I love giving advice on how to make free money with your smartphone.
Life Is Hard
If you’re anything like me, you’re absolutely strapped for cash. If you’re luckier than me, you’re not! Either way, if you made it here, chances are you’re looking for easy ways to make a little extra money.
That was my goal anyway!
I have a full-time job though, and I don’t have the time or energy to kill myself taking surveys or to do jobs online that pay out 10 cents at a time on sites like MTurk and Microworkers. And I certainly don’t want to spam ads in comments across the internet like a walking, talking spambot or annoy every living person on the planet into clicking my referral links.
Do some people make decent money with all of that? Sure, but there are a million other sites you can check out for information if that’s the route you want to take. And good luck to you because it’s so tedious that I could cry. Which I know because I’ve tried them.
My goal was to come up with the perfect combination of apps to incorporate into my life that would both land me with a few extra bucks and not at all impede on my free time.
It’s still a work in progress to be frank, and it probably always will be. However, I’m here to share what I’ve settled on so far!
Chances are that as you’ve been digging, you’ve seen many of these apps listed before—likely amongst others I personally will not be listing here. I’ve been trying them all for myself and weeding them out as they annoy me.
Please note that while all of the apps I will be sharing are available for Android phones, there are a few that are not available for iPhones.
Let's get started!
Cash Back Apps
None of these apps require any effort on your part beyond signing up and connecting your credit cards/debit cards/account info. They keep track of your purchases for you and give you automatic cash back (or points which amount to the same thing) as you shop at specific locations. You then open the app periodically and cash out anytime you’ve met the minimum threshold. It’s that simple. Do not shop or buy anything just for the cash back. You’re defeating the purpose. Only spend money you would ordinarily spend at places you would ordinarily go.
Dosh literally gives you straight cash back at different percentages based on what you spend at any of the locations listed in the app. You can then transfer the money to your own account once you’ve reached the minimum threshold of $25.
You currently get a sign-up bonus of $1 for connecting your first card. It used to be $5. I have no idea why they lowered that or if it might go back up.
(Requirements: Must be 18+ and reside in the United States.)
Regular Download Link: https://www.dosh.cash/
Drop gives you “points” in place of cash. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards to a variety of locations such as AMC, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, etc. 1,000 points is equal to $1. You need at least 5,000 points to cash out for any of the gift cards.
You can get a 5,000-point bonus by signing up with certain promo codes. Just Google the phrase "Drop rewards promo codes" to find one.
You also occasionally get a “Supercharge Bonus” as a simple chance for free points. After every five qualifying transactions, you get to play a game on the app (it is Drop’s version of the old game Snake if you’re wondering) to earn them.
There are also special offers in the app that award large volumes of points. I personally do not use them. However, if you’re going to sign up for the Dollar Shave Club or something anyway, it doesn’t hurt to go through the app and get 15,000 points in the process. Just don’t sign up for something you have to pay for solely for Drop Points.
(Requirements: Must be 18+ and reside in the United States or Canada.)
Download Link: https://www.earnwithdrop.com/
With Pei, you earn “points” that can be redeemed as regular cash back or as Bitcoin. Every 100 points is equal to $1. You need a total of 1,500 points (or $15) to cash out.
This app is interesting in that it offers loyalty bonuses for places you visit often as well! There are also quite a few places you can earn cash back from with this app. Far more than the other apps from what I’ve been able to tell.
Download Link: https://getpei.com/
These apps run in the background on your phone and require nothing beyond signing up and giving consent. Keep in mind that you are giving these apps consent to monitor your location and phone usage. Pay attention to what you’re agreeing to. If it makes you uncomfortable, definitely skip them both!
This app runs in the background of your phone and collects location-based data. You earn points from it over time, and those points can be redeemed for various gift cards. It can take quite a while to build up enough points to cash out, but considering you never have to do anything, I personally find it worth it. I opened it recently and discovered I had amassed over 20,000 points. I then cashed out 20,000 points exactly for a $15 Walmart Gift Card.
It also gives you the option to answer 2-5 question surveys on occasion that basically just confirm where you were at a given time on a given day. I rarely bother with these, but you can get extra points if you do them.
(Requirements: Must be 13+ and reside in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, or Australia.)
Regular Download Link: https://getpanelapp.com/
Mobile Performance Meter
This app monitors your phone’s performance and awards you coins each day for it. 100 coins is equal to $1. You can cash out at 500 coins, and you cash out by requesting one of the various gift cards offered. Read more about it here. This is a Nielson product. I recommend checking out the Terms of Service at the bottom of that page if you’re concerned. They’re very short and should help you decide.
There are a multitude of receipt apps out there that offer cash back and other various rewards. One of the most popular and recognizable ones is Ibotta. People love it. I personally find Ibotta and apps similar to it take up too much of my time as you have to scroll through all of the offers and apply them individually, so I don't use them. However, as everyone else on the planet seems to adore Ibotta, you may want to check it out even though I won’t be listing it here. The apps I’ll be sharing simply have you snapping a picture of the receipt, and then they take care of the rest. I find it easy to just open each of the three apps and snap the picture when I get back into my car. It takes about 20 seconds (usually less), and then I move on with my life.
Fetch Rewards is easily my favorite one of these apps. You have 14 days to scan a receipt with this app, and only 14 receipts can be scanned in any 7-day window. It accepts receipts only from grocery stores, supermarkets, wholesalers, home improvement stores, pet stores, and convenience stores. You can’t upload receipts from places such as restaurants, theaters, amusement parks, etc.
Fetch awards you 25 points per valid receipt and also special point bonuses on top of that for qualifying items. Unlike Ibotta, Fetch scans your receipts and applies any eligible rewards automatically. Nothing is required on your end.
It also occasionally offers receipt scan bonuses of hundreds of points just for submitting receipts before a certain deadline.
Every 1,000 points is equal to $1, and you can cash out for certain gift cards with as few as 3,000 points. They have a multitude of gift cards you can choose from.
Download Link: https://www.fetchrewards.com/
Receipt Hog accepts most receipts as long as they’re submitted within two weeks. You can upload up to 20 receipts each week! Every receipt earns you an entry into their various sweepstakes, and you are also rewarded a number of coins or a spin on their slot machine. Whether you get coins or a chance at the slots depends on where your receipt was from. You can win coins, trips, and even cash on the slot machine.
1,000 coins is equal to $5, and you can cash out via Amazon or Visa gift cards or through PayPal. If you cash out larger amounts, you get a coin discount. For example, if you cash out $10 instead of $5, it will cost you 2,900 coins instead of 3,000.
(Requirements: Must be 18+. Can be 13+ with a parent or guardian’s consent.)
Download Link: https://receipthog.com/
ReceiptPal is an extremely basic app. You just snap pictures of receipts. Every four receipts earn you 100 points. You need 2,200 points to cash out for a $5 gift card. They have three tier levels for gift cards. Each level has gift cards worth a higher amount. If you decide to get a higher tier gift card, you can get a discount on points. For example, a $10 gift card is 4,000 points instead of 4,400.
You also earn sweepstakes entries as you go for the chance to win cash prizes!
Any receipts for purchases made during any calendar week must be submitted by Tuesday of the following week. It tells you at the top of the screen what dates they’re accepting receipts for if you happen to get confused.
Download Link: https://www.receiptpalapp.com/
Different grocery stores may have different loyalty cards or apps that allow for easy activation of digital coupons. You’ll have to check out individual apps, but I will use my personal favorite as an example. I only do this with one app and one store, but you can do multiple if you’re up to wasting time clipping digital coupons.
Winn-Dixie stores are not everywhere, but for the sake of this article, I’ll share why I bother with this app.
But, Jessica! Doesn’t couponing take a lot of time and effort?
That’s what you might be thinking, and generally, the answer is yes. That’s why I don’t do it on a large scale. If you’re an extreme couponer, good for you. I personally cannot be bothered. However, what I will do is clip digital coupons in my Winn-Dixie app while I’m at the store. Winn-Dixie makes it exceptionally easy because they post signs on all of the products that have a current digital coupon available. So they basically tell me when to go in and click. I don’t have to browse through them all beforehand.
It is automatically loaded to my SE Grocers rewards card that I scan when I check out, and voila. That’s money saved. You also earn points for shopping there. Every 100 points is $1. And your receipts often have bonuses on them. So if you just keep your last receipt in your wallet, you can scan it on your next trip to multiply any points you earn by 2x, 3x, 5x, 10x, 30x, etc.
If you combine all of this with the constant sales and BOGO options Winn-Dixie offers, I rarely bother grocery shopping elsewhere.
PetSmart and ShopSavvy
If you have pets, it’s a good idea to go ahead and get the app for whatever store you generally shop at. For me, that’s PetSmart. Some may shop online or go to places like Petco. Some just buy from their grocery store. That’s all well and good, but I’ll share why I use the PetSmart app and ShopSavvy app either way.
ShopSavvy is an app that you can use to scan barcodes in store. This will then show you prices for that item at other nearby stores and online.
PetSmart (unlike a lot of other places) still price matches. Since I generally only buy 4 or 5 different products when I go to PetSmart, it doesn’t take me long to scan the item and check the price. I then just show the price to the cashier on the app when I’m checking out.
I don’t bother price matching anywhere else because a multitude of items and long checkout lines makes it a pain not only for me but the people around me. But when I’m stopping for a bag of cat food and cat litter, why not?
Just recently, I price matched 14 cans of cat food that were $2.69 each for $1.99. That saved me a quick $10 easy.
On top of that, PetSmart offers points for their rewards members that can be redeemed at checkout, and there are rotating coupons in their app that take percentages off your entire purchase, your highest priced item, etc.
Between the price match, points, and PetSmart specific coupons, it’s worth it. Pets are expensive.
PetSmart will also randomly send you emails to activate double point rewards and the like from time to time. I don’t make special trips for this, but I see no harm in clicking the email for extra rewards if I’m going anyway.
For PetSmart specifically, you earn 8 points for every $1 spent. Every 1,000 points is $2.50 that you can save.
PetSmart Download Link: https://www.petsmart.com/mobile-app-landing-page/mobile-app.html
ShopSavvy Download Link: https://shopsavvy.com/
There are some gas stations that offer points that can be redeemed for discounts or rewards, and if you buy from them regularly, you may as well sign up. I will share the two gas station rewards apps I use as well as one other app. Check your own preferred stations to see if they have something similar.
RaceTrac is the gas station closest to my house, so if I’m in a hurry or for convenience sake, I get gas here quite often. You earn points for buying gas or buying anything in the convenience store. As you earn points, you can level up and unlock better rewards. You can redeem your points for free snacks, drinks, etc.
Download Link: http://campaigns.racetrac.com/rewards/
This is my preferred gas station. It almost always offers the cheapest gas near me (outside of places such as Costco where you need a paid membership). So if I’m not in a hurry, this is where I go. You also earn points that can be redeemed for snacks or drinks, but I prefer to wait and use them to get discounts on gas itself. I recently used 100 points for a 10 cents per gallon discount. I filled up my 13-gallon tank and saved $1.30.
Download Link: https://www.murphydriverewards.com/
I also use GasBuddy to save an automatic five cents per gallon every time I fill up. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over time. Between GasBuddy and my Murphy Rewards points, I saved $2.00 on the fill-up I mentioned above.
You sign up for GasBuddy and are issued a special GasBuddy card that is used at the pump just like a regular debit or credit card. GasBuddy then charges your bank the discounted total price.
They have a paid level where you can pay $4.99 per month and save 20 cents per gallon instead of 5. As I generally only fill up about twice per month, it is not worth it for me. If you drive quite a bit more than that, it might be.
On the paid plan, 26 gallons saves me $5.20 but costs $4.99 upfront. So, I really only save 20 cents.
On the free plan, 26 gallons saves me only $1.30 but has no upfront cost.
Do the math and see what works for you!
Download Link: https://www.gasbuddy.com/
Unlike all of the other apps I’m sharing, this one does require a small amount of effort. Basically, open the app when you’re in a store, and companies will pay you to scan their items as you shop. You earn points for scanning those items, and if it happens to be an item you need and you buy it, you can scan the receipt for additional points. Their hope is of course that by putting your hands on their item to scan the barcode, you’ll be tempted to buy the item as well.
There are some places where you can get points just by walking into the store. It can take anywhere from 1,200 to 1,400 points to cash out for a $5 gift card or to PayPal. There are a variety of options to check out.
Some places will offer kicks per dollar spent as well. You just snap your receipt in those instances.
Do not go places just to get kicks unless you just enjoy spending your time that way. I use this app only in stores I’m already in as I’m already wandering around—and only if I’m not in a hurry.
Download Link: https://www.shopkick.com/
Google Opinion Rewards
Safe to say, if you have an Android phone and you haven’t heard of this, you’re probably living in a cave. This is a Google app where Google logs your location data and will send you push notifications from time to time based on where you’ve been. They then offer you 2-4 question multiple choice surveys, and you earn anywhere from 10 cents to a couple of dollars in Google Play Credit. This can be used for purchases inside of or for apps. So, if you make in-app purchases on your phone (or want to) or even just download apps that may cost a dollar or two here and there, you can use your Google Play Credit instead of actual cash, and Google just covers the cost for you!
If you have an iPhone, even better! You get straight cash deposited into your PayPal account!
Download Link: https://surveys.google.com/google-opinion-rewards/
There are a multitude of lockscreen rewards apps out there. Some people actually use 4 or 5 at the same time. Personally, the longer it takes to get into my phone, the more irritated I become. I want to unlock my phone with a single swipe, so I settled on one. The highest paying one I used was S'more, however when I was using it, it ate my data. So, I uninstalled it. This does not seem to be a common issue though, so you may want to check it out.
However, because of this, I have settled for Slidejoy. You earn carats over time as you swipe the ad off your screen to unlock your phone. Those carats can then be cashed out straight to PayPal. Every 1,000 carats is $1.
Regular Download Link: https://www.getslidejoy.com/
Cash Back Rewards Cards
Most people are aware of cash back rewards cards and may already have cash back rewards credit cards. For those of you who don’t qualify for credit cards or don’t like using them, consider switching to a bank like Aspiration which not only offers high yield savings accounts but offers cash back debit cards as well!
Let's Wrap It Up!
At the end of the day, this is still a work in progress. There are apps I'm currently trying out that I may uninstall in a couple of weeks, and there are popular ones that took a few minutes more time than I was willing to give and were thrown out by me long ago.
I will continue to update this article as my journey continues!
I keep all of the apps that I use for passive money-saving purposes organized on a single page for easy access. I recommend doing the same.
Here's a quick picture of my current app page!
These apps obviously won't make you rich, but they'll add to your budget without you having to do much of anything.
Best of luck! Let me know if you have any other suggestions in the comments below!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.