Free money… sounds sweet right?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill you can take for truly free money, but there are lots of ways to get free-ish money. What do I mean?
Glad you asked…
When I say “free money” or “free-ish money,” I mean barely exerting any effort at all to earn some free cash. We’re talking about minimum amounts of work. You might have to sign up for an app or a new checking account, which is easy and free, but then you start bringing in some free money.
These options are all 100% legit and won’t waste your time. Wasting time sounds similar to trading time for money, and that’s work… not free money.
One more warning, you’re not going to get rich from any of these ideas. But, many of the free money ideas on this list will put cash in your pocket in other ways. An example is signing up for one of the cashback sites I’ve listed – you get free money for signing up, but you also earn even more cash when you shop through the site.
Let’s stop wasting time and just get to it…
9 Awesome Ways to Get Free Money
Use these apps to get free money
Trim calls itself a “holistic financial management service” – the idea is that Trim doesn’t treat only one of your financial issues, it wants to help you on several levels. More specifically, here’s what Trim can do for you:
- Negotiate on your behalf for lower rates on some of your bills.
- Analyze your spending to see where your money is going.
- Check for recurring charges for subscriptions that you might not be using any more
- Trim will cancel unused subscriptions for you
- Make personalized recommendations for financial accounts
How does any of this help you get free money?
When you use Trim to negotiate for lower rates on your bills, you are putting a little extra cash in your pocket every month. Instead of continuing to pay $120/month for cell service, Trim might be able to lower that to $100/month.
Now, there are a few things to know about using Trim to negotiate your bills. This only works on cable, internet, or phone service. Trim takes 33% of your yearly savings. So, in the case of saving $20/month on your cell service, you save $240 over the course of the year and Trim takes $79.20 off your savings.
Check out #8 for a completely free alternative.
Have you ever ordered something online and felt like you got a good deal, but then see the price drop a week later? This is the exact situation Paribus can help you with, and it’s how Paribus will get free money back for you on things you’ve already purchased.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for a free Paribus account
- Shop online like you normally do
- Paribus works in the background scanning your emails for the names of retailers, names of products, and the dates of purchase
- If the price drops on a product or if you missed a coupon, Paribus lets you know and puts you in contact with the company to get money back
Financial transactions do not happen through Paribus – they happen through the merchant. And for anyone worried about Paribus scanning your email, I get it, but think about how much data is already being collected on us. Paribus guarantees they won’t sell your data and that it’s only being used to find savings.
Since Paribus was purchased by Capital One in 2016, they eliminated any fees associated with using Paribus. It’s now 100% free to use – no fees and not a dime when they find you savings.
Get free money for shopping online
Swagbucks is a website that says they “put cashback in your wallet.” That means you can earn free gift cards and cash by using the internet like you’re already using it. In addition to a free $10 bonus when you sign up for the site, you can earn even more cashback when you:
- Shop online
- Watch videos
- Search the web through Swagbucks Yahoo! powered search engine
- Answer surveys
If you’re already shopping online, Swagbucks is easy cash. They’re partners with over 1500+ different retailed – including Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Starbucks. You simply create a free account with Swagbucks (how you earn the $10 bonus), then go through Swagbucks’ portal to shop.
Swagbucks pays you in what they call “SB.” These are the points that you redeem for PayPal cash or gift cards. Swagbucks has already paid out over $370,000,000 to its users.
Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten offers you cashback when you shop online through its online portal. They have over 2,500 different partner stores, including:
- Bed Bath & Beyond
The way it works is that you create a free Rakuten account, get a free $10 for signing up, and then find one of Rakuten’s partner stores to shop through. You click on merchant’s site and when you make a purchase, Rakuten earns a commission that they share with you.
The thing I love about Rakuten is that you aren’t earning points – it’s straight cash to you. You can see how much you have in your account, and Rakuten pays you via check or PayPal every quarter.
Get free money when you save
5. Open a new bank account
Just recently I saw that Chase bank is offering new customers up to $350 when they open a new checking and savings account. Offers like this are becoming increasingly common as banks are competing for customers online.
This is a pretty easy way to get free money if you’re open to switching banks.
Some people even do something called bank account churning, which is when you open an account to get free money, then close the account after a couple of months, and find a new offer. There are some people who do this to earn upwards of a thousand dollars or more a year.
The bummer is that banks are catching on and many now have fine print that prevents you from churning accounts, like:
- High monthly fees if you keep less than a certain amount in your account
- Closing fees
- Requiring a certain number of transactions before you earn the free cash
The other thing you may not realize is that the big sign-on bonus is considered taxable income. The best thing you can do to avoid any extra fees or hassle is to read the fine print.
Still, if you want to get free money for opening a new account, search for offers online and find one that you’re willing to stick with for a while. You can even ask your current bank if they have any promotions that will help you earn some cash.
6. Open a high-yield savings account
A high-yield savings account is one where you earn a higher than average APY. This is really common with online banks because they don’t have the same overhead that traditional brick and mortar banks are paying for. This wasn’t possible 10 to 20 years ago, but now you can move money with a quick swipe or click… I love technology.
And instead of only earning only 0.20% back on your savings, high-yield savings accounts currently offer APYs of around 2.10% to 2.30%.
How is this free money?
Say you have $10,000 in your emergency fund sitting in a savings account with an APY of 0.20%, you are only earning $2.02 back that year. In a high-yield savings account with an APY of 2.20%, that’s $222.23 over the year. You’ve just made an extra $220 over the course of the year – for free!
Similar to the last point, make sure you read the fine print before opening a new account. Also, remember that bank interest rates can change over time, so you might not always earn at a higher rate.
Even more ways to get free cash
7. Earn cash, points, and free travel miles with a credit card
While some people want to demonize credit card use, if you’re a responsible user, you can use credit cards to your advantage and make money from them. Responsible credit card usage is key here – meaning no credit card debt, payments made in full every time they’re due, etc.
Honestly, this is literally my favorite way to get free money. I’ve probably earned thousands of dollars in the past year with my credit card.
How does it work?
Credit card companies use offers like travel points or cash bonuses to encourage people to sign up for new cards. Then, you earn a reward when you meet certain spending requirements.
Here’s an example of the current offer from one of the most popular rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:
- You earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months.
- 60,000 points equals $750 in travel when you redeem your points through Chase’s rewards portal.
- With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you also earn 2x points on all food and travel charges made to the card.
- This card has a $95 annual fee, but with $750 in rewards, you’re still coming out ahead.
If the $4,000 spend sounds like a lot to you, remember that you can use your credit card for gas, groceries, some utility bills, insurance premiums, etc. Or, you open a new card if you know you have a large purchase coming up. That’s how many people meet credit card bonus spending requirements. However, if you can’t meet the $4,000 spend that the Chase has, there are other cards with lower amounts.
The real trick to getting free money from credit cards is to pay your balance in full every month.
This is how you avoid interest charges, which can quickly negate any rewards you earn, and it also boosts your credit score.
There is a lot to learn about churning credit cards and travel hacking with credit cards, from how it affects your credit score and whether or not you should close cards. Check out the following articles to learn more:
8. Negotiate for lower rates on your own bills
Using an app like Trim isn’t the only way to negotiate on your bills. It’s actually easy to do this on your own and keep all of your savings. The other thing about an app like Trim, while completely legit, is that it only works on cable, internet, and phone bills – those aren’t the only bills you can negotiate.
Here are the types of bills you can negotiate on and how:
- Car insurance. Call your provider and ask them if they have any promotions or discounts you can take advantage of. Bundling your car insurance with your homeowner’s insurance can also save you money. The last time I did this, I reduced my car insurance by $40/month, or $480/year.
- Cell/cable/internet. Just like your car insurance, call your provider and ask about promotions, discounts, or bundles. You can even look into the competitor’s pricing to help you negotiate.
- Medical bills. If you’re able to pay your bill in full, many providers will give you a discount. I’ve heard of people saving 25-40% this way.
- Credit card interest rates. If you’re a responsible credit card user, you might be able to secure a lower interest rate by simple calling your issuer and asking.
The worst you can hear is “no” – and no one is putting a red mark on your account for asking. The reality is that the person you’re on the phone with probably does the same thing with their bills. Trust me, they get it.
I do this with my bills every 6-12 months, and it’s always an awesome feeling when someone says, “Yes Mr. Hoyt, here’s your new low rate.”
Is this really free money? It sure feels like it to me! It takes about 5 minutes or less on the phone to negotiate and you get to keep more of your money.
9. See if you’re owed any money
I recently talked to someone who was owed over $100, and they got it!
You will have to go through a claim process that verifies you’re the person who’s owed the money, and it can take a couple of weeks. Not surprising that this is one of the more time-consuming ways to get free money.
The final word on how to get free money
Like I said in the beginning, none of these ways are truly free – they’re free-ish. You’re exerting minimal effort and reaping the benefits, even if they are small.
The cool thing about each of these ideas is that you can try as many of them as you want to maximize the amount of free money you get. Some of these options like opening a high-yield savings account can even earn you extra money pretty much indefinitely.
And as more worthwhile opportunities to get free money come up, I’ll be updating this list.