8 Ways to Make Money With Your Cell Phone
The following ways to make money with your phone aren't necessarily a way to earn a real living, but—if used sensibly—they can help you recoup some of the cost of your cell phone bill and maybe put a few extra spending dollars in your pocket.
As with other micro jobs, the idea behind these apps is to make extra money, so be careful that you don't actually lose money in the process. Listed below are eight apps you can use to earn money, which ranges from crowdsourcing to social media advertising, so you can compare and find the ones that truly will allow you to make some extra income.
Type of program: Task-oriented crowdsourcing, a.k.a microlabor website
Technical requirements: iPhone
Locations: United States, though the availability of shifts in certain areas may be limited
How it works: Download the app and create an account to start accepting “shifts.” As you finish shifts, you earn points. You also get better-paying assignments as well. The types of jobs this crowdsourcing company offers tend to be for consumer brands looking to track their products, so photos of products with price checks are the mainstay of this company.
How it pays: Pays cash into PayPal accounts. Shift payments range from $2 to $20. These are paid out within a 48-hour period.
Bottom line: While this is available nationwide, since so many of its shifts are location-based, its feasibility for you really depends on how many of them are close to you. You don’t want to spend an hour in travel time earning $2.
Type of program: Task-oriented crowdsourcing
Technical requirements: iPhone
Locations: United States, Canada, Norway, and Australia
How it works: After downloading the app, you must choose a job. The list includes jobs like surveys, polls, brochure placement, price checks, and reviewing products. Tasks must be completed within a two-hour window. As an agent, you accumulate points for tasks you complete successfully. But you also lose points for any unfinished jobs.
How it pays: The pay for jobs you sign up for a range between $3 to $12 each in cash. You must have a PayPal account, as this is where your pay is deposited.
Bottom line: The app isn't like others because applicants get jobs on a first-come, first-served basis. But some jobs go based on hierarchy, so if you have more points, you'll qualify for more jobs. That means you won't spend too much time on jobs you won't get.
Type of program: Mobile rewards
Technical requirements: Available for more than 300 mobile carriers, including AT&T and Verizon.
Locations: More than 100 countries
How it works: Install its "mobile performance meter" and earn gift cards
How it pays: Gift cards
Bottom line: Users install the app from Google Play and those in the United States earn gift cards from places like Amazon, Domino’s Pizza, and Dell. Outside the United States, the points can be traded for mobile airtime. This is not available in all cities, so you have to install to see if it will work where you are.
Type of program: Task-oriented crowdsourcing
Technical requirements: iPhone (Android app is planned)
Locations: More than 6,000 cities in the United States
How it works: People log on and find “gigs” or tasks. These tasks can be almost anything, but some of the typical ones are price checks, app testing, data verification, taking photos, mystery shopping, and surveys. They apply for these tasks to the client seeking the work and, if selected, submit the work. They receive feedback from their clients. Positive feedback allows them to access higher-paying gigs.
How it pays: Pays cash into a PayPal account. Tasks typically pay $3 to $5; however, for experienced Gigwalkers there are some tasks that pay up to $100. Payment for tasks is made within 7 days. Gigwalkers must pay PayPal’s transaction fees but can choose a higher minimum payout to minimize their frequency.
Bottom line: A few things need to be figured in to determine how lucrative this money-making app will be for you: not only the time it takes to complete the task, but the time it takes to apply to tasks and the travel required to complete gigs. At $3 to $5, a gig probably doesn’t pay to travel far. The competition, however, is greater for gigs that don’t require travel or that are in a heavily populated area.
Type of program: Surveys
Technical requirements: iPhone, and Android platforms
Locations: United States, though there may be some international surveys available from time to time
How it works: Download the free app; fill out the profile with information such as your name, address, gender, birthday, and employment status. You will then be contacted by email, push notifications, or phone to participate in surveys that match your profile.
How it pays: Pays in reward points, which can be redeemed for cash in a PayPal account or gift card. There is a $35 payout threshold.
Bottom line: Generally, I’m not a big fan of surveys because they can take a lot of time for only a little reward. The fact that you can do these on your phone, though, means you can do them in time that might otherwise be wasted, like waiting for kids to finish activities or in a waiting room. That being said, how many surveys are sent to you is not under your control, so if your profile doesn’t match many surveys, you may not make it to the threshold.
Type of program: Social media advertising
Technical requirements: iPhone and Android with social media accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, and/or YouTube
How it works: You can link your social media profiles to your account after setting it up. You then have the option to choose from a list of campaigns relevant to your profile. All you have to do is share the text or video link. But you are limited to how many you can post—usually a few times each day.
How it pays: You have two options for payment: Cash into a PayPal account or with Amazon gift cards. Pay depends on the number of views or clicks your posts get during the campaign. The cost-per-click varies based on the campaign. But you can get a picture of how much you can get, as Mylikes will give you an estimate of how much each campaign pays based on your followers.
Bottom line: This app isn't for people who use social media moderately. Instead, it's meant for those who use social media a lot. If that's you, you can make some money—as long as you have no problem endorsing products.
Type of program: Shopping rewards program
Technical requirements: iPhone or Android smartphone
Locations: United States
How it works: Collect “kicks” or points when you simply enter stores, such as Target, Macy's, Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Old Navy, Toys’R’Us, and Exxon and Mobil convenience stores. Using the GPS on your smartphone, it knows your location and sends appropriate offers. Scan barcodes for additional points and even more points when you make purchases, though to earn points by purchases you need to link your credit card to it.
How it pays: Pays points redeemable for gift cards and discounts.
Bottom line: Unlike some other shopping rewards apps, this one doesn’t require purchases, so you can make money while simply running your errands.
Type of program: Loyalty/rewards program
Technical requirements: Android and Apple devices (including tablets)
Locations: Legal residents of the United States, including Puerto Rico
How it works: Use your smartphone to log your TV-watching hours and be paid for it. When you log in to Viggle, it records the audio and identifies the TV show. While points are rewarded for any TV viewing up to 12 hours per day, it’s the Viggle-sponsored ones that earn the most points. Users also get points by interacting with what’s on TV by answering trivia questions, voting in polls, etc., and by using social media and referring new customers. DirecTv customers get extra bonuses.
How it pays: Pays reward points that are redeemable at companies such as Groupon, 1-800-Flowers, Fandango and Foot Locker. Rewards expire if the Viggle account stays dormant for 12 consecutive months. The value of the rewards (not including any prizes won in contests) is limited to $550, unless this limit is waived by Viggle.
Bottom line: You probably have to watch a lot of TV to make this pay. Couch potatoes, take note!