9 Mobile Apps That Can Actually Make You Money

by Susan Johnston

It’s easy to mindlessly spend money on mobile shopping apps or games that allow in-app purchases, but did you know there are also smartphone apps that pay you money instead of helping you spend it? They’re unlikely to net you enough money to quit your day job (I’d be wary of apps that charge money upfront with the promise of a big pay-off later), but here’s a look at several free apps that could help you earn a little extra cash from your phone.

Pact (available for Android and iOS): I used Pact several years ago when it first launched as Gym-Pact — collecting a dollar or so each week when I checked in from my gym. The idea is to keep people accountable for following through on healthy habits (exercising or eating healthfully) by charging them a small, predetermined amount when they fall short of their weekly goal (called a Pact). The people who actually meet their Pact get a portion of the money collected from those who don’t. It won’t make you rich, but if you already go to the gym or need a little motivation to work out or eat better, it’s worth trying. You can also schedule breaks from your Pact if needed.

Checkout 51 (available for Android and iOS): Instead of clipping coupons, new grocery receipt apps like Checkout 51 let you scan your receipts from any grocery store to get cash back on certain items (for instance, certain brands of cereal, ice cream, toiletries or cleaning products). Checkout 51 updates its offers each Thursday, and the offers are in limited supply, so don’t wait until Wednesday night to upload your receipts. So far, I’ve earned $17.75 and will be able to request a check once my balance reaches $20. Groupon recently released its own app called Snap by Groupon. Another grocery receipt-scanning app, Zweet, is currently only available in Canada but plans to launch in the United States soon.

gapNsnap (available for iOS only): To help retailers stay on top of inventory issues, snap and upload photos of empty shelf tags on your next shopping trip. In exchange for your “snaps,” you can earn prizes and, in some cases, money transferred to your PayPal account.

Fronto (available for Android only): Fronto places sponsored content on your Android’s lock screen and rewards you for swiping. According to the website, advertiser’s rewards range in value from a penny to as much as $2. You can redeem rewards for gift cards or money deposited into your PayPal account.

Field Agent (available for Android and iOS): According to the Field Agent website, users who’ve downloaded the app and filled out a profile can sign up for micro tasks (for instance, snapping a photo of a product in your local drug store or filling out a survey) that pay between $3 and $12 per task. They can later cash out via PayPal or Dwolla. I’ve downloaded the Field Agent app and filled in my profile, but the app hasn’t located any jobs near me yet. Other smartphone apps that offer payment for similar micro tasks include GigWalk and Mobee.

Photo credit: Getty Creative

About the Author

Susan Johnston has contributed to print and online publications including AOL Jobs, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, Learnvest.com, Parade Magazine, and SELF. She's also a regular contributor to the money section of USNews.com.