How to Get Free Money in 2021
Here’s a phrase you don’t hear very often: “free money!” Sounds scammy, right?
But fear not! There are actually quite a few ways to get free money online using a variety of different services. And while none of these will make you a millionaire, they will pad your pockets with extra cash for a night on the town.
Don’t believe us? No problem, because in this article, we’ll show you 20 legitimate ways how to get free money. Many of these promotions simply pay you for signing up or using their service—and more often than not, they pay almost instantly.
Also, we’ll include some tips along the way to help you save money. A dollar saved is sometimes better than a dollar earned, and reducing your spending is one of the fastest ways to build towards financial freedom!
20 Ways To Get Free Money Fast
While most of these ideas are one-off bonuses to pay you cash right now, some are money hacks that you can repeat over and over for extra income.
Here are 20 easy ways how you can get free money now:
- 🏆 Survey Junkie: Earn up to $45 per Survey
- Swagbucks: $5 Sign-up Bonus
- InboxDollars: $5 Sign-up Bonus
- Bank Account Bonuses: Up to $350 for opening a new account
- Credit Karma: Find Unclaimed Money
- Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses Up to $1000+ for using your new card
- Student Loan Refinance: Up to $400 Bonus
- Ibotta: $10 Sign-up Bonus
- Paribus: Get money back on purchases
- Drop: Save money, redeem for cash.
- Rakuten: $10 Sign-up Bonus
- Stash: $5 Sign-up Bonus
- Dosh: $5 Sign-up Bonus
- Acorns: $5 Sign-up Bonus
- Seated: $10 Sign-up Bonus
- Small Business Knowledge Center: Earn free money from your junk mail
- Viggle: Free money watching videos
- NetSpend: $20 for loading a prepaid card
- Cambly: Get paid just to chat with people
- Employer 401k Matching: free money!
1. Survey Junkie: get paid to share your opinion
Survey Junkie is the best site to make money for sharing your opinion on brands. You can earn up to $45/survey in just 20 mins (though most pay between $0.50 and $3).
What I love about Survey Junkie is you can take online surveys while doing other stuff, like watching Netflix or just lounging around. I like to do a quick paid survey first thing in the morning, right when I wake up.
Signing up is 100% free and they make it easy to join with Facebook, Google+, or any email address. Survey Junkie also gives you a few reward points right off the bat for completing your profile. From there, you earn points for every survey completed, and once you’ve built up enough points they pay you out via PayPal money or with a free gift card.
Eligibility: Members need to be 13 or older and reside in the USA, Canada, or Australia (if you live in California, you must be 16 years old).
Learn More:Survey Junkie Review
2. Swagbucks: earn money by switching your search engine
Swagbucks is one of the original legitimate ways to earn free money online. Simply use the Swagbucks search engine instead of Google, and you’ll earn points for each search. It’s not life-changing money, but you may as well get paid free cash for search activities that you’re doing every day anyway, right?
First-time users are eligible for a $5 bonus just for signing up!
You can also earn points by watching videos and completing online surveys. This is also a free money idea that you can do while you’re lounging around.
Once you have enough Swagbucks points saved up, you can redeem for cash back via PayPal money, or for an iTunes, Walmart, or Amazon gift card, among other major retailers.
Eligibility: The minimum age requirement to join Swagbucks is 13 years old. But they strongly advise that any minor should get permission from a parent or guardian before registering.
Learn More:Swagbucks Review
3. InboxDollars: $5 just for signing up! Free Money
InboxDollars is an online portal for earning free money quickly. On the site, you can complete online surveys, watch videos, read promo emails, and shop through their online shopping portal to earn cashback—basically, it’s easy money for completing rudimentary tasks.
When you sign up for InboxDollars, you’ll receive a $5 bonus. So there’s no harm in signing up and checking out some of the activities to see if it suits you.
The site has paid out over $60 million in cash, free PayPal money, and gift card rewards to members, making it one of the most reputable places to earn free money on the web!
Eligibility: Joining Inbox Dollars only takes about 30 seconds. But, to become a member you need to be at least 18 years old and live in the USA.
Learn More:InboxDollars Review
4. Open a New Bank Account: $350+ for new accounts
There are a ton of banks out there, and you can bet that there’s also a lot of competition in the marketplace. So to win over new customers, many banks have started offering free money to new customers.
There are always promotions available from banks — and many of them vary state by state — so check your local banks and credit unions for different reward options. Some local banks mail out targeted offers and flyers to earn cashback, so keep an eye out for any junk mail that gets sent your way.
Large national bank promotions are my favorite. Chase Bank is always offering some form of free cash just for opening up a new checking account:
- Chase: up to $350 for opening a new checking and savings account
Learn more about Chase bank promotions.
Once you’ve signed up and qualified for your welcome bonus, try signing up for another available promotion. Opening multiple checking accounts doesn’t affect your credit score like a credit card does (and there’s no chance you’ll go into trouble with credit card debt).
Also, all money inside checking accounts is federally insured by the FDIC. Some people sign up for 4-5 promotions in a single year (aka bank account churning) making this an easy way to make $2,000+ each year!
Just be sure to check out the specific requirements and qualifying criteria to earn the extra cash. Each bank bonus deal is slightly different.
Best Side Hustles for 2021
If you’re looking for how to get started earning cash on top your 9-5, you’re in luck! We just published our completed guide “The Best Side Hustles for 2021.” It features our top 23 side hustles that can earn anything from a little extra spending money to thousands of dollars per month! Just enter your e-mail below and we’ll send you the full guide!
Thank you! Please check your e-mail inbox now to receive the The Best Side Hustles for 2021 guide!
5. Credit Karma: search for owed money
Last year, Credit Karma opened an unclaimed money search portal. Just enter your details, and the service will automatically check and see if you’re owed money from financial institutions, utility companies, dividends, or other vendors.
These funds are generally held by the state treasury department until you claim them, so make sure you claim what’s yours!
Apparently, 1 in 10 people in the USA have unclaimed property that they don’t know about. It’s like walking around with a winning lottery ticket and never claiming it! Not just small amounts either – my neighbor just searched his name and found $191 in unclaimed funds that were owed to him from a utility company that he disconnected from over 11 years ago! Claiming the cash was really easy, just filling out a form showing his updated address.
MissingMoney is also a good site to check out. Just type in your name to start, and make sure you check within each state that you have ever lived or worked in.
One last note: Even if you don’t find any unclaimed money for yourself, try searching your friend’s names or the names of your elder family members. Finding missing money for other people is nice, and sometimes they’ll reward you by giving you a few bucks!
Learn More:Credit Karma Review
6. Rewards Credit Card: $200+ by moving your purchases to a new card
Credit card rewards have been booming in past years. Not only can you earn points and cash back on every purchase you make, but you can also earn a nice sign up bonus just for signing up for a credit card and spending a certain amount of money.
Some credit card companies award these sign-up bonuses in the form of points, and others in cash back. Oftentimes, credit card points can be redeemed for a variety of things: travel, rewards, merchandise, and of course cash back.
One of the best credit card offers for free money is:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: $200 after spending $500 in purchases in 3 months; no annual fee
Learn More: Read our full review on the Best Credit Cards Signup Bonuses.
While I love signing up for new credit cards, I must warn you that this activity isn’t recommended for just anyone. Credit card debt is a serious issue in the USA, and if you have a tendency to spend money without budgeting properly, you can get into financial trouble pretty quickly.
If you can’t handle credit responsibly, stick with bank account bonuses. Also, opening too many credit cards in a short period of time can negatively impact your credit score. So don’t sign up for too many free cash promotions all at the same time!
7. Refinance Student Loans
Refinancing your student debt could save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan. On top of that, Millennial Money readers may get additional cash signup bonuses when refinancing with one of the companies below.
If you have private student loans from a bank, credit union, or online lender, you’re probably a good candidate for refinancing to a consolidated, and hopefully lower, interest rate.
The best times to refinance are when interest rates have fallen a half-point or more below the rate you’re currently paying, or when you’d like to combine multiple student loans into one payment.
Learn More:Best student refinance companies
If you need help visualizing how much you can save, use our simple student loan refinancing calculator to see how much lower your payments could be at a different interest rate.
8. Ibotta: $10 for signing up, more for scanning receipts
Ibotta is a cash back app that pays you to scan your receipts. Just pop open the app before you go shopping and add the products you think you’ll buy. Then—after your trip to the store—scan your receipts and you’ll earn cash back!
The Ibotta App has paid over $627 Million to members since it started, so there’s no question that this is one of the most legit ways to get free money now.
When you sign up for an Ibotta account, you will receive a $10 sign-up bonus after your first shopping trip. You can cash-out your earnings to your Venmo or PayPal account, or redeem for a free gift card. Ibotta is partnered with Uber, Sephora, and tons of other stores to offer gift card rewards, so treat yourself!
Learn More:Ibotta Review
Another similar free app is Fetch Reward, which also lets you scan receipts and make money. But, Fetch reward you for buying specific brands, not stores. Also their payments are mostly in the form of gift cards.
9. Paribus: Pays you what you are owed
With Paribus, you can effortlessly save money on your online purchases when prices drop at 25+ major retailers!
Have you ever bought something at the store, and then realize that the very next week there’s a promotion running and you could have gotten a cheaper price if you just waited? I hate that feeling of paying too much!
This is where Paribus helps. If the price drops after you’ve already bought something, they alert you of the price drop and send you the difference of whatever you paid.
It’s easy and free money! Paribus works hard to put money back in your wallet. You might sometimes need to fill out a form or make a phone call to prove your purchase, but it’s definitely worth doing to get money back!
Learn More:Paribus Review
10. Drop App
Drop is an awesome new cashback app for credit card and debit card users. Just add your card to the app and select your top five favorite vendors. Then whenever you shop at those vendors, you’ll earn points based on the amount of money spent. These points can be used for gift cards or used to enter sweepstakes.
What I love about the Drop cash app is that it can be used in conjunction with other cash back apps, so you can double dip on the cash reward! Another pro is that you get to select the common vendors that you shop at, maximizing the cash reward and paying you for shopping that you do regularly anyway.
There’s really no harm in signing up, because Drop is free to use. And, you can also earn quick cash for referring your friends. You can make $5 bucks a referral, so referring 10 friends will make you a quick 50 bucks.
The only thing to watch out for here is spending more money than you usually would, only to earn a small reward. Some people get so excited about earning free cash or points, so they overspend at the store. Wallet hacks are slippery that way, so make sure you don’t fall into this trap!
Learn More:Drop App Review
11. Rakuten (formerly Ebates): $10 for signing up, more as you shop online
Rakuten (formerly ebates) is an online shopping portal that you can use to earn cashback on all of your online purchases. Before your next online purchase, go to Rakuten first, find your retailer, and shop as usual. Then you’ll earn a set amount of cash back on your purchases—usually between 2% and 10%.
When you sign up for a new Rakuten account, you’ll earn a $10 cash back bonus after your first purchase of $25 or more. Then, you can request payment via PayPal cash or check. Nice.
Rakuten also offers a refer-a-friend program and will give you instant free money as soon as one of your friends joins. Once you’ve signed up and gotten the hang of how the platform works, be sure to blast your referral link all over social media and get paid as much as possible.
Learn More:Rakuten Review
12. Stash: $5, and you’ll save for the future
Want to start investing but don’t know which stocks, mutual funds, and other investments to buy? No sweat: just give Stash a shot. This automated investing platform invests your money for you based on how comfortable you are incurring risk. This takes the legwork out of investing and prepares you for the future.
Sign-up for Stash and link a debit card and the platform will drop an extra $5 into your new account. Creating an account takes just a few minutes, making this the quickest five bucks you’ll earn all week.
As much as I like helping people get free money right now, my true passion is actually to help people save, invest, and build long term wealth. It all starts with establishing good financial habits and saving small amounts of money on a regular basis. Stash really helps with this so I encourage you to keep using it after sign-up and learn more about investing over time.
Learn More:Stash Review
13. Dosh: $5 for signing up, more for shopping at supported retailers
Dosh is a new cash back app. Just link your credit or debit card and shop at a supported retailer, and you’ll earn anywhere between 2% and 5% cash back on each transaction.
Some supported retailers include Mobil, CVS, Mattress Firm, and tons of local coffee shops, so it won’t be hard to earn cash back at the places you already shop. The app will jumpstart your savings and give you a $5 bonus when you sign-up and link a new credit card.
Another cool thing about Dosh is it has a referral program, so you can earn an additional $5 for other people you refer. You get a referral bonus, your friend gets a welcome bonus… It’s a true win/win.
Learn More:Dosh Review
14. Acorns: $5 for investing your spare change
Acorns is an automated investing service that tracks your credit and debit card purchases and rounds them up to the nearest dollar. It takes your “spare change” and invests it across a number of stocks, bonds, and other investments.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re at the coffee shop and you buy a latte for $3.25. You swipe your credit card and pay for the coffee. Acorns will see the transaction, round up the purchase to $4 flat and invest the additional 75 cents for you. It’s a really cool way to keep save and invest on the regular without always thinking about it.
Sounds awesome, right? It is, and to make matters even better, Acorns will add $5 to your investment account for signing up and linking a funding source. This $5 will be invested too, so it will grow with the market!
It’s great to start investing with Acorns, but eventually, I encourage everyone to learn more and more about investing over time. True wealth is built slowly and steadily, dedicating more and more savings to your investment account. If you’re interested in learning some basics, check out our Investing 101 page.
Learn More:Acorns Review
15. Seated: $10 free for signing up, more as you eat
Seated is an up-and-coming restaurant booking app that—unlike its competitors—pays you to eat out. Just make a restaurant reservation on their app and link your credit card. Then, after you dine, you’ll be rewarded with a Starbucks, Lyft, or Amazon gift card. The gift card amount varies based on how much you spend, but is generally around $7 or more!
Better yet, new users that sign-up for Seated will be rewarded with a bonus $10 Lyft gift card after their first dine. Do note that you need to be referred to the app to get the bonus, so use our link to sign up!
16. Small Business Knowledge Center: get paid for your junk mail
Here’s a fun one: Small Business Knowledge Center—or, the SBKC—will pay for you to forward them your physical junk mail and spam emails. Mail is collected for research purposes, and all postage is prepaid. And don’t worry: SBKC ensures that your personal info is kept confidential.
According to their website, you can expect to earn $20 every 6-10 weeks—pretty awesome considering there’s little-to-no effort on your part. The website also notes that small business owners will earn even more quickly because they receive a bunch more junk mail and targeted offers.
Another cool idea is to sell any discount coupons or rebate offers directly on eBay. Here’s a story about a girl who sold her junk mail for $14 on eBay. She received a $50 off coupon for Tommy Bahama (with a purchase over $100) that she was going to throw away. But then she thought that someone online probably wants it, so she posted it on eBay. Keep an eye on all junk mail – even though it’s trash to you, it could be a treasure to someone else and earn you easy money!
17. Viggle: make even more money watching videos
Viggle is another video platform that pays you to watch ad-sponsored videos on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You’ll earn points for each video watched, and you can cash out points for gift cards and other rewards.
You can use the Viggle LIVE feature to earn points while you watch live TV too. The app will occasionally ask questions or give you quizzes as you watch, and you’ll earn points for each question you get correct.
Learn More: Get Paid to Watch Videos
18. NetSpend: $20 for loading a prepaid card
NetSpend is a prepaid debit card that can be loaded via direct deposit, or using cash at participating retailers. But they have a little-known perk: you can actually use NetSpend to earn free money!
Find a friend that already has a NetSpend card and use their referral code to sign-up for a new NetSpend account. Once your card comes in the mail, simply load $40 or more, and both you and your friend will be treated to a $20 bonus on your NetSpend account.
Even better? You can refer friends using your unique referral link, and you’ll earn $20 every time a friend signs up and adds $40 to their NetSpend card (and earns their own $20 bonus). It’s as simple as that—and hey, sharing is caring!
Now, enjoy your hard-earned free money!
19. Cambly: Get paid just to chat with people
This idea is kind of along the same lines as online tutoring. But, you don’t really need any special skills or qualifications to teach.
Cambly is an online tutor platform that connects you with various people from around the world. They pay you to speak English, or other languages, to people who are learning.
When someone is learning another language, it can be extremely helpful to talk to regular people who speak that language natively. For people overseas learning to speak English, they love practicing talking with people in the USA, talking about regular topics, and trying new words. Best of all, they pay you per minute for talking with them!
Learn More: Check out Cambly
20. Employer 401k matching: free money!
This is one of the most overlooked strategies on how to get free money. If your company offers a 401k plan, there’s a chance they also match the first few percent of your salary contributions. For every $1 dollar within the limit you put into your 401k retirement plan, your company also invests $1. It’s free money. Really.
Apparently, 1 in 5 people aren’t taking advantage of this free money from their employer. One of the reasons is because people are scared to invest money long-term and would prefer to get paid cash right now. But, doubling your money is a much smarter move for your financial future.
Another reason people are worried about investing in their 401k plan is that they think the money can’t be accessed until retirement age, like when they are 67 years old. But, you certainly can withdraw money early if you need it, you just have to pay a penalty.
Paying a penalty isn’t ideal, but, if you are doubling your money in the first place, it still works out better than if you’re not contributing to your 401k plan at all.
I really hope everyone with a workplace 401k plan match is taking advantage of as much free money as possible. If you’re not sure about your company’s retirement offerings, ask your HR department at work. You can also learn a lot more about 401k plans, their advantages, and other investment strategies here.
Learn More: How Much to Contribute to a 401k
Frequently Asked Questions: Money Hacks
Is Free Money Really Possible?
Yup! But you’ve got to be willing to exchange a little bit of time and effort. You can make free real money by downloading apps, doing online surveys, testing products, referring friends, and simply just creating online profiles and new accounts for companies trying to grow their user base.
Are Free Money Hacks Legit?
Every money hack and service we recommend on Millennial Money has been well researched and usually tested by us personally. We do our best to update our content often and be as honest as possible about the cash you make and how much effort goes into getting paid.
Beware of sites that make it sound a bit too easy or are very vague with their information. If it sounds blatantly too good to be true (like getting a $1000 sign-up bonus for 10 minutes of work) then it usually is a scam. There are a bunch of sites taking advantage of people searching for how to get free money, so stick to the legit reviews and trusted websites.
How Do I Get Paid?
For the most part, the ideas that we recommend are paid out via PayPal cash or via cash value gift cards for stores of your choosing. It’s real money. Each free money hack or app has its own set of guidelines for payment, as well as time to get paid.
We recommend checking out the terms and conditions, as well as our individual reviews to get more information on how quickly you can get paid.
Free Money!? Are There Any Strings Attached?
Nope. Making free money from the ideas listed above is a matter of putting in time and effort. Some basic personal information is needed to sign up, but there’s no catch or strings attached.
For almost any app you sign up for you’ll need to at least provide your email address and name. Many apps will also ask for your date of birth to verify your age to meet their qualifications. Apart from that, not much other personal information is requested.
If you sign up for something and you don’t like it, deleting the app and disconnecting your account is quite easy.
Can You Just Sign Up For The Welcome Bonus, Then Cancel?
You’ve probably noticed that the best bang for your buck with most of these free money ideas is taking advantage of the welcome bonus. Most of these apps allow you to cancel directly afterward, without any penalties.
But, some apps have a minimum amount of money you need to earn before they allow you to claim cash out. They call this a minimum threshold. So you need to use the service a little bit to earn the extra money and meet the minimum threshold sometimes.
Be sure to check out our individual reviews for more tips on each service. The minimum thresholds should be listed on each of the specific company websites too.
Bonus: Learn How To Pick The Perfect Side Hustle That Can Make Money For You!
If you would like free access to part 2-4, check out the post: How To Pick The Perfect Side Hustle.