The internet is a treasure chest of free cash — you just have to know where to look.
No, you can’t order money-tree seeds or buy a fully loaded cash cannon, but you can complete some quick and simple tasks to start making money online.
There are a number of companies, websites and apps that offer easy money, so we scoured the internet to find the best — and most legitimate — ways to tap into that extra cash.
1. Search For Unclaimed Money
State treasuries throughout the United Sates have more than $43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.
There are a few websites that allow you to check for unclaimed property, including the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and MissingMoney.com. (Beware of scam look-alike sites!)
It takes less than a minute to check. The Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name — $56 from a “matured insurance policy.”
Sure, it’s $56, but what an effortless way to tap into some extra money fast!
2. Invest in Good Causes, and Get a $50 Bonus
Investing can be a great way to grow your money, but have you carefully considered which companies you’re willing to back? Their morals and values? You probably wouldn’t want to invest in a company that’s destroying our oceans or cheating the system.
With Swell Investing you can invest in companies that are committed to clean water, zero waste, renewable energy or disease eradication, to name a few.
Plus, when you invest $50 in one of these companies, Swell Investing will match you with a $50 bonus! Just use the code PENNY after making your initial investment.
Swell doesn’t have any trading fees, price tiers or expense ratios. It charges a 0.75% annual fee — that’s about the cost of one coffee ($3.75) per year if you invest $500.
Get started with Swell by signing up with your email address here.
Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.
3. Find Hidden Money in Your Inbox
It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you money. Intrigued?
One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.
To save time, mom and blog manager Aimee B. does the majority of her shopping online — about 90% of it, she estimates. She stocks up on groceries, clothes and household necessities without leaving home.
In the past two years, Paribus has found Aimee $1,315.41 in savings while shopping online.
“It really is as simple as giving your email address,” she says. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”
Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get compensated.
Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.
4. Get Paid to Share Your Opinion on Survey Sites
Companies will pay you for your opinions when it comes to judging their brands and gauging your shopping habits.
Survey sites are a great place to get money and gift cards through sign-up bonuses if you’ve got some spare time.
Here are a few options we like:
- MyPoints: With MyPoints, you can earn gift cards for taking polls and filling out surveys. Once you complete your first five surveys, you’ll earn a $5 bonus.
- Survey Junkie: It doesn’t take long to earn points on this survey site. Take all the profile surveys to earn an easy 200 points or so upfront. Then, once you earn 1,000 points — equal to $10 — you can cash out for a gift card or cash via your PayPal account.
- Swagbucks: This one is definitely a reader favorite. You can make money through surveys but also when you watch videos and answer polls. You’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB (points) within your first 60 days. Then you can cash out for as little as $3 and get an Amazon gift card.
- Vindale Research: This free online survey site offers some high-paying offers ($50 for one survey?!). Plus, you’ll earn $1 when you sign up. Hit $50, and redeem your earnings for a check or via PayPal.
5. Send This Company Your Junk Mail
How many ads do you receive in your mailbox each day? What about in your inbox?
The Small Business Knowledge Center is a market research firm that studies the way companies advertise via mail and email marketing — and it wants to see what you’ve been receiving.
Sign up as a panelist, and start sending your qualifying junk mail in, via postage-paid envelopes. You can also forward your emails. You’ll earn points along the way, which you can redeem for a Visa debit card.
The site says frequent participants earn up to $20 every six to 10 weeks — not bad for getting rid of your junk mail.
6. Invest in Cannabis and Get a $5 Bonus
You don’t just want to invest. You want to invest in an industry you believe in. One that could take off and make money.
You want to invest in cannabis, and now you can. You don’t have to have tons of money to invest in the cannabis industry. Using a micro-investing app like Stash, you can invest in increments as little as $5.
Need a nudge? Right now, The Penny Hoarder is teaming up with Stash to give you an extra $5 after your first investment.
Stash curates investments from professional fund managers and investors and lets you choose where to put your money. It offers more than 40 exchange-traded funds, including one for those who are already seeing green on the cannabis horizon.
But it leaves the complicated investment terms out of it. You just choose from a set of simple portfolios reflecting your beliefs, interests and goals.
Once you sign up with Stash, take a look at the app’s portfolio options, including one cannabis-related ETF, to find an investment blend that meets your goals. You can be as conservative or aggressive as you need to be.
7. Sign up for This Credit Card for a $150 Bonus
If you’re not using a rewards credit card for everyday purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
You just have to be sure you don’t get too carried away with those purchases — and that the card is paid off at the end of each billing period.
Here’s an option we like: It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
There’s no annual fee, and the cash-back rewards don’t expire.
Get signed up — and 0% intro APR for 15 months — here.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
8. Get $10 Now, Plus Cash Back After Each Grocery Run
Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within Ibotta. Then shop.
When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes to get paid.
Some deals we’ve seen include:
- 25 cents cash back for any item
- 25 cents back on strawberries
- 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks
- $1 back on a box of tea
- $5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer
Notice a lot of those aren’t tied to a brand — just shop for the staples on your list, and earn money!
Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
9. Start an Automated Savings Account With a Free $5
Been meaning to save money? An extra $5 to start your account would be nice, right?
Digit is an innovative app that automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.
Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $5 just for signing up. Additionally, savers will receive a 1.00% bonus every three months.
Using this set-it-and-forget-it strategy, one Penny Hoarder saved $4,300 without noticing — read his Digit review.
If you need that money sooner than expected, you’ll always have access to it within one business day.
Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $2.99 per month afterward.
10. Open a Shiny New Bank Account for an Extra $350
Not happy with your bank? Open a new bank account — but first find a promotional offer to earn cash.
We like the Chase Total Checking® account.
You’ll get a $200 bonus when you open a new Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit.
Then you’ll get a $150 bonus when you open a new Chase Savings℠ account, deposit a total of $10,000 or more in new money within 20 days, and maintain a $10,000 balance for 90 days. You’re not required to open the savings account to earn the $200 Chase checking bonus.
To get started, visit this Chase Total Checking® page* to apply online, or enter your email address to get a unique coupon to take with you to open your account at any Chase branch.
This coupon expires July 15, 2019, so you’ll need to complete the application before then.
This offer is available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
11. Find Savings in Your Monthly Utility Bills
Finding free money doesn’t always mean digging up a treasure chest. You can find hidden money (ahem, savings) by negotiating your bills.
Instead of sitting on hold, use Trim, a digital personal assistant that’ll negotiate your bills for you. We’re not just talking your cable bill, either. It’ll also negotiate your internet, cell phone, home security and XM radio bills.
William Ellis, a Trim user in Ellettsville, Indiana, uploaded PDF copies of his Dish, Comcast and Sprint bills to Trim. That’s all he had to do — Trim worked behind the scenes, eventually notifying him of his savings.
“Yes, anybody can call and do this,” Ellis points out, “but do you?”
Curious how he did? Trim reduced his bills by:
- $385.20 a year on Dish.
- $800.18 a year on Comcast.
- $80.04 a year on Sprint.
Trim reduced Ellis’ bills by a total of $1265.42 per year.
If Trim successfully negotiates on your behalf, it charges an upfront fee equal to 33% of your first year of savings, and you keep the rest. (Hey, Trim’s gotta get rewarded for its expert negotiation skills!) But that’s still a big chunk of savings.
To get started, no need to pick up the phone. Just sign up through Facebook or with your email address, and upload your bills!
12. Earn a $300 New-Driver Bonus with Lyft
Been looking for a new side hustle? A way to start making money on the side? Here’s an idea — and a way to get an extra $300.
Try driving with Lyft.
To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.
Right now, Lyft is offering a $300 sign-on bonus to new drivers when you use code EXTRA300. Here’s what you need to qualify:
- You must be approved to drive within 30 days of your application start date.
- Once you’re in, complete 100 rides within your first 30 days of being a Lyft driver.
And just like that, the bonus cash is yours. Easy, right?
13. Use an Automatic Cash-Back App
There are a ton of ways to earn cash back on your day-to-day purchases, but here’s one that doesn’t require you to take photos of receipts, claim offers or watch long video ads.
It’s Dosh. Download the app, link up your credit and debit cards, and go about your normal buying behavior. When you spend money at one of its connected stores, you’ll earn automatic cash back.
Once you earn $25, you can transfer the money directly to your bank account.
14. Get an Easy $36 a Year If You Shop on Amazon
Calling all Amazon shoppers!
This is such an easy, passive way to rake in an extra $36 a year. ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history. And you’ll be paid for every month you share!
When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information.
To earn your first gift card today:
- Sign up, and download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
- Open the app, and log in to your Amazon account to automatically share your purchase history. You’ll receive your Visa e-gift card code for $3 via email within 48 hours.
- Take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $3 each month.
Enjoy Your Free Money, Honey! (Just Be Careful of Scams)
Congratulations! You’ve made it through our list of ways to get free money.
Now, want to go out and find some more money on your own? Just remember: The internet can be a scary place, so be wary of scams. To vet a “free money” opportunity like we do, take these steps:
- Search the company or website’s name on Google. Read reviews, look up Better Business Bureau ratings, and sign up for scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Don’t offer your personal or financial information unless you absolutely trust the site. You should never have to pay money in order to receive it.
- Give the company a call, and ask questions.
- Be skeptical, and if something’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t think you’ll get paid $1,000 for taking a five-minute survey.
Overall, just be smart! Or the easiest way is to just keep checking back in with The Penny Hoarder to find more ways to earn free money.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s a big fan of free money.