There are hundreds of apps out there that put shopping right at our fingertips, so chances are good that you have figured out how to spend lots of money from your smartphone. But there are also plenty of ways to save, invest and even earn money with that wonderful device in your pocket.
Here’s a round-up of apps that will help you earn extra cash, build up savings, lower your bills, and grow your newfound riches through easy micro investing. That’s right, these apps are guaranteed to turn that phone in your hands into a cash machine.
The Ibotta app gives you cash back when you buy certain products at nearly 300 participating supermarkets, drug stores and other chains – it’s like a rebate without the hassle of mailing in your receipt! Search the app for offers on brands you already buy, and link your loyalty card or submit pics of your receipt as proof of purchase. Ibotta also offers cash back when you shop at many online retailers. Transfer your cash to Paypal or Venmo, or convert it to a gift card.
Swell offers an easy way to invest in the stock market with extremely low fees. A $500 investment costs just $3.75 per year. We love Swell because of its focus on impact investing. Its portfolios only include companies that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and focused on innovating in areas such as green tech, clean water and renewable energy. You can start an account with as little as $50, and invest more over time.
The Internet has revolutionized market research, and many companies will pay you for information such as your family’s shopping and eating habits, and what hobbies you enjoy. While it’s not a get-rich-quick proposition, you can take surveys on your phone to make some extra spending money or earn gift cards for shopping and eating out. Check out our intro to survey taking for all the info you need on sites such as SwagBucks and Survey Junkie.
Many retailers will refund you the difference if the price drops on something you bought recently, but you have to know to ask. That’s where Paribus comes in. This free app for iPhone monitors your email receipts and watches for prices to drop, then it requests a refund on your behalf. Paribus is part of the Capital One group, so while you do have to grant access to your email inbox, it uses bank-level security to protect your private info.
Save some extra money when you’re doing your late-night online retail therapy by going through the Ebates app every time you shop. Ebates is perhaps the most well-known “cash back” app, with more than 10 million users. It gives you back a certain percentage (usually 2%-10%) of the money you spend online at hundreds of merchants. Don’t forget that Ebates also offers cash back on airline tickets, hotels and cruises through many popular booking sites.
This app is just about as close as you can get to earning money by doing, well, nothing. S’more displays ads on your Android phone’s lockscreen. You swipe up to remove the ad when you unlock your phone. S’more pays you 10 cents per day for the privilege of this lockscreen takeover, and there are bonuses available for referring friends and taking surveys. You can cash out in either gift cards or through Paypal.
If the best jobs are ones you have fun doing, AppLike may be the best side hustle out there. This Android app pays you to download and play mobile games. AppLike suggests new games each day, and you earn “mCoins” for downloading the games and playing them. When you have earned enough mCoins to equal at least 50 cents, you can cash out to your Paypal account or redeem them for gift cards to major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart or iTunes.
LongGame aims to provide that extra motivation you may need to save money. This app allows you to set up a traditional online savings account, backed by FDIC-insured Blue Ridge Bank, with as little as $5. LongGame awards you tokens weekly for maintaining or adding to your savings account balance. You use the tokens to play instant-win and lottery-style games with cash prizes. Your savings account earns interest just like a traditional bank savings account.
We’re betting you already spend money at Amazon. The company behind HarrisPoll Online is betting you do, too, and they’re willing to pay you $3 a month to add what you buy from Amazon to their market research. Download the app and answer a few questions to see if you qualify. If you do, ShopTracker will reward you with a $3 Visa gift card each month when you sync your Amazon account.
If you are interested in micro-investing, Worthy may be good place to start. This app monitors your debit and credit purchases and rounds them up to the nearest dollar, then puts that change into bonds that earn 5% interest, 80 times more than the interest rate paid on typical savings accounts. The bonds are used for peer lending, supporting individual credit-worthy businesses, and they can be cashed out at any time.
i-Say is another app that allows you to earn points by completing surveys. It is owned by Ipsos, one of the largest market research companies in the world. While other sites give you points for downloading apps, watching videos or other online activities, Ipsos focuses solely on surveys. The points you earn completing surveys can be redeemed for cash through Paypal or converted into gift cards to merchants such as Starbucks or Target.
Drop is a fast-growing app that allows you to earn rewards for purchases by linking your debit and credit cards. This eliminates the need to scan your receipts or sign up for loyalty programs. Drop prompts you to select five of your favorite merchants, from a list that includes Starbucks, Uber, AMC, McDonald’s, Amazon and more. When you spend money with those merchants, you earn points automatically, which you can redeem for gift cards.
Lucktastic brings the thrill of playing the lottery to your smartphone screen. This free app offers contests including trivia, Monopoly and other games that offer cash jackpots. Lucktastic has given away more than $3 million in prizes. Even if you don’t win the big prize, you will earn tokens as you play the games, and those tokens can be redeemed for gift cards to merchants such as Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.
This app will helps you monitor your credit score and your overall financial health, as well as offering personal loans. MoneyLion offers loan decisions in 24 hours or less, and loans are available even to those with not-so-stellar credit scores. These loans can come with high interest rates, so be sure you understand the terms. MoneyLion members earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards for healthy finance activities like paying your bills on time.
We’ve all signed up for a recurring monthly subscription we no longer use and keep forgetting to cancel. Trim saves you money by reminding you about those subscriptions, and more. Trim analyzes your accounts and recommends ways to save money, including lower-interest credit cards and lower car insurance rates that may be available to you. This free service can also negotiate with your cable or Internet provider to get you lower rates.
Acorns promises to help you grow your personal wealth by investing your pocket change. Link your debit and credit cards, and Acorns will round up your purchases and invest the spare change. You can choose to invest in a number of different portfolios, based on the level of risk you are comfortable with. Acorns also allows you to set up IRAs and Roth IRAs to save for retirement. Fees range from $1-$3 per month.
Decluttr aims to make it easy to get rid of those shelves of CDs and DVDs gathering dust in your living room. Download the free app, scan the barcode on the items, and you’re given an instant offer to buy the used item. A big selling point for Decluttr is that shipping your items to the company is free by using the prepaid label sent in your welcome packet. Decluttr also buys used electronics such as your older model smartphones and tablets.
With the Stash app, you need just $5 to start micro investing. Stash has a wealth of articles that help you learn more about investing while your money grows. You can choose to start a personal investing account, an IRA account with tax benefits, and custodial accounts are available to allow your children under 18 to invest, as well. Stash charges a flat fee of $1-$2 per month for its investment services.
If you’re not going to save money unless someone forces you to, Digit may be the app for you. It analyzes your income, spending and bills, then moves money from your checking account to a Digit savings account automatically each day, if you can afford it. You earn 1% annual interest on your account, and your money remains liquid, so you can withdraw it at any time. Digit charges $2.99 per month for its savings accounts.
Blast is a savings app designed for gamers. Link your bank account and then set up automatic savings triggers based on your playing time and in-game achievements. You set up how much you want to save, and then Blast transfers the money to your savings account. Blast also rewards gamers who rank on its Leaderboard with cash, and you can earn additional cash by completing missions such as reaching a certain game level or playing a specific app.