How to Make Extra Money from Home Before You (Hopefully) Go Back to Campus

Disclosure: We’re letting you know that this post contains sponsored links which The Smart Wallet receives compensation for, which may impact their order of appearance because talking about money should always be an honest discussion.

As students around the nation start ending their school year from home, it’s a bittersweet time to not be able to share the excitement with friends and family. But know that you’re part of the unique class to be able to weather this storm and be proud of your accomplishments thus far!

Since there’s so much uncertainty in daily life now, one thing is for sure, making extra money however you can, even when you’re safer at home can be vital to you and your family.

All you need is reliable internet and a smartphone or laptop. We go over our favorite ways for students to make money, even while at home.

1. Make Easy Money Just Trying and Playing Games

There are so many new games coming out on the daily that it’s hard to choose which to play, even if we’re experiencing extra time at home.

My strategy? Only focus on the games that pay for my time.

You can do it with AppStation, an app that pays you to try out new games.

When you earn coins from trying new games, you can redeem for:

  • PayPal Cash
  • Amazon gift card
  • GameStop gift card
  • PlayStation Store gift card
  • Xbox Live gift card
  • And too much more to list

Nab a 4,444 coin welcome bonus too, which is basically around 50 cents in value. And if you don’t like to wait, you can choose to payout as low as $1.

If your friends want to get it on the money action from afar, introduce them to AppStation, where you’ll get bonus coins and 25% of all their earnings. To make it a supportive group, your friends will also earn 25% of your earnings too!

2. Don’t Toss That Receipt! Do This First for Free Money

Alice Ly / The Smart Wallet

Before you crumple up that receipt in your pocket or forever lose it in the abyss of your purse, scan it into the Fetch Rewards app, and earn points towards free money. I repeat, free money.

It’s ridiculously simple and actually fun to use.

Shop at any grocery store, convenience store, club store, neighborhood store, or big box store, take a picture with the app, and that’s it. (Favorites include Target, Kroger, and Walmart!)

Unlike other apps, you don’t have to go to specific stores, there’s nothing to pre-select prior to shopping, and there’s no minimum spend. Just scan in any receipt from a store that sells groceries (even when you didn’t actually buy any groceries) and boom, points for money.

You can start cashing out as soon as $3 (3,000 points) and you can grab a $2 welcome bonus on us (2,000 points) when you use promo code REWARD before scanning your first receipt!

Welcome bonus: $2
Average savings a month (depends on purchases): $25
What it could add up to in a year: $302
Additional referral earnings: $2 per referral

3. Get Paid for Playing Free Lotto Tickets

When you’re stuck at home, you have to keep yourself occupied. Make killing time fun and productive when you play free digital scratchers on Lucktastic. It’s just like getting the ones from the gas station, but…free.

There are a ton of different scratchers you can play, and you can earn both cash and tokens.

Scratched all of them for the day? Don’t worry, there are specific night-time scratchers that are available every night too!

When you want to redeem your earnings, you can choose from:

  • Amazon gift cards
  • CVS gift cards
  • Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards
  • Check mailed to you
  • Visa gift cards

Lucktastic keeps things free by showing a few ads here and there plus it’s easy to play and multi-task at the same time. Get a chance of up to $1M in cash prizes!

4. Get Cash Back on Groceries, Delivery, and More Both Online and Off

In a current world where you’re experiencing sold out items and having to limit grocery trips, it’s reassuring to know that you can still get cash back on your purchases both online and in-person.

Since saving is now more important than ever to stretch that budget, use Ibotta for free to further save on the essentials and shopping you need like:

Grocery shopping: Find offers in the app or try something new in your quick grocery trips to Trader Joe’s, Ralph’s, Target, and more. Even get cash back on grocery delivery from Walmart! Get paid after taking a pic of the receipt or linking your Walmart account.

Food delivery: Skip cooking a few times to have your meal delivered with Uber Eats or Grubhub and get cash back.

Online shopping: Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself. Shop through Ibotta to get cash back at 100+ online retailers like Sephora, Under Armour, Gap, and more.

And since contactless payment is ideal over touching cash, use Ibotta’s included feature “Pay with Ibotta” to pay straight from your phone and earn cash back on your purchases instantly too.

Ibotta is free to download and you’ll also get up to $20 in Welcome Bonuses when you sign up!

5. Never Overpay for Car Insurance - Save $826 a Year

Let’s talk about the not-so-sexy topic of car insurance. You need it, you have it, but you’re probably overpaying for it. By how much though? It can depend on your car, location, age, and more, but on average you’re probably spending $826/year more than you need to.

You’ll know how much if you use Savvy to check for fast and easy savings. There are no forms to fill out since it uses your existing insurance info, and the system will instantly check for a better deal. It literally takes 30 seconds and they protect your phone number and email from spam.

Once Savvy finds you a better deal and you choose to switch, they’ll help you cancel your old policy, enroll you in the better one, and get a full refund on the unused portion of your prior payments. It’s the simplest and easiest way to get a refund on your overpriced car insurance policy.

6. Get Paid to Try New Games. Every Gamer’s Dream.

Adobe

Who would’ve thought you can play games to make some money? Especially now when that’s easy to do from home.

All you need is Mistplay, a game platform where you can try new games to earn points redeemable for gift cards like Amazon, VISA, PlayStation Network, XBOX Live, and more.

In the app, all available free games are listed so just take your pick to try! The more time spent on each game, the more money you can earn.

You’ll only get paid for playing games if Mistplay is running so be sure to always install games from the Mistplay app!

BONUS: You’ll automatically get 200 welcome points upon sign up but use promo code Bonus_100 to get an additional 100 points for a total of 300 total points!

7. Make 1.61% Interest On Your Money with Fee-Free Banking

Traditional banks may2 seem to take every opportunity they can to squeeze more money out of you. With everything from a monthly service fee to various hidden fees nibbling away at your account balance. Enter Varo which was founded to provide banking services without the hidden fees.

Yep, Varo has no monthly service fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM withdrawal fees. On top of having no fees, Varo lets you make more money on your money. Varo provides a high-yield savings account that starts at 1.61% Annual Percentage Yield (APY)1 that can move up to 2.80% APY1 based on qualifying activity. To put this into perspective, the average APY of the 5 biggest national banks is 0.09%.*

Varo has a few sweet extra features too:

  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days earlier^
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Over 55,000+ AllPoint® ATMs worldwide to use your Varo Visa® debit card
  • Offers personal loans to pre-qualified customers who want to consolidate debt
  • Varo will send any paper check to anyone in the U.S. on your behalf
  • “Save the Change” rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and saves the difference to your Varo savings account

If you’re sick of being charged banking fees and want to make more out of your money, check out Varo. It takes less than 5 minutes to learn more and apply for free.

8. Scan the Stuff You Buy & Get Free Rewards

The exclusive National Consumer Panel (NCP) program is opening up again for more participants! This is your opportunity to make your consumer voice heard! (And get paid for it!)

When you become a panelist, just use the app to scan the barcodes of items you purchase, provide a few additional transaction details, and you’ll earn points for:

  • Gift Cards
  • Tablets
  • Electronic Equipment
  • Flat Screen TVs
  • and much more from their gift catalog!

Plus, all panelists are automatically entered into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual drawings to win extra points and gift cards – even a quarterly sweepstakes to win $5,000!

The more you share your shopping habits (scan barcodes), the more rewards you can get. You can also answer surveys and share information about your overall shopping trip.

“Scanning my purchases is fun! I also enjoy taking the surveys. Earning points is fast and easy and they have a great selection of rewards.” – Jennifer B.

It’s a fun way to earn more rewards on items you’ve already purchased and at no extra cost to you.

Register now to see if you’re eligible to be a National Consumer Panelist. Eligibility will be based on your location. If you don’t get accepted this time, don’t worry! They’re always expanding locations, so check back again.

9. When Life is Getting Crazier: Refinance Student Loans or Borrow Money Responsibly

We don’t even know what’s going to happen a week from now but anything that can help financially should be considered.

If you have student loans, you can refinance with Credible’s online marketplace that matches you with Federal, private, and/or Parent PLUS personalized loan rates. Since the Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates, it’s the opportune time to refinance which can save you more money over time.

Colleen refinanced, which cut her federal rate down to 4.5% (originally 8%) and that saved her $12,000 over the life of her loan! During these uncertain times, we need to save wherever we can.

Personal loans are also on the marketplace if you need to borrow money to help with medical expenses, home projects, or anything else.

You just fill out one form and get personalized rates in a few minutes. Since it’s a soft credit inquiry, your credit score won’t be affected by using Credible.

10. Everyday Saving & Spending is Actually Fun Now

Look, we know managing your money is boring, but it’s just one of those non-negotiables in life. Especially these days, we need all the good vibes we can get with our money.

That’s why Long Game is actually making banking fun by just playing free games on their app. Games are light and easy-to-play (think lotteries, scratchers, slots, and more) and you can win daily cash prizes up to $1M (yes, million) and crypto!

When you set up an account, you access the games. You get a full banking experience with all the bells and whistles; an FDIC-insured savings account earning interest, a Visa debit card for instant access to your cash, custom savings goals, and more.

The more money you save, the more you can play and the debit card lets you earn more rewards just by spending normally. It has a RoundUp feature that lets your purchases be rounded up to the nearest dollar with the change going towards your savings. So every time you’re buying a meal, getting stuff at Target, etc, you’re contributing to your savings and earning interest!

Long Game costs $3/month, or get it for free if you set up auto-deposit or direct deposit and use your card. They offer a 30-day free trial so you can check it out and see if it’s right for you. There’s no way to lose money, but plenty of ways to earn and win! Plus you can withdraw your money at any time.

11. Cashing Out on The Everyday Things You Do Online

Now that our screentime is up even more nowadays, capitalize on all that online time by earning points you can redeem towards gift cards, and even better, cash.

You can do it with Swagbucks, a free rewards program for the everyday things you do online.

Earn points by:

  • Watching entertaining videos
  • Shopping at your favorite retailers
  • Searching the web
  • Participating in surveys
  • Playing fun trivia games

Then you can redeem for a large variety of gift cards (Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks are popular) or my favorite, Paypal Cash and Visa Gift Cards. Cash out in as little as $3!

You’ll even get a $5 bonus when you earn 2,500 SB points within your first 60 days.

The best way to earn SB? Surveys. You can get up to 300 SB for each qualified one you participate in. While you obviously won’t get rich doing this, you can nab an extra $10-$20 a month on them.

Keeping your profile updated and doing the Daily To-Do List will also earn you extra SB. There are a lot of opportunities so you can cash out early and often!

12. Stack Your Cash Back Earnings with This App

When the coronavirus outbreak passes and the economy starts to rebound, we can get back to racking up rewards through our credit cards and travel reward programs.

In the meantime, free cash back apps like Drop, offers a practical and rewarding alternative that gives points back for shopping online at all your favorite brands, completing surveys, and playing arcade games in-app.

There’s virtually limitless earning potential and the points you earn turn into free gift cards that you can redeem at places like Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Uber Eats and so many more.

Here are some of our favorite offers on Drop right now:

  • Uber Eats – 50 points per $1
  • Walmart – 20 points per $1
  • eBay – 5 points per $1
  • Glossier – 80 points per $1
  • Lululemon – 120 points per $1 (limited time 3x boost!)
  • Disney+ – 10,000 points for new members
  • Instacart – 400 points for new members

This app is a no-brainer for anyone looking for new and fun ways to stretch their dollar at home!

Kickstart earnings today by using promo code SMARTWALLET to unlock 10,000 points ($10!!) automatically when you earn your first 1,000 points.

13. Take Control of Your Money When Things Seem Out of Control

Investments are down. 401(k)s are down. As indicative of the red arrows aiming down, things just seem to be out of control during these uncertain times.

There are, however, ways for you to control your money now. Through proper budgeting as well as getting rid of any non-essential subscriptions through Truebill, a free finance app that helps you track your money and offers services to make your life way easier.

Quarantine life is the best time to really go through on what you need, so let Truebill find all your current subscriptions (even ones you forgot about) and have them cancel any for you. They’ll also negotiate for lower bills (like cable, internet, and cellphone bills) and with job insecurities at the moment, knowing that you’re not overpaying for bills is a relief!

In addition, their solid budgeting feature helps everyone see where their money is going and how to handle it. Even if you don’t know how to budget!

14. An Innovative New Way to Improve Your Credit Scores Instantly - And it’s Free

Having a low credit score can impact a lot in your life, like the ability to rent an apartment, get a car, and even a cellphone plan.

That’s why it’s important to maintain positive credit card payment history and to keep credit utilization ratio in check (not using more than 30% of your credit line on any credit card).

Regardless of what your score is currently at though, everyone can use a boost to their 3 digit number, and Experian® wants to help.

A new feature called Experian Boost™* can help instantly improve your credit scores for free.

Experian does this by adding your positive payment history from utility and telecom bills to your Experian credit file. This is huge, because previously, your gas, water, electricity, TV, internet, and phone bills that you already pay for didn’t affect your credit. Now it does and to your benefit of potentially increasing your credit scores!

It’s simple to start, and all you need is a free Experian Boost membership and a few minutes to connect read-only permission to the online bank accounts you use to pay bills. Experian will check only utility and telecom payments and get you credit for the payments you’ve already been paying.

This process doesn’t hurt your credit at all and you can choose to remove the boost if you want.

Compared to expensive and drawn out credit repair services, this new alternative is the fastest and no-cost way to instantly improve your credit scores.

*Results may vary, see website for details.

15. Get Paid in Gift Cards if You’re Chill with Lock Screen Ads

The average person unlocks their phone 110 times per day – that’s a lot of time spent looking at a screen for free.

With S’more you get paid every day you unlock your phone. It’s even easier than it sounds, and since you can cash out with as little as $1 there’s no waiting around for your rewards!

They partner up with brands looking for more impressions (aka your eyeballs) and you don’t need to click on anything to get paid either.

S’mores pays in gift cards so you can redeem for:

  • Amazon.com
  • AMC Theaters
  • Best Buy
  • CVS
  • Target
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Starbucks and more!

Just use your phone normally, and your earnings will apply daily. Pretty much the easiest thing to do and you’ll be earning gift cards to use online while social distancing and for IRL fun when quarantining is over!

16. Binge on Food, Entertainment, Health & Tech News TV for Money

I can barely cook but I love watching food videos. The new season of Ugly Delicious? I’m there.

If you’re a video junkie too, become an Inbox Dollars member where you can watch their TV and Videos section that ranges from Trending News, Entertainment, Food, Health, Tech, and even the latest World News to earn some cash. You’ll also get $5 as a sign-up bonus too!

They set it up in playlists though and they’ll tell you how long it takes as it can range from a few minutes to half an hour. Tip: You can set it to Play, open up another browser tab and let the videos run while you continue doing something else if you’re multi-tasking!

Playlists and earning potential can change, but it’s possible to earn up to $200 a month, watching videos!

17. Earn $20 Per Hour to Start Teaching English To Kids Online Working From Home

If you’ve been considering a side gig to supplement your primary income or love the idea of working from home, consider teaching English online to kids ages 6-10!

EF Online (Education First) is a teaching platform helping to connect students in China and native English speakers for over 20 years now. It’s a flexible schedule where you can work from home, earn up to $20/hr to start, and all lesson materials are provided.

Here are the requirements:

  • Must be a native English speaker living in the U.S.A or UK
  • Bachelor’s degree in any field
  • By the start of your teacher’s contract term, you must earn and submit documentation of a 40 Hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification (or higher)
  • Agree to an online background check (no cost to you)
  • Be available to work during set hours
  • Have a solid wifi connection and headset
  • And lastly, be passionate!

Classes are 25 minutes each and they encourage repeat classes, so you might be teaching the same students regularly. In addition, their parents can book you up to 6 months in advance leading to a more stable income.

If you enjoy interacting with kids, this is definitely a rewarding and flexible gig from home!

18. Try Games, Get Gift Cards. Play More to Earn More

Alice Ly | The Smart Wallet

We’ll probably be the only ones to tell you this but, please play more mobile games.

Play more games so you can earn more gift cards through the Rewarded Play app, a free to download game platform that lets you try as many games as you want.

Popular games include Yahtzee, Wheel of Fortune, Words with Friends, mystery games, fantasy games, puzzle games, and a lot more.

You can then redeem for gift cards from 20+ retailers including favorites like Target, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. The games are fun, it’s an easy way to earn some cash especially when we’re bored at home, and bonus, there is an active customer support team!

*EverQuote’s individual savings, if any, and premiums will vary by customer. Savings amount based on countrywide survey of users from Nov 2018 to Apr 2019 who reported old and new premiums.

*0.09% national average APY: FDIC for the week of Feb 11, 2019- https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/rates/#one

1 – Varo Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is accurate as of March 31, 2020. This rate is variable and may change. No minimum balance required to open account. Balance in Savings must be at least $0.01 to earn interest.

^Early access to direct deposit funds depends on timing of payer’s submission of deposits. We generally post such deposits on the day they are received which may be up to 2 days earlier than the payer’s scheduled payment date.

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