Imagine you're trying to find a side hustle, but you start researching your options and you can't help feeling overwhelmed.
Ideas like starting an online business sound great on paper, and starting a second job is another commonly recommended way to boost your income.
But if you need to make money fast and you have a tight schedule, starting a business or picking up extra shifts is simply not possible.
Ideally, you want to find a side hustle that’s flexible, has no upfront cost, and doesn’t impact your main job in any way.
Thankfully, there’s a wide variety of apps that fit this bill and can help you start making money right now.
It's important to note that many of these apps won’t seriously boost your monthly income, you can definitely make a positive impact on your finances when you combine several of them.
Taking that into consideration, here's our list of top 10 apps that pay you real money:
Upwork is a freelance marketplace and one of the best apps for skilled workers to connect with clients while managing projects at the same time.
Regardless of your previous experience, Upwork makes it simple to create a profile and apply for new projects. You can find opportunities across hundreds of skill categories (including digital marketing, programming, proofreading, online tutoring, and more).
Through Upwork, you can apply for one-time opportunities or find ongoing work with clients. Having a good Job Success Score will also make you a more attractive candidate for future opportunities, and it allows you to receive invitations to exclusive opportunities.
Another neat feature of the app is Upwork’s Payment Protection program, which ensures safe and timely payment for freelancers. Upwork also offers plenty of different ways to get paid, including direct deposits, PayPal, Payoneer, wire transfer, or similar methods.
Unfortunately, freelancer fees range from 10% to 20% — the more you earn from an individual client, though, the lower your fee percentage will be. Also, funds aren’t credited to your account until 10 days after the weekly billing cycle ends.
- Simple to use
- You can attract new clients based on reviews and good performance
- Spans hundreds of different job categories
- Payment protection
- Service fee between 10% and 20%, depending on total earnings per client
- Payment is delivered 10 days after the billing period ends
- Clients can easily look for freelancers with lower rates and choose them instead
Similar to Upwork, Fiverr is a freelancing marketplace that features projects in over 200 categories, such as programming, video, and animation.
Using Fiverr is easy — you start by creating a profile highlighting your expertise. Then, you'd post any services you're offering (including information like pricing and a brief description of said service). Clients will then be able to click your post and place orders, and once you've completed the order, you will get paid.
Payment methods include PayPal, direct deposits to a bank account or credit to a Fiverr Revenue Card. It's worth keeping in mind that withdrawal amounts can vary, and depending on which option you choose, you could be charged a withdrawal fee.
- You can earn tips
- Very easy to create a profile in
- 200+ skill categories to find work in
- Fiverr takes 20% of your earnings for every project (including tips)
- There’s a 14-day waiting period to withdraw money after you complete an order
Uber is a ridesharing and food delivery app that makes it easy for anyone with a car to earn at their convenience, provided they qualify as an Uber driver.
To become an Uber driver, you need to meet a few minimum qualifications, which are:
- Meeting local driving requirements
- Having driven for at least 1 year in the U.S. (or 3 years for drivers under the age of 23)
- Have a vehicle that meets Uber’s local requirements
- Having all of the necessary documents (including proof of residency, insurance, registration, and more)
- Going through the driver screening process
Once you've become an Uber driver, you'll have two main ways to earn money: you can either accept ride requests from passengers or deliver food through Uber Eats, an extension of the same app.
Your earnings for each trip will vary depending on a few factors. Some of these factors are:
- Standard trip fare: A base rate calculated based on the length and distance, which varies by city
- Surge pricing: Earn more during peak periods with high demand
- Tips: Keep 100% of tips from passengers
There are some cons to using Uber that you need to be aware of. For starters, you’ll need to cover the cost of car maintenance, and Uber charges drivers a service fee that is deducted before payment. Also, you’ll have to pay taxes on earnings considering that Uber drivers are independent contractors.
- Flexible schedule
- Cash-out up to five times per day
- Make $10 to $20 per hour, even taking expenses into consideration
- The car's model can prevent you from using the app
- Drivers must pay a service fee
- Earning potential is directly influenced by location and demand
Rakuten is one of the top apps for earning cashback, offering deals across numerous retailers. The app lets you get a little cash back for every purchase you make, despite the fact that you have to spend money to earn money.
After registering, you can browse cashback offers at thousands of retailers, including Amazon, Target, eBay, Best Buy, and Kohl's. All you need to do is click a retailer through the app or website and place an order.
Cashback rates vary by retailer, and they can range anywhere between 1% to 40%. You can use the app to browse any cashback deals you could take part in by store, brand, and many other categories.
New users also get a $10 welcome bonus after spending $25, and you can also receive $20 referral bonuses for introducing new users to the app (they have to spend $20 for you to get the referral money, though). As for payment methods, you can receive payment through PayPal or a check every three months. You need to reach at least $5 in cashback to be eligible for a payout, however.
- Up to 40% cashback on purchases
- You can be awarded a $10 welcome bonus for spending your first $25
- You can also receive a $20 bonus for referring new users
- Browser extension offers additional perks and features
- Cashback rates can be as low as 1%
- Must obligatorily accrue $5 in cashback to redeem
- Payouts occur every 3 months
OfferUp is an online sales app that allows its users to buy and sell items. It also you to buy or sell items locally or nationwide.
To start earning money, all you need to do is upload a picture of the product, write a description for it, and giving it a price. The interesting part about setting a price is that you can either set a firm price with no room for negotiation or an asking price open to discussion with a buyer. Viewers can also talk with the seller directly through the app to ask questions or show interest in their products.
OfferUp is particularly helpful with local transactions, but users can also ship products, which allows them to set an item to “buy now” with a set price for shipping instead of having to manually monitor offers and messages.
Once the item has arrived at the buyer's location, they have two days to evaluate it before the sale is finalized. After that, you'd your payment within five business days.
OfferUp also gives you the option of promoting your items, and you can do so in two main ways: you can either pay the app to promote your products or you can purchase an OfferUp membership, which has two tiers: one that allows you to promote one item at a time, and another that lets you promote five items.
Users can verify their identity by linking a Facebook account or by confirming contact information. OfferUp also takes the safety of its users very seriously and recommends safe public meet-up locations based on factors like surveillance, lighting, and more.
- You can communicate with potential buyers through the app
- You can either set a firm price or an asking price
- You can receive cash payments for local transactions
- You can ship products
- You’re responsible for the delivery of the item unless you choose a shipping option
- Shipping an item costs 12.9% of the price of the item you list
Swagbucks is an app that makes it easy for anyone with a smartphone to make some extra income, either by earning cashback or by completing a wide array of tasks.
Swagbucks partners with other marketing companies to pay its users. To make money using the app, you earn Swagbucks (SB) by buying products, watching videos, taking surveys, playing games, and more.
Most tasks are easy, but it's worth noting that the amount of SBs you receive will vary from task to task. For example, surveys can take anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour to complete, and they generally reward users with 40 to 200 SB. Considering 100 SB are worth $1, it's clear how making money with this app can take a while.
Swagbucks’ survey options are chosen based on demographics, and the only way to earn access to higher-paying surveys is by meeting very specific profiles (like owning a pet boa constrictor or having twins).
You can earn cashback on in-store purchases by linking a credit card, and new users can earn a $10 joining bonus after spending $25 on purchases.
You can acquire Swagbucks immediately upon completing tasks, but receiving cash or gift cards could take up to 10 business days.
- Points are easily earned
- $10 joining bonus (if you spend $25)
- You can earn 10% more Swagbucks through referrals
- Points can be converted into gift cards or cash via PayPal
- Making money with the app takes a while
- You can get kicked out of surveys as you're taking them due to demographics
- Redeeming rewards can take up to 10 business days
#7 Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie is a money-making app that allows users to complete surveys in exchange for points, which can be converted for gift cards or Paypal cash.
The sign-up process is simple — you create a profile by answering questions, and your answers will then allow Survey Junkie to offer surveys relevant to the data you inputted. Each survey awards points upon completion, and these points can be exchanged for cash. Similar to Swagbucks, 100 SJ points will earn you $1, but you need a minimum of 500 points to cash out.
Surveys take 15 minutes on average to complete, and they may include repetitive questions that are there to verify the validity of your answers. One frustrating con is that the app award you partial points or even kick you out of the survey if they don’t meet certain criteria at any point.
Survey Junkie also offers users the ability of qualifying for additional surveys by sharing their browsing data. All you need to do is install the Survey Junkie Pulse extension (which is available on both the mobile app and as a browser extension), which tracks digital activity to find new surveys for users.
- Make money by completing surveys
- Make even more money by sharing browsing data
- Submits data anonymously
- You can convert points into cash via PayPal or online gift cards
- Verification questions can become annoying really quickly
- You can receive invitations to surveys that have already expired
- Your surveys can be terminated at any time just because you don’t meet certain criteria
TaskRabbit is an app that allows you to earn more money by taking part in odd jobs. These take a little more effort, but the extra difficulty also means that the pay is higher.
Odd jobs tend to include tasks such as moving furniture, mounting a TV, household cleaning, and IKEA assembly, which is why this app tends to pay far better when compared to other apps.
To use TaskRabbit, you only need to create a profile and highlight your main skills. The more tasks you complete, the better chance you have of getting selected for a task in the future — after all, people looking to get jobs done can review your profile before accepting you to do a job.
- Flexible schedule
- You can pick the rates you want
- Earning potential is directly influenced by your performance
- You must reside in the same city where the tasks are being requested
- The app's customer service has received complaints before
Poshmark is an app that allows you to sell clothing items and accessories. To sell items through this app, you first take pictures of the items you want to sell, then fill out a description, give your items a price, and then share them. Once a purchase is made, Poshmark will send you a prepaid shipping label through an email, and after that, you send the package to the buyer.
You can also feature items in the app’s virtual shopping events centred around particular brands, categories, and themes. These virtual shopping events are known as Posh Parties.
- Poshmark takes care of everything, from selling to shipping
- You don’t have to meet with strangers
- Covers lost packages
- Handles issues between you and the buyer
- Pays you within three days of the buyer receiving the order
- You have to pay a fee for using the app
- The company takes a $2.95 commission for sales under $15 (or 20% for sales above $15)
Ibotta is a money-making app that allows you to earn cashback in over 1,500 brands and retail chains. This originally applied to groceries only, but the company has expanded to include clothing, entertainment, pet supplies, and similar categories.
Offers can be product or retailer-specific, and you might have to complete additional tasks such as watching a video or taking a poll before you can earn cashback.
Payments are usually done through PayPal, but you also have the choice of receiving payments through gift cards or through direct deposits to a bank account.
- Quickly receive cashback on in-store purchases
- Wide variety of payment methods
- $20 welcome bonus for new users + referral bonuses
- Making money can take a while
- You must have at least $20 in cashback to redeem your earnings (or $25 for certain gift cards)
- For online shopping, the pending period for earning cashback varies between retailers
Which of These Apps Will Be The Best For You?
As you can expect, not every app you'll see on the list above will be the best for you. Because of this, there are a few things you'll need to consider when choosing apps to make money with.
The next thing you’ll have to consider is how much effort you want to commit.
Do you want to complete small tasks from your smartphone as you're watching T.V. or waiting for someone? Or do you want to visit retail stores, drive around, meet up with buyers in person, and do some manual labour?
The amount of effort it takes to do one of these tasks directly correlates with how much money you can earn by doing. Moving furniture on an app like TaskRabbit will always yield more completing a two-minute survey on Swagbucks.
#2 Pay Amount
Like I've said before, most apps won’t make a huge impact on your finances.
In fact, plenty of them won’t even qualify as a part-time job or as a side hustle.
Therefore, one thing you'll need to consider when choosing an app is how much you want to get paid.
For example, if you want to earn hundreds or thousands of dollars per month, you likely can’t do that by filling out surveys. You’d be better off using apps like Uber, Upwork, and OfferUp, which have a higher upside in terms of the payment amount.
#3 Payment Method and Frequency
In most cases, cashouts are facilitated via PayPal. But there are a few apps that let you get paid with cash and will mail you a check.
It's also worth considering that some apps don’t offer cash but reward you with gift cards instead.
You can’t really make a living with Starbucks or Target gift cards alone, but it could still be worth your time if you’re just doing a few small tasks on the side.
Some of these apps have redemption restrictions, too — you might not be able to cash out whenever you want. Therefore, make sure you review the payment frequency and full terms before you get started.
#4 App Reputation
Before you download any of these apps, you also need to make sure they have lots of positive reviews. Read the negative reviews too, just to see what unhappy users are saying about the app.
When signing up for these apps, you usually only need an email address to create an account — if any of these apps start asking for sensitive information, it could be a potential scam.
#5 Fees and Initial Investment
Most of the apps on the list above are free, but some do require you to pay a fee and/or initial investment.
These fees tend to be extremely low, but in case you don’t want to spend any money whatsoever, use free apps.
Thanks to the advancements in technology, working remotely, starting an online side hustle, and using apps to make money is now easier than ever.
For example, if you have a particular set of skills like graphic designing and software development, you could use apps like Fiverr and Upwork to find job opportunities related to those skills.
On the other hand, if you'd like to earn money with simpler tasks, you could use apps like Survey Junkie or Swagbucks — you just need to be aware that these apps will pay you less money because of the simplicity of their tasks.
Even if most moneymaking apps and side businesses won’t replace your full-time income, they will be an excellent way to boost your monthly income.