Are you looking for free money with little effort on your part? There are many ways to find free money to help you pay bills, have some spending money, more savings to stash away in your emergency fund or grow your investments. There are many fun ways to pick extra cash so pick those suit you best.
True, money doesn’t grow on trees, and you can’t find streets filled with coins or bills (unless you are my daughter, Alex, but that’s for another day). However, by trading off some of your time, you may be able to pick some dollars. Time is money, as they say.
Before you consider any of these free money opportunities, consider:
- You won’t get rich from these activities but will make extra money.
- The time involved and whether the money is a worthwhile trade-off.
- Being frugal when shopping for cash back, whether through an app or credit card.
- Buying what is already on your shopping list.
- Playing games can be fun but addicting, so damn the rewards if you are not doing your homework or missing deadlines. (Yeah, I have teens!).
- Check out the free money-making apps when you need quick money.
- Seek deals, coupons, and discounts with a “living stingy” mantra for more savings
- Check an additional bonus offer on GetUpside, a cashback app, close to the bottom of the article.
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Table of Contents
27 Legitimate Ways To Get Free Money
1. Getting Free Money From The Government
Let’s start with the government (i.e., federal, state, or local) providing money to people in need. You should be entitled to free money through monetary support and assistance if you have a legitimate claim.
The federal and state governments provide monetary assistance for various matters such as:
- Covid and other stimulus packages or unemployment benefits.
- Disasters, recoveries, and economic support for individuals and families.
- Help pay bills through assistance programs and care groups for individuals and families who need housing, food, healthcare, childcare, and jobs.
2. Student Aid For College
If you have children going to college, you must apply for student aid by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. FAFSA is not just for federal student loans and is certainly not free money.
However, filing FAFSA helps you get financial aid through grants or scholarships and typically is not a loan to pay back. This is free money from the government called gift aid.
3. Unclaimed Funds
You can do a free online search for unclaimed property, searching for your name or family members on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration (NAUPA). Each state you reside in has a database to search for. It is not unusual to find unclaimed money left behind by a loved one, family member, or yourself.
Typically, the property goes to the state after inactivity for a year or more. The property type could be financial accounts, insurance payments, stocks or dividends, uncashed paychecks, safe deposit accounts, security deposits with the landlords. We may forget about the property, move away, get ill or pass away.
If you can prove the valuables are yours or your family’s, unclaimed money belongs to you. You’ll need to provide critical current and past documentation that is relevant to the specific items, including:
- Proof of current and previous addresses.
- Driver’s licenses, current and old addresses, and maiden names (if applicable).
- Birth certificate and marriage certificate.
- Evidence of name changes.
- Bills, financial, and investment account statements.
- Tax statements
- Proof of ownership, title to the house, and car.
4. Lost Retirement Benefits
You may have switched jobs during your lifetime, assuming your retirement benefits from a previous employer traveled with you to the next job. Companies go out of business, merge, or change their names. It gets difficult to track your pension or 401K plan when it may be years ago. The first place to look is your company’s HR department at the last place you worked
You can start by looking through the US Department of Labor’s abandoned plan search.
Try the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s trusted plan search if you are looking for a missing pension. Alternatively, try the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits.
Another place to check if you believe there is potential for missing property or something of value is MissingMoney.com, a free site endorsed by NAUPA.
Don’t miss out on earning your employer’s contribution match, which is the ultimate “free money” benefit you should not leave on the table!
5. Bonuses And Rewards
Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions want your money and are willing to give bonuses as free money rewards to keep your deposits with them. These financial institutions use customer deposits to make loans and earn money on the spread between the interest income they receive on loans and the less money they pay out on customers’ interest-bearing accounts. As the Fed hikes interest rates, consumers will get better savings while banks charge higher borrowing rates.
Many banks offer generous one-time cash bonuses promotions depending on your direct deposit amount. Typically, the higher the deposit, the greater the reward. For example, Citi will give you a cash bonus of $300 to $1,500 for opening a new checking account with a direct deposit of $15K to $200K. However, Citizens Bank gives a cash bonus of $300 with $500 funded in an account.
Read these offers carefully as they may have minimums and time requirements. These rewards incent people to switch banks and open up checking or savings accounts in return for you to set up a direct deposit and stay for at least a few months though they prefer your loyalty and may offer more for a longer timeframe.
6. Credit Card Bonuses And Rewards
I am hesitant to highlight credit cards as a means of getting free money through bonuses, points, and rewards. Credit cards are a convenient way to not walk around without wads of cash. However, for many people, overspending comes too easy, and no cash rewards are worth the toxicity of carrying large credit card balances month to month.
On the other hand, if you know how to handle credit cards properly, meaning you don’t carry balances, then go for it. Here are excellent credit cards with hefty intro cash bonuses, ongoing “cash back on purchases programs,” zero APR into 2023, and no annual fees.
Online And Mobile Apps
Those who have spare time to complete surveys can earn a bit of spending money on the side. Giving your opinion is worth money from many different companies on various issues.
Most surveys won’t take longer than 15 -to-20 minutes, and they will payouts vary between redeemable points, cash, donations, or gift cards. The minimum cash amount varies by site and may go direct deposit into PayPal.
These surveys are essential to many organizations, including governments, companies, and not-for-profit entities willing to pay for market and opinion research about their existing and new products, services, and brands.
Some apps may have a variety of ways to pay for specific tasks like watching videos, playing featured games, reading emails, and doing quizzes, besides paid surveys. It depends on your time, energy, interest, and research into these apps.
Launched in 2008, Swagbucks provides several ways you can get free money through SB points that convert (i.e., 100 SB points equals a dollar) into cash and gift cards from popular retailers. It is worth taking a closer view of Swagbucks. Paid members have received over $668 million. You can earn a $10 bonus just for creating an account, and participating in the different activities:
- Online surveys typically pay small amounts, varying on topics such as your favorite food, vacations, or personal finance.
- Shop online with coupons.
- Search the web, using Swagbuck’s search engine.
- Scan receipts for cash back rewards.
- Find exclusive deals.
- Watch videos, including partner content.
- Redeem Swag codes.
- Enter Swagstakes for higher points.
- Play select features games from Swagbuck’s library of game content.
- Get cash back from PayPal credits.
You can earn cash or gift cards when you shop in-store or online at over 7,000 stores like Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, and Expedia. Swagbucks’ parent is Prodege, LLC, an internet marketing company with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
Launched in 2000, InboxDollars has paid over $80 million in cash rewards to their members doing everyday online activities. They are similar to Swagbucks but pay a $5 bonus to create an account.
As a member, you can earn points (i.e., LifePoints) or money by taking online surveys, reading emails, clipping coupons at popular retailers, playing games, watching videos, and watching TV. They have ongoing promos, and contests and give out samples to their members.
Additionally, members can sign up for MobileXpressions, a market research community dedicated to the mobile internet, and get paid by InboxDollars.
9. Harris Poll Online
Harris Poll Online is a well-regarded market research company that has been around since 1975. It conducts national and international surveys for governments, corporations, and non-government organizations. Upon creating an account, users provide their background so that Harris Poll Online can match them to particular surveys.
The surveys typically take less than 30 minutes, and you earn points that you can redeem for gift cards from brands like Amazon, iTunes, or Starbucks.
10. Pinecone Research
Pinecone Research is another trusted leader in voicing the opinions of consumers in the US and seeing their participants as influencers. Once you sign up you will get study notifications, and collect redeemable points. They match people with qualified surveys.
They are one of the highest-paying survey sites, paying about $3 per survey. As you stay longer on their site, you may begin product testing. Reward points may go to cash or top gift cards.
11. National Consumer Panel (NCP)
When you create a free account on National Consumer Panel, you become a panelist who will share your shopping experiences and opinions through your mobile app to help manufacturers and retailers decide what products to develop and improve.
There are various ways for a panelist to earn redeemable rewards points towards popular gift cards or items on your shopping list. NCP collects data through online surveys matching their clients with panelists based on their shopping and household demographics.
The longer panelists stay on NCP, the greater the rewards, including bonus points and access to participate in NCP sweepstakes to get cash and merchandise from the NCP catalog.
12. Branded Surveys
Branded Surveys launched in 2012, is a market research firm for various companies with over two million members as part of its community. You’ll get a $1 bonus for becoming a member. They will ask you to fill out a profile which will help you get more qualified surveys, profile questionnaires, and taking daily polls. You can get into the Branded Elite program with great point perks as you progress to higher levels.
The more surveys you do, the higher the points. You can accumulate more points by referring friends to join Branded Surveys. Members can redeem points for cash or gift card rewards.
You will fill out a survey for Survey Junkie, providing information about your background and interests so they can better match you with respective surveys. Those who sign up can earn up to $50 per survey.
There are two ways you can participate in Survey Junkie’s communities, SJ Opinion or SJ Pulse. At SJ Opinion, you will be answering survey questions online, while SJ Pulse is about attitudinal research and looking for answers related to the participants’ behavior. Those who do the surveys can stop at any time, but you need to complete the survey for cash rewards. The company doesn’t distribute points.
Join one of the largest influencer communities in the world. Upon signing up for their app, you’ll get ten LifePoints and become a member of LifePoints Panel. They will ask you to fill out a profile giving your background, interests, and lifestyle characteristics. Once completing the onboarding, you will receive surveys on a range of general topics and favored brands in your emails.
Each survey should take about 10-20 minutes, and you earn redeemable points that can go towards e-gift cards and PayPal credit.
Once you are a member of MyPoints, you’ll earn points for completed tasks. By shopping at your favorite places, you’ll get up to 40% back with each purchase, receive promo codes and coupons at over 2,000 top retailers, and earn points for dollar you spend
15. Opinion Outpost
There are more than two million earners on Opinion Outpost, offering their opinions in various ways:
- Product testing
- Advert reviews of ad before launch
- Write a diary tracking your lifestyle habits.
- Focus groups
- Location-based services
- Ad surveys
Opinion Outpost rewards users with Opinion Points averaging ten points per survey but could go as high as 250 points depending on your participation and survey completion. These points are redeemable for cash, PayPal points, or a Virtual VISA Prepaid card.
This app rewards you with cash, not points, in $10 increments. You earn cash by completing surveys, playing games, reading emails, quizzes, surfing the web, special promotions, referring friends, and watching sponsored videos ranging from technology to lifestyle topics.
You may earn up to $25 to complete your tasks with the lowest payments for online surveys and the highest amounts for playing select mobile games. If you refer friends, you can get 25% of your friend’s earnings.
Like many apps, iRazoo, backed by companies and big brands, encourages members to sign up for cash and reward points in return for their opinions and activities. iRazoo has paid its members over $148 million dollars in cash and points for gift cards and other items.
Among those tasks that members will earn iRazoo points are:
- Online surveys
- Play games like solitaire, bridge, crossword, with higher reward points the longer you play.
- Watch videos or iRazoo TV
- Online offers to complete.
- Downloading apps such as the newest games
Mistplay is a social experience app for Android users only. The app encourages your loyalty to play games for reward points. There is a game library for you to find your favorite games like Words With Friends 2 or Konami Slots, play with friends, or meet new people.
Mistplay shares that they have paid over $120 million in cash and rewards, validating their popularity. Each month they have new contests and you can compete for the grand prize. You will earn units choosing among games to redeem for cash and other rewards.
Lucktastic app is among the most popular instant games, available on Android and iOS. The most loyal players become Lucktastic VIPs with multiple tiers rising to Gold VIP and can access daily freebies and extra opportunities. The most popular activity is the Instant Win Scratch Cards, requiring users to watch a 30-second ad, before playing a quick game.
Besides the scratch cards released throughout the day, you can download new apps from their sponsors to earn more rewards for cash and gift cards. If you invite friends to sign up you will additional in-game tokens. When you play scratch cards for four consecutive days, you are eligible for the $5,000 cash card drawing.
Skillz has a multiplayer tournament platform that enables gamers to play popular games like Blackout Bingo, Dominoes Gold, 21 Blitz, and others in different genres. They attract skilled players worldwide to compete for cash and prizes.
Free shopping apps can help you score the best deals from top retailers and pick up cash bonuses and points for opening an account. However, ensure that you are buying what you plan to buy in the first place, not solely for the rewards. It’s relatively easy to get free money online from these apps.
Ibotta is a popular app that has broadened its appeal, supporting over 2,000 retailers, food delivery services, travel sites, and more. Users on the Ibotta platform can get cash back by shopping online, in-store, or using their phones just by submitting their receipts. That is also an excellent way to track your spending.
22. Fetch Rewards
Fetch Rewards is another top rewards app for over 13 million active users that are part of the Fetch platform. Users can shop at virtually any retailer and earn points by sending in their receipts and making more points by buying partner products. They can redeem points for gift cards or charities at their option.
23. Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
When you join Rakuten for free, you will receive a $10 Welcome cash bonus. Since 1999, Rakuten has paid over $2.2 billion in cash back at over 3,500 retailers that provide discounts. You can access Rakuten through its website, an app, or a chrome extension.
More than 15 million people are Rakuten members, with the average member getting cash back of $63.50 in 2020. You will receive your money via a check or through PayPal.
TopCashBack originated in the UK in 2005 but is in the US for years. They are often compared to Rakuten. It is free for users to register and you won’t get a cash bonus. However, you are opening the door to high amounts of cashback from over 4,000 online retailers. TopCashBack offers 100% of its commissions to its users, ensuring their cashback rates.
They even have a “Highest Cashback Guarantee” so they will match higher cashback from another site. They get a 4.4 on Trustpilot, reflecting on its legitimacy.
25. Be Frugal
You will receive a $10 welcome bonus when you open an account. Be Frugal features over 5,000 retailers that you receive coupons, discounts, and deals by shopping online paid in cash through several ways, including direct deposit, checks, PayPal, or gift cards if you choose.
We have only touched the surface as to ways to find free money, but we also would point out ways to save money and make extra money through alternatives.
Apps That Encourage Healthy Activities
HealthyWage is a fitness app that works on financial incentives. The app encourages you to provide weight loss goals and track achievements. Upon creating an account, users can load their goals into HealthWage’s Free Prize Calculator based on your inputs of the amount they want to lose and in a specific timeframe.
Wagers by users who correctly estimate their weight loss and when they expect to meet the goals win the cash prize. After they verify their weight loss with a weigh-in photo or video, they can choose to cash out their prize with a paper check or PayPal. The highest amount you can win is $10,000 but they do show several participants who lost the weight and pocketed over $1,000.
Sweatcoin is a legitimate app that pays you for walking steps. The app tracks your outdoor steps, rewarding you with sweatcoins. Those steps convert into their currency with 1,000 steps equating to 0.95 sweatcoins. You earn their currency by inviting friends, daily rewards, and use them for restaurant discounts, vacation vouchers, and more significant prizes.
They charge a 5% commission per sweatcoin created. They work with partnerships including governments, brands, and insurance companies who have interests in healthcare. They have a 250K step challenge awarding 25 sweatcoins with a chance to get a $250 Nike gift card. For those who are inspired to walk a healthy amount of 5,000 to 10,000 steps per day, this app is for you.
Additional Bonus Offer
The GetUpside cashback app provides benefits to both consumers and businesses. The company website says that they have more than 45,000 businesses participating with them in offering deals to consumers.
The app enables you to earn cash when you spend money at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants that offer deals using your debit or credit card rewards. You’ll be able to maximize existing card rewards to maximize your savings and loyalty benefits.
Use the new “check-in” feature and skip having to send in a photo of your receipt. Tap the “check-in” button when you are at the gas station, grocery store, or restaurant, and select your credit or debit card.
GetUpsiders can earn up to:
- $0.25 per gallon at the gas station.
- 45% at the restaurant.
- 30% at the grocery store.
GetUpside provides more ways to earn bonuses when you become a referral of the company’s app to family and friends. In this inflationary environment, GetUpside can help you get money back on rising prices at the pump, picking up groceries, or dining out. Every bit of change adds up.
Use the Promo Code AFF20 which can be shared to increase the sign-up bone to $0.20 per gallon which is stackable with their first offer for up to $0.45 per gallon in savings on the first receipt.
While I wouldn’t move up my retirement timetable based on getting free money from these ideas, there are a lot of fun ways to pocket some money to set aside for saving and spending without minimal effort.
Choose what you like to do, and if you are good at multitasking, you may be able to do more than one task at a time.
Thank you for reading this article. Please visit us at The Cents of Money for more articles of interest.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.