You need extra money, but you’re not sure where to start (or what’s legit). Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
NerdWallet rounded up 25 legitimate ways to earn some extra income — at home or out and about — and listed each option based on how fast you can get started and get paid. While most people prefer fast cash, don’t discount the “slow” gigs, as they may pay more in the long run.
[Due to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, some of these suggestions may not be currently viable, given measures in place to control spread of the virus.]
1. Sell your gently used clothes
Selling clothes you no longer wear is a quick way to make some money. Start with local consignment shops for faster cash or use sites like ThredUp and Poshmark to find buyers. If you go the online route, be sure to take clear, well-lit photos of your pieces and research similar items to set competitive prices. Get tips on how to sell your clothing.
- You can sell used clothing and accessories several ways, but they’re all pretty quick to start.
payment: fast to medium
- Fast: A brick-and-mortar consignment store like Plato’s Closet will give you cash on the spot.
- Medium: Other in-person and online consignment shops pay you when your items sell, or when they receive and inspect your items. Either way, allow at least a month for your payout.
- Gently worn shoes, clothing and accessories.
2. Trade in old phones, electronics for cash
Have an old phone, iPad or gaming system lying around? Sell it on a site like Swappa or Gazelle. Check out Amazon’s trade-in program, which pays participants in Amazon gift cards — and eBay, too. If you’re in a rush, try an ecoATM kiosk, which offers cash on the spot for your device. Learn more about selling used phones.
- Selling directly (Swappa, Letgo, Craigslist): In most cases, you take photos of the phone, verify the electronic serial number (ESN) is clean and post your listing. Some sites review and approve postings, but the time is minimal.
- Selling to reseller (Gazelle): Answer a few questions online for an instant quote.
Payment: Fast to Medium
- Selling directly: When you get paid depends on how quickly your phone or device sells. Once the item sells, payment is fast.
- Selling to reseller: First, you need to ship your phone to the reseller, which will then inspect it before payment is sent via methods such as check, PayPal or an Amazon electronic gift card, depending on the reseller.
- A used phone, laptop, gaming system, etc.
- Cell phones: You need to verify the phone is not stolen or under a repayment plan.
3. Drive for Uber, Lyft
Join Uber or Lyft (or both) and earn money by driving passengers around. Just don’t forget to factor in gas and maintenance costs. You need an eligible car in good condition and must agree to a background check and a review of your driving history. Learn more about what it takes to drive for Uber and Lyft.
- Allow a few weeks for the application process, background check and car inspection.
- Lyft and Uber can pay you instantly through a debit card or transfer earnings to your bank account pretty quickly.
- A car with four doors. It must also meet other requirements, such as year, physical condition, etc.
- Let your car insurance company know of your plans before you start driving.
4. Make deliveries for Amazon, Uber Eats
Take advantage of the growing delivery trend and sign up for a service like Instacart, Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash or Amazon Flex. You get paid per delivery, in most cases, and can even earn tips. A car isn’t always required — Postmates and, in some cities, DoorDash, lets you use a bike or scooter to make deliveries. However, a background check almost always is part of the deal. Learn more about how to get started with Amazon Flex, Uber Eats and Instacart.
- The background check can take up to five days, although that timing can vary.
- Instacart pays weekly. DoorDash pays weekly or, for a fee, daily.
- Amazon Flex pays twice a week.
- Uber Eats pays out weekly or daily, depending on the option you select.
- You’ll need a way to deliver items. It could be a car, scooter or bike, depending on the service.
- A smartphone is necessary to accept and process jobs.
- Each delivery service has a minimum age requirement, but it varies by service.
5. Become a dog walker or dog sitter
Love dogs? Consider becoming a dog walker. Apps like Wag! and Rover offer on-demand dog walking, so you can pick up walks when your schedule allows. If you have space (and your landlord’s permission, if you rent), you could offer overnight dog boarding. Read the fine print if you sign up for these services
- It can take up to five business days for your Rover profile to be reviewed and approved.
- The application process for Wag! can take from one to three weeks, and you must pass a quiz.
- Rover: Your payments will be ready for withdrawal two days after completing a service. If you use PayPal to receive your payment, you’ll be able to redeem it within an additional one to four days and incur no fees. If you’d rather be paid via check, that can take up to five business days to process, up to 20 days to arrive and cost you a $5 fee.
- Wag! walkers get paid weekly; some are eligible to be paid instantly to a debit card for a small fee.
- For Rover or Wag!, you’ll need to live in an area where the service operates.
- If you want to pet-sit, you’ll need an apartment or house that allows pets.
- You’ll have to pass a background check.
6. Get a babysitting gig
Everyone from college students to recent retirees can make money by watching other people’s children. Word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family are still a great way to get started, but you can also create a profile for free on Care.com or Sittercity to expand your reach. Note any specialized skills, such as CPR certifications or experience with special needs children, to make yourself more marketable.
- You can create a profile on Care.com or Sittercity in a matter of minutes.
- You typically get paid when you complete your gig.
- You usually need to be at least 18 to list as a caregiver on Care.com and Sittercity.
7. Find work as a housesitter
If you’re willing to watch someone’s home — and maybe feed the pets, water the plants and take out the garbage — become a housesitter. Tap your personal network for referrals or try out HouseSitter.com, which connects homeowners with housesitters. People often make $25 to $45 a day, according to the company’s website.
- You can create a profile on HouseSitter.com in a matter of minutes, though it may take time to secure your first housesitting gig.
- You typically get paid by the homeowner when you complete your gig.
- Most sites have an age requirement.
8. Sell unused gift cards
Sell unused gift cards on a site like Cardpool, CardCash or Gift Card Granny. These websites say they will pay you up to 92% of the card’s value. On CardCash and Gift Card Granny, you can also trade in your card for one you’ll use. Cardpool and Gift Card Granny also have kiosks and cashier-assisted locations so you can get cash on the spot. Read more about what to do with unwanted gift cards.
- You can get an instant offer or quote via sites like Cardpool, CardCash and Gift Card Granny.
- You can sell gift cards at kiosks and participating retail locations to get cash the same day, or try to sell it online. The latter takes longer, but you may get a better offer for your gift card.
- Your gift card may need to meet a minimum balance to be resold. Not all cards will generate offers.
9. Pick up freelance work online
Websites such as Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.com offer opportunities to do a variety of freelance jobs, such as writing, programming, design, marketing, data entry and being a virtual assistant. Fluent in a second language? Check sites such as Gengo or One Hour Translation, or drum up business through a site of your own. No matter what kind of freelancing you do, keep track of the going rate for the kind of work you provide so you know if you’re charging too much or too little. Learn how to get started on Upwork.
- Upwork will approve your profile within 24 hours. But keep in mind it can take time to land your first freelance gig.
- Payment varies by site. On Upwork, you’re paid after you and the client review the work, 10 days after the billing period ends. On Fiverr, you’re paid when the work order is complete, but you can’t withdraw funds for another 14 days.
- Upwork requires users to be at least 18. Fiverr sets the age requirement at 13. And Freelancer.com requires users to be at least 16.
- Some sites require you be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
10. Test websites and apps
Sites such as UserTesting.com will pay you for your thoughts on how well — or not so well — certain websites and apps worked. You’ll have to pass a short test to be accepted, then you’ll be paid $10 for each 20-minute test, which involves a recording and answering four follow-up written questions. Or you could earn up to $120 to participate in a video conversation with a customer after your test.
- You typically need to complete a sample test as part of the application process.
- You will start receiving testing opportunities after your application is approved.
- The timeline for approval can vary.
- You get paid seven days after completing a website or app test.
- Payment is issued via PayPal.
- You need to be at least 18.
- You need a computer, internet connection and microphone.
- Mobile app testers also need an Android or iOS mobile phone or tablet.
11. Pick up tasks on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
Even in the age of automation, some jobs still require a human touch. Companies often outsource those jobs via services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. As a “worker,” the tasks you’ll be assigned can be tedious — tagging images, transcribing videos, classifying receipts — and can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Temporary employers or “requesters” set the price for each task and get to approve the finished product before paying you. That can leave room for scams, so do your research, and join a community like the MTurk Crowd forum, or the MTurk and Turker Nation subreddits, which can steer you away from shifty dealers. These communities and fellow “workers” can answer questions and give a realistic idea of how much money you can expect to make. Read more about Mechanical Turk as a way to make quick money online.
- It’s unclear how long it takes Amazon to review your application, but according to the MTurk subreddit, it can take several days to learn if you were approved or denied.
- After you submit your work, the requester has 30 days to approve it.
- You can have your earnings deposited into your bank account or put on an Amazon gift card.
- You must be at least 18 to register for Mechanical Turk.
- You also need an Amazon account to register for Mechanical Turk.
12. List your spare bedroom on Airbnb
Making your home or spare bedroom available on vacation rental sites can provide a lucrative side income. Be prepared to spend some money to clean and keep up the property, replace home goods and pay toward service fees. And scrutinize your rental agreement before you get started.
Learn how to cash in on short-term rentals.
- You can create a listing and start accepting reservations in the same day.
Payment: fast to medium
- Payment is typically disbursed about 24 hours after your guest’s scheduled check-in time, but processing time for that payment depends on the payout method. PayPal, Western Union and Payoneer Prepaid debit cards are the fastest options; payment through them appears within one business day.
- Comply with any rules governing short-term or vacation rentals in your property, including city ordinances and rules issued by your landlord, condo board or homeowners association.
13. Rent out your car
City-dwellers often don’t use their cars for days or weeks at a time. That idle time can translate to money with services like Getaround and Turo, which let you rent out your car by the hour or day. You take home the majority of those earnings, while Getaround or Turo takes a cut for protecting your car while it’s being rented.
- You can create a listing on Turo or Getaround in under 30 minutes.
Payment: medium to slow
- Turo initiates payment within three hours of the end of the rental. (This is the case for all trips after the first one, which takes a few days for Turo to send.) Payment is issued via direct deposit and can take up to three business days to appear in your account. For rentals longer than one week, Turo issues partial payments every seven days.
- Getaround rental earnings accrue monthly and are paid out by the 15th of the following month. Payments are made via check or PayPal.
- You must own your car. Or, if you lease your car, check the terms of your agreement and financing documents to make sure you’re allowed to share it.
- Your car must meet certain requirements (make/model/year/mileage) and satisfy maintenance and safety standards.
- You should have a current, valid driver’s license.
- You must meet the site’s age requirement, which is commonly 21 years old.
14. Take surveys for money
You can generate a small side income taking online surveys, but don’t expect to be rolling in the dough. Survey sites don’t typically offer a big payoff, and many sites are more useful for earning gift cards than cash. Some of the more popular survey sites include Swagbucks and Survey Junkie. Read our analysis of a dozen survey sites to find out which one is best suited for you.
- You can register with a site and start taking surveys in a matter of minutes.
- The time it takes to get paid depends on the survey site and how much time you dedicate to taking surveys.
- Some sites let you cash out only after you hit a minimum earnings threshold. With InboxDollars, for example, the threshold is $30.
- Other survey sites issue points, which can be redeemed for cash (via PayPal) or gift cards.
- Most survey sites have a minimum age requirement, which ranges from 13 to 18, depending on the site.
- Individual surveys may have specific requirements. Don’t be surprised if you are disqualified from a survey without much explanation.
15. Sign up for TaskRabbit
If you actually enjoy putting together Ikea furniture or standing in long lines, you may be cut out for doing tasks for others. Websites like TaskRabbit can connect you with people who need help with a variety of things, such as moving, cleaning, delivery and handyman services. Read about how to get started on TaskRabbit.
- You can set up your profile and register in a matter of hours, but can’t start accepting tasks until your profile is approved by TaskRabbit.
- The company processes registration on a rolling basis to avoid over saturation in a given market. How quickly your application is approved will depend on demand in your area.
- Note that once approved, you need to pay a $25 fee and attend an orientation. So you may first want to research your market and the value of your skills to determine if that fee is worth it to you.
- You’re paid after the task is completed through direct deposit. Payment typically takes a few days to appear in your account.
- You need to be at least 18 to start working with TaskRabbit.
- Prospective Taskers must also pass a background check.
16. Sell your photography
Turn your photographs into cash via sites like Fine Art America, which lets you upload your images to sell as prints, T-shirts, phone cases and more. Other marketplaces for photographers include SmugMug, 500px and PhotoShelter. Some sites require a subscription but may provide features ranging from cloud storage to password-protected galleries and a customized website.
- You can set up a profile with sites like SmugMug, PhotoShelter or Fine Art America in a few hours, assuming you have a body of original work.
payment: medium to slow
- Payment varies widely depending on the site.
- Fine Art America: Payment issued after 30-day return window expires. Sent on 15th of each month.
- PhotoShelter: Payment issued at time of sale to your chosen payment method (PayPal, Stripe, etc.).
- SmugMug: You can request payment be issued the following month if you have a balance of at least $5.
- Requirements vary by site, but you need to have all necessary rights to the images you sell.
17. Become a private tutor
Parlay your math, science, foreign-language or test-prep expertise into a lucrative side gig by becoming a private tutor. You can tutor people online or in-person. What you charge can depend on your experience, expertise and what’s in demand. To get started, see what types of tutors are needed on Craigslist or create a profile on sites like Tutor.com or Care.com. You can also advertise your services at local schools and community centers.
startup time: fast
- Startup time depends on demand in your area. It could take a while before you get your first student.
- If you haven’t tutored before, you’ll want to allow for time to prep so students feel like they’re getting the most out of their time with you.
- How quickly you get paid depends on whether you tutor via a platform or in-person; either way, it likely won’t take long.
- You’ll need deep knowledge in an area that people need help understanding, like mathematics, a foreign language or test prep.
18. Make money from your blog as an affiliate
If you’re a blogger who gets decent traffic, you could make money by joining an affiliate network. Affiliates (that’s you) get paid when someone clicks through from the website to the partner site and buys something there. Some bloggers make a lot of money this way. Read more about affiliate marketing and other ways bloggers can make money.
- First, you need a blog, social media account or other online presence that draws a healthy number of visitors each month.
- Then, you need to apply for and be approved by an affiliate marketing network like CJ Affiliate, ShareASale, FlexOffers or Amazon Associates.
- Payment schedules and thresholds vary by affiliate network, but expect to wait at least a month or two for your first paycheck.
- Amazon Associates pays out earnings 60 days after the end of the calendar month in which they were earned. You must have a balance of at least $10 for earnings to be disbursed.
- ShareASale disburses earnings on the 20th of each month, if you earned $50 or more the previous month.
- A blog, social media account or other online presence that attracts a steady stream of visitors.
19. Sell your wares on Etsy
Have a penchant for woodworking, jewelry-making, embroidery or pottery? Sell your goods on Etsy, the go-to site for artisans selling home goods, art and knickknacks. Etsy boasts almost 48 million active buyers and grossed $5 billion in merchandise sales in 2019, according to the website. Learn more about how to make money on Etsy.
- Opening an Etsy shop is the easy part. It can be done in a few hours.
- The prep work before you open up shop is more time-consuming. You need merchandise to sell, photos and descriptions to post, a name for your shop and a business plan to help you succeed. Once that’s done, you’ll still need to find customers. Depending on what you’re selling, that could take weeks, which is why you should expect the overall time for this gig to be slow.
- Once you sell an item, payment is deposited into your Etsy Payments account.
- In your first 90 days as a seller: Funds are available to deposit seven days after a sale.
- After your first 90 days, funds are available for deposit the next business day.
- If you’re over 13 years old but under age 18, you can sell on Etsy but would be considered a minor and must follow extra policies.
- You need to have all necessary rights to the merchandise sold in your shop.
20. Get advertising revenue from your blog or YouTube channel
Turn your cat videos into cash videos. If your YouTube videos or blog posts draw a big audience, you may be able to make money from advertising. With Google AdSense, businesses pay to advertise around your content. The service is free, but there are requirements you must meet. Read more about how to make money on YouTube and Google AdSense.
- Signing up for Google AdSense is pretty easy, but it can take anywhere from a day to several weeks for your account to be activated.
- Allow at least two months for ad revenue to start trickling in.
- You need to earn at least $100 before you’re eligible for a payout.
- Once you hit the $100 threshold, earnings are issued between the 21st and 26th of the following month. It can take four to 10 days to receive a payment via EFT and up to 15 days to receive payment as a wire transfer.
- Your own website that has been active for at least six months.
- For YouTube, you need more than 1,000 subscribers.
- You must be at least 18.
21. Become an Instagram influencer
Companies are using Instagram influencers — people with large, dedicated followings on the platform — to rep their products. You can get in on the action by applying for opportunities via a marketing platform like Open Influence or FameBit, or by contacting the brands you want to work with. Read more about how to make money on Instagram.
- Creating an Instagram account is quick, but building a following takes time. Allow a few months to build a large enough following to attract advertisers.
- Once you have the numbers, you’ll need to find paid opportunities. You can do this via affiliate networks or by pitching brands you want to work with.
- The time to receive your payment will depend on the terms of your agreement, but affiliate networks typically pay out earnings the month after a campaign is completed.
- An Instagram account with a dedicated, engaged following.
- You’ll also need to meet the requirements of any affiliate network.
22. Monetize your Twitch channel
Gaming can be a lucrative side gig once you build a steady following on Twitch, the go-to site for gamers. Broadcasters can receive donations from viewers and even get a share of subscription and ad revenue if they reach Affiliate or Partner status. Learn more about how to make money on Twitch.
- You can launch a Twitch channel and start streaming in a day, but it will take weeks or even months to build a following.
- Donation revenue can be withdrawn rather quickly, depending on the payout method.
- Subscription and ad revenue earned as a Twitch Partner or Affiliate is paid out 15 days from the end of the month, and you must have a balance of at least $100 to request a payout.
- You need to hit certain viewership and broadcast milestones to become a Twitch Affiliate or Partner and qualify for a share of game sales, ads and subscription revenue.
23. Sign up to be a mystery shopper
Businesses often want to know how they’re performing from a customer’s perspective. Sign up to be their eyes and ears. You can apply online via sites like IntelliShop, BestMark and Sinclair Customer Metrics. Just beware of scams and do thorough research before signing on.
setup: medium to slow
- The application process is typically quick, but then it’s in the company’s hands. It can take days, or even months, to assess your application, depending on demand.
- Payout timing varies by company. BestMark, for example, sends checks twice a month and payment is typically received three to four weeks after the mystery shop is complete.
- Most mystery shopping services have an age requirement. You have to be at least 18 to shop for BestMark.
- Depending on the service, you may need reliable transportation and internet access.
24. Find seasonal work
Need a gig for a few months? Try something seasonal, like being a lifeguard, shoveling snow or working at a retailer during the holidays. Employers typically staff up a month or two ahead of their busy season, so plan ahead to get on their payroll. Check storefront windows, Craigslist and local classifieds for seasonal opportunities.
setup: medium to slow
- Allow time for interviews, which can take a few weeks.
- Companies start hiring for seasonal jobs a month or two in advance.
- Unlike other side gigs, seasonal jobs often operate on a traditional payroll system. That means it may take a month from your start date to earn your first full paycheck.
- But you can expect a regular paycheck, with payroll taxes already withheld, which is something other side gigs don’t offer.
- It depends on the specific job, which could include being a minimum age, having a driver’s license, etc.
25. Put your drone to work
The market for drones is expanding. Companies hire out work like aerial inspection, photography and land mapping. So if you’re already a drone enthusiast, why not put your aircraft to work? You first need to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration and obtain certification from them for commercial use. Then, you can apply for gigs as a drone pilot. Learn how to make money with drones.
- More than a month, in order to study, schedule and pass a written test.
- You also need to find clients.
payment: fast to medium
- Payment will depend on your client.
- You’ll need a drone.
- To do this legitimately, you’ll need a certificate that involves passing an aeronautical knowledge test.
- A background check is also needed.
Watch out for scams
The internet is full of opportunities to make a quick buck online or from home, but many are questionable, if not outright scams. Be wary of any “opportunity” that asks for an upfront fee, wants you to pay for certification, or requests your Social Security number or any financial information, such as your credit card number.
Still unsure if an opportunity is legit? Look for community forums, like those on Reddit, for unfiltered reviews and complaints. (Workers on TaskRabbit, Uber and Lyft, for example, each have their own subreddit.) Also, check if the company has a Better Business Bureau profile. The BBB assigns ratings based on reported complaints, business transparency and other factors.