You’re Wasting Money

We all sign up for stuff. Sometimes it’s easier to put subscriptions on a recurring payment and forget about it — looking at you, Netflix.

If you can’t keep track of them all, check out an app called Trim. Once you sign up and connect your bank account and phone number, it analyzes your transaction history for recurring payments.

When it finds one, the app sends you a text and cancels any subscriptions you don’t want to keep. That’s money back in your pocket every month!

13. Grow Your Money and Support Causes You Care About

Investing can be a great way to grow your money, but have you carefully considered which companies you’re willing to back? Their morals and values? You probably wouldn’t want to invest in a company that’s destroying our oceans or cheating the system.

Impact investing is a simple fix. It adds a new layer of transparency to investing. Take Swell Investing, an SEC-registered investment advisor.

Swell offers investors (beginners to advanced) the chance to invest in high-growth companies committed to solving global challenges. “Swell is built on a belief that today’s biggest challenges will result in tomorrow’s leading industries,” its website says. And it makes cents — err, sense.

You can start with just $50 and invest in portfolios committed to clean water, zero waste, renewable energy or disease eradication, to name a few.

The portfolios aren’t just clouded with these do-good names. Interested investors can tap into each to learn more about the portfolio’s trends, performance and companies.

Swell doesn’t have any trading fees, price tiers or expense ratios. It does charge a 0.75% annual fee — that’s about the cost of one coffee ($3.75) per year if you invest $500.

Really, impact investing is a solid way to help tackle the world’s biggest challenges — while you face perhaps your biggest challenge: saving for retirement.

Get started with Swell by signing up with your email address here.

Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.

14. Grow Your Money 100 Times Faster

Where you stash your money is almost as important as how much you have.

In a pillowcase? It’s not earning you any interest in there. In a checking account? Probably not doing much for you there, either. Even if you keep it in a high-interest savings account, you’re probably only earning around 0.05% on your balance.

It’s frustrating, for sure — so you’ve got to think outside your bank.

Worthy is a free app that invests your money in bonds and pays out a fixed 5% annual interest rate — around 100 times more than what you’d get from the bank. The bonds act like a savings account — you can deposit or withdraw money at any time.

Say you have $300 in your Worthy account. You just passively banked $15 this year.

You can start investing with as little as $10. And hey, that’s still an extra 50 cents this year. We’ll take it.

15. Play the Lotto for Free — and Win Real Money

You know that feeling when you find a $20 bill hiding in the pocket of those jeans you wore last week? Yeah, that’s the feeling of a lucky day. The Lucky Day app is just like that. Have fun on your phone, just like you do anyway, and you might just pocket some extra dough.

Lucky, indeed.

You could win up to $10,000 playing digital scratch-off tickets or even a whopping $100,000 in the daily lotto. You’ll also have a lot of chances to win gift cards to cool places like Amazon, Walmart, Dunkin and Target.

It’s all free to play, with no in-app purchases. The company has already awarded more than $3 million in prizes to winners since 2014.

Seriously, you could have that “I just found money in my pocket” feeling today just for playing games and having fun on your phone.

16. Get Paid for the Things You Were Going to Buy Anyway

Let’s say you’ve got a shopping trip planned already. If you have the Shopkick app downloaded, it will pay you in “kicks” just for walking into certain stores (including Walmart, Target, TJMaxx and more). You can redeem them for gift cards to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora and Best Buy.

It pays you even more “kicks” for photos of receipts that include qualifying items you purchased in-store with a connected credit or debit card. You can also earn kicks for online purchases. You don’t have to do anything; your linked cards will automatically apply your kicks.

But don’t make the mistake of buying things you don’t need just for “kicks,” you know better than that.

17. Sell Your Old Media and Electronics

Have a bunch of movies or CDs collecting dust on a shelf? Decluttr will pay you for them!

Decluttr buys your old CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and video games, plus hardware, such as cell phones, tablets, game consoles and iPods.

You scan each product’s barcode with your phone, and Decluttr makes an offer.

Prices vary — usually about 50 cents to $3 per item — but you can unload your media in bulk to make an extra $50 to $100 this week. And you’ll never have to look at them again.

Bonus: Enter FREE5 at checkout to get an extra $5 for your trade-ins!

With Decluttr, you can sell stuff online without having to deal with individual listings and buyers.

And shipping is free. The company emails you shipping labels to cover the cost. Just print the label, pack your items in any box and ship it.

18. Play Virtual Pinball

We found an app that makes saving actually fun. It’s called WinWin Saving. Let us explain…

First, download the app (for iOS only). WinWin will walk you through how it all works, but here’s the gist: You’ll connect your bank account and set up an automatic amount to stick into your WinWin Savings account.

Plus you can play games (think: classics like pinball and breakout) for chances to win more money to boost your savings.

The more money you’ve saved, the bigger the prizes you play for. Have $25 saved? Play to win up to $25 every day. Have $50 saved? Play to win up to $50. And so on…

So you’re saving money without thinking about it — and playing for a chance to win even more. Fun, right?

The app is free to download. You can use it for 60 days free, then it costs $2 per month after that. Note: You can withdraw your money or cancel your account at any time.

Pro tip: If you’re having trouble getting the pinball into the right hole, tap the pause button at the top-left side of your screen. Turn on easy mode.

19. Start Investing — With a $5 Bonus

It’s no brilliant secret that investing can be a smart way to make money.

Sometimes, though, it feels restricted to a few wealthy elite.

But Stash is different. This app lets you start investing with as little as $5 and for just a $1 monthly fee for balances under $5,000. Plus you’ll get a $5 bonus for funding your first investment!

Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money — but it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it.

You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.

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