These ways to make money with your phone aren't necessarily a way to earn a real living, but, if used sensibility, they can help you recoup some of the cost of your cell phone bill and maybe put a few dollars in your pocket. As with other microjobs, the idea is to make extra money, so be careful that you don't actually lose money. Read these Pitfalls of Money-Making Apps first, then try out the ones that look good for you.
I have laid out the details of each of these apps, which range from crowdsourcing to social media advertising, so you can compare and find the ones that truly will allow you to make money with your phone.
1. AppRewardsType of program: Rewards
Technical requirements: Apple apps only
How it works: Download free apps then earn points by sharing apps on social media and playing games.
How it pays: Pays points on RewardsDen and Kiip. These services allow you to earn discounts or free items from places eBags, PetSmart, SkyMall, Overstock.com, 1800Flowers.com, Starbucks, Best Buy, Pepsi, Sears and Disney.
Bottom line: To make this pay enough to collect any significant rewards, you probably have to be participating in other programs that earn points through RewardsDen or Kiip. But if you like to try new apps, it could be fun.
2. EasyShiftType of program: Task-oriented crowdsourcing a.k.a microlabor website
Technical requirements: iPhone only
Locations: United States, though availability of shifts in certain areas may be limited
How it works: Download the app; create an account and start accepting “shifts.” You earn points as you successfully complete shifts and then gain access to better paying assignments. The types of jobs this crowdsourcer offers tend to be for consumer brands looking to track their products, so photos of products with price checks, etc., are the mainstay of this company.
How it pays: Pays cash into PayPal accounts. Payments for shifts range from $2 to $20 and are paid within 48 hours.
Bottom line: While this is available nationwide, since so many of its shifts are location-based, it’s 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.
More: Where to Find Micro Jobs
3. Embee MobileType of program: Mobile microtasks
Technical requirements: Available for more than 300 mobile carriers, including AT&T and Verizon.
Locations: More than 100 countries
How it works: People contract other people for in-person services.
Bottom line: Facebook users download mobile app that supplies free mobile service and digital downloads in exchange for playing videos and games and doing surveys and online tasks. Pays in points redeemable for mobile airtime or other services.
4. Field AgentType of program: Task-oriented crowdsourcing
Technical requirements: iPhone
Locations: United States, Canada, Norway, and Australia
How it works: Agents download the app, choose a job and then must complete it within two hours. Agents are awarded points for acceptable completions and lose point for unacceptable or uncompleted jobs. Jobs might include price checks with photo and/or bar code scan mystery shopping, surveys, product reviews, polls, verifying business locations, taking photos, brochure placement.
How it pays: Pays cash into a PayPal account. Jobs pay $3-12 each.
Bottom line: Unlike Gigwalk--in which clients choose applicants for jobs--tasks are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. (However, some tasks are released first to those with a higher point status.) This will mean less time wasted applying for jobs that you didn’t get.
5. GigwalkType 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, surveys, etc. 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 $3-5; 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 $3-5 a gig it probably doesn’t pay to travel far. However, the competition is greater for gigs that don’t require travel or that are in a heavily populated area.
6. iPinionsType of program: Surveys
Technical requirements: iPhone, Android, Blackberry smartphones, tablets such as iPad, Galaxy and more, and iPod touch devices
Locations: United States
How it works: Download the free app; fill out the profile with information such as 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 at 100 reward points to one dollar. Minimum to redeem is of 500 rewards points.
Bottom line: Generally I’m not a big fan of surveys because they can take a lot of time for only a little reward. However, the fact that you can do these on your phone means you can do them in time that might otherwise be wasted, like waiting for kids to finish activities or in a waiting room. How many surveys are sent to you, though, is not under your control, so if your profile doesn’t match many surveys, you may not make it to the $5 threshold.
7. mylikesType of program: Social media advertising
Technical requirements: iPhone and Android with social media accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, and/or YouTube
How it works: Set up an account at mylikes and link it toyour social media accounts. Next, choose from the campaigns mylikes lists as relevant to you social media profile and share that text or video link. The number of links you can post per day is limited to a “few times.”
How it pays: Pays cash in PayPal account or with Amazon gift cards. You are paid for as many views or clicks you receive during the campaign’s time span. The cost-per-click varies from campaign to campaign. Mylikes does give an estimate of what you will make on a campaign given your audience’s size.
Bottom line: If you’re a social media junkie and don’t mind plugging products, you could make some money here. However, it you are just a casual social media user, it’s probably not worth your time.
8. ShopkickType 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 smart phone it knows your location and sends appropriate offers. Scan bar codes 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.
9. ViggleType 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. So couch potatoes take note!