In this post, you’re going to learn how to get free money.
Yes, I know it sounds too good to be true — and that’s usually a bad sign.
But the fact of the matter is this: there are more than a few 100% legit ways to get free money online.
Of course, there are also a lot of time wasters. Not to mention flat-out scams.
That’s why everything on this list has been verified by our team.
Does Free Money Really Exist?
It depends on your definition of “free.” Analyzing each suggestion below, we found four general methods for getting what we consider free money.
- Sign-up offers. Cash welcome offers for signing up for a website, which requires no upfront cost or additional spending.
- Getting paid to do things you’re already doing. Make money with little to no extra work, monetizing the things you already do, such as shopping and watching TV.
- Scholarships, grants and financial aid. Learn where to find free money from the government and other organizations you don’t have to pay back.
- Optimize your existing finances. Have a 401(k) match? Paying more in interest than you have to? Chances are you’re leaving money on the table by not optimizing your finances.
Resource for further reading: How to Get Free PayPal Money.
Earn Free Money Online from Sign-Up Bonuses
Businesses give away millions of dollars each year to acquire new customers. Sign-up bonuses for different products and services range from a few dollars to over $1,000.
Some require the completion of a small task to earn the bonus, such as submitting a receipt.
Others, such as credit cards, require you to spend a certain amount of money within a set time frame (i.e., “Earn $500 when you spend $2,000 in the first three months”).
Others give you a bonus just for signing up.
Resource for further reading: Legit Get-Paid-to-Sign-Up Websites.
#1. Take Surveys and Get Paid Today with Survey Junkie
Expected earnings: Under $50 per month.
How long it takes: Cash-out in less than 24 hours.
Requirements: Earn a minimum of 500 points (equal to $5 in value) to cash-out via PayPal. Minimum age of 13 years old. Must live in the U.S., Canada or Australia.
Survey Junkie is one of the most popular market research sites, with over 10 million members worldwide.
As for free money, Survey Junkie makes the list as it’s easy for new users to rack up points with simple tasks like confirming your email address, watching a “how it works” video, and filling out a short profile survey.
This is a similar set of tasks to what other survey sites that offer a bonus require. But what’s to like about Survey Junkie is the site has a minimum payout of just $5 — which you can redeem immediately for cash through PayPal.
Other survey sites have minimums as high as $50. So even if they offer a big signup bonus, it might take months of effort to actually get money into your account.
Additional Resource: The Best Survey Sites For Making Money.
#2. Get $10 by Signing up for Swagbucks
Expected earnings: Under $50 per month.
How long it takes: Depends on how you go about earning points on the site. You can earn them today by taking surveys, while you may have to wait 30 to 60 days for points to hit your account via online shopping.
Requirements: Available across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and some African countries.
Swagbucks is one of the most popular rewards sites and cash-back apps, having now paid out more than $400 million to its users. You can shop, surf the web, fill out surveys, and even watch videos to earn points on the site (which are called “SBs”).
Those SBs, which are valued at around 1 cent each, can be exchanged for cash via PayPal or gift cards to retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
Like Survey Junkie, the minimum withdrawal on Swagbucks is low (with rewards options starting at just $2).
However, Swagbucks does take between two and three days to verify your account, and then two or three more to issue your gift card or transfer to your PayPal account.
My preferred way to earn Swagbucks is with online shopping. It takes just a few extra seconds to earn up to 20% cash-back at online stores like Nike, Walmart, and more.
When you sign up with the link below, and make a purchase of $25 or more using the Swagbucks cash-back portal, you’ll earn a $10 welcome bonus.
Learn More in our comprehensive Swagbucks review.
#3. Get $20 from Ibotta
Expected earnings: $20 welcome offer, plus an average of $20 more per month with consistent use of the app.
How long it takes: Transfers instantly via Venmo or PayPal.
Requirements: U.S only. Must be 18 years old. The minimum cash-out is $20.
Ibotta is well-known as the most popular coupon app for groceries.
There’s a little legwork involved with this app. You need to add your offers before shopping to ensure you get the cash-back.
Then, once you get home, you have to scan the barcodes. (Read our comprehensive Ibotta review to learn more about the process.)
But those few minutes of extra legwork sure can add up over time.
To earn the $20 welcome bonus, you’ll need to redeem 10 offers (either in-store or online) within 14 days. This is certainly doable, but it takes some planning.
Ibotta continues to add more ways to earn beyond in-store receipt scanning. There’s now a browser extension that allows you to get cash-back for your online purchases, including food and grocery delivery.
Pro Tip: Unlike cash-back portals such as Swagbucks, you can often double-dip on coupons by using multiple apps. Make sure to check out the article Apps Like Ibotta, as well as The Best Coupon Apps for Groceries to learn more.
#4. Get Free Shares of Stock
Expected earnings: $100+.
How long it takes: Typically around one to two weeks for bonuses to hit your account. If you want to sell the stock for cash, it will take approximately a week to transfer to your checking account.
Requirements: U.S only. Must be 18 years old. For some brokerages, you’ll need to make a small deposit to earn the free stocks.
There is a lot of venture capital money entering the FinTech space, as free trading apps like Robinhood have exploded in popularity.
To gain customers, many apps are now offering new depositors free shares of stock for signing up and making a small deposit.
See our guide on how to get free stock shares, which is continuously updated, to learn which apps are offering the best bonus.
Earlier this year, I went through a round of signing up for a handful of brokerages to see what I could earn.
With Webull, for depositing $100, I earned a free share of ISBC (valued at $11.63).
With Dough, for making a $25 deposit, I got two shares of stock: one share of Bed Bath and Beyond and one share in Caesars Palace.
With Stash, I earned fractional shares in Tesla, valued at $5:
Which I sold way too early:
Some investment apps allow you to earn a share of stock up to $1,600 in value.
Recommended resource: See our free stock shares page to learn the best current sign up bonuses.
#5. Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
Expected earnings: $100+.
How long it takes: Credit card bonus offers typically require you to hit a minimum spend, which can often take two to three months.
Requirements: U.S only. Must be 18 years old. The higher your credit score, the better your chances of earning a high signup bonus.
Credit card sign-up bonuses are my favorite way to make money with welcome offers.
In fact, I’ve earned thousands in cash and thousands in free travel. It’s been a big money-maker (or saver) for me.
The big caveat, and why I don’t recommend this for everyone, is:
- You need to pay off your balance in full every month with no exceptions to ensure you’re actually making money.
- There are typically higher minimum spending requirements to earn the best bonuses, which you shouldn’t stretch your budget to try and hit.
The best credit card welcome offers are typically for travel credit cards. Also, they’re always changing.
Check out our list of the best travel credit cards to learn of the best offers right now.
My default strategy is that between my wife and me, we’re always working to earn a sign-up bonus from either a personal or business credit card.
This small habit has led to some great experiences and a good chunk of free money over the years.
Most recently, it helped us pay for a kitchen renovation, as we used Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back feature for over $6,000 in statement credits at Home Depot.
#6. Earn $100+ From Bank Promotions
Expected earnings: $100+.
How long it takes: Approximately one week for a bonus to hit your account.
Requirements: U.S. only. Must be 18 years old. A minimum deposit is often required, as well as other tasks (such as setting up direct deposit).
There’s a large and growing community of people who frequently switch their checking account in order to chase the latest sign-up bonuses.
Personally, this isn’t my favorite way to earn free money — mainly because it takes more legwork than credit cards (including setting up direct deposit, automatic withdrawals to pay bills, etc.).
But for those that don’t mind a bit of work, there are people who make an extra $1,000+ a year by chasing bank sign-up bonuses.
DoctorOfCredit maintains the most up to date list of bank promotions.
Optimize Your Finances
Earning free money from sign-up bonuses is a fun way to put extra cash in your pocket.
But it may surprise you to learn that Americans leave billions of free money on the table every year by not optimizing their own financial situation.
And no, this isn’t about cutting back on lattes or forgoing eating out.
Consider these two studies:
- Americans left $24 billion dollars in unclaimed money by not signing up for their 401(k) match.
- A recent study found that 20% of households eligible to refinance their mortgage to a lower interest rate failed to do so. This cost them $11,500 on average.
When there’s an opportunity to put a significant amount of money in your pocket without even changing your habits, you want to make sure to take advantage of it.
Here are a few ideas: How To Save Money – 10 Research-Backed Tips That Actually Work.
#7. Make Sure You’re Paying the Lowest Mortgage Rate
By failing to refinance their mortgage to a lower interest rate, a large percentage of homeowners give banks more money than they have to.
The same can be said for other types of debt, including student loan debt and personal debt like credit cards.
Your goal is to make sure you’re paying the lowest possible rate at all times.
If you’re a homeowner, check to see if you’re eligible for a lower rate with Figure.
If your reason for not refinancing is that you don’t have the time to deal with it, you’ll be glad to know that Figure offers a streamlined online application process that allows you to refinance in as little as five days.
Refinancing your student loans is a bit more complicated, as there are some pros and cons to doing so. You can learn more in our complete guide to student loan refinancing.
When it comes to personal loans like credit card debt, read our guide on debt consolidation to see if you’re likely to save.
#8. Don’t Let Your 401(k) Match Go to Waste
A 401(k) match is a perk that many companies provide to their employees. Most employers view this cost as part of your compensation package. Therefore, when someone fails to take the entire match, it’s as if they’re saying they’ll forego a portion of their salary.
It’s not easy managing your finances and the different priorities you have at any given time. But the math makes foregoing a 401(k) match a very costly mistake.
After all, it’s the only chance out there to get an immediate and guaranteed 50% return on your money.
#9. Using The Highest Cash-Back Credit Card Available
One last easy way to optimize your finances and avoid leaving money on the table is by maximizing your cash-back.
Personally, I use a strategy called the Chase Trifecta.
This allows me to earn, at a bare minimum, 2.25% on all my purchases. And in some cases, I’m earning up to 7.5% cash-back.
This certainly adds up over time.
If you’re not a high spender, or if you want to simplify your financial life as much as possible, consider the combination of the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited, where you’re earning a bare minimum of 1.5% and up to 5% depending on the category.
Getting Paid to Do Stuff You Already Do
Want to make a few bucks browsing the internet? How about having a robot negotiate a discount on your cable bill for you? The tips below are easy wins that you can take advantage of without much effort.
#10. Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
With the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel, you can earn up to $50 per year in rewards.
And you’ll get that money just for downloading the app and then using your phone as usual.
It only takes a few minutes to set things up (you’ll have to provide some basic information, choose a username and password, and install the app).
You can learn more in our NCMP review.
#11. Get Money Back When Prices Drop With Paribus
Paribus is another easy win when it comes to scoring free money.
With this site, you shop online just as you normally would. The service uses an algorithm to track your purchases (through emailed receipts), and then helps you get a refund if the price drops.
So far, the site has filed over $20 million in price protection claims on behalf of its members.
Learn more about how the site works in our Paribus review.
#12. Trim Financial Manager
Any post on free money can’t be complete without mentioning Trim Financial Manager.
It’s become one of my favorite personal finance tools.
What Trim does is identify ways for you to save money. Then, in some cases, it will handle the entire money-saving process.
For example, say you want to save money on your cable or phone bill. Trim has a robotic assistant that negotiates with the provider on your behalf.
A few months ago, Trim negotiated a $30 discount on my internet bill for a long service delay. Ironically, I was on vacation at the time, so I didn’t even realize my internet was down.
The email below just showed up in my inbox one day:
Check out our review of Trim for more details.
Those who use debit or credit cards can sign up for Dosh, an app that rewards you for purchases at participating retailers.
After you link a card to your account, you’ll get points every time you buy something at participating stores.
Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can exchange them for free gift cards or PayPal cash.
Get Free Money From the Government
There are millions of dollars in money waiting around to be claimed by the right person. Here are some legit ways to get free money from the government and other organizations.
#14. Find Unclaimed Money
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’re missing money that’s owed to you.
Perhaps you forgot to pick up your final paycheck at a past job, or you moved before a government refund was mailed to you.
Unclaimed funds are real. But you don’t want to fall for scams in your attempt to find them.
That’s where the popular and free personal finance app Credit Karma comes into play. It recently launched a new unclaimed money feature.
The feature directs you to your state’s unclaimed property page (such as the one shown below), where you can perform a search.
#15. File an Amended Tax Return
Sometimes you may realize that you missed some potential income tax deductions after you file your tax return.
But it’s not too late to claim those savings.
It can take a while for your amended return to go through, but you’ll eventually get your money.
You pay enough in taxes as it is, so make sure you don’t let this slide if you’ve overpaid!
#16. Find Unclaimed Pension Funds
Considering how often people bounce between jobs these days, you might not always keep great track of the pension you’ve earned.
You could be owed a pension and not even know it (especially if you’re bad about reading the policy handbooks at your jobs).
To see if you’re owed a pension, you can visit this Government website.
#17. Go to School with Student Aid
You can get a lot of free money to attend college, both full-time and part-time.
That will benefit you in the long run, since you’ll likely increase your future earnings with a degree.
Not to mention, student aid can minimize your student loan debt.
One of the most common ways to get free cash for school is via a federal Pell grant. But there are many other types of college grants and scholarships, as well.
Many of these are based on factors like your field of study and your demographic status.
To discover your free aid options and see how much money you could potentially be entitled to, you can visit the government’s federal student aid website.
But keep in mind that most institutions have financial aid that won’t be listed on the Federal site. So if you’re currently enrolled or considering going back to school, make sure you contact your institution’s financial aid office directly.
Free Money FAQ
Online surveys can be a good way to generate a little bit of extra money or a free gift card in your spare time. They won’t make you rich, but with consistent usage you might be able to earn as much as $50 to $100 per month (though most people will earn less).
Survey Junkie and Swagbucks are two of our favorite online survey sites, but you may also want to check out Inbox Dollars and some of the other options covered in our list of the best online survey sites.
We recommend using Cashback Monitor, a free service that tracks the cashback offers for different retailers on the major online shopping portals in real-time. With that said, our research shows that TopCashback tends to pay the best cashback rates on average.
Yes. Many of the sites listed in this article let you cash-out for gift cards, but you can also review our list of the best ways to score a free Amazon gift card.
How to Get Free Money: Final Thoughts
While a legit side hustle will earn you more money in the long run, adding a few dollars per month to your investing or savings account can make a big difference in the short-term.
That’s the real value of the ideas listed above. They may not produce huge sums, but they’re ways to generate some relatively easy money that can help you build financial momentum.
What to read next: How To Make Money ASAP.