How To Get Free Money: 21 Ways

Free money is all around you if you know where to look.

When you need extra money, you often don’t have to look very far. Whether you need to pay the rent, a student loan or another bill — or you just like free cash — these 21 simple ways to earn money can boost your bank account balance.

Design and Sell T-Shirts

Sites like RedBubble, TeePublic and Amazon let you make money from your creativity if you design T-shirts. Business coach Stacy Caprio said, “I designed a few hundred T-shirts and uploaded them to Amazon and have not touched the account in over a year. At its prime, I was making thousands of dollars each month, and now I still make a hundred or so each month from doing nothing.”

Be a Mock Juror

Jury duty pay is notoriously low. But Edith Muthoni, chief editor of Learnbonds.com, makes extra cash with a side hustle sitting in as a juror on mock trials and online legal focus groups. She recommends the Jury Talk and Jury Test websites. “Jury Talk pays an average $30 per session while Jury Test pays between $20 and $50 depending on the nature of the cases under review and the time taken,” Muthoni said.

Find Your Lost Money

Tom Nathaniel of LushDollar.com is a fan of missing money websites, which are the ultimate free cash solution. “A few years ago, I found out I was owed missing money. It was my old $500 apartment deposit that I seemingly forgot about. To find this missing money, there are only two databases you should bookmark — MissingMoney.com and Unclaimed.org. Both are 100% free and even recommended by the government.”

Become a Dog Walker

Americans owned nearly 90 million dogs as of 2017, and Igor Mitic, co-founder of Fortunly.com, monetizes them with a side hustle as a dog walker. “I decided to use a dog-walking app called Wag for my personal enjoyment and as a side-gig while traveling,” he said. “The app is similar to location-based services such as Uber that take a percentage of the income by providing a platform for your services. It’s quite easy to make a couple of hundred bucks per week without much stress.

Sell Your Old Clothes on Mercari

Just about everyone’s closet can use a good cleaning, and Lauren Mochizuki of the Case Mochi blog knows how to earn money from those old clothes. “I started off selling some clothes in my closet that I hadn’t worn in months, and I made $280 in about a month. I used the app Mercari simply because they make shipping so easy (they email you the postage), and they only have 10% commission fees.”

Hold a Garage Sale

Garage sales are a tried and true way to earn extra cash from your cast-offs. Mochizuki said, “My husband and I have done these several times. We try to be as organized as possible so that it’s an easy setup in the morning. We also try to advertise the garage sale with signs, and free local Facebook ads so that we get a good turnout. We typically make between $500 to $900 just from selling stuff we aren’t using.”

Sign Up For Rakuten

Signing up on Rakuten, which used to be Ebates, gives you free money just for making purchases. Mochizuki said, “I love using [it] when I do any shopping online because you get a commission back for qualifying purchases that I would have made anyway. I recently made $17 just from making a Patagonia purchase that I had been saving for.”

Earn Credit Card Rewards

If you use credit responsibly, Chhavi Agarwal, personal finance blogger at Mrs. Daaku Studio, advises getting credit cards that rack up rewards. “If you are responsible with credit cards and pay them off to avoid any interest, I recommend using [them] for a considerable amount of payments that you make in a month. My husband and I tried this for a few months where we were able to gather over 20,000 points.” Many rewards cards, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, have no annual fee.

Look For a Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus

Nathan Grant, a credit industry analyst with Credit Card Insider, said that while credit card rewards programs don’t work well for people who carry a balance, a sign-up bonus is lucrative for anyone. “Typically, all you need to do is spend a certain amount on purchases with your new card in a specified period of time and receive a return that often ranges from 20% to 50%, depending on the card.”

Use the Swagbucks App

Make money whenever you have a few spare minutes by using free money apps like the Swagbucks app. “I take a few surveys, watch videos and participate in the polls,” said Agarwa. “Besides that, I also promote Swagbucks on my blog, and many have used my link to register. That means, not only do I get referral bonus but 10% of their earnings on the platform for [a] lifetime.”

Rent Your Driveway as a Parking Spot

If you live near a train station, airport, entertainment venue or another place where parking is at a premium, Yaz Purnell of The Wallet Moth said, “You can make a great little extra income by renting out your driveway to people looking for a convenient parking spot. If you don’t have a car or always have some free space on your driveway, this is a fantastic way to make money without costing you anything. There are a number of fantastic sites you can sign up to for free and register your parking spot, including Park PnP, Just Park, and Curb Flip.”

Get Cash Back With Shop.com

If you shop online at major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s and Raise, Sandy Yong, author of The Money Master, said the Shop.com app provides from 2% to 50% cash back. “Sometimes they offer extra cash deals during Back-To-School or Cyber Monday. They also have a Shop Local program in major U.S. cities like New York and Los Angeles, where you can also earn cash back from restaurants and salons.”

Provide Services on Fiverr

Fiverr lets you sell services for $5 and up, and Patrick Dhital, co-founder of Honey Skin, earns cash regularly from it. “I ended up making a Fiverr account and posting free advertisements such as ‘I will help you with your assignment,’ and I began to get order after order. I was only charging $5 at first, but eventually, after getting so many orders, I changed the price to $25. This is how I saved $10,000 to invest in my own brand.”

Temporarily Turn Off Your Power With OhmConnect

If you’re willing to turn off your power during peak use times, OhmConnect pays you for each hour it’s shut down. Bri Bell of Frugal Minimalist Kitchen said, “They partner with electricity companies and get users to use less electricity during peak times. All I do is flip the breaker — or make sure I’m not cooking or charging my electronics during the specified one-hour time block — and earn cash. Last summer, they had some promotions, and I was earning about $5 an hour for the times I turned off my power. During the winter, I earn about $2 to $4 per hour. I’ve often earned when I wasn’t even home.”

Resell Craigslist Items

You may have sold unneeded items on Craigslist for extra money, but Beverly Friedmann of Reviewingthis.com adds a twist. “I search under the free section of Craigslist under my local [area] for sale listings. By finding high-value merchandise people were giving away, ranging from mattresses to bed frames to air conditioners, I was able to resell these items. In doing so, I turned quite a profit. I once even located an entire free piano to pick up and then resell.”

Become a Mystery Shopper

Although you have to be careful of scams purporting to be mystery shopping companies, Julie Simbro, owner of Ace Mystery Shopping, said, “Mystery shopping is a great way to earn cash while enjoying the perks, like being reimbursed for meals, small purchases, oil changes, etc. It’s a fun side gig that is great for someone looking to earn some extra cash while doing things they will already be doing anyway.” In addition to her company, she recommends finding legitimate leads through the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.

Get Paid To Open a Bank Account

“Probably the easiest way I get free money is by getting bank account sign-up bonuses ranging between $100 and $600,” said CPA Logan Allec of Money Done Right. “For checking accounts, I generally have to divert my direct deposit for a few months to the new account in order to get the bonus. For savings accounts, I generally have to deposit a certain amount and leave it in the account for a certain amount of time, such as three months. One great resource that I use to check for these bonuses is the GOBankingRates list of the best bank account promotions, which gets updated monthly.”

Refer Friends to Apps and Services You Use

Free money apps earn cash directly for users, but Tana Williams of Debt Free Forties said, “My favorite way to earn free money is to offer referral codes for apps and services that I use. Friends and family often ask for advice on what I use for different services, so I like to offer my referral code if they’re interested. From my savings account at Capital One to shopping apps like Ibotta, many companies offer referral bonuses. An added plus is that when they use your referral code, they usually get a sign-up bonus or incentive as well.”

Find Old Insurance Proceeds

“One quick way to determine if you’re owed money by a life insurance company is to check online at National Association of Insurance Commissioners life policy locator,” said Matt Schmidt, an advisor at Burial Insurance Pro. “Many times, our grandparents have taken out small policies on their grandchildren and forgot to pass them onto the insured. Generally, the policies were whole life insurance plans that accumulated cash value. Even though the death benefit portion of the policy has lapsed, the insurance company still would pay out the cash value to the insured or beneficiary.”

Get Free Term Life Insurance From Avibra

The Avibra app rewards good habits with free life insurance coverage, according to Avibra CEO Yogesh Shetty. He said, “After you download the app, you get up to $10,000 immediate base coverage, and on [a] weekly basis, [the] app provides in-app activities like meditation, inspiration videos, brain workouts and quizzes to improve well-being. On completion of this activity, you get rewarded with more insurance coverage.”

Monetize Videos From Your Phone

“Media outlets are hungry for new engaging video content,” said Peter Koch of Dollar Insanity. “Do you have some cute pet videos in your phone? You can monetize them easily via video licensing agencies such as Newsflare. I’ve made a couple of thousand dollars so far.”

Keep reading to find out how to get money when you need help paying bills.

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Barb Nefer is a longtime finance writer with a special interest in consumer topics like saving money and improving credit.

About the Author

Barb Nefer has been writing professionally for nearly 30 years, cutting her teeth as a news writer for the Daily Southtown in Chicago. She’s a doctor of psychology, and her eclectic expertise includes personal finance, psychology, travel and the pet industry. Her work reflects that diversity, with pieces appearing in places like About.com, CBS Local, Yahoo.com, WebPsychology, and Animal Wellness magazine.