30 Legit Ways to Get Free Money with Little to No Effort
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Free money. It’s something that no one would turn down.
But is there really such a thing as money that you don’t have to work for? If you have to earn your “free money” by completing a simple task or signing up for an app, is it really free?
While that depends on your perspective, there are a few simple ways to earn some quick cash with minimal effort. All it costs is a few minutes of your time.
What Is “Free Money”?
Definitions vary widely for what’s considered “free.” For our purposes, we define free money as cash or a reward you receive:
- Without having to pay money up front, or
- For doing something you were going to do anyway.
Most of the items on this list don’t require you to make a purchase in order to receive the reward. However, some do.
For example, some items may offer a $10 sign-up bonus, but you have to make a $25 purchase in order to qualify. For those, we only consider it “free” if you were going to make a purchase anyway and the cash is an added bonus.
Keep that in mind as you decide which opportunities on this list make sense for you.
Get Free Money for Opening an Account
If you shop online, buy groceries, or go out to eat, chances are you could get free money for the things you do on a regular basis. These aren’t the most lucrative or fastest ways to make money, but they’re definitely some of the easiest.
Cash-back and rewards apps
Whether you shop online or in-store, the best cash-back apps will pay you for your purchases. Most of them also come with a sign-up bonus for new users.
1. Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping is a free app and browser extension that searches the internet for deals and discounts to apply to your online purchases.
You don’t need to do anything extra; those offers will automatically be applied at checkout. The money you save is deposited into your account and you can use it to purchase gift cards to other stores or use on future Capital One Shopping purchases.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget or only want to spend a certain amount, you can track items on your Capital One Shopping Watchlist and they will notify you if the price drops. It even has an Amazon-specific feature that lets you know if there’s a better price available when shopping on Amazon.
You can learn more about how you can save money with this app and extension in our Capital One Shopping review.
Note: Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the Capital One Shopping extension using the links provided.
2. Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is a free grocery rebate app. To use it, scan your receipt into the app and you’ll earn points on qualifying purchases. Once you accumulate 3,000 points, you can trade them for gift cards to stores like Sephora, Zappos, Petco, and even Hulu Plus.
If you’d prefer, you can redeem your points for a gift card to select charities.
Their sign-up bonus changes, but you can typically find a code on the site. When you download the app and sign up using the current code, you’ll receive a bonus that normally ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 points.
Fetch also has a referral program. If someone signs up with your link and scans a receipt, you’ll both earn 2,000 bonus points. There’s no limit to how many people you can refer or points you can earn from your referrals.
Swagbucks is a popular rewards site that compensates users via “Swagbucks” (or SB) when you complete short online tasks.
You can earn rewards with Swagbucks when you take surveys, watch short videos, shop online, use their search engine to browse the web, and more. Exchange your SB for PayPal cash or gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Target, Best Buy, or Sephora.
While you won’t make a significant income with the app, you can earn a few gift cards each month. Use them for yourself or save up your rewards to pay for Christmas or birthday gifts.
As an incentive for signing up, Swagbucks offers $10 for new users.
In order to qualify for the bonus, you’ll need to make a purchase of $25 or more from one of Swagbucks’ qualifying retailers within 30 days of creating your account. If you already have your eye on something from Amazon or one of their other partner sites, then you can get $10 off by signing up and making your purchase through Swagbucks.
For more details on the platform, read our full Swagbucks review.
Shopkick rewards are called kicks. As a user, you can earn kicks by walking into stores, scanning bar codes of certain products, visiting online shops, watching videos, making a purchase with a linked card, and more.
So if you already plan to make a trip to Target, you could earn kicks not only for the things you buy, but also just for being in the store and scanning a few items with your phone along the way.
Every 250 kicks you bank are worth $1.
Redeem your kicks for gift cards to Amazon, Target, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Uber, and dozens of other popular stores.
You can get a free $5 if you sign up with code DOLLARSPROUT and make an in-store scan within seven days of installing the app.
While Ibotta was originally designed to give users cash back on grocery purchases, the app now supports over 300 retailers, including restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing brands, and more.
Users new to Ibotta can receive up to a $10 welcome bonus by creating an account and redeeming offers within the first seven days of signing up.
Before you go shopping, you’ll need to log in to Ibotta and select your offers. Once you’ve chosen your deals, there are two main ways to earn rewards with Ibotta. You can either scan your receipt after shopping or link a store loyalty card and have Ibotta deposit your rewards automatically.
Regardless of which method you choose, you’ll see a credit to your Ibotta account within 48 hours. When your rewards balance reaches $20, you can transfer it via PayPal, Venmo, or convert your earnings into a gift card.
Our Ibotta review covers more ways to earn rewards by creating a team, completing tasks for bonuses, or inviting friends to sign up.
Prodege, LLC — the company that owns Swagbucks — is also the parent company of MyPoints. Both sites work similarly.
You can earn rewards with MyPoints for shopping online, playing games, taking surveys, and reading emails from their partner companies. When you create a MyPoints account, you’ll receive a $10 bonus after you make $20 worth of qualifying purchases in your first 30 days.
You can cash in your rewards for a gift card, travel miles, or PayPal cash.
Dosh’s website describes the app as “the easiest money you’ve ever made,” and it’s hard to disagree.
Unlike other cash-back apps where you have to choose your deal before you go shopping, Dosh links directly to your credit or debit card.
When you shop at any of their thousands of partner restaurants or retailers, you’ll receive up to 10% cash back on your purchase.
You can also get a free $5 for every friend you refer who signs up and links a card to their Dosh account.
For more ideas on how to get the most from Dosh, check out our complete Dosh review.
Survey websites commonly offer an incentive for new customers. It’s usually as simple as creating an account, filling out your profile, and completing a few simple tasks.
InboxDollars pays you for taking surveys, watching videos, and shopping online.
One thing that makes InboxDollars unique is that they give you rewards just for reading their emails. Every time you confirm you’ve read one of their emails, they’ll reward you with cash.
InboxDollars also gives a $5 sign-up bonus for new members. If you don’t already have an account, simply create one and fill out the new member survey and you’ll receive a $5 credit.
There is a small catch — you need $30 in order to withdraw your earnings. But with all the options for earning rewards, that shouldn’t take long to achieve.
9. Vindale Research
Vindale Research is similar to other survey sites on this list. The company rewards members for taking surveys, watching videos, and reading their promotional emails.
Members can also earn by referring friends, finding rewards codes on the company’s blog and social media pages, and sending in a photo or video to show off their earnings.
Vindale’s minimum payout is a bit higher than some of its competitors. You have to wait until your account balance reaches $50 in order to cash out via PayPal. However, they also have some of the higher-paying surveys on the market, with offers in the $10 to $15 range.
Earn your first $1 by creating your account.
Saving and Investing Apps
If you’re looking for ways to automate saving and investing, these apps can help.
No one — or almost no one — has the cash lying around to purchase a $72,000,000 Van Gogh hoping to flip it for $108,000,000 a few years later. That said, nearly everyone has $20 they could scrounge up to buy a fraction of that $72,000,000 painting. A fractional share, if you will. This is the exact sort of arrangement that Masterworks aims to provide.
Their company purchases investment-grade fine art and then immediately registers that art with the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission). After doing so, they sell the art to fractional investors, allowing everyday Joe’s to invest in fine art for thousands less than normally required. A few years later, they sell the art hoping to lock in profits for investors.
Historically, they’ve done well, outpacing the S&P500 by nearly 5% annually over the past 30 years. A super neat way to diversify your investments and hopefully score some free money down the road.
The Acorns app is for the non-financially savvy investor. The app connects to your checking account and credit cards.
Whenever you spend with a linked account, Acorns will round up the transaction to the nearest dollar and transfer the change to your Acorns investment account.
Once your account is set up, Acorns will add $10 for free to help you get started. Then you’ll need to answer a few questions so Acorns can put together your portfolio.
If you’re interested in getting started with Acorns, you can learn more about the costs and how it works in our Acorns review.
When you sign up for Stash and deposit at least $5 into your account, you’ll receive an additional $5 of completely free money.
As a Stash investor, you can buy and sell fractions of shares in your favorite companies or invest in themed ETFs to support a cause or industry you’re passionate about.
Options vary from blue-chip companies to cannabis distributors and everything in between.
The Stash learning center has dozens of articles and guides on how to invest, and the Stash Coach is there to increase your investing knowledge through fun challenges and games.
If hands-on investing isn’t for you, there’s an automatic investing option as well.
Investing hands on is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the stock market and take control of your portfolio earnings. However, high stock prices are a deterrent for many would-be investors.
That’s where Stockpile comes in. With Stockpile, you can buy and sell fractions of shares at a much lower price point. For example, if 1 share of a stock is $1,000, you can buy 0.05 shares for $50. This allows you to invest in major companies like Amazon and Netflix at a more accessible price.
Stockpile even offers mini-lessons to help you get started and continue building your portfolio. Your Stockpile account comes with $0.99 trading fees, no account minimums, and zero management fees. They are also currently offering $5 of free stock when you buy your first stock or sent a $10 e-gift.
Banking and investing accounts
When looking for ways to make extra cash, don’t forget to check your bank accounts.
14. High-interest savings account
One of the easiest ways to get free money is to upgrade your savings account. If you currently use a brick-and-mortar bank, you could earn 25+ times more in interest by switching to a high-yield online savings account.
Many brick-and-mortar banks offer interest rates of 0.01%. Since online banks don’t have the costs of operating physical locations, they can afford to pay customers 5 to 6x the national average interest rate — or more — on a regular savings account. Over time, this can add some extra cash to your savings. CIT Bank and Discover Bank offer savings accounts with rates that crush their brick and mortar competitors.
15. Bank account bonuses
Many banks offer a cash bonus when you open a new checking or savings account. The terms vary from bank to bank. You’ll likely need to open an account, set up direct deposit, and keep it open for a few months.
As long as you set up direct deposit and meet the terms, it’s legitimate free money.
The offers change often, so you’ll want to check frequently with the bank you’re interested in using. Before you sign up, just be sure to read through the offer conditions. And keep in mind that your bonus is subject to taxes, so you’ll need to report it come tax time.
16. Employer-sponsored 401(k)
If it’s offered where you work, one of the easiest ways to get free money is to sign up for your employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. A traditional 401(k) is a tax-free way to contribute to your retirement.
If your employer offers a match, you can earn even more. For instance, if you earn $2,000 per month and contribute 3%, or $60, your employer might add another $60 bringing your total monthly contribution to $120.
That’s an extra $60 towards your retirement, completely free.
Make sure you check your company policy regarding how much you need to contribute to get the match, vesting period, and match limits as these vary from company to company.
Get Free Money for Things You Already Do
In addition to signing up for accounts and taking advantage of cash bonuses, there are a number of ways you can get free money for daily activities like shopping, exercising, and sharing your favorite products with your friends and family.
If you do a lot of shopping, make sure you’re not only getting the best deals possible, but you’re also getting cash back or rewards.
17. Rewards cards
Another way to get cash back on your purchases is to use a rewards debit or cashback credit card. Depending on the card you have, you might get rebates for certain categories of purchases like groceries or clothes or accumulate points you can cash in for travel and gift cards.
Sometimes you might even get a statement credit if you spend a certain amount of money in a fixed time period.
If you use a rewards card, make sure you check the terms and conditions, as well as the interest rate, and try to only use the card for purchases you were going to make anyway.
Similar to Fetch, NCPMobile Shopping Rewards is a grocery app that rewards you for sharing data about your purchase with market research companies. The premise is simple, the more they know about what products are popular at local grocers, the easier it is for them to tailor advertising campaigns towards other consumers.
Furthermore, you can earn additional rewards by answering surveys about your shopping experience. As a panel member, you’ll also earn entry into weekly, monthly, and yearly sweepstakes giveaways worth as much as $10,000.
Nielsen, the TV rating company, will pay you $50 a year to keep their app on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. You’ll also be entered into the Nielsen sweepstakes for a chance to win even more prizes.
The app itself collects statistics on your internet usage anonymously in order to learn more about consumer trends.
For instance, it might look at your search habits and see that you love reading about sports and shopping online for Pittsburgh Penguins gear. By tracking real-life examples of “buyer personas,” they can help companies better understand their customers.
Everything with Nielsen is done anonymously, so you don’t have to worry about any data being linked to you. The app only requires a small amount of space, so it shouldn’t slow down your phone or tablet.
Rakuten is one of the biggest and most well-known cash-back websites. Similar to other cash-back sites, Rakuten offers a free gift for new users.
When you create your Rakuten account, you’ll receive a $10 welcome bonus once you spend your first $25 through the site. Since Rakuten offers cash back at over 2,500 retailers, that isn’t difficult to do.
Another great way to earn with Rakuten is to install the Google Chrome browser extension. Whenever you’re shopping at a Rakuten partner retailer, the extension will alert you of any deals or opportunities to receive cash back. All you have to do is click the alert and continue shopping.
You’ll get free money in the form of cash back to your Rakuten account. It can take a few hours to several days for your Rakuten rewards to update.
Every three months, you’ll receive your cash back via paper check or PayPal credit, whichever you choose.
Take a look at our Rakuten review if you still have questions.
Driving your car
There are a few ways you can use your car to bring in some free money to offset gas and maintenance costs.
Getaround allows you to rent your car to other individuals. When someone wants to rent your car, they can do so straight from the app. You don’t have to worry about meeting up to exchange keys or handling the logistics.
As a car owner, you can make $5+ per hour just by letting someone else borrow your car. Getaround takes a 40% commission, and the rest is yours to keep. You benefit from 24/7 roadside assistance and $1 million in primary insurance coverage, so you don’t have to worry about damages from renters.
Payout is once per month on the 15th for your earnings from the previous month.
Wrapify turns your car into a moving billboard. Companies pay to advertise their brands on your vehicle. The more space you give them, the more free money you can make. Drivers who choose a full wrap can earn up to $450 per month.
First, you’ll need to download the Wrapify app. Inside, you’ll find instructions on how to drive with the app to ensure you meet minimum qualifications. Once qualified, Wrapify will alert you when campaigns are available in the area. They’ll wrap your car so you can start to earn money for the driving you already do.
When your campaign is complete, the wrapping comes off clean. There won’t be any permanent damages or marks to your car.
If you already have a goal to lose weight or be more active, then free money can be a good incentive to get and keep you motivated.
HealthyWage is an app and website that allows you to bet on yourself with a weight loss challenge.
With a personal challenge, you get to choose your entry fee and dates. If you meet your goal, you’ll get the predetermined prize amount. If you don’t quite make it, HealthyWage will keep your money to pay future successful challenge winners. Check out the HealthyWage prize calculator to see how much you could win based on your weight loss goals.
Team challenges require five willing participants. You can either create your own team or be matched with one. The team that loses the greatest percentage of total weight wins the grand prize of $10,000.
For more details on how the weight loss challenges work, read our HealthyWage review.
The Achievement app rewards users for things like logging your food, water intake, or connecting a wearable fitness tracker like your FitBit. There more healthy habits you track through the app, the more points you can earn. Once you’ve accumulated 10,000 points, you can redeem your $10 reward.
This requires a little more work than some of the others on this list, but if you track your steps and activity with your FitBit or Apple Watch, this is a simple way to earn some extra cash for something you’re already doing.
Sharing your space
Although becoming an Airbnb host can be a good source of income, there are more passive ways to make money from the free space in and around your house.
An alternative to traditional storage facilities, Neighbor.com lets you monetize your unused garage, shed, attic, or basement as available storage space to people in your community. You can offer space for things like furniture, clothes, even cars and RVs. Perishable food, weapons and ammunition, and controlled substances are not permitted to be stored.
Advertising your space is free, and you set your own prices, the level of access the renter has to the space (e.g., 24/7, business hours, or upon request), and how often they can access their belongings. You also get to approve or deny any reservations.
Neighbor.com takes care of payments, and you receive your payment at the end of the rental month. Note that they do charge a 4.9% processing fee and $0.30 for each payout.
StoreAtMyHouse lets you earn passive income by renting out your unused storage space, including commercial space. You get to set your prices, renter access to the space, and the site claims to conduct background checks to ensure the safety of the renter and the tenant.
It’s free to list your property on the site, but you can pay $35 for a featured listing. They also charge a 15% fee for handling all transactions through their automated billing system.
Referring friends and family
If you have a particular product or business you like, you might be able to earn some extra cash or get some free products for referring friends, family, or social media followers.
27. Share your favorite online sites and business
Many of the sites on this list offer you the chance to earn money by referring people to their program. For each person that signs up with your unique link, you’ll receive a bonus, typically in the form of cash or extra points you can redeem, depending on the program.
28. Make in-person referrals
Depending on where you work, you might be able to earn a cash bonus for any new hire you refer. This is a good opportunity for you to make some extra money and help a friend or family member find employment or pick up a side hustle.
And if you have a membership to a gym, dance studio, or other business, you might be able to cash in for referring new members. Some gyms might offer cash, an account credit to spend on products or classes, or a combination of the two.
Find Free Money in Your Budget
One of the first places to look for free money is in your budget. Even if it feels like you’re living paycheck to paycheck, there might be expenses you can eliminate or incentives you can take advantage of.
Most people know their bills are too high or they have unwanted or unused subscriptions, but they don’t have the time to cancel or negotiate with their service providers. Fortunately, a service like Truebill can help.
After signing up, you’ll authorize Truebill to scan your bank account. They’ll identify all of your recurring expenses like gym memberships, Netflix subscription, and your cell phone bill. You can scan that list within the app and select what you’d like them to cancel or negotiate on your behalf.
Truebill can also help you create a budget, monitor your credit report, and get money back from reported service outages. For a complete overview of what the app can do and how you can register with them, read our Truebill review.
30. Talk to your utility company
Although your electric company might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of free money, some companies provide just that.
For instance, Delmarva Power, through their Energy Wise Rewards program, offers customers a one-time $80 installation credit and a free energy-saving device for allowing the company to cycle their air conditioners on and off during peak demand days. They also have an appliance recycling program, which gives $50 for recycling an old, working refrigerator or freezer.
Another place to look is your health insurance company. They might offer you a one-time incentive for doing something like getting routine blood work or completing an online health assessment.
How to Avoid Free Money Scams
While there are lots of legitimate opportunities to earn money for free, there’s also no shortage of scams.
Here are few things to look out for to make sure you aren’t falling for scams offering free cash:
- Any legitimate free money opportunity will not ask you to pay upfront fees.
- Be careful with sharing your personal information. Don’t give your Social Security number to just anyone.
- If you’re looking for government assistance, make sure the sites you’re visiting are trustworthy sources such as .gov and .edu domains.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even the companies with sign-up bonuses are very transparent that the bonuses are meant to attract new users.
Opportunities Are All Around You
You just have to know where to look and which options make the most sense for you. If you don’t normally shop online, then spending $25 on something you wouldn’t typically buy to get a $10 bonus probably isn’t your best option. You’re better off renting out your car or cashing in on savings account sign-up bonuses.
All “free money” opportunities require at least one of two things: time or money. Before you choose how to earn free money, decide which one you’re willing to give. Are you okay with spending money to make money? Do you prefer not to spend anything, but don’t mind investing some time?
Answering those questions will help you decide which opportunities are worth your effort and which ones you should avoid.