A lot of apps cost money, whether that’s some up-front surcharge, a nominal fee to remove adds, or a regular subscription charge. Then there are apps out there that will help you save money. These may help you save money by allowing you a free alternative for things you would normally pay for, or offer some sort of coupon service. (For another example of what I’m talking about that isn’t an app, take a look at NuRide, with which you can earn coupons by carpooling or using mass transit). However, there is the rare but welcome app that is going to go beyond even this: I’m talking about apps that pay you money to use them.
I’ve looked at quite a few of these, and I’m going to break down some of these apps’ common methods as a means of explaining how these apps can afford to pay you to use them, as well as breaking down some things that you should be aware of if you’re considering using these apps to make a little side cash.
Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
5 Apps That Pay You Money to Use Them
If you are starting to hear a lot about apps that pay you money to use them, you might find that your resolve against the temptation to hop onto these apps wane with each new mention. One thing that may have been an impediment to you, though (which is to say, one reason that you may have held off before now) is wondering if it’s “legit.”
That’s a very good question to ask, and you should keep asking it. As the old adage goes, “if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.” While there are any number of great, legitimate apps out there that, for one reason or another, will pay you to use them, there are numerous other apps and sites that are going to lure you in with the promise of it, but either are going to jack up your system with a lot of spyware, or else make you jump through a lot of hoops for your payoff. Those of us who were on the internet back when the PS2 was the hot commodity may well remember all the pop-ups and banner ads that claimed that, by using this site, you could claim a “free PS2.” But, in the microscopic fine print was generally a proviso something along the lines of saying that you couldn’t opt out of the service for a set amount of time, and that you had to redeem a certain number of rewards and promotions in order to qualify. And by the time you’ve paid out for all those rewards and promotions, you could have just paid for the danged PS2 yourself.
Beyond “if something seems too good to be true…” another helpful rule of thumb to keep in mind as you’re looking at these apps or any others that claim to pay you for using them is to remember that nobody out there is just giving money away. If they “give” you a dollar for using their app in a certain way, it only means that your involvement brings them more than a dollar in some way. In short, the services you are performing for them are earning them more than they are paying you. That’s the only way this works.
That may seem simplistic or even obvious, but hey, it’s good news! It makes things easier for you! If it is clear what the app wants from you, then it’s more likely to be on the up and up. If they try to make it seem that they’re just paying you out of the goodness of their own hearts, well, I think it would be safe to run the other direction. They’re counting on you being too naïve to question the dream deal you’re being handed, and there’s no telling how else they intend to take advantage of that naïveté.
How Do They Work?
This is the big question, once again in the “if it seems too good…” camp. Usually, these apps are just a direct line between you and advertisers. Advertisers not only want to advertise to you, but they also want to use you for research, to determine how effective their ads are. Most of these apps are just portals to watching short videos (usually thirty second commercials), or else taking surveys.
The payoff isn’t always all that great. Sometimes, you’re looking at fifty cents to a buck fifty for taking a half-hour out of your day to take a survey. That puts you at about three bucks an hour. Also, depending on the app in question, the advertisers which currently have deals with that app, and your specific demographics, it can be tricky to know just how many surveys you’re going to qualify for at any given time. Furthermore, there are a few of them out there that, while paying out for surveys, will pay out even more if you buy the product you just watch an ad for, which can sometimes be a little counter-intuitive.
So, are you going to retire off of these apps? By no means. I suppose if you had multiple smartphones, tablets, or other app-enabled devices, you could take multiple surveys simultaneously, but if you can afford that sort of digital payload, you may not need this at all.
But there are some people who always have to have something going. People who can’t be idle, even in their leisure. These are the people for whom the rocking chair was invented. Watching TV? They’re also playing Clash of Clans. Long car ride? They’re spamming the refresh on Twitter, even though they’re not reading anything they see. If this sounds like you, these apps may be something that you want to consider. After all, would you rather mindlessly tap through yet another freemium game that you don’t really enjoy, or tap through something that’s going to net you a little cash, no matter how picayune an amount?
But enough of that. You’re clearly already interested, or you wouldn’t be reading this far. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the apps out there that will pay you money to use them. The apps below are included because they’re interesting and because we feel they’re a pretty good cross-section of the genre. We’ve taken efforts to research them and see how on the up and up they are, but we know that things have fallen through the cracks. The apps that we mention here are generally well received, but don’t take that for an endorsement. Always use your best judgment and listen to your gut on these sorts of things — and read the terms of service!
SurveysOnTheGo is a pretty standard specimen of this type of app. There are numerous entities out there who would like you to be in their infinite focus group. These might be major corporations, or they might be political campaigns, or they might be anything in between. Payout for surveys ranges from 25¢ to $5, but payouts around $1 are much more common. There’s two basic ways to get surveys on here. Either you can dig through the app and find surveys that you qualify for, or you can let the app track your location (which it will always do in the background — watch your battery life if you’ve activated this option) and it’ll notify you if there’s a survey based on your location. Are you in your local Target? Maybe it’ll ask you a couple of questions about the service you’ve gotten, or the way the Pepsis have been put on display. If that sounds a little invasive for you, know that you can turn that off. The app pays you through PayPal, but you have to have a minimum balance of $10 in your in-app account before you can cash out.
For more information, and for download links, check their official site here.
The best of these apps pay you for doing things you would be doing anyway. This is one of them. When you’re out shopping, you can be prompted to find and scan the UPCs of various items that are for sale. Also, there’s the pretty standard stuff, surveys and commercials. Places you’re already shopping, things you’re already buying… you can use this app to check in at locations or to scan UPCs and get points towards coupons and gift cards at major retailers.
Hey, dawg! I heard you liked apps, so I put apps in your apps so you can app while you app!
Seriously, though, this is exactly what it sounds like. It plays trailers… for apps. So yeah, those numerous micropayment freemium games that are out there? Or maybe some productivity software you hadn’t thought about installing on your phone? Well, you can watch a commercial for them. Watching trailers for apps earns you points, which can eventually be redeemed for some cash on PayPal.
Pact, put out by GymPact, isn’t so much a way to get money as much as it is a means of incentivizing other changes in your life. Do you want to work out more or to eat better? Then you link a payment system to Pact, and make a pledge. That pledge may be to get so many thousands of steps in a day, or to go to the gym a certain number of times a week, or to eat more veggies. When you do what you pledged, you get a monetary reward. However, the flipside is that if you ever skip a day, you have to pay out. This is great if you usually have a gym on Someday Isle (as in, Someday Isle go to the gym…) However, reports on it are mixed. I guess there’s never going to be 100% satisfaction—the people who are paying out are probably going to cancel out the people who get paid—but there are some technical problems to keep an eye on. Also, note that the iOS version of Pact is only available for the iPhone. If you want it on your iPad (which might not work quite as well with the app’s pedometer function) you’ll have to force it onto your iPad through the App Store menu.
Slidejoy (Android only)
Alright, this one is a novel twist: Think about it — you’re getting advertised to all day every day, and who’s making all that sweet ad revenue? The people who control the radio stations and TV stations and websites you’re getting advertised to through. Slidejoy attempts to cut out some of the middle-man by letting you get paid to get advertised to. You install the app, and it will change your lock screen to a rotating set of ads. Every time you unlock your lock screen, you get paid. It won’t be much, but this is another one that’s just paying to to do something that you would normally be doing for free anyway. If it seems strange that you’re getting paid to get advertised to, think about this: Slidejoy isn’t just advertising to you, it’s advertising to everybody who just happens to see your phone when you pull it out.
Slidejoy is Android only (hardly surprising to think that Apple wouldn’t want to give up that kind of control for its devices) and it can be downloaded here.
Well, those are some of the ones I’ve been most tempted by. Are there any apps that pay you money to use them that you’re fond of? What’s been your success rate with them? Let’s talk about it down in the comments!