Unless your parents are rich, we’ve all had times in our lives when we could use some extra cash.
I have. And like many people, I’ve gone online to find money-making ideas.
But wait – everyone knows the internet is a mixed bag. While some great and innovative ideas exist, so do plenty of scams. You know what I mean – people trying to make a fast buck at your expense.
So what can you do? Who can you rely on when searching for ideas online?
Well, I don’t know everything, but after some research and testing, I’ve compiled a decent list of how to get free money.
It wasn’t easy – there was a lot of trial and error involved, believe me. But I reckon a look at the list below will save you time and help you avoid making the mistakes I made.
So without further ado, here are some of the best ideas I found about how to make some easy extra money.
20 Best Methods on How to Get Free Money
1. Install free apps on your phone
Did you know you can make money from downloading free apps on your smartphone?
Neither did I!
But yeah, plenty of companies offer these promotions. What happens is you download the app and earn real money or points, which you can redeem for cash or Amazon (or similar online stores) gift vouchers. You won’t earn much – maybe US$5 each time – but every bit helps, right?
You can also get rebates if you shop at certain stores, and some schemes allow you to earn more money by referring your friends. When they sign up, you get paid.
And you need not keep the apps on your phone, either. Once you sign up, download the app, and get paid, you can get rid of it.
Unless you like the app, of course. Or, even better, unless the company pays you to keep it on your phone, which some will do for you.
For example, Nielsen pays you $50 per year, just for keeping their app on your phone.
2. Take part in online surveys
Another way to get free money is to take part in online surveys.
Dozens of sites offer people the chance to complete online surveys for money, and more seem to spring up every year.
How it works is these survey companies offer respondents cold cash to take part – although some will offer gift cards or vouchers instead.
You might also receive a sign-up bonus up to $10 once you register. After that, they’ll pay you a couple of dollars to complete each survey. Again, you won’t make your fortune doing online surveys, but you could generate a little side income.
In my experience, there are good and bad online survey sites.
A good tip with online surveys is to sign up for several survey sites. You won’t always qualify for every survey, so you’ll want to maximize your income.
3. Earn refunds with Paribus
Have you ever bought anything online only to check the same site later and see the price of your purchase has dropped? How annoying is that?
And then you want to get a refund, which is a major hassle. But if you sign up with Paribus you don’t have to endure any hassle – they do all the work for you.
Once you download their app, Paribus will scan your email for receipts from the big online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target or Macy’s. If the price of whatever you bought drops, Paribus will help you get a refund.
Paribus also works with hotel and travel sites like Expedia, Booking.com, Hilton, and Marriot.
4. Book restaurant reservations with Seated
Seated is an app that gets you up to 30% off the price of your meal in a restaurant, every time you make a reservation.
All you do is download the app, pick a restaurant from their list, and book online. You’ll then get an up to 30% discount redeemed in the form of gift cards or vouchers for merchants like Amazon or Starbucks.
Right now, Seated is only available in New York, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. But watch out for them – they have ambitious expansion plans and will roll out to more cities and towns soon.
5. Become a stock photographer
If you have a good eye for a photo, you can make money by becoming a stock photographer.
You need not spend a fortune on an expensive camera, either. Nowadays you can take great pictures with your smartphone!
Whilst some stock photography sites will take everything you send them, others are choosier, and will require you pass an approval process first.
No single photo will earn you a lot of money – between $0.25 and $0.45 per image per month is the going rate.
One tip to remember is to set out who owns the copyright to the pictures before you start. If you can keep your copyright, you can sell the same photo to more than one site.
If you lose your copyright, the company owns your image and you lose your rights to it.
6. Become a dog walker
Dog walking is a great way to make a part-time living, especially if you have free time, love dogs, and enjoy getting out into the fresh air.
Many dog owners lead busy lives, out of the house working all day, and don’t have the time or energy to walk their dogs.
And they’re happy to pay someone else to do this for them!
Experienced dog walkers can earn anything up to $15 for a 30-minute-walk. They get to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and the company of man’s best friend into the bargain.
There are three ways to make money this way:
First, you can work for an established dog walking company (yes, these exist!). They already have their own client lists of dog owners, and will give you steady work for a percentage of your income.
The third way is to build up your own clientele. There are two downsides with this. First, building up your client list takes time. The other problem is that many dog owners will want to ensure you’re licensed and insured before they trust you with their dog.
7. Get paid for searching the web
Imagine getting paid for doing something you spend hours doing, anyway.
Getting paid for searching online is one of the easiest ways to earn free money. It requires youchange virtually nothing about your behavior or your habits.
Companies like Qmee.com allow you to earn cash rewards every time you search in Google, Yahoo, or Bing. All you do is install a simple browser add-on, and then you’ll find a few sponsored ads alongside your normal search results.
Every link clicked can earn a cash reward, with no minimum cash out. Even if you only earn a dollar, they’ll still send this to your PayPal account. Or you can donate it to charity if you prefer – they offer you that option, too.
8. Save Money with Trim
You can download an app from a service called Trim, which helps you save money on everything, from utility bills to subscriptions.
The app tracks your spending and helps you cut down on bills and cancel services you no longer need.
Trim also helps you manage your budget and cut down on your debt.
I used Trim to cut my monthly bill from my internet service provider.
I downloaded their app, signed-up for the service, and after uploading a copy of my last monthly bill, gave Trim a link to my internet service provider. They negotiated with the service provider and got me a big reduction in my monthly bill. They take 30% of the annual savings as their fee, but, in my case, that still left me well ahead.
It also saved me the time I would have spent trying to negotiate with the service provider myself.
9. Use coupon apps to get refunds
Using coupons to get discounts at your local grocery store has always been a good way to save money.
But most people don’t have the time to scour local newspapers or the internet. They forget to clip or print out coupons, or to take them with them when they go shopping.
Nowadays, several apps exist to take a lot of this effort out for you.
You can upload, clip and scan coupons onto your smartphone. These apps let you select coupons for the items you buy. You take a picture of the receipt, upload it to the app, and it’ll find the right coupon for you.
Or, if you’re a Walmart customer, the Savings Catcher app will search competitor pricing in your area for a few days after you shopped with them.
If they find you could have bought the same item cheaper somewhere else, they’ll give you a rebate in the form of a Walmart gift card.
10. Get paid for taking selfies
It sounds crazy, but some companies will pay you for taking selfies.
If you have a decent camera on your smartphone, you take photos of yourself and submit them to companies who offer these services. They will then pay you for the right to use your picture.
So what’s the angle of these companies?
Well, the info they collect helps their marketing activities around the United States, based on demographics like gender, race, and age.
Not every photo is worth money, but if they use your picture, you can make a dollar or two each time. And the more you sell, the more you earn.
11. Get paid to receive junk mail
While most of us hate junk mail, you might feel better if you knew you were getting paid every time you received it.
This is not a scam, but a legitimate business idea.
If you become a mail decoy for a company offering this service, they’ll pay you for every bit of junk mail that ends up in your mailbox. That’s newsletters, catalogs, and magazines.
These companies will pay you because they want to understand how junk mail finds prospective clients – or if they ever receive it at all.
When you get junk mail, you report it online or call a toll-free number and enter a code from the mailing.
Some companies will pay you in cash for this service. The going rate is around $10 per month plus $0.25 for each piece of mail you receive.
Others, like World Mail Panel, will reward you with points you can redeem for PayPal, gift cards, or other prizes.