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Here Are Some Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online

Published October 21, 2019

5 minute read

By Jim Greene

Easy money! Those words will get just about anyone’s attention. It turns out that dozens of trustworthy companies offer consumers money as part of various promotions. In most cases, all you’ll have to do is complete a simple task, register for a service, or sign up with a website to qualify for a payment. While some of the payments are small, totaling only a few dollars, others are much more substantial.

Get a Bank Account Sign-Up Bonus

The financial services industry has become so competitive since the advent of online banking. It has caused a new phenomenon has appeared: bank account sign-up bonuses. These special offers deliver handsome payouts to new customers who meet the terms and conditions. Bonuses often total into the hundreds of dollars. In most cases, you’ll have to deposit a specified amount of money and maintain a minimum daily balance, but some bonuses don’t require customers to meet such conditions.

That said, you’ll earn the best bonuses if you have a few thousands dollars to commit to a new bank account. Check out our article on the year’s best bank account sign-up bonuses for some ideas.

Snag a Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus

A growing number of credit card providers are also enticing consumers to join them by offering appealing sign-up bonuses. For example, Chase Bank’s Freedom Card has no annual fee and delivers a $150 welcome bonus. Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Card delivers an even bigger bonus of $600 to $750 if you make at least $4,000 in transactions during your first three months. There are many other examples on the market, with new deals popping up all the time.

However, a word of caution here. Make sure you pay off your balance in full every month. Otherwise, the bonus will just get eaten up by interest charges. You also can’t spam too many of these card bonuses at once, as your credit score will take a serious ding.

Sign Up for a Swagbucks Account

You can use the Swagbucks platform for free to earn money just for doing the regular things you would normally do on the internet. Swagbucks lets you get paid to watch videos, find and use promotional codes, fill out consumer surveys, shop, and more. The company has a top rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and has distributed more than $300 million in bonus money since its founding. You can even earn $5 just for signing up.

Get Paid to Lose Weight

Sites like HealthyWage have found a way to monetize weight loss. If you’re committed to shedding excess pounds, you can sign up, become part of an online team, and get paid for hitting fitness milestones. In addition to the health benefits, you can earn some serious financial rewards by taking part. Some particularly successful users have made thousands of dollars just for working out.

Take Surveys or Participate in Market Research

Online surveys and market research focus groups represent one of the most popular paths to earning extra money online. Survey Junkie is one of the most trusted and best-reviewed platforms for making money for taking surveys. It has a TrustPilot rating of 8.6/10 with nearly 11,000 user reviews as of July 2019. The Survey Junkie system allows you to accrue points that you can trade for cash. Other sites offer flat-rate cash payments.

Another platform worth considering is InboxDollars, known as InboxPounds in the U.K. and DailyRewards in Canada. In addition to surveys, you can use the site to make money reading email messages, shopping, playing online games, watching videos and TV shows, and other things you’re probably doing anyway.

Download Shopping and Cash Back Apps

Some shopping and cash back apps generate passive income for you, allowing you to earn extra money just for installing them on your phone or computer. Others require you to perform simple actions to earn rewards. For example, the Ibotta supermarket app will pay you for using it to find grocery bargains. Seek out a food deal on the app, purchase the sale item from your local grocery store, and upload a picture of your receipt. Presto! Free cash.

Drop, Ebates, and Dosh are other popular examples of cash back apps. With Drop, you can earn points redeemable for cash every time you shop at preferred retailers. Ebates (now under the Rakuten brand) offers similar functionality tailored to major e-commerce portals. It lets consumers earn up to 5% cash back on online purchases made at Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s, eBay, and other participating businesses. Dosh also pays cash back whenever you shop with a partner retailer in its large network.

Monetize Your Data

Hundreds of millions of people allow sites like Google and Facebook to make boatloads of money off their data. So, why not put your data to work for yourself instead? It’s valuable! Legitimate platforms like Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel, National Consumer Panel, and SavvyConnect will pay you for it. Simply download their apps, use your smartphone or computer as normal, and get paid.

Check for Missing Money in your Name

Have you ever lost a check before cashing it? Were you eligible for a payout from a class action lawsuit? Did you get a cash rebate that you never collected? It’s worth checking into. Head to MissingMoney or to see if there are any unclaimed funds in your name. Some estimates suggest there may be more than $40 billion in unclaimed payouts in the United States alone.

Sell Your Photos

Stock photo libraries offer passive income opportunities to shutterbugs and others with a keen eye for pretty pictures. Upload yours and sites like ShutterStock, EyeEm, Clashot, and iShotPhoto could help you turn them into extra cash.

Alternately, you can sign up with companies that will literally pay for your selfies. One popular app is PayYourSelfie, which assigns self-photo tasks that will pay out between 20 and 40 cents. It also offers branding opportunities with higher pay.

Post Website and Product Reviews

Product manufacturers, consumer goods distributors, and media companies are hungry for public input. So hungry, in fact, that they’re willing to pay people for their thoughts. Sites like Slicethepie, UserTesting, and WhatUsersDo offer online reviewers modest but real sums of money to share their impressions of everything from clothing, TV and movie trailers, and music releases to websites, apps in beta testing, and consumer products.

These companies pay their reviewers through PayPal, usually on a monthly schedule. For Slicethepie and UserTesting, you’ll have to earn $10 before you qualify for a payout. WhatUsersDo offers $5 per test and distributes payments on the 25th day of each month.

Parting Words: How to Spot a Scam

Unfortunately, there are many scammers operating in the online space. They commonly target the “make money from home” and “free money” user segments. Make sure you do business with legitimate companies. Before you start, perform careful research to see what other users have to say about them. You can use platforms like TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau to get a better sense of who is legit and who isn’t. Always make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions you must meet to qualify for payouts. And obviously, think twice about any offer that seems to good to be true. It probably is.

Man Celebrating Making Money with Cash in Hand


Jim Greene


Jim Greene is a freelance writer based in the Toronto, Canada area. He has been writing professionally since 2001 and has an extensive professional background in consumer research, personal finance and economics.

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