Passive income apps are an easy way to generate extra income or gift cards without the need for effort on your part. From data sharing to investing and participation in the sharing economy, there are a variety of apps that allow you to earn on autopilot (or close to it).
Our top passive income apps include:
- Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel. An established app that pays you in exchange for access to your anonymized internet usage data.
- Swagbucks. A rewards platform offering semi-passive income opportunities such as cash-back shopping, and a browser extension that will alert you to opportunities to earn on websites you currently browse.
- M1 Finance. An investing platform ideal for passive investors with features like automatic rebalancing and pre-built expert portfolios.
We’ve categorized the best passive income apps into four main categories:
- Best Data Collection and Sharing Apps. Earn rewards in exchange for data about your consumer habits and/or access to your device’s computing resources.
- Best Passive Investment Apps. Build an investment portfolio and let your money work for you.
- Best Passive Cash-Back and Rewards Apps. Get money and gift cards for your everyday online and in-store shopping.
- Best Passive Sharing Economy Apps. Make money from underutilized assets, such as a car you rarely drive or unused space in your home.
Note: The rating data below was collected on July 6, 2023. We update these numbers periodically throughout the year to keep them current.
Best Data Collection and Sharing Apps for Earning Passive Income
#1. Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel
|Potential earnings:||Up to $50 annually.|
|iOS App Store rating:||3.1/5 with 130 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||3.4/5 with 9,887 reviews.|
The Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel app is our top choice for truly passive income.
Nielsen is a publicly-traded global research company (known for its TV ratings) that studies consumer behavior in over 100 countries. By joining their panel, you’re contributing to understanding how people use the internet.
You start by installing the Nielsen app on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Once installed, the app works silently in the background, gathering data on the websites and apps you visit.
It does not collect sensitive information like user IDs or passwords, ensuring your privacy is maintained. For more information, see our in-depth review of the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel app.
By installing the mobile app, you earn points that can be redeemed for prizes and gift cards. The maximum you can earn is $50 annually.
If you also install the desktop application, you can earn additional rewards by participating in sweepstakes and games such as scratch-offs and spin-the-wheel. The top earners can win up to $500 each, with over 500 winners each month.
|Potential earnings:||$5 for signing up, with chances to win sweepstakes prizes worth up to $5,000.|
|iOS App Store rating:||Not available for iPhones.|
|Google Play rating:||3.8/5 with 53,582 reviews.|
MobileXpression, owned by the internet technology company comScore, is a data collection app similar to the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel.
Its primary function is to monitor mobile data usage to uncover patterns in online behavior. After being installed on an Android device (no iOS version is available), the app runs silently in the background collecting anonymized data about browsing history and app usage.
The app does not collect sensitive information like phone calls, personal emails or text messages, and the data collected is never linked to user identities.
As a sign-up bonus, MobileXpression offers users a $5 Amazon gift card in return for data contribution after just one week of use. There are also opportunities to win up to $5,000 in periodic sweepstakes.
Note that MobileXpression limits the number of new users it accepts each month. If it’s not available at this point in time, check back at the beginning of the next month.
|Potential earnings:||Up to $15 per month ($5 per device type, with a maximum of three devices per household).|
|iOS App Store rating:||Not available for iPhones.|
|Google Play rating:||3.4/5 with 1,074 reviews.|
Owned by Luth Research, SavvyConnect offers users the opportunity to earn passive income by sharing their online behavior data.
SavvyConnect collects anonymized data about your online activities, such as searches, shopping and entertainment. In return for this data, you’ll get paid up to $15 per month ($5 per device type, including your computer, phone and tablet).
To maintain this monthly incentive, users must frequently use their devices with SavvyConnect installed, providing at least seven days of actual usage data per calendar month.
Currently, SavvyConnect is only available to U.S. residents. The payment method provided is paper check via mail, and users can request payment after accruing just $1.
|Potential earnings:||Less than $5 per month.|
|iOS App Store rating:||2.8/5 with 81 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||Not available for Android devices.|
Honeygain allows you to earn passive income by sharing unused internet bandwidth.
Once you install the app (which is available for both iOS and desktop) and connect to the internet, Honeygain uses your idle connection to gather bits of information from the web.
The company pays users based on the internet traffic that passes through their devices.
Payment is made through PayPal when you reach the minimum of $20. Be aware that you may have to pay fees to your internet service provider if Honeygain exceeds your data limits.
To get a more detailed understanding of how it works — including our privacy concerns — check our in-depth Honeygain review.
Best Passive Investment Apps
|Potential earnings:||Varies depending on your investment amount, portfolio and market performance.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.7/5 with 864,857 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.6/5 with 271,362 reviews.|
Acorns tops our list of passive income investing apps thanks to its ability to grow a properly balanced portfolio over time with little time or hassle. The app is well known for its feature that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically invests the difference in low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
You can choose from five portfolios ranging from conservative to aggressive based on your risk tolerance and goals.
Acorns also has a feature called Earn, which allows you to earn cash back from over 300 partner brands when you shop with a linked credit or debit card. The cash-back is then automatically invested on your behalf.
Acorns charges a monthly fee of $3. The fee covers all your accounts and features, regardless of how many you have or how much you invest.
#6. M1 Finance
|Potential earnings:||Varies depending on your investment amount, portfolio and market performance.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.7/5 with 54,699 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.5/5 with 23,119 reviews.|
While Acorns serves as an excellent springboard to getting started investing, M1 Finance takes things a step further by offering advanced tools and greater versatility.
M1 Finance’s unique blend of low fees, automated investing and customizable portfolios makes it the ideal platform for those who not only seek to make their first investment but also aspire to build and manage their wealth in the long run.
With as little as $1, you can start investing in individual stocks and ETFs, following a set-it-and-forget-it strategy that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.
The platform’s standout feature, “Expert Pies,” allows you to choose from a variety of professionally designed portfolios that cater to different investment goals, risk levels and sectors. Each “Pie” represents a portfolio with a collection of stocks and ETFs, and you can also customize your own. Once you select or design a Pie, M1 Finance will automatically manage and rebalance your investments to maintain your desired asset allocation.
For a comprehensive understanding of M1 Finance’s features, potential returns, risks and fees, read our detailed M1 Finance review.
|Potential earnings:||Varies based on investment amount and real estate market performance.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.8/5 with 27,866 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.6/5 with 3,216 reviews.|
Fundrise is a real estate investment platform that makes our list thanks to its hands-off investment approach and its low minimum investment of just $10.
With this minimum investment, Fundrise places you in a commercial-focused eREIT (Electronic Real Estate Investment Trust) that professionally manages your funds.
The goal of the eREIT is to provide both an income stream and appreciation over time.
Fundrise is a long-term investment that’s best for those who have a time horizon of at least five years.
To get a deeper understanding of how Fundrise works, its potential returns, risks and fees, check out our detailed Fundrise review.
Best Passive Cash-Back and Reward Apps
|Potential earnings:||Earn a few dollars per month to hundreds annually by taking advantage of all the site has to offer.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.4/5 with 92,543 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.3/5 with 123,747 reviews.|
Swagbucks is a comprehensive rewards site offering users over a dozen ways to earn. The most popular options include cash-back for shopping online, earning money for answering surveys, and getting rewarded for playing games.
One of the unique features of Swagbucks is the opportunity to get paid for watching TV. The shows run on autopilot and stop once you reach your maximum earnings for the day, which is around 50 cents and six hours of viewing (but which does change based on factors like your location).
For a more semi-passive approach, consider installing the Swagbucks extension. This tool notifies you whenever you’re on a website that has a Swagbucks offer. With just a single click, you can take advantage of these deals.
While most often you’ll get notified of a cash-back shopping deal, there are also offers for specific apps, where you don’t have to make a purchase and all you have to do is sign up to earn.
Rewards are sent as gift cards or cash via PayPal, with a minimum payout of $3 for certain gift cards and $5 for cash payouts via Payal.
|Potential earnings:||Several hundred dollars per year with consistent usage of both online and in-store shopping.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.8/5 with 358,493 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||3.8/5 with 70,724 reviews.|
Rakuten makes our list of the top passive income apps thanks to its lucrative cash-back offerings. The app operates on a simple concept: you earn money back on purchases you’d make anyway.
Rakuten works at over 3,500 online and brick-and-mortar retailers, and consistently offers among the best cash-back rates available.
To start earning, simply sign up and begin your online shopping trip through the Rakuten app or website.
You can also link your credit or debit card for in-store purchases for a more passive approach. When you purchase at a participating retailer, a percentage of your total is credited to your Rakuten account.
The percentage you can earn back varies by retailer but can be as high as 20% — though you should expect closer to 2% to 6%. There are also daily deals and promotions where certain stores increase their cash-back percentages.
Rakuten issues payments every three months, with a minimum of $5 in cash back earned before a paper check or PayPal payment is issued.
Rakuten offers a very generous welcome bonus, often as high as $40, after making a qualifying purchase. For details on the current offer, visit our page on the Rakuten referral bonus.
Read our in-depth Rakuten review to learn more about how the app works.
#10. Capital One Shopping
|Potential earnings:||Varies based on your shopping habits.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.8/5 with 115,259 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.8/5 with 13,710 reviews.|
Capital One Shopping stands out among passive income apps for its innovative price protection feature.
While the service allows you to earn shopping credit, similar to Rakuten, Capital One Shopping distinguishes itself with a unique benefit: it monitors for price drops on items you’ve purchased from specific retailers.
If a price drop is detected, Capital One Shopping helps you get a refund for the difference.
Users need to grant Capital One Shopping access to their email accounts to take advantage of this feature. The service then periodically scans the inbox for online shopping receipts and shipping confirmations, taking action when a qualifying price drop is identified.
For more information, check out our comprehensive Capital One Shopping review.
|Potential earnings:||$5 to $10 per month with consistent usage.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.8/5 with 4,290,476 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.7/5 with 865,087 reviews.|
What sets Fetch Rewards apart from similar receipt scanning apps is that it does not require you to buy specific products or brands. Every receipt counts, making this app one of the easiest for passive income.
To earn with Fetch Rewards, you simply take a picture of your receipt after shopping.
Points are given for every scanned receipt, regardless of what you bought. You can then redeem those points for Visa gift cards, gift cards for various online stores, or entries into sweepstakes for cash prizes.
On average, regular Fetch Rewards users can expect to earn up to $5 to $10 per month, although actual earnings may vary based on the frequency of your shopping and the number of receipts you scan.
For a more detailed analysis, see our in-depth Fetch Rewards review.
#12. Drop Rewards
|Potential earnings:||$5 to $20 per month with consistent usage.|
|iOS App Store rating:||4.6/5 with 51,231 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||3.9/5 with 11,465 reviews.|
Drop Rewards, while not as passive as in the past, still remains a decent option for those looking to earn passive income.
The app works by allowing users to link their credit and/or debit cards, enabling them to earn cash-back in the form of points that can be redeemed for gift cards.
Originally, Drop offered “Power Offers,” a feature that allowed users to choose up to five retailers from a list and earn continuous cash-back from those stores without taking further action. However, this feature has been discontinued.
Now, the app requires users to manually add offers to earn points. Despite this, Drop still requires minimal effort, making it a fairly passive income option. One simply needs to remember to activate the offers before shopping to start earning points.
For more detailed information, check our in-depth Drop App review.
Best Passive Sharing Economy Apps
|iOS App Store rating:||4.8/5 with 216,850 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.9/5 with 275,712 reviews.|
Turo is a car-sharing platform often called “the Airbnb of cars.” This platform allows you to list your car for rent when you’re not using it, effectively turning an idle asset into a source of income.
One feature that makes Turo a relatively passive income opportunity is the option for remote keyless entry. This feature allows renters to unlock their car using the Turo app, eliminating the need for a physical handover of the keys. This way, you can rent out your vehicle without meeting your renters in person.
While using the remote entry feature may limit some opportunities, such as airport pickups, it significantly reduces the active work involved on your part.
Remember that as with any other rental service, there will be some initial time investment in setting up your listing and potentially dealing with any issues that arise during a rental. Nevertheless, once your listing is up and running smoothly, Turo can be a solid and largely passive source of income.
|iOS App Store rating:||4.7/5 with 3,869 reviews.|
|Google Play rating:||4.6/5 with 2,389 reviews.|
Neighbor is a platform that turns your unused space into a source of income. Think of it as Airbnb but for storage. This could be anything from an empty garage, a spare room, or even a portion of your backyard.
One of the advantages of Neighbor is there’s little to no work once you’ve rented out your space. Renters cannot visit you unnoticed, and all interactions and payments are conducted through the platform.
Renting out space does require some initial work to take photos and create a listing, and you’ll need to be available for any necessary communication with renters. But once a renter moves their items into your space, your work is largely done.
For more information, including potential risks and how to manage them, check our Neighbor review.
Best Passive Income Apps: Final Thoughts
From data collection and sharing apps like Nielsen to rewarding survey apps like Swagbucks, there are a large variety of passive to semi-passive income apps available.
By understanding these opportunities, you can do anything from start building a passive income portfolio that could help you retire to earning a gift card or two that can save you some money.
*Capital One Shopping compensates us when you sign up for the service using the links we provided.