How To Get Free Money: 15 Proven Ways

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At the end of the month, with payday a few days away, you might find yourself in a financial bind. “How can I make $100 fast? How can I get cash right now?” You’ve probably asked yourself that a time or two. Outside of working another side hustle or shaking out your pockets for hidden extra cash, there are some creative ways to get free money.

How To Get Free Money: 15 Easy Ways

In most cases, to get free money, you provide something of value and get something in return. You might open an account or download an app, or you might give your time and effort in filling out an application. Plenty of companies have programs to reward you with cash and other bonuses, but you just need to know where to look. Whether you need to pay the rent, a student loan or another bill — or you just like free money — here’s how to get free money in 15 simple ways:

  1. Get bank rewards or stock bonuses
  2. Earn credit card bonuses
  3. Take advantage of your employer 401(k) match
  4. Refer your friends
  5. Search for unclaimed money
  6. Apply for grants and scholarships
  7. Sell your old devices
  8. Sell your old clothes
  9. Sell your photos
  10. Earn while shopping
  11. Take online surveys
  12. Watch videos and play games
  13. Seek help with utility bills
  14. Negotiate your credit card bills
  15. Improve your credit score

1. Get Bank Rewards or Stock Bonuses

Banks entice you to open accounts with offers of free money — and you can do it online. Most bonus offers are $200 to $500, but you may find higher offers if you carry a high balance or receive large direct deposits.

Start by looking for promotions at banks near you and online banks. Some stock apps even offer money to invest in stocks just for opening an account. It only takes a few dollars to get started in the stock market.

2. Earn Credit Card Bonuses

Much like how banks offer bonuses to entice people to switch, credit cards offer sign-up bonuses in the form of cash or points. In most cases, to earn free money you need to spend a required amount, but that isn’t tough to do if you just juggle the way you make your monthly purchases. When signing up for these, make sure you take note of the expiration date and time period that you need to spend during.

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3. Take Advantage of Your Employer’s 401(k) Match

401(k)s are retirement funds, so you won’t see the money until later. Taking advantage of a 401(k) saves you money now, though, because your contributions are tax-deferred, they lower your taxable income in the years you pay into your plan.

Even better, federal laws encourage employers to contribute funds. For example, your employer might match 100% of your contributions up to 5% of your salary, which means for every $1 you contribute, your employer will also contribute $1 up to that limit. That’s essentially free money, and if you don’t sign up, you’re leaving cash on the table.

4. Refer Your Friends

If you love your credit card company, an app you use or even your phone carrier, tell your friends. Your referral could lead to cash back in your pocket for sending a new customer a company’s way.

For example, if you have a Capital One credit card in good standing and send a friend a referral link, you’ll earn money once that friend is approved for a card. While the amount you receive depends on the type of account you have, a $150 bonus per friend is possible for some credit cards.

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you’ll receive $50 — up to $500 per year — for each friend who signs up for any plan.

5. Search for Unclaimed Money

Unclaimed money includes dormant accounts, trust distributions, refunds and more that haven’t been claimed. It doesn’t hurt to see if you have any unclaimed funds. Finding out that you do could be almost like winning free money.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Start your search online at the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website. If you find unclaimed funds, the site will guide you to the appropriate site to file a claim.

6. Apply for Grants and Scholarships

With the cost of college, every bit of financial assistance helps, but you might be hesitant to pursue scholarships or other forms of free money if you aren’t a top scholar. Don’t be. Many awards aren’t tied to grades but to other attributes, such as your community service, extracurricular activities and leadership.

And even your height. The Tall Clubs International Foundation looks at your various achievements, but only men who stand at least 6-foot-2 and women at least 5-foot-10 are eligible to apply. High school seniors with an aptitude for duck calling make their way to Stuttgart, Arkansas, for the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest to vie for scholarships.

Start your scholarship search online at sites such as Fastweb or the College Board.

7. Sell Your Old Devices

You may have old cell phones, computers or other tech devices that you no longer use. You can sell them and put some money in your pocket. You can sell on sites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Decluttr. Before selling, be sure to remove your personal information. Disable any anti-theft or device protection features.

8. Sell Your Old Clothes

If your clothes are in good condition and you gravitate toward name brands, you could make money by selling your old clothes online. Start by signing up with a site like Poshmark or ThredUp. Several sites will resell your clothes for you, but each has different policies and items they will accept, so it pays to review their rules.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

9. Sell Your Photos

If you have an eye for photography, you can make money by selling your professional-quality photos online. Sign up with a site like Shutterstock or iStock by Getty Images. With both sites, you’ll submit a few of your best photos to get started, and if you’re approved as a contributor, you’re in business. Shutterstock reports that it has paid contributors more than $1 billion.

10. Earn While Shopping

You’ve likely heard at least once, “There’s an app for that.” And that statement holds true for getting free money, too. Download an app or browser extension that you can use to earn rewards.

Popular options include Rakuten, which offers both a mobile app and a browser extension for Chrome. You can get cash back, shop special deals and earn money just for signing up and making qualifying purchases. Like Rakuten, Ibotta offers both a mobile app and a browser extension and you can earn free money by shopping.

11. Take Surveys

Marketing companies want to know what you think, and you can turn that into free money — and influence their products and services. Surveys typically don’t pay much, but your earnings can add up over a year.

Sign up with a survey site. Some sites, like InboxDollars, are currently offering sign-up bonuses. You can earn $5 just for signing up.

12. Watch Videos and Play Games

As with surveys, you won’t earn a lot, but you can make money or earn gift cards while doing things you enjoy, like watching videos or playing online games. Sites that let you earn free money for such tasks include Swagbucks and MyPoints.

13. Seek Help With Utility Bills

Utility bills can make a significant dent in your budget, and you might qualify for government programs that can provide free money assistance. Two such programs are the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Lifeline.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

The programs’ websites will show you how to apply in your area. For LIHEAP, visit the Office of Community Services website to find out who to contact in your state. For Lifeline, which can provide assistance with phone and internet bills, visit the Lifeline website.

14. Negotiate Your Credit Card Bills 

You use your debit card or credit card every day so there are bound to be bills to pay every month. However, you may be paying more than you need to and there is a way you could negotiate the amount you owe down. 

By calling your credit card service provider, you could negotiate your payment to a lower APR or have late payment fees waived. It doesn’t hurt to check as you could save on many expenses which adds up to free money down the road.

15. Improve Your Credit Score

Now this may not sound like earning free money from the get, but by improving your credit, you can also polish up your long-term financial outlook.

Start by paying bills on time and creating a solid credit history. You will be more likely to not only save on credit bills in general but also pay lower interest rates. This will all add up to some significant savings if not free extra cash. 

Final Take To GO

Financial institutions, rewards sites and other companies are ready to dish out free money. It’s there for the taking for you — in some cases with little effort — so why not check into some of these ideas?

Make Your Money Work Better for You


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding making money.
  • How can I get money right now legally?
    • Here are some great ways to get some free money legally now:
      • Earn cash bonuses by referring your friends
      • Search for unclaimed money
      • Apply for grants and scholarships
      • Sell your old devices
      • Sell your old clothes
      • Sell your photos
      • Earn while shopping
      • Take online surveys
  • What are some sources of free money?
    • Some great ways to earn free money or just grab some can include:
      • Get bank rewards or stock bonuses
      • Earn credit card bonuses
      • Take advantage of your employer 401(k) match
      • Watch videos and play games
      • Seek help with utility bills
      • Negotiate your credit card bills
      • Improve your credit score

Barb Nefer and Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Oct. 12, 2023.


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