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Yes, you can make money from your phone. Just don’t expect to make millions this way, and fact-check influencers and bloggers who say you can.
But if you’re looking to supplement your income or earn a few bucks while you’re already staring and scrolling, you might as well reach for your trusty device.
The opportunities below include those you can do from the couch with just your phone, as well as those that require more effort.
5 ways to make money from your phone
1. Earn cash back
For a truly low-effort way to make money from your phone — or save money, depending on how you look at it — try a cash-back app. These apps typically offer rebates and discounts on everyday items.
Ibotta, for example, is one of the most popular and highly rated of this kind of app. Here’s how it works: First, search Ibotta’s app (or website) for cash-back offers on online and in-store purchases. Then make that purchase, show proof of the transaction and receive cash via PayPal or a gift card.
So, say you were planning a Walmart run. First, you’d search Ibotta for offers at Walmart. You could find an offer to receive $2.47 back on a certain brand of peanut butter. You’d “add” that offer in the app before buying that peanut butter at Walmart. Then you’d upload a photo of your Walmart receipt, and Ibotta would add $2.47 to your earnings until you were ready to withdraw.
Ibotta is far from the only app like this. The growing market for cash-back apps includes Fetch Rewards, RetailMeNot, GetUpside and many others.
2. Take surveys
Taking surveys for money isn’t particularly rewarding — we’re talking maybe a couple of dollars an hour. But it’s easy enough, particularly since many survey websites have their own mobile apps, including MyPoints, i-Say and Survey Junkie.
While these sites vary, they typically have you answer survey questions for points, then redeem those points. You may get paid in cash (often through PayPal) or other ways, like gift cards. Note that these sites usually require you to accumulate many points — so, lots of time — before you can redeem them.
To learn more about the pros and cons of these apps, read reviews in the iOS App Store and Google Play, as well as on SurveyPolice.com.
Once you begin taking surveys, protect your information. Never share your Social Security number, bank account number or driver’s license number.
3. Freelance or complete odd jobs
Fiverr, Upwork and other money-making apps connect freelancers to clients looking for labor. So, if you’re skilled in writing, marketing, design, web development or another area, you may be able to get paid for gigs.
Each site is different, but you typically get paid by project, either through PayPal or directly to your bank account. Both Fiverr and Upwork take a cut of your earnings.
Another way to make money with your phone and some grunt work is through the TaskRabbit app. Depending on your skills, experience and local opportunities, you could earn cash for running errands, assembling or moving furniture, shoveling snow, pet sitting, event staffing or just about anything else. You, the “Tasker,” earn an hourly rate for these gigs, minus a service fee, and there's a possibility of tips.
4. Leverage your content
If you already have a large social media or blog following, you may be able to make money from your phone. The most popular way to make money on Instagram, for example, is to get sponsored. People make money on TikTok by scoring sponsorships, too.
Say you regularly post about your beauty routines. A skincare company may want you to post a photo that includes its moisturizer. You can reach out to a potential sponsor, the sponsor can reach out to you or you can work with a third party to make the connection.
Note that cashing in on your content takes a lot of time, particularly if you don’t already have a large, dedicated following that’s attractive to advertisers. Research success stories and advice about making money this way.
5. Sell your stuff
If you have items to get rid of that are in good shape, you can probably find an app to help you sell them. For local sales, try the OfferUp mobile marketplace, although be aware that sellers are charged a service fee. Or explore more general apps with local buying and selling opportunities, such as Craigslist or Nextdoor.
Amazon and eBay are better apps for selling stuff online to a wider audience. If you’re looking to sell art, crafts or vintage wares, try making money on Etsy. If you specifically want to sell clothes online, try the Poshmark app.
Before selling through these apps, review their requirements and fee structure. And research the market. Learn how much comparable items are going for, so you don’t undersell or overvalue your goods.
Looking for more money?
You may need more help if your current income isn't covering basic expenses, like utilities. Learn about ways to save on a tight budget, including getting support and negotiating with service providers.