10 Apps that Put Cash in Your Pocket

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Smartphones increasingly dominate our lives. We use them while waiting for friends, for listening to music, taking pictures, playing games, and reading the news. So why not put a smartphone to productive use and earn some money? A host of free apps now let you do that.

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Slidejoy turns a phone's home screen into a billboard for advertisers. The ads are targeted based on the user's previous interaction with the brand or product. Swipe left on the phone to engage with the ad or swipe right to bring back your own home screen. The pay, just for having ads on your screen, averages out to about $30 a year.

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Surveys On The Go turns a smartphone into a research tool for the likes of big companies, political campaigns, and advertisers who field test ads and questions related to their needs and goals. Each survey generates anywhere from 25 cents to $5 for respondents, although the usual pay is $1 a survey; some can be completed in a matter of minutes. The frequency of updates may leave long-time users short of surveys to fill out, leading to a falloff in pay.

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This is a shopping and advertising app that rewards users with gift cards for retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. Users earn points by watching videos through the app, scanning bar codes of major brands at any store, or playing in-app mini-games. After accruing enough points, you can cash out for a gift card.

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Watch ads for upcoming applications from major developers such as Rovio, EA, and Supercell with this app. Each view rewards users with a certain number of points. After earning enough points, you collect a reward in cash through PayPal or with gift cards from major retailers, including Best Buy, Gap, Macy's, and Old Navy.

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Rewardable is a secret-shopper application that pays users for completing digital or physical tasks, such as collecting data and going to a store and answering questions about the products and shopping environment. The jobs change frequently, and you can earn about $5 for each task completed, paid via PayPal. The highest-earning tasks pay up to $20 but are rarer and more labor intensive.

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This opinion app digitizes market research. Some tasks require visiting a brick-and-mortar establishment while others are purely digital and seek the user's opinion through surveys or after viewing videos. Most tasks take less than five minutes and payouts are about $1 a task.

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Credits are awarded by answering opinion polls that are forwarded to marketers and redeemable at the Google Play Store. The user's demographic profile determines which surveys are sent. Pay starts at 25 cents and climbs to several dollars, depending on length.

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Frequent shoppers are winners with this application. Shopkick tracks when a user walks into stores such as Target, Old Navy, and Macy's, and awards points after the app is opened. Scanning bar codes of select items (shown in the app) nets more points, which can be redeemed for gift cards, magazine subscriptions, or hard goods, such as TVs.

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A real shopping app, Ibotta offers rebates for certain items purchased at a variety of online and brick-and-mortar stores. Users can access rebates on the spot or upload a picture of their receipt to the app's rebate section after returning home. Any purchase that matches an active rebate campaign is automatically credited to your account and can be cashed out later or redeemed as a gift card.

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Much like Ibotta, Receipt Hog offers rebates that go towards credit on your account after uploading a picture of a purchase receipt. But unlike Ibotta this app doesn't specify particular stores where purchases must be made. However, the rebates are generally lower than those Ibotta offers and it can take longer to reach the cash-out threshold.