The Best Money-Making Apps for 2021 – Investopedia

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About 36% of U.S. workers are involved in the gig economy, and money-making apps have played a significant role in breaking down barriers that once kept people inside the office. Through free apps, you can earn income to pay off debt, supplement income, fund a hobby, and even support yourself full time. The best money-making apps allow you to work on your own time through a simple sign-up process while receiving fast and easy payment.
We researched more than a dozen money-making apps to find the best options based on factors like earning potential, how quickly you can receive payment, and app store ratings. This roundup will help you choose the best money-making app based on your goals, how you want to earn, and the time you’re willing to invest.
 Upwork
Upwork’s simplicity, streamlined communication and potential for freelancers to earn more over time make it the best money-making app, whether you’re picking up a side hustle or building a full-time freelance business.
Simple profile set-up to find work in hundreds of skill categories
Attract new clients based on reviews, total earnings, and score
Pursue ongoing or one-off projects by applying directly or receiving an invitation
Payment protection ensures payment for successful work
Service fee between 5% and 20%, depending on total earnings per client
Payment is delivered 10 days after billing period ends
Clients can easily shop for and select lower rates
As a freelance marketplace driving the gig economy, Upwork is the best money-making app for skilled workers to connect with clients, while managing projects in one place. For its broad range of available skill categories, profile-building features and limitless earning potential, Upwork wins best overall.  
Regardless of your previous experience, Upwork makes it simple and easy to create a profile and apply for new gigs. Freelancers can find opportunities across hundreds of skill categories spanning digital marketing, coding, translation, admin work, and much more. If you can do it on a computer, you can do it on Upwork. 
Through Upwork, you can apply for one-off opportunities or find ongoing work with clients. New reviews and a rising Job Success Score will make you a more attractive candidate for future opportunities. Qualified freelancers may receive invitations for exclusive opportunities. 
Project funds are held in escrow through Upwork’s Payment Protection program, which helps ensure safe and timely payment for freelancers. You can receive payment through direct deposit, PayPal, wire transfer, or other methods. Unfortunately, freelancer fees range from five to 20%. The more you earn from an individual client, the lower your fee percentage. Funds aren’t credited to your account until 10 days after the weekly billing cycle ends. 
As an independent contractor, you’ll have to pay taxes on earnings.
Available on: 
iOS: 4.6 stars 
Google: 4.3 stars
 Rakuten
Offering numerous cashback options for online and in-store purchases, Rakuten delivers a seamless process with rewarding sign-up and referral incentives.
Up to 40% cashback on purchases at thousands of qualifying retailers
$10 welcome bonus for spending $25
$20 bonus for referring new users who spend at least $20
Browser extension offers additional perks and features
Cashback rates as low as 1%
Users have reported app freezing issues
Must accrue $5 in cashback to redeem
Payouts occur every three months
Previously known as Ebates, Rakuten is the top money-making app for cashback, offering deals across numerous retailers along with inviting sign-up and referral incentives. Although you have to spend money to make money, the app lets you get a little cash back for purchases you’d be making anyway.
After registering, users can browse cashback offers at thousands of retailers, including Target, Best Buy, and Kohl's. To receive cashback, simply click into a retailer from the app or website and place an order. You can also receive cashback for in-store purchases by selecting the offer in the app and linking your card prior to purchasing. However, you can’t receive cashback without first taking these steps.
Cashback rates vary by retailer, ranging from 1% to 40%. You can browse available cashback deals by store, brand, and category directly through the app.
New users can qualify for a $10 welcome bonus after spending $25. You can also receive a $20 referral bonus for introducing new users who spend $20.
Users receive payment through PayPal or a check every three months. To qualify for a payout, you must accrue at least $5 in cashback.
This money-making app also helps computer users save money. The cashback button automatically applies all applicable coupons, saving you the trouble of comparing coupons. It also displays cashback potential in Google search results and notifications about cheaper pricing available at other retailers. 
Available on: 
iOS: 4.6 stars 
Google: 4.1 stars
 Survey Junkie
Survey Junkie has surveys that take 15 minutes or less to complete based on demographic questions, while offering instant payment via gift cards or PayPal.
Make money by completing relevant surveys for marketing and research companies
Also offers users the option to make money by sharing browsing data
Submits data anonymously to protect your identity
Redeem points for cash via PayPal or online gift cards
Pre-survey identity confirmation can become annoying
May receive invitations to expired surveys
Some surveys include repetitive questions to confirm validity
Partially completed surveys may be terminated if you don’t meet desired criteria
Partnering with brands and market research companies, Survey Junkie offers users the opportunity to complete surveys in exchange for points, which can be instantly redeemed for gift cards or payment via PayPal. For this reason, Survey Junkie wins as the best money-making app for surveys.
The sign-up process is simple. You create a profile by answering questions, allowing Survey Junkie to offer relevant surveys. Each survey awards a certain number of points, which can be exchanged for cash. One hundred points will earn you $1, whether you cash out with gift cards or choose payment via PayPal. At minimum, you need 500 points (or $5) to cash out.
Surveys take, on average, 15 minutes to complete. All surveys are optional. You can find available surveys in the dashboard, though some listed may no longer be active.
Some surveys include repetitive questions to verify your identity. Note that Survey Junkie reserves the right to disqualify and award partial points to users who don’t meet certain criteria at any point during the survey.
Beyond demographic-based surveys, this money-making app also offers the option to qualify for additional surveys based on browsing data. The Survey Junkie Pulse extension is available on both the mobile app and browser extension and tracks digital activity like searches, websites, shopping, and more to find new surveys for you.
Survey Junkie protects user data by submitting all responses anonymously.
Available on: 
iOS: 4.5 stars 
Google: 4.4 stars
Uber
Earn at your convenience by driving and delivering when you want to, and cash out on earnings up to five times per day.
Earn money on your schedule by accepting work when you want
Drive passengers and deliver food through one driver app
Cash out up to five times per day
Make $10 to $20 per hour after expenses
Up to $500 to recruit Lyft drivers
Model year requirements can prevent participation
Drivers must pay a service fee, which varies based on factors like cost and time
Earning potential is limited by location and demand
The driver app can be finicky
Uber offers users two ways to earn, immediate payouts, and a streamlined app for accepting new work, making it the best money-making app for car owners. This ridesharing and food delivery giant makes it easy for anyone with a car to earn at their convenience, provided you qualify. You must:
As an Uber driver, you can choose to either accept ride requests from passengers or deliver food through Uber Eats, all through the same app.
You can cash out up to five times per day. Your earnings for each trip vary based on a few factors, including:
Uber Eats pays drivers through a similar system. 
Keep in mind that, as a driver, you’ll need to cover the cost of car maintenance. Uber also charges drivers a service fee, which is deducted before payment. Because Uber drivers are considered independent contractors, you’ll have to pay taxes on earnings.
Available on:
iOS: 4.6 stars
Google: 3.7 stars
 OfferUp
OfferUp takes a modern approach to the Craigslist concept by allowing anyone to sell new or used items through its online marketplace.
Message potential buyers directly in the app
Simply to upload an image and sell
Set either a firm price or asking price, with room for negotiation
Receive cash payment for local transactions, or ship products nationwide
Unless you choose shipping, you’re responsible for delivery
Search results favor Promote Plus members and other promoted items
Shipping an item incurs a 12.9% fee (or a $1.99 minimum fee)
OfferUp, which acquired competitor Letgo, takes the stress out of selling online through its simple and easy-to-use marketplace. Because it has a streamlined listing process and gives users the choice to sell locally or nationwide, OfferUp wins as the best money-making app for selling old goods.
Users can list a new product by uploading a picture, entering a description, and setting a price. You can choose to set a firm price open to the first willing buyer, or an asking price with room for negotiation. Viewers can communicate with the seller directly through the app to ask questions or express their interest. 
OfferUp mainly facilitates local transactions, but users can also ship products. Rather than monitor offers and messages, you can set an item to “buy now” with a set price for shipping.
Because most transactions take place locally, buyers normally pay in cash. 
After a shipped item arrives, buyers have two days to evaluate it before the sale is finalized. Sellers then receive payment within five business days. 
Promoting your items helps potential buyers find them. You can choose to promote your item by either paying in a one-off transaction or purchasing a membership. There are two tiers of membership, allowing you to promote either one or five items at a time.
Users can verify their identity by confirming contact information or linking a Facebook account. For local transactions, OfferUp protects users by recommending safe public meet-up locations based on factors like lighting, surveillance, and more. 
Available on:
iOS: 4.8 stars
Google: 3.9 stars
 Swagbucks
Swagbucks doesn’t pay much, but it offers a variety of ways for users to earn cash, including cash back for qualifying purchases, as well as odd jobs like taking surveys, watching videos, playing games, and more.
Easily earn points
$10 joining bonus for users who spend $25
Earn 10% Swagbucks through referrals
Redeem points for gift cards or for cash via PayPal
Motivated users can earn $100 or more per month
Swagbucks aren’t very valuable; 100 SB=$1
Most tasks don’t award many points
Surveys may disqualify you during the process due to demographics
Receiving rewards takes up to 10 business days
Highest-paying surveys only available to specific audiences
While it won’t pay like other side hustles, Swagbucks is an easy way for anyone with a smartphone to make extra money by completing odd jobs, or by earning cashback, which is why it wins best for odd jobs.
This money-making app partners with marketing companies in order to pay users. You can earn Swagbucks (SB) by buying products, watching videos, taking surveys, playing games, and using search engines. 
Getting started is simple and doesn’t require payment info. The daily checklist feature helps users keep track of ways to earn.
Most tasks are easy, but not all award the same number of SB. Surveys take from five to 60 minutes and generally award users between 40 to 200 SB. With 100 SB valued at $1, earning enough points to cash out can take time.
Swagbucks’ survey options are chosen based on demographics. Only users who fit specific profiles, like owning a pet boa constrictor or having two sets of twins, can access higher-paying surveys. 
You can earn cashback on in-store purchases by linking a credit card. After spending $25 on purchases through retail partners, new users can earn a $10 joining bonus. Swagbucks also offers referral incentives.
You can redeem points for rewards immediately through Swagbucks, but receiving cash via PayPal or gift card codes could take up to 10 business days.
Available on:
iOS: 4.4 stars
Google: 4.1 stars
As the world inches closer to fully embracing the blossoming gig economy, there’s no shortage of money-making apps to supplement or replace your full-time job. Depending on your goals and preferences, there are a variety of options to choose from.
Rakuten is the best option for quick and easy cash back, while Swagbucks offers both cash back and other simple earning options. Drivers can easily earn on their own time by driving or delivering through the Uber app. When it comes to long-term earning potential, though, Upwork’s freelance marketplace takes the cake. Freelancers can apply for as many gigs as they like, all while building a reputable personal brand that leads to future work and higher rates.
Money-making apps help users easily earn money in a variety of ways, from supplementing your income to doing contract work full-time. There are money-making apps to:
Money-making apps won’t cost anything upfront; most are free to download and use. However, some may charge users fees, which are normally deducted from earnings. If you find a money-making app with a cost, do your research to confirm its legitimacy before paying. 
Most money-making apps provide only a small amount of cash in exchange for completing simple tasks like taking surveys, watching videos, or making purchases. Legitimate apps will also have a wealth of information available about how they pay and protect users.
If you’re skeptical of a money-making app, research the company. Before providing personal information, read reviews from other users online or on the app store. If an app seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have a smartphone, you can earn cash by using an app. There are many easy-to-use money-making apps that pay users for taking surveys, watching videos, purchasing products, and performing other simple tasks. You won’t get rich, but you can easily supplement your income.
We researched 14 money-making apps offering consumers the ability to earn income and evaluated each company based on the sign-up process, requirements, earning methods, earning potential, fees, and incentives. First, we looked at apps available across a number of popular categories. Then, we considered the benefits and drawbacks of each app as compared to competitors. We also assessed whether users have the opportunity to earn more by continuing to use the money-making app over time. 
All apps selected are available on both the iOS and Google app stores, with at least a 3.7-star rating and 20,000 reviews or more on both platforms.
SmallBizGenius. "The Future of Employment – 30 Telling Gig Economy Statistics." Accessed February 20, 2021.

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