The best legit money making apps can provide you with extra money you would not have otherwise just for takings surveys or playing games online.
The web’s #1 top app for taking surveys, watching videos, and playing games for cash online is Swagbucks. It’s a well-built platform that is well-reviewed, and widely available for Android, iOS, and through your internet browser.
Overview: Best apps to make money fast
- Best app for fast money: Swagbucks
- Best variety of games & surveys: InboxDollars
- Best cash back app: Capital One Shopping
- See more apps; read about the competition
People love Swagbucks because it’s a money making app that you can use anywhere, on your own schedule, to earn gift cards or cash rewards straight to your PayPal account.
Swagbucks is perhaps the web’s no. 1 venue for taking surveys, watching videos, and playing games for cash online. The platform is well-built, well-reviewed, and available for Android, iOS, and through your internet browser.
- Earn cashback with your daily routine
- Multiple ways to earn
- Free to join
- May not qualify for all activities
- Can be time consuming
- Where to play: Android, iOS, and swagbucks.com
- Typical payout: ~$2–$3 per hour.
- Cost to play: Free (most games)
- Payout method: Gift cards via email, cash via PayPal
Upon arriving at Swagbucks’ games hub, you’ll notice that some games offer cash and some offer cash back. It’s worth clarifying that if you play popular games like Trivial Pursuit and Bejeweled 2 through Swagbucks you won’t get paid, but SB will offer you a small rebate for cash you spend inside the games.
In the second category, Swagbucks will actually pay you in cash or gift cards to play certain games. Some are recognizable, like Forge of Empires and Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. Since you’re effectively playtesting these games for developers, Swagbucks will pay you the equivalent of ~$2 per hour in points, which can be redeemed once you earn around $5 for a gift card or money into your PayPal account.
Swagbucks’ competitive advantage is the variety of non-game activities. As you accumulate points towards your next payout threshold, you can take a break from games and watch videos, take surveys, and more.
InboxDollars is a money making app offering surveys, videos, and of course, games as ways to earn a few cents to a few bucks per hour, all on your own schedule.
InboxDollars is a free app that offers a variety of ways to make money fast including surveys that pay between $0.50 and $5, earning cash back for playing games. You can even get paid for receiving and reading certain emails.
- Earn cash, not points
- Totally free; no risk to sign up
- Not everyone will qualify for highest-paid surveys
- Pros: Variety of games
- Cons: Average earnings
- Where to play: Android and inboxdollars.com
- Typical payout: $1–$2 per hour
- Cost to play: Free
- Payout method: Gift cards via email, cash via PayPal
Available as a site and Android app (the iOS app is for surveys only), InboxDollars makes up for below-average payout amounts with a sheer variety of games to play. Their extensive library includes classics like solitaire, mahjong, and sudoku, but also new mobile games in need of testing.
If you’re already addicted to simple browser and mobile games like the ones listed above, InboxDollars might be a no-brainer. You won’t make a ton of money by only playing for an hour or two a day, but it adds up fast.
Plus, if you tire of games, you can also switch over to watching videos or survey-taking as ways to accumulate InboxDollars on your way to their $30 minimum threshold. It’ll take a while, but at least you’ll have plenty of ways to get there. Enjoy a $5 sign up bonus when you enroll.
Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping is our favorite cash back app and browser extension for finding hidden promo codes and coupons and earning cash value gift cards while shopping online.
Capital One Shopping, formerly Wikibuy, is a free Web browser extension and mobile app that automatically finds the best prices and applies coupons and promo codes when you shop online.
You can also earn shopping rewards credits at participating retailers redeemable for cash value gift cards.
- Always 100% free
- Easy to earn free gift cards as you shop
- Always get the best deal
- Requires sharing your data
The Capital One Shopping app is a free web browser extension and mobile app (iOS or Android) that allows you to earn shopping rewards credits as you shop online. It will also automatically scan sites for coupons and promo codes so you know you’re getting the best deal every time you shop.
Installing the app or browser extension is always free. Although Capital One Shopping is a rewards app, not a “free money” app, we recommend anyone interested in earning a few extra dollars install the extension and use it every time they shop. Learn more about how it works in our Capital One Shopping review.
Here are some more of the best money making apps we recommend that just didn’t make our top three. All of these apps are legit and can save money or make money with relatively little effort. These other apps pay either in PayPal cash, free gift card or, in a few cases, direct deposit to. your bank account.
Mistplay pays you to play new Android games and provides developers with feedback based upon your experience. Each 2- to 10-minute gaming session can reward the cash equivalent of $0.66.
- Pros: Curates based upon your gaming preferences
- Cons: Only available on Android
- Where to play: Android
- Typical payout: $2–$5 per hour
- Cost to play: Free
- Payout method: Gift cards via email (within 48 hours), including Visa, Amazon, Steam, and more
Mistplay pays out a little above average, and I admire the platform for being both developer- and user-friendly. First, to benefit developers who test their games through Mistplay, the app accelerates cash earnings the longer you test a game, so you’re incentivized to play longer and provide better feedback to its creators. Second, Mistplay offers users a feature called the “Mix” whereby it’ll generate a playlist of gaming experiences based upon your genre preferences (puzzle, platforming, action, etc.).
In total, Mistplay is a great place for gamers to test new games and help out developers while earning a trickle of cash for their efforts. As far as games-for-cash sites go, Mistplay seems among the most wholesome and well-intentioned.
We investigated around three dozen popular games-for-cash sites. These don’t make our top picks but still stood out as great options to consider.
Truist Long Game
Truist Long Game is best described as a gamified savings account. When you make a deposit into your Long Game account, whether automatic or manual, Long Game will reward you for saving by giving you coins that you can use to play games.
- Pros: Can incentivize more saving, potential jackpots can offset lower APY
- Cons: Low base APY may apply
- Where to play: Android and iOS
- Typical payout: APY plus jackpots ranging from $100 to $1,000,000
- Cost to play: Free for 30 days, then $3 monthly (waived if you set up automatic savings)
- Payout method: Direct deposit into savings
Founded by a California-based Millennial looking to inspire young people to save, Long Game offers a free 30-day trial and stays free as long as you use direct deposit. What’s also nice is that all of your money is FDIC-insured.
Long Game might be a good fit if the lure of getting more coins to play games incentivizes you to save more in the long run.
You won’t get paid $2 an hour to play Angry Birds 2 with Rakuten — but several folks told me they switched from gaming apps to Rakuten because the savings outweighed the income generation from gaming.
- Pros: Constantly changing deals to suit your shopping tastes
- Cons: May tempt you to spend money
- Where to play: Android and iOS
- Typical payout: Up to 10% off at over 3,500 retailers
- Cost to play: Free
- Payout method: Delayed cash back on purchases
And to Rakuten’s credit, the app does kinda “gamify” shopping.
Here’s how Rakuten (Japanese for “optimism”) works. If you’re on the way to the store, instead of a gaming app, crack open Rakuten and see what exclusive deals the retailer is currently offering through Rakuten. Link the credit card you’re about to use at the register, swipe it to pay, and Rakuten automatically registers that you’ve earned the reward.
In total, Rakuten claims to have saved shoppers over $3.5 billion in cash back from over 3,500 retailers. And the deals constantly change with the tide, which makes it kinda fun.
Just be careful not to let Rakuten convince you to spend money you’d otherwise be saving!
Survey Junkie is a long-established free app that helps you make money and earn rewards while taking online surveys on your own hours. Earning money with Survey Junkie is as easy as signing up, completing your profile, and then completing market research surveys that come your way.
How much you can earn with Survey Junkie really depends on the number of market research online surveys you’re selected for. It’s not passive income, but it’s another easy way to pick up some extra cash.
Google Opinion Rewards
Yep, the Google. They have a paid survey app and, as you can imagine, it’s pretty well-made. It’s a top choice if you’re looking to get paid to share your thoughts.
- Pros: Positive reviews and stable app
- Cons: Sometimes limited surveys
- Where to play: Android and iOS
- Typical payout: $4–$5 per hour (when surveys are available)
- Cost to play: Free
- Payout method: PayPal or Play Store credit
Here’s how Google describes it. “Complete short surveys while standing in line, or waiting for a subway. Get rewarded with Google Play or PayPal credit for each one you complete.”
The app maintains a 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Play Store and the positive reviews seem legit. Folks complain about the occasional shortage of surveys to take, sure, but they still seem to earn enough cash overall to cover one premium subscription each month (e.g., YouTube Premium for $11.99).
The app deserves kudos for overall stability, too, since paid survey apps tend to crash frequently and cause frustration.
Other money making apps to avoid
Honorable mention to some other great free apps out there that may branch out the realm of earning with surveys and games. These include Survey Junkie, Ibotta, Fiverr, Upwork, and OfferUp. They’re worth checking out.
Here, though, are three that aren’t. Out of the dozens of apps I investigated, I’m shining a spotlight on this ignominious trifecta because their shadiness was the most well-hidden. These three sites and apps appear legit at first, but there’s something more mischievous, even sinister underneath their facades.
No single violation disqualified Bananatic from this list. Rather, it was more of a “death by 1,000 cuts” situation, since everywhere I looked I got an uneasy vibe from this site.
Everything about Bananatic looks legit at first glance. According to Similar Web, the site has over a quarter-million visitors per month plus a similar number of Likes on Facebook, and the BananApp (as it’s called) received plenty of five-star reviews on the Play Store. Plus, the site itself looks pretty legit and well-designed, almost like a rival to Steam.
However, the plot thickens as I pulled back the curtain. Despite having 256,000 Facebook Likes, nobody engages with their content, posted at precisely 9 AM every four days. Many of their five-star reviews on the Play Store sound fake, and when a real human publishes a legit one-star review, Bananatic responds “Please change or delete your opinion.”
Givling was the last games-for-cash site to be ejected from my final list. It wasn’t easy, because I cheered for Givling. I wanted the app to be as good as it sounded.
See, the problem with Givling is that you can’t just log in tomorrow, win the week’s trivia, and receive the jackpot. Everything you do in Givling raises your place in the “queue,” and whoever’s at the top of the queue every two weeks gets the jackpot.
You can rise up the queue by watching ads and playing games, but also by buying products from Givling’s sponsors and simply handing the app money.
Do you see the problem? You essentially have to “bid” your way to the top, which explains why one woman had to spend $42,000 to win $50,000 (and countless players spend thousands for nothing).
Inevitably, in 2019 Givling got blasted by CNBC for manipulating and frisking players who were simply desperate to pay off their student loans. A Minnesota state legislator called it “gambling” while watchdog group Pyramid Scheme Alert called it “a sophisticated scheme.”
Lucky Day was endorsed by so many “Top 10 Games-For-Cash Sites” listicles that I assumed it must have some air of legitimacy. Furthermore, it offered a simple, seemingly incorruptible premise: play free virtual scratch-offs, maybe win some cash.
Even still, the app had a rather nasty trick up its sleeve, one that I alluded to earlier.
Lucky Day has a payout threshold of $10. When you collect enough points, you’re supposed to head to the in-app marketplace to exchange your points for a gift card. However, users are reporting that once they reach about $9.90 worth of points, they never seem to win the last $0.10 despite weeks, months, even years of attempts.
Once you approach the threshold, the app pushes paid “upgrades” that supposedly increase your chances of earning those final $0.10 so you can finally cash out. Users spend $1, $3, then $5 on upgrades but still don’t win the final $0.10.
Most games-for-cash sites are a waste of time at best and can fleece you out of thousands at worst. If you’re really interested in experimenting with this type of website, you’ll find safer havens in the options that I’ve highlighted.
How we came up with this list
To create this list I investigated about three dozen of the most popular games-for-cash sites and apps. I graded each using a rubric combining multiple factors:
- Legitimacy — Is the app what it claims to be, or is it stealing data?
- Usability — Does the app work and is it regularly updated and supported?
- User reviews — Is the quality and legitimacy of the app verified by real user reviews?
- Cash payout — Do users report actually receiving cash or free gift cards from the app?
- Variety and quality of games — Quite simply, are the games fun and varied?
To my surprise, even some of the most popular games-for-cash apps failed stupendously in two of the most critical metrics: user reviews and cash payout.
Many games-for-cash apps have glowing App Store reviews that are clearly fake and paid for. This really bothers me, because it means that rather than listen to their critical user feedback, developers chose instead to spend resources drowning them out so they could lure more users into broken apps. Fake review scores mean a developer doesn’t care and neither should you.
Next, some of the more popular games-for-cash apps have developed an insidious scheme whereby they cut off earnings just short of their payout threshold. For example, one app has a $10 minimum payout amount, which sounds easy to reach, but right as users approached $9.85 in credit, earning opportunities mysteriously dried up.
As a result, users stuck in a sunk-cost fallacy would continue to log in for weeks and months, digging through ads for opportunities that didn’t exist. Basically, the app had duped them into hours of free labor, and naturally, had no place on this list.
Who the best apps to make money are for
These apps for are people looking to make extra income and earn rewards by completing activities they would have anyway while earning cashback or branching out with surveys and games. They’re not for people looking to generate life-changing amounts of money.
How to spot a sketchy paid gaming app
Now that we’ve covered some legit and less-legit cash-generating apps, what red flags should you watch out for to separate the two?
Let’s use the weirdest, sketchiest one I came across as an ignominious example: Coin Pop.
For starters, Coin Pop is an Android-only app, not to be mistaken for COIN POP — Covered in Kitties listed on the App Store.
Anyways, despite having the less interesting name of the two, Coin Pop for Android is one quirky gaming app. On the surface it’s pretty standard stuff: play games, reach “levels,” convert level bonuses to cash.
But things get weird from there.
First, once you register, Coin Pop will ask your age and gender so it can offer you a preselected list of what it thinks are age- and gender-specific games (Coin Pop isn’t gunning for Politically Correct App of the Year).
Then, Coin Pop will prompt you to download games you’d like to play individually. This can take up some serious space on your hard drive, and since the ROI on certain games tends to drop off a cliff after a few sessions, you’re encouraged to keep downloading new games constantly and sucking up your data.
Worse still, the app used to let you cash out as little as $0.50 worth of earnings, and securely via PayPal, no less.
But now, Coin Pop has moved the goalpost to $35 — and even the most dedicated users report it being impossible to get there. Multiple users have reported getting super close, only to be logged out and unable to log back in.
But I love Coin Pop because it’s a one-stop-shop for every red flag in the paid gaming space. A jack-of-all-trades of shadiness, if you will.
Those red flags are:
- Requires a concerning amount of personal data upfront (e.g., facial ID)
- Uses too much mobile data
- Appears to be “abandonware” with little to no developer support
- A confusing rewards system
- A manipulative and unreachable cashing out threshold
- Overwhelmingly negative app reviews
- A disconnect between anonymous rating scores and published review scores
- Doesn’t tell you when you’re not earning cash to trick you into playing “for free”
Here are some other paid gaming apps that raised at least two of these red flags:
- Poll Pay
- App Flame
- Money Well
- Bingo Clash
- Money RAWR
Can the developers turn these apps around? Possibly. But for now, I subjectively think they’re a waste of time.
Why do game apps let you play for money?
When you play games through apps like Swagbucks, Mistplay, or InboxDollars, they’re paying you because you’re watching ads or testing games for their clients, the developers.
In essence, you’re every child’s dream: a paid video game tester. Even if you’re not directly providing feedback via surveys, the developers are collecting background data like how long it took you to complete a certain quest, where you got lost, which items you used, etc. This is incredibly valuable data to mobile game developers, especially since they’re competing to make the most playable and addictive game possible.
How much money can you make playing games online?
Payouts from games-for-cash sites and apps can range from a few cents per hour to an entire $50,000 jackpot.
On average, you can consistently make around $2 per hour playing games online.
Overall, games-for-cash sites aren’t much of an income generator, so I don’t recommend that you play them for the money. Instead, play them for fun and enjoy the trickle of cash as a side bonus.
Is my personal information safe on these websites?
Sharing your name, email, and phone number online is never totally risk-free, but generally speaking, you’ll be OK sharing the bare essentials on these sites.
In some cases, these sites may redirect you to third-party apps or games. If so, follow these tips to protect your personal information, and don’t hesitate to back out if you feel uncomfortable:
- Add your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry
- Use an alternative email address
- Give a fake phone number (XXX-555-XXXX)
- Use your last initial instead of your full name
- Never give possible answers to “secret questions” i.e., name of childhood best friend
Summary: Best apps to make money fast
“Play games for cash” sounds too good to be true, and it mostly is. The majority of games-for-cash sites are junk, luring users in with fake review scores and teasing them with cash payouts that will never come.
However, there are at least six that are honest and well-intentioned, including our top pick, Swagbucks. These apps can be good options that pay money and are honest, legitimate, and maybe even worthy of your time.
For a list of apps that may be less fun upfront, but will help you save life-changing money, check out our list of the Best Budgeting Apps.