Times are rough and everyone can use a couple of extra bucks for the holidays.
Fear not though, tech has come to save you (sort of, provided you don’t need any serious cash) with apps that let you earn real money from an Android or iOS device.
There’s certainly no shortage to choose from, but many don’t have the glowing reviews you’d want, given the investment of time required – and some seem to be an outright scam.
I’ve avoided ones that seem to be attracting a lot of problems and shied away from apps that require you to endlessly watch video ads or fill out long surveys to earn cash, though there are those too, if that’s your thing.
Naturally, a lot of the apps will require your input or personal data in exchange for a payout, but then TNW’s Web-savvy readers probably knew that already, didn’t you?
Bitwalking is a new app that lets you earn Bitwalking dollars (BW$) simply for going about your daily routine.
Once you get in, all you have to do is keep moving to start earning. You will need to do rather a lot of walking though – somewhere around 10,000 steps for 1 BW$. If you spend all day wandering around for your job anyway, however, what is there to lose?
At launch, the company said you’d be able to redeem your earnings against items offered through its own store, or transfer the cash to your bank account. The service is still being tested though, so could be subject to change in the future.
Slidejoy is an Android-only app that certainly isn’t going to make you rich, but nor do you really have to do anything to eventually get a payout from the service easier.
In a nutshell, it puts ads and news on your lockscreen, and in exchange you earn ‘Carats’ that can be exchanged for real money and checked into your PayPal account.
For signing up you get 20 Carats, and you’ll need 2,000 or more to check anything out – 1,000 Carats equals $1.
The number of Carats you get each day can vary, so it might be slow going but if you can tolerate ads on your lockscreen, it’s free money. You don’t get any additional Carats for interacting with the ads either, so there’s no incentive to click if you’re not interested in what’s on offer.
Pact is one of the more unusual money-making apps in the list in that it focuses on getting you to stick to your exercise regime.
You sign up to the commitment you’re comfortable with (based around food intake, how often you plan to work out etc.) and then pledge an amount that you’ll pay if you miss those goals.
If you make them, you’re paid rewards directly from members who failed to achieve their targets.
Judging from the reviews, you’re not likely to make more than about $100 – $150 per year, but you might stay healthy and live a little longer too.
The company says the average reward is between $0.30 and $5 per week, depending on the number of activities you commit to. The amount that you stake on your own activity has no bearing on your payout.
The downside of that is that it could end up costing you a whole heap of money if you don’t stick to your goals – and some of the reviews aren’t all that positive.
Google Opinion Rewards
This is one that most certainly falls into the ‘never going to make you much cash’ category, but for Android users it’s a bit of a no-brainer.
In short, once you’ve installed the app, it’ll pop up a survey every now and again. In exchange for answering a few questions – they’re never more than a few questions, and it tells you how many are in each survey – you get a small amount of credit added directly to your Google Play balance, where it can be redeemed across movies, games, apps and anything else for sale there.
The amount that you get is small, but each survey takes such a short time that filling it in is worthwhile, provided you’re happy sharing the data. It’s worth pointing out that not all the surveys have a payout, but the majority do.
Foap is a well-known app for turning your photos into cash, so we’ll keep this introduction brief.
All you need to do is upload your photos and sell them through the Foap market – and to keep things simple, each shot costs $10 to buy.
Creators get half of each sale, and the cash can then be transferred into your bank account.
What makes Foap attractive is its simplicity and ability to upload shots directly from your phone from other photography apps like Instagram, Flickr and EyeEm.
This is one just for users in the US, but if you’re willing to do a few mystery shopper tasks (going into stores and checking stock levels of a specific item, timing how long customer service takes, taking photos etc.) then you can earn cash in exchange for your time.
The app displays Missions on a map view for you to find a nearby assignment. Once you’ve completed it, the team manually checks the submission and then credits you the points, which can be exchanged for gift cards, cash or other rewards.
Snapwire is another image-based money-making app in this list, but it’s not quite the same as any of the others in this list as it puts the emphasis on the photographer, rather than just the photographs.
This isn’t so much an app for the everyday snapper as for the semi-pro/professional photographer.
There are two options for selling your photos: requests and challenges, or in a more conventional marketplace – though Snapwire hand-curates your best snaps, making them searchable and including them in the stock image database.
The requests and challenges route requires you to start as an ‘Explorer’ by submitting images to Snapwire Challenges to earn points. Once you’ve leveled up, you’ll be able to take part in paid buyer Requests or take direct commissions from clients.
Photographers keep 70 percent of earnings through the marketplace route.
MiPic bills itself as a social marketplace for your photographs, a little like Foap, except that your images can be printed onto a whole range of things and purchased by other users directly through the platform.
There’s an iOS app but no native Android version – though you can still use the Web interface via your phone.
The items that have been bought are then made and shipped (internationally) from the UK. The creator of the image that was used for the item then gets credited up to 20 percent of the sale price, which can be checked into a PayPal account.
While it’s a similar idea to Foap, integrating the manufacturing of the products into the platform was a smart move that helps differentiate it from other image marketplaces.