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What are legitimate ways to earn $500 quickly? Maybe your rent is due next week. Maybe your car broke down, you can’t afford to fix it, and you need it for work. Or, maybe you simply want to boost your money making skills outside of your job to build an emergency fund.
Whatever your reason for researching legit ways to make money fast, there’s good news: today, there are more opportunities than ever — and getting started can be shockingly easy.
In this article, you’ll learn how to make $500 fast. In total there are 24 different ideas. For some, one idea is all it takes. For others, the best strategy might be a combination of two or three.
Best Gig Economy Side Hustles That Pay Fast
#1. Get Paid to Make Deliveries With Postmates
Best for: Those who have a reliable car and live in a dense urban area.
Quick summary: Postmates allows people to have nearly anything delivered to their home or office. Postmates drivers can work whenever they choose, as there’s no set schedule or minimum time requirements. Once you log in via the app, you’ll be able to accept or reject any deliveries you see. If the customer hasn’t already paid for the order, you’ll pay for it with a prepaid debit card provided by Postmates. Then, just deliver the order to the customer and make quick cash.
Pro tip: In the app, you have an option to choose what type of vehicle you’re using, and your delivery radius will vary depending on your vehicle type. For example, if you’re delivering on foot, you won’t be expected to walk seven miles across town. One tip that many couriers use is to change their vehicle setting from car to scooter. That way, the app will send you orders within a smaller delivery radius. That will allow you to make more frequent deliveries while putting fewer miles on your car.
Learn more and sign up to make money with Postmates.
#2. Make Money Shopping for Groceries As an Instacart Shopper
Best for: Those who are familiar with the layouts of all the major grocery stores in their area.
Quick summary: Instacart lets customers place grocery orders online and have them delivered to their homes. Instacart shoppers have a choice of two jobs: they can choose to shop for and deliver the orders, or just shop for the orders and let someone else handle the deliveries. If you opt for the shopping-only choice, you’ll technically be an employee of Instacart rather than a freelancer — which might lead to steadier (but lower) earnings. That said, if you’re researching how to make $500 fast when you don’t have a car, Instacart’s shopping-only option might be a great fit.
Pro tip: If your shopping list includes items that need to be ordered from the deli counter, keep an eye on the line and go when it’s empty or short. This way, you don’t waste time waiting in line and can complete your shopping more quickly (and then move to the next order).
#3. Make $200 a Day Driving for Uber or Lyft
Best for: Those who live in an urban area, or in an area with a lot of tourists.
Pro tip: Offer little amenities in your car for passengers. Things like mints, candies, small bottles of water, and individually-wrapped wet wipes. People are always tickled to see these little treats, and offering them can help boost your tips.
#4. Teach ESL With VIPKid
Best for: Those looking to make some real money, because VIPKid is one of the best paying stay-at-home jobs out there. You can make $500 from scratch pretty quickly.
Quick summary: VIPKid enables you to teach English to Chinese children ages 4 through 12 via one-on-one ESL lessons. The lessons take place via webcam and headset and last 25 minutes.
Pro tip: There are some great tutorials on Youtube showing how to ace your VIPKid interview (and how to be an engaging and effective teacher once you get the job). I recommend watching some of them, because the VIPKid interview process is extensive and includes teaching mock classes.
Learn how to apply to become an English teacher with VIPKid.
#5. Let Your Home Earn Money for You With Airbnb
Best for: Those who live in an area desirable to tourists.
Quick summary: Airbnb allows owners to rent their homes (or a bedroom in their home) to those looking for an alternative to hotels. If you’re wondering how to make $500 fast, Airbnb is probably the best option on this list. The average monthly income for those who rent their homes on the site is $924.
Pro tip: Even if you don’t live in what would traditionally be considered a tourist hotspot, you may still be able to make money on Airbnb. Those who live in college towns, towns with pro sports teams, or towns with large concert venues will easily find renters. But you might be surprised how many people want to visit your locale even if you don’t have any of those things, so don’t rule yourself out on this basis of geography.
#6. Make Money Playing with Kids via Babysitting
Best for: Those who have availability during the workday. Sure, parents need date-night babysitters, but daycare is so expensive that if you’re able to watch children during the workday, you can be making great money while still charging less than a formal daycare center.
Quick summary: Pretty self-explanatory! Get paid to watch kids.
Pro tip: Good babysitters are in high demand. If you’re trustworthy and reliable, parents will spread the word and the business will come to you — so there’s no need to join a service (which takes a cut) or even do much self-marketing.
#7. Dog Walking With Rover
Best for: Like babysitting, those who are available during the workday when dog walking is in demand will see the best results with Rover.
Quick summary: Rover connects pet owners who need dog walkers (or pet sitters) with animal lovers. Walkers create a profile and set their own rates, and are hired directly by owners.
Pro tip: Ask your clients to recommend you to their pet-owning neighbors. The dogs will know each other, which makes it more likely that you can safely walk them together. This will allow you to make more money in the same amount of time.
#8. Take Care of Small Jobs With TaskRabbit
Best for: If you’re a Jack of all trades sort of person, TaskRabbit is one of the best legit online jobs.
Quick summary: TaskRabbit connects people who need help with odd jobs to those who can handle those jobs. Tasks on the site can include things like painting, making small repairs, and putting together boxed furniture (among hundreds of others). So, if you know your way around a Hasselvika chest of drawers, you might just be a perfect fit.
Pro tip: Try to bundle your skills. If you’re hired to pick up a piece of furniture, ask if it requires any assembly or if it’s replacing a piece that needs to be hauled away.
Learn how to make money with odd jobs and errands as a Tasker.
#9. Get Paid to Complete Micro-Tasks With Gigwalk
Best for: Those who live near strip malls, where several shops are clustered together.
Quick summary: Gigwalk is an app that pays users to do micro-tasks for stores and brands. Tasks include things like confirming that a certain item is stocked in a store, and that the displayed price is correct.
Pro tip: The app is available nationwide, but you’ll find the most gigs in the cities that have been participating the longest. Those include Boston, Chicago, LA, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle.
Selling Your Stuff for Cash Fast
Best for selling: Large items that aren’t cost-effective to ship, as Craigslist is a local site. Using a local site is one of the best fast money making ideas, because buyers will pay in cash.
Quick summary: Craigslist is like selling your stuff during a garage sale, without the effort of actually having a garage sale. It’s a site with individual pages for thousands of cities across the world, where people can buy and sell almost anything.
Pro tip: If you or an obliging friend have a pick-up truck, you may be able to sell an item more quickly, as not everyone will have a vehicle suited for picking up something like the aforementioned Hasselvika.
#2. Facebook Marketplace
Best for selling: Like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace is a place for local buyers and sellers. As such, it’s ideal for large items like furniture and appliances — although gadgets and tech also sell well here (so it’s a good place to quickly liquidate your old smartphone or laptop).
Quick summary: Sellers can make a post in the Marketplace section of the Facebook site, offering their wares for sale to people in the local area. These posts don’t show up on your profile by default, but you have the option of adding them to your timeline.
Pro tip: Buyers on Marketplace can be a little flaky, so don’t pull down your listing just because you receive an offer. Wait until the deal is complete.
Best for selling: Collector’s items. People who collect particular items, like vintage lunchboxes or antique drawer pulls, scour eBay for these kinds of hard-to-find treasures.
Quick summary: eBay is an auction site where you can buy and sell just about anything. But you don’t have to offer your items at auction — you also have the option to go with a fixed-price listing. That’s usually a better bet, as interest in auctions has been declining for years and prices tend to be lower than those of fixed-price items.
Pro tip: If you have no idea about the value of your item, it can be worthwhile to have it appraised before setting a price. Also, you’ll want to set up a PayPal account (if you don’t already have one) to make collecting payment for your items as fast and easy as possible; while you can also receive your payment via direct deposit to your bank account, it takes a lot longer.
#4. Amazon Trade-In
Best for selling: Electronics and Amazon devices.
Quick summary: The program pays customers in Amazon gift cards for thousands of items. You can trade in pretty much anything that can be sold on Amazon.
#5. Garage or Yard Sale
Best for selling: Kids’ clothes and toys.
Quick summary: If none of the other options on this list work, you may want to consider the OG resale method for generating extra cash: a garage sale. It takes some work to set one up, but it’s still a great way to clear out your clutter — and you’re literally making money from home.
Pro tip: Team up with your neighbors. The bigger the yard sale, the more stuff there is to sell. Plus, bigger sales tend to attract more customers, which improves your likelihood of actually selling your items.
Online Side Hustles for Beginners
#1. Share Your Opinions in an Online Focus Group Like Survey Junkie
Best for: Those who hate wasting idle time. For example, you can make extra money in your spare time by answering surveys while watching commercials or taking public transportation.
Quick summary: Survey Junkie is a site where users complete surveys and share their opinions on a variety of consumer products (and make money for doing so).
Pro tip: You can see how many points a survey is worth, and how long it takes to complete, so look for the highest per-minute earners — they may not be the same as the surveys with the highest total payout.
Learn how to get paid for sharing your opinion on Survey Junkie, and check out my list of the best overall survey sites for making money.
#2. Get Paid for Things You Already Do With Online Reward Sites Like Swagbucks, InboxDollars and Rakuten
Best for: Those who do a lot of online shopping.
Quick summary: These sites pay users for things like answering surveys, reading emails, watching videos, and using their portals for online shopping.
Pro tip: Double dip on the cash-back online shopping aspect of these sites by using a cash-back rewards credit card to pay for your purchases.
Some of the best cash-back apps are:
#3. Sell Your Skills on Fiverr
Best for: Those who have what are considered “typical” freelancing skills, such as writing, website development and graphic design.
Quick summary: Fiverr is a freelancing site where sellers create job offers. For example, you might create a “gig” with the title “I will proofread 500 words for $25.” Buyers then hire you by “ordering” that specific gig.
Pro tip: If you don’t have a lot of examples of your work to upload to your profile, it can be tough to get traction. If you’re willing to work for less money than you’re worth, you may be able to score a few clients and build up a portfolio. This isn’t ideal, but doing so can open up the door to better-paying opportunities. Just make sure you’re still delivering top-of-class customer service — buyers will have the chance to leave you feedback, and when you’re new, one or two negatives can permanently derail your efforts.
Learn how to make money selling almost any kind of service on Fiverr.
#4. Freelancing on Upwork
Best for: Those with typical freelancing skills.
Quick summary: Upwork is similar to Fiverr, with one key difference: here, you’re browsing job postings from clients and bidding on projects, instead of posting gigs and waiting for clients to come to you. Upwork has a great client base that includes many corporate and enterprise-level organizations. However, it can be tough to win those jobs when you’re first starting out.
Pro tip: Ask all clients to provide you with a feedback rating, and offer to do the same for them. Your feedback is a key factor in your Upwork Job Success Score, which is one criteria clients use when selecting candidates to interview. Plus, if your JSS falls too low, you can lose your site privileges.
#5. Eliminate Paper Coupons With Ibotta
Quick summary: Rather than fuss around with paper coupons, you can use digital coupons provided via the Ibotta app. Just buy the items you have coupons for, upload the receipt to the app, and earn free money.
Pro tip: Ibotta doesn’t offer just coupons for grocery items and grocery stores. It also offers savings for non-grocery retailers and products.
#6. Perform User Testing
Best for: Those who are somewhat tech-savvy. You probably won’t hit your $500 goal with this method, but it can be a decent way to bring in some extra income while pursuing some of the other options on this list.
Quick summary: Web developers want to know how things like apps, games, and websites perform before they’re released to the public. UserTesting.com pays members to test these products and give their feedback.
Pro tip: Your work is rated. If you accrue enough bad ratings, you’ll likely stop receiving projects to work on. So, make sure the feedback you provide is valuable to the creators of the site you’re testing.
#7. Get the Rebates You’re Owed With Paribus
Best for: Those who do a lot of online shopping.
Quick summary: Paribus scans your email for online purchase receipts and looks for a price drop on those products. If there is one and you’re entitled to the difference between the new price and what you paid, Paribus will help you get a refund.
This is about as close as it gets to free money, so if you shop at any of the participating retailers, you should definitely sign up.
You can learn the details of how the service works in our Paribus review.
Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card from Capital One is a cash-back credit card that offers 1.5% back on all purchases. The card is currently offering a generous sign-up bonus of $150 after spending $500 in the first three months of opening the account.
If you have some credit card debt or a big purchase coming up, the card is also offering a 15-month 0% APR period on both balance transfers and purchases. Moving from a high-interest card to a low-interest card is one of the best options for consolidating your credit card debt.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of my favorite travel rewards card. Currently, there’s a 80,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening the account. To get the most out of this signup bonus, redeem the points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, where they’re worth $$1,000. Or, choose to cash in your 80,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points for $800 in cash.
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links provided.