how to make free money online (for yourself and for charity!)


Who doesn’t love free money? If you aren’t participating in some of the rewards website and apps out there, you are seriously missing out. With little or no work, I earn hundreds of dollars in gift cards and cash every year. It’s not enough money to quit your day job, but it’s enough to pay for your latte habit or cover this year’s Christmas gifts.

I know this post sounds like the workings of some spam website, but smarmy headlines or not, I want you guys to get in on this. I’m not getting paid or comped from any of these companies to talk about them. That being said, most of these links below do contain referral codes, which means that I get some sort of credit for referring you to the site. If you’d prefer not to go through my referrals, that’s cool! I just want you guys to be making free money, too! So at the bottom of this post, I’ve included referral-free links for the sites. Feel free to use those links if you prefer. Whatever you do, just make sure you sign up and start earning yourself some free cash, k?

1. Swagbucks


Swagbucks is hands-down my favorite way to earn free gift cards. Basically, with Swagbucks, you do a whole bunch of different tasks (as simple as just searching the web to as complicated as completing offers from sponsors) and for each task, you get rewarded with Swagbucks. Then, you trade in those Swagbucks for things in the Swagstore (DVDs, electronics, gift cards, etc.). My favorite thing in the Swagstore? $5 Amazon gift cards. I make about $800 a year from Swagbucks in Amazon gift cards. And those guys help pay for our Christmas gifts each year!

You can also choose to donate your Swagbucks to various charity drives that they offer. Right now, Swagbucks is collecting for Boston Marathon victims, Doctors Without Borders and the U.S. Humane Society. They always have great charity drives going on, and I try to donate a few of my bucks to the causes every time I get a new gift card.

Oh! And my friends at Swagbucks have given you all a referral code that puts 70 extra Swagbucks in your account! When you sign up on the homepage, click the “I have a sign up code” link and enter the code BACK2ROOTS70.

2. Ebates


If you shop online and aren’t using Ebates, you missing out on quite possibly the easiest way to make extra cash online. All you have to do? Click a button before you checkout at an online store. Say, for example, you need to order some new workout pants from Under Armour. You go to Ebates, search for Under Armour and then click the big button that says “Shop Now”. That’s it. You are then redirected to the Under Armour website and you can start shopping. That’s all you have to do! After your order goes through, you’ll get 6% of your order total deposited into your Ebates account, and then, you get a payment deposited into your PayPal account from Ebates every three months. Almost all stores online are on Ebates and some of them have cash back percentages as high as 25%! If you shop online a lot, Ebates is a must. I made about $200 in cash back last year, just from clicking a button!

3. Viggle

viggle iphone

If you’re a TV fan, Viggle is the app for you. It’s available on iPhone and Android, and after downloading, you can “check in” to live TV. It works by listening to your TV and identifying the show you are watching. You get Viggle points for watching (and bonus points for watching certain special events). You can then redeem the points for gift cards, movie tickets, magazine subscriptions, and more. We like to use our Viggle points for free Redbox rentals or CVS gift cards. We don’t watch a ton of live TV (only sports really), so we don’t earn points as quickly as you could, but we manage to get a few free Redbox rentals a month.

4. shopkick

shopkick app

I’m new to shopkick, but what I’ve seen so far is that it’s a great way to earn free stuff just for being out and about at stores. It’s an app for iPhone and Android that earns you rewards for shopping. You check-in to stores and get “kicks” and then you can also go on scanning scavenger hunts, earn kicks for buying certain items, and sync your debit card to earn even more. Just like other sites, you then redeem those kicks for gift cards for everything from Target to Tiffany! Because I live so far away from many of the stores in the app, I don’t earn points quickly, but if you’re a frequenter of Target, Kohls, or other similar stores, you’ll earn gift cards lightning fast!

5. GoodSearch


If you have a charitable streak, GoodSearch is for you! It’s basically like Swagbucks, but all the money goes to a charity you choose. You can search, watch videos and play games, and all of your reward points go to helping out a charity. There are over 100,000 charities in the database, so you can go big or you can go small and local (I donate my GoodSearch money to our county’s humane society).

This is in no way a comprehensive list of all the apps and websites that let you earn rewards, but these are my favorites. Go forth and earn some free cash!

Referral-free links: SwagbuckseBatesViggleshopkickGoodSearch

Do you have any reward websites you like to use? What’s your favorite?


  1. Sarah says

    Do you have to be living in the US to use these websites? They seem like great resources, but I’m from Ireland! :)

    • Kat says

      Hi Sarah! I was just searching to see if I could sign up in Australia and their answer in the help centre was:

      At the moment, we are only able to serve the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, India and Canada. We hope to expand our service to other areas of the globe in the future.

      Looks like you can join Swagbucks from Ireland!

  2. aka gringita says

    I use MyPoints … they send emails from which I can earn points (by answering a survey, completing an offer, sometimes just for clicking through, which is my favorite). They also have shopping partners where users can earn points per dollar spent, just for using their link to get to the site where I want to buy. I redeem my points for gift cards and have used them for, or as, Christmas gifts for years.

  3. Lo the Phoenix says

    I tried Swagbucks, but it slowed my computer down so much that I had to give up on it. Other than that it was easy.

  4. Laura says

    I HATE Swagbucks. I signed up with them because you recommended them a while ago. I would take those surveys, answer 20 questions about my house’s value, my annual income, what I do for a living, rate on a scale from 1-10 ten different products.. and then get a message saying “Sorry, you’re not eligible for this survey!” EXCEPT I’M PRETTY SURE THAT WAS THE SURVEY. Asking me to rate how I feel about certain products IS A SURVEY.

    This happened about three times, so I decided to deactivate my account and uninstall their search toolbar from Firefox. Except I could NOT uninstall their search toolbar. At all. I spent half a day trying to fix my Firefox so all the stupid bloatware Swagbucks installed would go away- no luck. My computer programmer husband couldn’t do it either. We found lots of message boards of other people complaining about the same thing. Even uninstalling and reinstalling Firefox itself couldn’t get rid of all of the Swagbucks stuff that got installed.

    I ended up having to reformat my computer.

    So yeah, I don’t like Swagbucks. And I really, really recommend that people stay away from this company.

    • Cassie says

      That’s a bummer Laura! I never installed their toolbar or really take surveys, so I haven’t experienced any of that. Sorry you had such a crappy experience!

  5. Adriana says

    I use swagbucks. I have it set as my default page on my phone, so the points rack up quick. Also, I occasionally watch videos on my phone – easy earning.

    I’ve heard of Viggle, but I haven’t downloaded it yet. I watch a decent amount of tv, so I probably should.

    I also use shopkick, and it’s pretty easy. I get the most points from going to Target. I occasionally scan things, and if you look through their lookbooks when you’re at home (or where ever), you can also earn points (~10/day?). It’s another “easy enough” for me, so why not? I’ve cashed out for a few Target gcs.

    I tried ebates, but I never got my cash back for some weird reason. I stick to shopping through swagbucks.

    I’ve just started using Bing Rewards. It does have a limit on what you can earn a day, but it’s super easy to earn the limit, so I just log on in the morning, earn my limit and then go back to Google, (which is superior than Bing, imo). It’s not a get-rich-quick thing, but it’ll earn me a bit of Amazon gcs for free music, so I’m game.

    I also use Recycle Bank. They award points for recycling in certain areas. This isn’t set up in my area, but they have other activities were you can learn about recycling and other green efforts. The points take a bit to rack up, and the rewards are pretty limited, but I’ve gotten a few magazine subscriptions, and I’m learning some great stuff, so it’s not bad.

    • Cassie says

      “It’s another “easy enough” for me, so why not?”

      That’s totally how it is for me, too! Nothing really takes a lot of effort, so I figure why not!

  6. Luann says

    Been using Viggle since you mentioned it on your blog last time. LOVE IT!! I’m addicted to checking in whenever I’m near a TV and the free Starbucks cards are feeding my caffeine addiction. I owe you a HUGE thank you! p.s. love your blog

  7. KaliP says

    I love Swagbucks! I earn about $200 a year in Amazon cards. I could earn more if I were more diligent but I’ll take what I get.

  8. Kat says

    I was just able to join Swagbucks in Australia (took me a while to find which countries could join but it is: the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, India and Canada) using your code.

    Looking forward to seeing if I can earn some bucks!! Thanks for the tip!

  9. says

    Is the sign up code only good for a certain amount of time? Just tried it and got a message that it’s invalid. Would love to get the 70 Swagbucks, if it’s still available so I haven’t signed up yet. Thanks!

    • Cassie says

      Hi Sara! Yes, that code has expired. But I have a new one that is valid until July 12th—BACK2HERROOTS. Happy Swagbucking!

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