How much time do you spend on your smartphone? There’s a good chance you’re spending a whopping five hours a day on mobile devices, according to analytics firm Flurry.
So, if you’re spending so much time on your phone anyway, could you perhaps make some money?
“Working from home is what a lot of people dream they could do,” said Dan Wesley, the founder of financial education website CreditLoan.com. “Even better, in this day and age, it’s a possibility to make money from your phone.”
When you’re ready for a side hustle to earn extra cash (or if you want to start working from home full time), consider these great ways to make money using your smartphone, whether it’s an Android or an iPhone.
The best part? There aren’t any special tech requirements for these apps; as long as you’ve got a smartphone and the desire to hustle, you can make extra money.
Start by shopping
One of the easiest ways to make money with your smartphone is to do what you normally do when you go to the store: go shopping. Except with these apps, you can actually make money with your smartphone.
Earn cash back on things you buy anyway. Here’s how Ibotta works:
- Before you head to the store, open the app and complete a few tasks to find offers for your favorite products and brands.
- Next, head to the store and purchase items you selected in the app.
- Once you’re done, take a picture of your receipt to redeem the offers you selected.
You’ll be credited with your cash back, based on the activities you completed ahead of time. Ibotta is compatible with PayPal and Venmo, and it also provides the option to claim gift cards.
Offers range from 25 cents to $1 or more. You have to prepare ahead of time, but depending on the items you purchase from your grocery list, it’s possible to get between $5 and $50 back at the store each month. Get your friends and family to sign up to earn referral bonuses.
You won’t get direct cash back with Shopkick, but you can earn points to redeem for gift cards at your favorite retailers. Shopkick even offers Amazon gift cards. That’s a plus for me since I do a lot of shopping on the website.
You don’t even have to actually buy anything to benefit from Shopkick. Just walking into a partner store or scanning certain items can help you earn points. According to the company, Shopkick users have earned $68.5 million in free gift cards since 2009, when it was founded. You can get your share of free money by signing up and using the mobile app.
3. Receipt Hog
Snap pictures of your receipts to earn “coins” on Receipt Hog. Then, turn your coins into gift cards or cash. You can earn more by taking online surveys and completing other tasks. In the end, though, you’re probably not going to make a ton of money with this app.
The coins you earn aren’t worth a whole lot in terms of cash. A receipt adds about 10 coins to your account. You can get extra coins for using the app and “leveling up.” I only go shopping about once a week, though, and rarely go to more than two stores. So, I might get 20 coins per week from shopping.
You could use the app’s prize wheel and complete challenges for extra coins. In the end, though, it takes a lot of coins to get cash:
With this app, I could probably get between $50 and $100 per year if I were diligent about uploading all my receipts and took advantage of Receipt Hog’s sweepstakes and other activities to earn bonus coins.
As a long-term smartphone hustle, you’d have to combine this with other efforts to make any decent money. But it might be worth it for a little extra cash now and then.
Ages ago, I was a mystery shopper. It required me to fill out a paper survey and mail it in for a check. Today, mystery shopping is as easy as downloading an app, frequenting targeted stores or restaurants, and leaving feedback. There are other actions you can take in the Jobs2Shop app to boost your earnings before cashing out via PayPal.
How much money you make depends on the type of evaluation you do. The main downside is that you rely on there being a demand for mystery shopping in your area. My relatively small town doesn’t have a huge need for it, so I don’t often get these gigs.
If you live in a bigger city and are regularly sent out to evaluate businesses, you could make up to $100 a month or more.
EasyShift is another mystery shopping app that can help you earn money by following a checklist. In some cases, you only need to take pictures of products or check prices and share the information inside the app. You can also earn money for writing reviews of certain promotions.
How much you make depends on the demand in your area and the types of tasks you do. Just going in and taking a picture of product placement might make you $2. You might make $20 on an assignment if you’re required to make a purchase.
It’s a simple way to go about your business and earn a few bucks per month. However, you probably won’t get rich with this app, especially if you live in a sparsely populated area.
This app is all about making sure you didn’t overpay for something you bought. Connect the app to your email account, and Paribus will scan your recent purchases and receipts. If a retailer owes you a refund based on price protection policies, the app sends a letter to the seller and notifies you when the money is returned. For example, if the price drops on a qualifying purchase, you’ll get money back.
Paribus doesn’t monitor all stores, though. It can help to check to see if the stores you frequent are on the list. The app also only monitors retailers that have price-match policies.
Can you do this yourself without the app? Yes. Does it take extra time? Sure does. So you might as well have Paribus do the heavy lifting.
One of my favorite ways to make money using my phone is Swagbucks. I earn points, or “SB,” for shopping as usual online and by using the mobile app. You don’t get direct cash back when converting SB, but there are plenty of gift cards to choose from.
I net about $100 a year in Amazon gift cards by following my regular shopping habits and doing small tasks, such as taking short surveys or answering the daily poll question in the mobile app. Not bad for doing what I already do, especially when combined with other loyalty and rewards programs.
Focus groups and opinion surveys
It’s not always exciting, but filling out online surveys can be a way to earn extra money. Not only that, but you could make even more money if you’re part of a focus group or engage in other activities that result in helping marketers better understand their audiences.
For every 20-minute session you spend testing out apps, you can receive $10. That’s right, you can make $30 an hour by trying new things on your phone with UserTesting.
You probably won’t be able to find enough projects to replace your full-time job, though. Chances are that you won’t be offered enough projects to be busy for five or six hours a day. Instead, you’re more likely to see between two and six projects a week.
It’s still a pretty good way to make a little extra money each week. I managed to earn about $30 a week when I was using the app. They pay you exactly one week after you complete a test.
The user testing platform uTest pays you based on offers. You can look for available projects, ranging from creating bug reports to creating usability testing reports. Each of these projects takes different amounts of time and payouts are based on the way the customer perceives the quality of work.
You might get paid anywhere from $3 to $50, and there are bonuses available as well. If you have a few hours to spend each week, you could make between $10 and $100 without too much trouble.
10. Nielsen Digital Voice
In the past, Nielsen ratings used to put small electronic monitors (they looked a lot like DVRs) on TVs to get an idea of what families were watching.
Now Nielsen is involved in all sorts of rating information. Join its platform, and Nielsen will track your smartphone use as part of its efforts to find out more information about how consumers use their phones to communicate with others, use apps, and even surf online.
The main downside is that the points you earn might not translate directly into cash. Instead, it translates into extra chances to win prizes. You have a chance to get cash in the monthly sweepstakes, where you’re entered to win your share of $10,000 (divided among 404 people).
It’s not a guaranteed way to make a ton of money, but it can be a way to get a little extra cash without any added effort.
Watch TV on your phone. Earn points. Get prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or prizes.
Before watching shows on TV or through a streaming service such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon, hop into the Viggle app. You’ll earn points for watching your shows, plus bonus points for interacting with the app.
You get a point for each minute you watch — and might even get bonus points for watching longer. You can also get points for watching commercials or trailers.
When you’re watching TV, you might as well be earning money. With my (somewhat sparse) TV viewing habits, I was able to earn about $5 in gift cards each week. You can also get a prepaid debit card.
12. Music Xray
Like music? Get paid to listen. When you sign up for Music Xray, you share information about the bands and songs you like best, creating a “taste profile.”
Listen to new songs by bands that fit your taste profile and rate them to get at least 10 cents. You don’t have to listen to the full song if you hate it. You still get your money if you give it an honest listen. If you follow a band loyally, you can get more perks.
You’re probably not going to amass vast riches with this one. But I like getting introduced to new music and was able to get about $10 for a month of listening. That’s enough for a free digital download of an album or enough to pay for most of the cost of my Spotify Premium account.
Sell items from your phone
One way to make money quickly and easily from your phone is to sell items. How much you make depends largely on the quality of your items, plus the cost to ship them. But with the right apps, it’s pretty easy to make a little extra cash.
Do you like taking photos with your phone? Use Foap to sell those images. Deborah Sawyerr, the founder of financial literacy website Sawyerrs’ House, sells all kinds of photos on Foap for $5 a piece (that’s her cut of the $10 Foap charges).
“I can upload any of my own photos, from selfies to food, landscape, pets, and practically any object that can be photographed,” Sawyerr said. “There are additional money-making rewards ranging from $100 to $2,500 when I participate in specific missions.”
Plus, in some cases, Foap transfers photos to partners, such as Shutterstock and Adobe. This results in even more opportunities to make money. The higher quality the images, the more likely it is that you can use them to make money from your phone.
Do you have in-demand clothing brands cluttering up your closet? If so, snap pictures and post them for sale on Poshmark. If you’re trying to make money by selling your clothes, this is an easy way to do it.
You can set up your own boutique or closet and take pictures. It’s a lot like having your own consignment store. There are also Poshmark parties that give you a chance to highlight your wares. Being social can help you get higher visibility.
Poshmark keeps $2.95 of each sale of $15 or less and 20% of larger sales, but you could still come out ahead. I recently cleaned out my son’s closet, and I was surprised to see how well some of his well-preserved clothes did. Even after accounting for the fees, I netted a cool $148.
Don’t limit yourself to clothes. Clear out the clutter and use Depop to sell items that are unique and of interest to someone else. It’s true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
You can make anywhere from $5 to $100 or more on items that you don’t want to keep. You set the price and see if anyone’s willing to pay it.
The app charges a 10% fee on the total cost, including shipping. So, if you sell an item for $20 and charge $10 shipping, Depop will charge you $3. However, since you do this through PayPal, you’ll be subject to those fees, too.
Decluttr specializes in electronics and other items. You can find a market for old CDs, DVDs, and games, as well as books; there’s even a Lego marketplace that I’m trying out for some of my son’s unwanted sets.
All you have to do is enter the barcode for your item into Decluttr; this works well for CDs and DVDs. The app makes it easy to scan the barcodes. For electronics, you can simply search for the item and describe it.
With my personal Lego-selling experience, I found that you weigh them instead of selling them in sets. I was offered $1 per pound of Legos, which was kind of disappointing. However, I took some of his loose Legos and remains of sets that couldn’t be reassembled and weighed them. When added to other items in the order, including $15 for a Blu-ray and $5 for an old CD player, the amount I earned wasn’t terrible.
I did preserve some of the more expensive sets, though, to sell on eBay instead. With the instructions and complete pieces, I should be able to get back more than half of what I originally paid.
With Decluttr, all you have to do is accept an offer and print out a shipping label. You won’t have to pay shipping or any other fees.
Once Decluttr receives your merchandise, you receive payment via PayPal. You don’t have to worry about commissions. What Decluttr offers is what it pays you — as long as you haven’t misrepresented the condition of your merchandise.
Do you have old textbooks? If you have the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), you can sell them back using BookScouter. You can’t set the prices, though. Basically, the app uses the ISBN and the condition of the book to provide an offer. Then, you can decide whether to accept the offer and send in your book.
The company has dozens of buyback vendors included in one search. Shipping is free, so you don’t have to worry about those costs eating into the amount you receive.
Side hustle from your phone
“Let’s be honest. Many of the apps you download and use aren’t going to provide you the big bucks,” said Tom Drake, a financial analyst and the founder of financial education website MapleMoney.
“Really easy money isn’t going to replace your day job or even give you a way to keep up with a part-time income,” Drake continued. “The good news is that you can make some solid cash by using your phone with a side hustle.”
Here are some side hustle ideas that can help you make the most of your smartphone.
18. Uber (and Lyft)
Depending on where you live and the times you drive, it’s possible to make pretty decent money driving for rideshare services, such as Lyft and Uber. For instance, I made $200 over the course of five hours by shuttling people from place to place during my hometown’s annual Beerfest as a Lyft driver.
Plan out your availability to coincide with special events, airline departures and arrivals, and weekend bar runs. You might be able to make a solid part-time income. However, keep in mind that gas and wear and tear on your car will eat into your profits.
19. Amazon Flex
You can make $18 to $25 an hour delivering for Amazon Flex. Use the app to schedule your availability ahead of time, or check to see if there’s an open block. Then, make your deliveries and track your earnings using the app. You can work around your own schedule, and there’s potential to make a part-time income each month.
20. Working Solutions
This side hustle entails literally talking on the phone and helping with customer service. Working Solutions outsources call center activities to agents who work from home. Pay starts at $9, and you could work as much as 15 to 40 hours or more a week.
However, Wesley pointed out that you might have to maintain some sort of a regular schedule if you expect to make this side hustle work. Some of the jobs require you to answer calls during certain hours or be available for other work.
Are you an expert in some field? If so, you can make money by being available (on your own schedule) to answer others’ questions through JustAnswer.
Your rate is actually set by the person asking the question. The client sets what they’re willing to pay and you submit an answer. If yours is accepted, you get paid a portion of the fee, depending on your expertise level. So, you could potentially answer questions and not get paid.
You do have to go through an approval process before you can start offering your expertise or professional opinion. However, once you get set up, you could potentially make hundreds of dollars a month, depending on how often you’re available.
If your home is in an in-demand area, you could make a few hundred dollars a month.
Users who are skilled at handiwork can earn money through the Handy app. From cleaning to small fix-it projects, you can make between $22 and $45 an hour by signing up with Handy. Use the app on your smartphone to manage your gigs. After receiving a few reviews, you could start earning even more money.
Looking for simple side jobs to do around town? Download the Gigwalk app to get access to a variety of tasks that can be taken care of almost anywhere.
Some gigs are simple and take five minutes. Others might require a commitment of a few hours. However, no matter what you do, you could earn between $3 and $100 per gig. So, depending on what’s available in your area, it’s possible to make a solid income, just from using your phone.
Deliver food from various restaurants to their customers with Grubhub. You can create a schedule that makes sense for you, allowing you to work when it’s most convenient.
Manage your pickups and deliveries from your phone. You get to keep 100% of the tips you receive on top of typical wages. Grubhub bases your pay on your location and the market. So you’ll be paid per order, plus 50 cents per mile from the restaurant to the customer.
Glassdoor puts the average Grubhub delivery base pay at $13 an hour.
Make more money with your phone
In the end, it’s all about what you make of the situation and how you focus your time.
“Pay attention to the activities that provide you the highest return for the time you invest,” said Drake. He suggested combining different strategies to boost results, as well as seeing if you can use multiple apps to make more off your side hustles.
“Realize, too, that sometimes it’s not about making a ton of money. If you can make a quick five bucks while you’re standing in line at the grocery store, that’s something,” Drake pointed out. “After all, that’s money you wouldn’t have made otherwise.”
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