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Update July 2016: I have expanded and reposted this list here: 58 Smartphone Apps that Pay You.
I’m not a big believer in making an income from mystery shopping or surveys, but I also know that sometimes every little bit of cash you can bring in helps. This is how I feel about the many ways you can make money using your smart phone. Like mystery shopping and surveys, you’re not likely to pay the rent or buy groceries, but you can make mad money or that little extra to carry you through. Many will help you save money as well.
What’s really awesome about using your smartphone to make money is that much of the time, you’re already doing the activity that generates money. For example, you travel to the grocery store (The Ride App gives points for mileage tracking), you enter stores (ShopKick will give you deals and points just for entering stores), buy some stuff (earning rewards from Ibotta), and get your receipt (earning rewards from Receipt Hog). When you get home, you watch TV (earning points through Viggle). Plus, many of the apps below will pay you to scan barcodes, take pictures of displays or menus and more. It’s good to get paid or earn rewards by doing something you’re already doing!
You might be wondering why these companies are paying for your help? Just like in mystery shopping and surveys, many of these companies need feedback. But it’s more than that. Some need information, photos etc. Not all pay in cash, but those that don’t use a point system that you can redeem for gift cards at top retailers.
Please note, some of these resources act a little bit like “Big Brother” recording where you go (it’s how some of the points are earned), which means you need to have your phone set to be able to geo-track your location.
If you’re interested, here are a few places you can try out:
Checkpoints: Earn points by visiting your local stores, scanning the bar codes of certain items, taking quizzes or surveys, watching videos, referring other users and more. Available on iPhone and Android.
EasyShift: Pays via PayPal for tasks such as scanning a barcode, taking a photograph of displays, checking stock availability and more. Once you get the app, select a “Shift” in your area and complete it within the given time, usually 24-48 hours. Once the shift is completed, you’ll receive payment within 48 hours. It appears to be available only on iPhone at this time.
Field Agent: This is a microwork-type site except instead of doing work at home, you do tasks on the go such as checking stock availability or prices, mystery shopping, and surveys. Pays in money. It appears to be available only on iPhone at this time.
Gigwalk: Register and get the app, then take on assignments that interest you. Assignments can include just about anything such as getting menu information, checking road signs, and more. Pays in money. App available on both iPhone and Android.
Ibotta: Is a shopping app for iPhone and Android. Before going shopping, select a store to see what items offer rewards. Do a couple of tasks related to the items you want to purchase, then go shopping. When you purchase the items, you earn cash back. You need to take a picture of your receipt to verify purchases (this is difficult if you have a long receipt – my recommendation is to have Ibotta products on a receipt separate from your other purchases). Once you’ve earned $5, you can have it deposited into your PayPal account. You can earn more by referring other users.
Receipt Hogs: This company collect receipts to learn about consumer buying trends, which means you can shop anywhere and buy anything. When you’re done shopping, take a picture of your receipt, send to Receipt Hog and earn “coins” that can be paid through PayPal or with an Amazon gift card.
Shopkick: Is actually a shopping app designed to help you find great stuff at the stores you visit, but it also rewards you with free stuff and “ShooKicks” that can be redeemed for gift cards. You can also do small jobs such as scanning a bar code to earn “Shopkicks”. Finally, refer your friends for more “Shopkicks.” App available on iPhone and Android.
Swagbucks: This program has been around for awhile and is popular among couponers and mom bloggers. It’s an online program, but it does have iPhone and Android apps. Earn 30 swag points just for registering and earn more by completing tasks such as watching a video, responding to surveys and more. You can redeem your swag bucks for gift cards at places like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target and more.
The Ride App: To be honest, I’m not sure of the purpose (i.e. why they want your mileage info) of this app or the source of money, but basically, this app will track the miles you travel by foot, car, bike, skateboard, etc and give you “Ride Points” that you can redeem for gift cards. It appears to be for iPhone only.
Viggle: If you like TV and music, this is the app for you. Download the app (iPhone and Android) and then “check in” whenever you sit down to watch TV. Viggle can even tell you what’s on. You can also earn points when listening to music using song match, doing surveys, becoming a “fan” of shows, and referring friends. There is a social component that allows you to connect with other fans. Redeem points for electronics, trips, gift cards or entry into sweepstakes.