Here’s How to Add Up to 200 Points to a Credit Score Without Paying Anyone For Help

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Everyone who’s saddled with bad credit has a unique story.

A man burdened with $6,000 in unpaid bills. A mom of nine held back by an error on her report. A couple recovering from job loss and foreclosure. A single mom with a terminally ill child. A young woman with so much debt she couldn’t even get a credit card.

What do all these people have in common? They used a free online service called Credit Sesame to improve their credit scores — one man got his score up 277 points in six months.*

If you need some motivation, read through these real-life stories. Chances are, you’ll find you have something in common with at least one of them.

Then, take a look at your own score and get some personalized recommendations from Credit Sesame. It takes 90 seconds to enter your email address and sign up, You do have to give your social security number so they can find your credit file, but the site uses the same security measures as your bank to keep your information safe.

And who knows? Your story just might end up in this article six months from now.

He Had $6,000 in Unpaid Bills — Then Raised His Score 277 Points

Before discovering Credit Sesame, 50-year-old Atlanta resident James Cooper, had $6,000 in unpaid bills. He’d never had a credit card, and his credit score was 524.

He tried using a credit repair service — one that promised to improve his score… for a fee. Needless to say, he got burned.

Since Credit Sesame is free, he figured he’d give it a try. Within a few minutes, Cooper had access to his credit score, his total debt owed and even personalized recommendations to help him improve his score.

“They showed me the ins and outs — how to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” Cooper said. “I applied for my first credit card ever.”

After opening a credit card, which improved his score, Credit Sesame recommended he request a credit limit increase. That too bumped his score up (re: credit utilization).

In a span of just six months, Cooper watched his score increase 277 points. Now Cooper uses the lessons he’s learned from Credit Sesame to teach high school students the importance of good credit through his nonprofit, Fedup-4U.

This Mom of 9 Didn’t Know She Had an Error on Her Credit Report

After Salome Buitureria got laid off, she struggled to find work and was forced to use credit cards. The bills stacked up, and her credit score dropped — to 524, which is considered “very poor.”

Once she got back on stable ground, she started focusing on improving her credit. Her dream has always been to buy a home, and she knew the important role her credit score would play.

She got on Credit Sesame and assessed her debt, and that’s when she found a major error — a supposed unpaid medical bill from when her daughter had been sick that’s definitely been covered by Medicaid.

But here’s an unfortunate fact: One in five credit reports have errors, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Yup — you can do everything right, but an error could be holding you back.

Credit Sesame showed Buitureria how to fix the mistake, then she took additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.

Now? She’s focused on buying a home. “We want a place where the kids can come home,” she says, “where they don’t have to worry, a year or two down the road, ‘Oh, Mom’s got a new house.’”

This Guy Fell on Hard Times and Couldn’t Stomach Checking at His Score

In 2008, the housing bubble burst, and Jerry and Vivienne Morgan’s home fell into foreclosure. Not long after, Vivienne lost her job.

“No one plans on being in that situation,” Jerry said. “Frankly, with the experiences we have gone through, I was embarrassed to even check my score.”

Nearly 10 years later, the Morgans were gainfully employed and got approved for a mortgage remodification. Things were looking up, so Jerry decided to finally check his credit score… It hovered around 500.

He came across Credit Sesame and decided to give it a try. He liked how the site clearly explained what affected his credit score — and how he could improve it.

He opened another credit card (increasing his account mix and decreasing his credit utilization rate) and also took out an auto loan when he bought a new car (also boosting his account mix). Making on-time payments toward that loan helped as well.

Within six months of signing up, Jerry saw his score increase 120 points. When we last talked to him, Jerry was continuing to take steps to improve his score and felt hopeful of his financial future.

This Single Mom Overcame Credit Card Debt and a Bad Credit Score

In 2005, Melinda Smieja’s 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

“So here I am, a single mom, and my daughter gets sick,” she said. “And I’m like, ‘What am I gonna do?’”

She used credit cards for dinners and a place to stay. Soon, she’d maxed them all out — 11 cards, to be exact. She had somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 in debt. Her credit score was down to 480.

Then she stumbled upon Credit Sesame. It quickly made her overwhelming situation way more manageable.

“I could look and I could say, ‘OK, this is what’s all going on here. This is my debt. This is what’s happening. This is what’s making my credit [interest] high,’” she said.

And she could finally tackle her debts, one at a time. The work wasn’t quick. It was slow and steady — but it paid off. In 2016, for the first time, Smieja’s credit score hit 680, crossing the line of what lenders consider “good credit.” By late 2017, it was up to 764.

This 30-Year-Old Was Stuck in Debt and Didn’t Know Where to Go

At 30, Dana Sitar’s history with credit cards, student loans and medical bills was tough to face.

Student loan interest was piling up. Hospital bills were out to collection agencies. No one would give her a credit card. She landed a loan for a new car by the skin of her teeth. Her security deposits for car rentals and apartments were through the roof.

She wanted to fix it but didn’t even know where to start.

Then Sitar, a personal finance editor, found Credit Sesame in 2016, and today, she’s breathing a little easier.

Credit Sesame is “answering all the questions swirling in my head, keeping me awake at night and threatening a panic attack every time I authorize a credit check,” Sitar wrote in an article for The Penny Hoarder.

Since she started tracking her credit score with the app, she’s watched it rise — slowly but surely — by 68 points, thanks to Credit Sesame’s recommendations.

“It offers real recommendations you can use — one step at a time — to get out of a very confusing hole,” she says.

Heck, it even let her know she could refinance her car loan and save a ton of money on interest over time. She’s also been able to find a credit card she could actually qualify for.

Since signing up, Sitar has caught up with her student loan payments and is even ahead on her car payments now. Her goal is to improve her score a little more so she can qualify for a personal loan to consolidate her debt.

Inspired? If you want to see how you can improve your credit score, signing up for Credit Sesame is totally free — and it only takes about 90 seconds to get started.

*60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase, and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.

Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

21 Side Jobs for Women That Will Bring in Extra Cash

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Women hustle. It’s in their DNA. If you’re a woman, you know how to work hard and overcome the obstacles that come up along the way. You’re willing to do what it takes to provide for your family, even if that means putting in a little more elbow grease than what most people are comfortable with.

But sometimes, because of family obligations or other life events, finding extra time can seem next to impossible. That’s where side hustles come in. And you may be wondering if there are ways for women to make money online, especially because you need to work from home. The answer to that is yes … check out No. 2 especially. And No. 6. And No. 17.

Sides hustles are great for women looking for ways to make money around their kids’ schedules, such as during school hours, nap time, or in the evenings. They give you the chance at earning some extra money on your own schedule.

21 Side Hustles for Women

In this post, we’ll show you 21 out-of-the-box ideas of side hustles for women that bring in at least $1,000 a month. The jobs are:

1. Freelance Writer

If you’re good at writing and it’s something you enjoy doing, freelance writing is a lucrative side hustle that’s flexible and easy to start.

Freelance writing has many benefits, especially for a stay-at-home-mom, such as:

  • You don’t need any formal training.
  • You can write on your own time and virtually from anywhere. Write while the kids are napping or they’re at soccer practice—there are no limitations.
  • As a freelance writer, you can choose the niche you write in. That means you can write about things you’re passionate about and get paid for it. Want to write greeting cards? Go for it! Are you good at resume writing? That’s always in demand. There’s such a strong need for content creators today that you’re sure to find a writing gig in almost any niche.

How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?

Good writers make pretty decent money: the average writer rakes in a little over $63,000, according to ZipRecruiter, so making $1,000/month part-time is totally doable.

Use our 8-point guide to setting freelance rates for novice and experienced writers. 

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2. Virtual Assistant

What exactly do virtual assistants do? Their role is to be someone else’s right hand, be that through helping them manage their online business or just get their life in order. Some common tasks for a virtual assistant include:

  • Data entry.
  • Managing social media accounts and profiles.
  • Sourcing, arranging and booking travel itineraries for clients.
  • Organizing and scheduling meetings.
  • Communicating with clients via email or phone calls.
  • Preparing reports, presentations or documents for client review.

You don’t necessarily need a lot of experience to be a virtual assistant: just a strong work ethic, good communications skills, a computer, and an internet connection.

How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?

As a virtual assistant with no experience, you can expect to make about $7/hour, in which case it would take you around 7 hours of work every day during weekdays to get to $1K per month. Not exactly a side hustle.

Once you get some more experience, though, you can expect to make an average of $32/hour, meaning you’ll be able to dedicate just 5 hours per week to reach the $1,000 monthly mark.

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 female laughs as she holds a camera in her hands.

3. Photographer

Are you the go-to person everybody asks to take their pictures for them at parties and get-togethers? That’s a clear sign that you may have a hidden talent for photography, and your phone’s memory bank might just be a goldmine that could turn into a steady source of passive income, generating some extra cash with little to no extra effort.

All you have to do is upload your photos to different stock photography websites like Shutterstock or iStockphoto and start turning your photos into cash.

How Much Can You Make From Selling Stock Photography?

Before you get too excited, you should know that it’s a bit hard to actually start making money on these platforms since there is a lot of competition.

To give you some idea, in one case study, a contributor uploaded 444 photos to Shutterstock and, after 8 months, had only earned around $150. At that same rate, if you were to upload 1,000 photos, they would earn you only $40-$45 per month, which is nowhere near $1,000. However, do consider that this is passive income that can continue to earn for years with no additional effort.

Still, a little extra money every month never hurts, and if you dedicate a few hours per day to taking more photos, you can end up making well over $1,000 every month from these platforms alone.

Selling photos online  may be easier than you think. Check our guide to who’s buying what type of photos and how much they are paying.  

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4. Personal Shopper

Many women love shopping and offering others advice on what they should buy, so becoming a personal shopper is one of those side hustles to consider.

Personal shoppers provide their services to busy professionals who don’t have the time or energy to shop for themselves, but still want to look good. As a freelance personal shopper, you’ll work with clients over email, phone or video chat, visit stores, help clients choose the clothes that are best for them, and perhaps even deliver purchases directly to their home.

How Much Do Personal Shoppers Make?

According to Glassdoor, personal shoppers earn an average of $30,000/year working 25-30 hours per week, so it’s a great way to make more than just $1,000 per month in your spare time.

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5. Professional Organizer

Organizing is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. If you can help the cluttered get their affairs in order, it won’t take long for word to spread and for you to gain a few clients. Professional organizers generally work from clients’ homes during the day, so keep that in mind if you don’t have the flexibility to take on more during regular work hours.

If you feel like this is something you want to try out, a great way to hit the ground running is to join a group like the National Association of Professional Organizers or NAPO. There, you’ll find like-minded people who love organizing, you can get your name added to a growing catalog of professional organizers that will help you find work, and you can even take courses to polish your skills.

How Much Can You Make as a Professional Organizer?

As an organizer with no experience but strong organizational skills, expect to earn around $22/hour. At that rate, it will take you less than 12 hours per week to make $1,000 a month.

Need a banking service that's built for freelancers, helping you save for taxes and keep track of your expenses? Check out Lili. (It's free!)

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A woman teaches online from her home.

6. Online Tutor

Studying on your own can be frustrating, even if you opt for a high-quality online course. Thankfully, there are people like you that love teaching others about their specific skill set. If you have a passion for biology, calculus or any other subject, it might be worth your while to earn some extra income by becoming an online tutor.

Tutoring is flexible work. If you’re really good, you may end up having a major positive impact on the lives of your students, while you bring in income.

In 2021, the lucrative Chinese tutoring market was closed off to American teachers and to for-profit tutoring companies. From The Penny Hoarder story: “The Chinese government announced in August a prohibition for foreign tutors to teach their children online and limited the hours students could take additional classes beyond their normal school hours.”

Still, there are online tutoring jobs and one of the more lucrative ways for women to make money.

How Much Do Online Tutors Make?

Rates vary depending on your field of expertise and years of experience, though you can expect to earn anywhere from $10/hour to $50/hour and up. If there’s any subject matter that you’re particularly good at, tutoring is a surefire way to make some extra money online.

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7. Rideshare Driver

You certainly don’t need a degree or any special skills for this job. As long as you know how to drive and you can pass the companies’ background checks, then there’s nothing stopping you from making some money in your downtime driving for Uber or Lyft.

How Much Can You Make Working For Uber Or Lyft?

This is an amazing side gig because it doesn’t require much effort, unlike other jobs like being a personal shopper, which requires constant running around and being on your feet all the time. It can also pay very well, with reports of drivers earning $90 to $140 per day depending on where they’re working.

All in all, if you have a car and are looking for something temporary to do while meeting new people, this is a nice side hustle to consider.

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8. Airbnb Host

You might be surprised at how easy it is to make extra money if you live in a popular tourist city. All you need are some spare rooms and an Airbnb host account.

The average Airbnb host makes about $1K/month, but these earnings vary dramatically depending on where you live, the time of year, and the size and type of home or room you have up for rent.

How Much Can You Make On Airbnb?

The global average for renting out your entire home is $110/night, while in the U.S., it’s $161/night. Of course, you’re able to set your own rate, so if you have a really nice listing with modern furniture and appliances, that increases your earning potential dramatically. When you’re ready, you might even consider making a business from your Airbnb hustle.

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A man holding a coffee cup looks displeased as his wife places her ball of yarn in his coffee cup as she sews multiple winter hats.

9. Crafter

Many of us have a hobby or particular talent we like to indulge in our spare time. Whether it’s woodworking, pottery, sewing or knitting, these hobbies can easily become a great source of extra income if you know where to sell them.

One great place to sell your crafty creations is on the world’s largest marketplace for handmade goods: Etsy. With more than 30 million unique monthly visitors and millions of items for sale in over 200 countries, you’ll find plenty of people who want to buy what you’re making.

Bonus: Over 80% of Etsy sellers are women.

How Much Do Etsy Crafters Make?

According to shmoop.com, the average income you can expect to make as a crafter selling your work on Etsy is around $44,000 though you will likely have to hustle for this. This means that you’ll be comfortably making over $1,000 a month without hassle, and you’ll have a great time in the process. After all, crafting is a fun hobby.

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10. Drop-Shipping Entrepreneur

If you’re looking for more than just a side hustle — something you can turn into a real business with little upfront cost — starting a drop-shipping business may be a good way to go. You don’t need an MBA to start drop-shipping, though you do need at least somewhat of an entrepreneurial spirit. If you don’t feel confident, there are plenty of online courses out there that cover the basics.

Drop-shipping is a retail strategy that lets you get products in front of your customers without ever having the product on hand. You purchase goods from third-party vendors and have them shipped directly to buyers, bypassing the need for warehousing or stocking inventory.

One great thing about drop-shipping is that it’s always cash flow positive: you sell the product to your customer before buying it from your supplier. This simplifies many of the liquidity issues small business owners run into, and helps you set yourself up for success.

Oberlo are two digital giants that can get you started in the e-commerce game.

How Much Do Drop-Shippers Make?

Drop-shipper earnings vary wildly, from zero to tens of thousands of dollars per month. If you manage to find a popular product with healthy margins, there’s almost no limit to what you can make.

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A woman speaks in a studio while holding a notebook in her hand.

11. Podcaster or Blogger

#1 on this list was becoming a freelance writer. But what if you love writing, but you don’t want to write for someone else? In that case, forget freelancing and start a blog of your own.

(If you aren’t ready to go out on your own, contract your services to a dentist, attorney or any other professional with a business that wants to connect with clients and potential clients. You can write their blog posts for them.)

You don’t have to limit yourself to writing alone. Content is king—no matter its format—so experiment with text, images, videos, audio, or all of them at once. If you’re more comfortable speaking than writing, becoming a YouTuber or a podcaster may be a better fit than starting your own blog.

Thousands of women run blogs to make money online on their own schedule, and they generally find it much more rewarding than being a virtual assistant or walking the neighborhood dogs.

There are a number of content management systems that can help you get your blog started, offering templates and tutoring. The pricing varies on the services you need, including hosting your blog. WordPress is probably the most popular and widely used, but there are others such as Wix and HubSpot.

How Much Can You Make Through a Blog?

Thoughtful blogs with carefully-crafted content can generate thousands of dollars of revenue per month with little overhead, which is why blogging is one of the quickest ways to hit the $1,000/month mark. It will, though, take time to build up to this amount unless you already understand the ways to make money from blogs. This post from Penny Hoarder contributor Dana Sitar explains how she uses affiliate marketing to monetize her blog.

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12. Food Delivery Driver

Delivering people to where they need to go isn’t the only way to make money with your car. Those people need to eat and they want food from their favorite restaurants — and fast food places — delivered to them.

Food delivery isn’t a particularly glamorous gig, but it’s easy to get into, and allows you to work on your own time. If you’ve got kids or another job, this is definitely a side hustle worth considering.

How Much Can Food Delivery Drivers Make?

You can also join UberEats and start delivering food to earn an extra $8 to $12/hour. By dedicating five hours to this job every weekday, you’ll make about $1K/month (before accounting for gas). If you work on the weekends as well, you can earn even more.

Drivers for DoorDash can earn between $11 and $15 an hour depending on location, but those earnings aren’t guaranteed. Those hourly rates are based on how many orders are accepted by the driver and also factor in tips.

Grubhub drivers make about $12 an hour, more with tips. That’s an extra $11,000 a year if you can put in 20 hours a week. Not bad for making your own schedule that works around other obligations.

Which is better? Delivery food or people? We’ve got the rundown on rideshare driver vs. food delivery driver.   

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13. Storage Provider

Many of us have storage space that we don’t use or need, and that space can be monetized if it’s valuable to others. Perhaps you have a two-car garage but only one car. Why not offer the extra parking space for a monthly fee?

Another option is to offer space — perhaps garage or basement space — that a neighbor or a local business can use to store their belongings. Of course, you’ll want to consider how to keep those belongings safe, and how to give others access to a part of your home without jeopardizing your own privacy. But once you work through these temporary difficulties, it’s a great use of your excess space, and a win-win for everyone.

How Much Can You Make Renting Out Storage Space?

You’ll have to get the word out that you’ve got space to rent and Neighbor is one digital option. Another might be the bulletin board at your place of worship or community center. If you have school-age children, get the word out through the parents group. Neighbor says garage rental space could bring in $100 to $600 a month, obviously depending on how much room you have and how difficult storage space is to find in your area.

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A woman laughs as flour flies in the air.

14. Personal Chef

Does everyone praise your cooking every time you have someone over for dinner? Would you love to start making money from your passion in the kitchen, but don’t have the money to start a restaurant? Working as a personal chef is a fun and great way to use those spare evenings while making a good bit of money on the side.

To be clear, personal chefs don’t only cook for millionaires in their mansion, though that is certainly possible. You can also offer your services as a freelance chef on a website or on social media. That way, when someone wants to host a special dinner party or gathering, they can create a unique experience and take the stress of cooking off their hands.

Or you might even provide weeknight meals a couple of times a week for several of your friends and their families.

How Much Does A Personal Chef Make?

The national average for full-time starting chefs is about $15 an hour, and wages move up rapidly from there. In fact, chefs usually earn between $70K and $90K per year. So, if you can get a few regular clients that have you working on the weekends and one or two nights per week, you can reach $1,000 a month without too much trouble.

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15. Car Rental Hustler

We’ve already seen two different ways to make money out of your car, but both of them involve you driving it. That means you’re investing your time — but what if your car could earn you money without requiring any of your time?

It may sound inconvenient to be without a car but if you’re working from home, how much are you using it anyway?

A couple of websites that can help facilitate renting out your care are RelayRides.com and GetAround.com.

There are more than a few apps that let you rent your car out to others, who pick it up, drive it, and deliver it back to you. While this has some obvious inherent risks, the companies behind the apps generally include car insurance to keep your vehicle protected.

How Much Will You Make Renting Your Car Out?

It all depends on your vehicle’s make, model, and year, but if you rented your vehicle out 20 days per month at $50/day, that’s $1,000 right there.

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16. Stock Market Investor

Investing in the stock market can be intimidating, especially since you risk losing some of your money. However, investing is also a great way to make a decent income once you learn the ropes.

If you’re not sure how to get started, subscribing to an investment newsletter — either a free or a paid one — is a good way to see how experienced traders are making money in the markets. There are many women making thousands of dollars per month from their investments, but it’s important to educate yourself on how the markets work before jumping in.

If investing is something you’d like to try out, you’ll need to start by choosing a broker. There are many out there that offer different perks and features. And there are apps like Stash that help you invest your money in stocks, ETFs and other assets with little or no commissions. Apps that charge commission offer other benefits in return.

Want to know more about Stash? Check out The Penny Hoarder review of Stash.

With most brokers, you can generally make practice investments using virtual money inside of a demo account. This protects your hard-earned cash but allows you to learn the lessons to turn you into a stronger, more profitable investor.

How Much Can You Make in the Market?

As I said, investing in the stock market is risky business. Some people end up losing money rather than making it. This makes giving an accurate estimate of how much you actually stand to earn very difficult. As proof of that, estimated salaries tend to vary a lot, depending on who you ask. ZipRecruiter, for example, puts the average at around $54K, while Glassdoor shows an average of $75K and some salaries that go as high as $300K. Not bad at all but it would be smarter to think and start smaller.

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A woman plays an online game on her computer in her bedroom.

17. Online Gamer

Who doesn’t like the idea of winning real money when killing time with online games? Imagine if we’d been getting paid for playing solitaire on those old Windows 98 PCs from back in the day! You can actually earn money these days by playing online games, and a very popular one is, in fact, Solitaire Cash.

Solitaire Cash is a free app that pays you every time you reach the top-three spots of any given tournament. It’s that simple! No catch, no strings attached. You earn money based on your skills in the game and on your ability to beat other players on the same deck of cards you were dealt.

This is an extremely easy way to make money in your spare time if you have what it takes to finish solitaire games quickly.

How Much Can You Make Playing Games?

Ok, so this is another case that is very dependent on both your skills and the time you put into playing. To put things in perspective, professional gamers haul in an average of $60K a year. While you probably won’t start at that level, it seems very doable to reach $1,000 a month by playing every time you take a break from your chores, the kids, or even your regular day job.

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18. Eagle-Eye Shopper

A penny saved is a penny earned, as the saying goes, so as we near the end of our list of ways to earn more money, it’s worth mentioning how you can save, too. Earning cash back on your purchases is one great way to do exactly that.

There are many different ways to earn cash back. You’ll find that many good credit cards offer cash back rewards on certain spending categories like food and travel, while others offer it on gas or by shopping at specific retailers.

Others still, like Aspiration, throw in extra perks like planting trees on your behalf, supporting eco-friendly and ethical businesses, and even doubling all your cash back rewards if you become carbon neutral.

How Much Can This Side Gig Bring In?

Saving money with cash back depends heavily on two things: your spending habits and which cash back program you join. It is worth noting, though, that saving (read earning) $1,000 every month implies spending a lot of money on a monthly basis. While this is a way to make $1,000 per month on particular occasions, but probably not every month.

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19. Online Course Designer

An alternative to online tutoring that requires less time yet is still a good source of passive income is selling online courses. Video courses are particularly attractive, since many students prefer learning visually over reading. There are dozens of platforms where you can market your courses: some general, some more niche, and each with their own payout structure.

If you’re good at something and you enjoy teaching it to others, launching your own online course is an ideal side hustle for you.

How Much Can You Make from Your Online Course?

So, obviously this depends on how many courses you have to offer, many people end up buying it, and what your price point is. Suppose you have a blog that receives 1,000 visitors per month (very low bar) and you publish your course offering it at $20 a pop. This means that you would only have to convert 5% of your audience to make $1,000 every month, without any additional effort.

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A woman smiles as she holds her remote in her hand while watching television from the comfort of her couch.

20. Movie-Watching Moneymaker

Surveys aren’t our favorite way to make money, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch — or sitting through Moana with your toddler for the 27th time — why not click a couple of buttons and earn a few bucks?

We’ve tried many paid survey sites, but two of the best we’ve found are InboxDollars and Swagbucks, which is run by a company rated A by the Better Business Bureau.

How Much Can You Make?

Considering that you can make, on average $0,4 to $2 per survey on Swagbucks, it’s very easy to reach the average $100 per month. If you’re thinking, “Hey! That’s missing a zero,” it’s because it is. Making $100 in Swagbucks is easy, but making $1,000 takes work. However, it is doable, which is what really matters.

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21. Online Real Estate Investor

Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that.

Oh, and you don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. You can get started with a minimum investment of just $500. Fundrise does all the heavy lifting for you.

Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.

This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can earn money through interest payments and property income (e.g., rent). You’ll get paid via quarterly distributions, plus extra periodic distributions if properties are sold.

How Much Can You Make as an E-commerce Real Estate Investor?

According to millionacres, real estate investors make an average income of over $70K per year., which translates to almost $6,000/month. This means that, if you choose online real estate as your next side hustle, you shouldn’t have any issues reaching $1,000 per month. As a matter of fact, odds are you’ll end up transitioning from side gig to a full-time job before you know it.

The Bottom Line

There are so many different side hustles that are ideal for women that there’s really no reason you can’t start making more money today. If you choose one or more options from this list, it won’t be long until your worries about money go away. We’ve given you 21 ways to answer the question, “how to make money as a woman?”

It doesn’t matter if you choose to become a virtual assistant or a food delivery driver: you can start making a full-time income on a part-time job with some of the side hustle ideas listed above.

Contributor Jordan Bishop writes about personal finance and hospitality topics. He is the founder of Yore Oyster, a website specializing in financial products review that includes a regular newsletter. 

  

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

How to Start an Airbnb to Make Maximum Profit

Starting an Airbnb is a popular side hustle. While most hosts make a modest amount of extra income to supplement their day-job paychecks, some Airbnb hosts turn their short-term rental property into a full-time business, earning a handsome income every year.

While you can make extra money by renting out a room in your home, you’re likely to be more profitable by turning entire houses, apartments or other living spaces into an Airbnb.

If you’re serious about turning this into a real business, these tips will get you started as an Airbnb entrepreneur.

This guide will cover:

Finding the Right Airbnb Property for You

Before you can start an Airbnb, you’ll need property. You can buy or rent property. You can run your Airbnb locally or from a city far, far away.

The decisions you make will impact your profit and the lives of those who live close to your property, so consider each one carefully.

Identify a Good Real Estate Market

An ideal real estate market will have one of two features:

  • Tourism. Economies that rely on tourists are ideal for vacation home rentals. That’s because you’ll have a predictable flow of people coming into town.
  • Business hubs. Business hubs also attract frequent travelers who are in need of short-term rentals. To compete with hotels, you’ll want to ensure your rental has adequate accommodations for business travelers — like fast Wi-Fi and easy access to public transit. Business hubs can also attract remote workers who are often looking to stay for a month or more.

Once you’ve found good locations, you’ll want to narrow your options by the stability of the real estate market. For example, business hubs in Rust Belt cities are likely to be far more affordable than real estate markets in California.

Consider the Ethics of Your Airbnb Business

You’ll want to consider the ethics of your Airbnb business — especially when you’re shopping in a real estate market that isn’t local to you.

In many cities across the country, there is a homelessness crisis. This crisis may become worse as more corporate landlords replace mom-and-pop landlords who had to sell their properties due to the hardships of the past year.

In your quest for a “great deal,” you may want to consider the effect your business will have on the local community. Is your profit worth pushing local residents out of potential housing opportunities? Especially when you’re not personally invested in the local community?

Some Airbnb hosts will turn to alternative platforms that try to accommodate these concerns in their business structure. One example is Fairbnb, though you can only use this platform if you are local to your Fairbnb rental property.

The exterior of an Airbnb in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Research Local Laws and Regulations for Airbnb Hosts

Even if you don’t have any ethical concerns about Airbnb hosting, you’ll want to research local laws and regulations. Many cities have taken the ethical concerns on themselves, codifying them into law.

For example, in San Francisco you must live in your Airbnb rental. You can book it for 90 cumulative days per year while you’re away, or host guests in your home throughout the year while you’re present.

Cities and municipalities across the country have started instituting similar rules. Be sure to do your research beforehand to make sure this is something you’re actually allowed to do.

Identify Potential Investment Properties

Now that you’ve narrowed down where you’d like to start your Airbnb business, you need to pick a specific unit. The most traditional way to do this is by purchasing an investment property.

As you compare potential Airbnb properties, think about what amenities you’d like access to while traveling. Wi-Fi is likely a must. In many markets, air conditioning will be a mandatory requirement for some guests. Parking, access to public transit and the size of the unit are also good criteria to consider.

As you search for a great deal, bear in mind that real estate markets around the country are a little out of control right now. Many potential buyers are making concessions like skipping inspections or appraisals in order to put in a competitive bid.

You should not do this. You want to make sure the property is up to code, and that there are no major surprise repairs to pay for in the first few years of ownership. Unknown variables have the potential to turn your rental space into a money pit, which is not a smart investment for a side hustle.

Become an Airbnb Host Without Owning Any Property

Depending on rules set by landlords and cities, you don’t actually have to own property to be an Airbnb host. Technically, you can rent a unit and then sublet it as a short-term rental on Airbnb. This can be a great workaround if you don’t want to take on the risks of homeownership, or if first and last month’s rent are a way more achievable savings goal than a 20% downpayment.

You will want to be up front and honest with the landlord about why you’re interested in renting. If a landlord or HOA isn’t on board, it can all get shut down in an instant, leaving you holding the bag on the rent for the remainder of the lease.

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Making Your Airbnb Business Legitimate

There are many reasons to turn your Airbnb business into an LLC or other legal business entity. LLCs do provide some limited liability protection to you as a business owner.

Some experts say establishing an LLC should be your first move when you start a business. Read more about what an LLC is and why you might need one.

But if you’re turning a rented property into an Airbnb, the LLC designation serves another purpose. It shows potential landlords that you’re a serious business owner. It gives them more confidence that you’ll pay rent on time, regardless whether you’re fully booked during any given month. With this designation, landlords may be more likely to take you on as a “tenant.”

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Calculating Your Return on Investment

Before you sign on any dotted lines or commit to any Airbnb properties, you’ll want to figure out your return on investment. If it’s large enough, you may have a successful business on your hands.

Here are some of the calculations you’ll need to get there.

Figure Out Your Airbnb Costs

Your Airbnb business isn’t going to be 100% profit. And the actual real estate won’t be your only investment. You’ll need to figure out the costs you’ll incur along the way before you can assume this will put money in your pocket. Some common operating expenses to consider include:

Airbnb Hosting Fees

To find your hosting fee, add the price of your listing, cleaning fees and additional guest fees. Then multiply by 0.03. This is the chunk of revenue Airbnb will take as a hosting fee in most situations. If you’re running an Airbnb in Italy, use a Super Strict cancellation policy or are an Airbnb Plus host, your hosting fee could be higher.

A woman washes the dishes inside an Airbnb apartment.

Cleaning Fees

You get to pick the cleaning fees charged to potential guests. This amount should cover any costs you incur when you hire cleaning services. If you’re deep-scrubbing the place yourself, this fee will compensate you for your time and the cost of cleaning products.

Some hosts will use the cleaning fees not only to cover their cleaning service, but also to get higher effective nightly rates on their Airbnb rental. For example, if you wanted to charge $75/night, but similar listings in your area were only going for $65, you might bake that extra $10 into your cleaning fees.

This may get more people to click on your listing. Some may even decide to book after undergoing the time-consuming process of hemming and hawing over which property to book.

But there’s a downside. When they see the cleaning fee knocks the price up $10/night right before they book, you’re already starting their customer experience off on the wrong foot. Even if they book with you, their initial experience is a disappointment, which may not bode well for your reviews.

Property Maintenance Expenses

Unless you luck into an absolutely perfect property, you’re likely going to spend at least a little money cleaning your place up before listing it. Maybe a fresh coat of paint. Updated lighting fixtures. Some new blinds.

On top of the initial fixes, your property will need to be maintained. If a pipe bursts and you own the property, you’ll need money set aside to fix the problem. If the property has a yard, you’ll either need to dedicate time to it or pay a third-party landscaping service to maintain it for you.

Home Furnishings

You’ll also need home furnishings like couches, a bed, and pots and pans. Providing toiletries and towels is good practice. As is including a coffee station and maybe even some snacks.

Professional Photography

You don’t technically need a professional photographer as an Airbnb owner. But first impressions are important. The prettier your place looks in the listing, the more likely it is to book. Investing in high-quality photos can be worth the expense.

Legal and Professional Expenses

If you decide to set up an LLC, it’s generally a smart idea to enlist the help of both a lawyer and a CPA. In addition to needing their services when you set up your Airbnb business, you may need to call on them annually around tax time or whenever your state requires you to renew your business license.

Because local laws are constantly changing for short-term rentals, a lawyer is a good person to have in your corner whether you set up an LLC or not. They can help you ensure you’re up to code on the latest statutes and advise you whether continuing in your business or selling out is the better move given the current legal climate in your locale.

A man does work inside a home by the water.

Taxes

Whether you set up an LLC or not, you will need to pay taxes as an Airbnb owner. First, you’ll need to pay property taxes according to your locality.

Many states or localities will also charge lodging tax, which often range from 7% to 18% of your income depending on where you’re located. These taxes are also referred to as Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOTs) in some regions.

You’ll also need to pay taxes on your profit. This is another reason it can be helpful to have an accountant on speed dial. They can advise you on the best ways to optimize your tax situation given your individual expenses, ownership status and local laws.

Business Bank Account

As a legit legal entity, you’ll want to keep your personal and business finances separate. This means you’ll need to open a business bank account. Shop around for the account that best meets your needs, taking note of any fees.

Insurance

Airbnb does cover hosts with a significant amount of no-cost liability and property insurance for periods when you have guests.

Under the Airbnb Host Guarantee, hosts have free coverage up to $1M, covering damage to your Airbnb unit and belongings caused by a guest. It also covers any damages caused by a guest’s assistance animal.

Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance is a liability policy that also covers you up to $1M. This free-to-hosts policy covers you for accidental bodily injury to your Airbnb guests or others while they are in your rental. It also provides liability protection for guest’s or other’s property while they’re staying in your Airbnb, and any liability for damages your guests may cause to common areas in your Airbnb’s building or neighborhood.

This insurance is extensive, but you may want to talk to your lawyer about any other additional insurance policies that they think are a good idea given state and local laws. Examples might include business insurance, renter’s insurance or homeowners insurance.

Examine Your Time Budget

Becoming an Airbnb host is a super popular side hustle. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

On top of the costs of your initial investment, property maintenance and taxes, you’ll also have to invest some time. If you’re not available to respond to guest inquiries within 24 hours or to help guests with any problems that may arise during their stay, it’s probably not the best idea to start an Airbnb.

However, if you pay someone in the area who could take care of guest services and day-to-day management of the property, you could delegate these responsibilities and free up more of your time.

Professional Airbnb property management contractors and even entire Airbnb property management companies exist if you want to hire out help. But if you have a friend or family member in the area, having someone you already trust looking out for your guests can be ideal. They may even be less expensive.

Research Comparable Airbnb Listings in Your Area

The next step is to look up competitive pricing for Airbnb listings in the area. For example, a 2-bedroom Airbnb in Philly averaged about $180/night in the summer of 2021. A similar-sized rental in Los Angeles averaged about $331/night.

Don’t just look at averages, though. Look at properties in similar neighborhoods in similar condition. Also be sure to consider any amenities. The more a property stands out as exceptional, the higher you can raise your price.

You’ll also want to be sure to check the numbers throughout the year. For example, if summer is peak tourist season in your Airbnb locale, that’s when the rates will be highest. If you use that rate to project out for the entire year, you’re likely to be sorely disappointed — and possibly in debt — come winter.

When demand is lower, there could be months when you’re pulling in $0. You need to be financially prepared for that possibility.

NOTE: Airbnb does provide a calculator that guesstimates your potential monthly earnings. The number it gives you is based on a 50% occupancy rate given your Airbnb’s size and location. It’s a decent blunt tool, but you’ll want to take a deeper dive into your own market research before you invest any serious money.

Calculate the ROI of Your Airbnb Business

You’ve figured out all your costs. Gotten a ballpark figure on how much you should charge. Now it’s time to actually calculate your potential return on investment (ROI).

To do so, you’re going to use a formula that looks something like this:

What you expect to make over the course of a year on your Airbnb listing  The costs of running your business throughout the year = Total annual revenue from your Airbnb business.

Then, you have to ask yourself, “Is this amount of profit worth the amount of time I’d have to invest into my Airbnb side hustle?”

The answer to that question is going to be different for everyone. As will the math.

A man poses for a portrait in front of a mirror.

How Much Money Do Airbnb Hosts Make?

Some Airbnb hosts run six-figure businesses. A lot will depend on your investment property, though. To get to the six-figure level, you’ll likely need multiple properties. The locality will affect your listing, too, both through market demand and through any local laws or regulations surrounding Airbnb rentals.

If you’re just starting out with one property, don’t quit your day job just yet.

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Listing Your Airbnb Property the Right Way to Attract Guests

Now that you have a property and have determined that starting your own Airbnb business is worth it to you, it’s time to list your Airbnb.

Prepare Your Airbnb Rental Properties for Listing

First, you’ll want to prepare your Airbnb property for listing. This is where the fresh coat of paint, furnishings and any property maintenance come in.

Once you’ve got the place looking nice, you’ll call in your photographer. You’ll then be able to use their images to list and promote your property on Airbnb.

Take Advantage of Airbnb’s New-Listing Promotion

Airbnb has always advantaged new listings in its algorithm. This gives new hosts an opportunity to build a reputation. When the listing is no longer “new,” generally after about 30 to 90 days, you’ll lose this advantage and fewer people will see your listing. This makes the first 30 to 90 days a vital period for building positive reviews and a good reputation.

Last year, Airbnb added a new feature called the “new listing promotion.” This feature can get even more eyes on your property when it’s brand new. As long as you’re not using the “Smart Pricing” feature and have “Instant Booking” enabled, you can claim this feature during the onboarding process.

When you agree to participate in this promotion, you’re agreeing to offer your property’s first guests a 20% discount on their booking. Airbnb will promote your new listing to potential guests, getting it in front of more eyes. This discount and promotion will last for the first three bookings or the first 90 days — whichever comes first.

The faster you can book guests at your Airbnb, the faster you can build a positive reputation. That reputation will be key for ranking higher in the algorithm after your Airbnb listing loses its “new” status.

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Taking Extra Good Care of Your First Airbnb Guests

A host welcomes their visitor.

Because your first few guests will decide the initial reputation of your Airbnb property, you’ll want to give them an absolutely great customer service experience.

Make sure you’re attentive to all their needs. That you’ll be 100% available to them during their stay. Provide local maps, public transit schedules and any information on fun or useful local attractions. Offer to pick them up from the airport or train station. Ensure that the check-in and check-out process are more than fairly easy. Make sure coffee and snacks are readily available, and that your place is sparkling clean.

In other words, do everything you can to prove you’re a great host.

If you can deliver an experience that exceeds their expectations, they are likely to leave you a great review. Preferably a five-star review. The more five-star reviews you can rack up while your property is new, the more likely it is that you’ll have a successful Airbnb business.

Pro Tip

Delivering customer satisfaction does not mean hovering. Allow your guests to take the lead on the amount of interaction you provide.

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Improving Your Host Rating

If you’re not getting as high of a rating as you’d like, look to make improvements to these important factors, which are common areas of complaint:

  • Cleanliness
  • Amenities
  • Communication
  • Smooth check-in/check-out process

It’s also important to be honest and accurate in your listing description. If you’re offering a budget place to stay, your guest won’t necessarily expect top-of-the-line amenities. Not having them doesn’t mean they won’t give you a five-star rating — unless you give them the impression that you’re offering top-of-the-line amenities, full-well knowing you’re not.

A good rule to follow is underpromise and overdeliver.

NOTE: Avoid canceling reservations if at all possible. If you cancel the reservation as the host, you may have to pay a fee of $50-$100. You’re also likely to get a negative review from the guest you canceled on, and you may make yourself ineligible for Superhost status. If you cancel more than three times in a year, Airbnb can remove your listing altogether.

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Accommodating Remote Workers

The pandemic had a huge impact on the travel industry. Airbnb noticed a trend and decided to capitalize on it.

That trend was that more people were booking longer stays. In the first quarter of 2021, nearly a quarter of bookings were for 28 days or more.

There are a few driving factors behind this trend. The first is that more access to remote work options have made people more mobile than ever. If they want to travel for a month or more, they can do as they please as long as there’s a good Wi-Fi connection.

Many Americans have also seriously considered permanent relocation since the beginning of the pandemic. With remote work allowing them to go anywhere, some have been using this time to make long visits to potential new hometowns. They’re allowing themselves to experience a place before settling down.

Will these longer-term rental trends continue into the future? Honestly, we don’t have a crystal ball.

But Airbnb is banking on it.

It has added the “I’m Flexible” and “Flexible Destination” features to help these guests find long-term rentals when their schedule or itinerary is flexible, as is the case with many remote workers who are booking longer stays.

If you’re hosting longer stays, you’ll have less anxiety about vacancies and incur lower costs over a longer period of time. That’s because you won’t necessarily be cleaning your Airbnb rental every weekend when you have one consistent guest staying for a month or more.

You can make the most of this by ensuring your rental is in a city that allows longer-term stays, and making sure you have broad availability on your booking calendar. It also helps to know that properties that offer weekly or monthly booking discounts get more bookings.

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Making Sure You’re COVID Compliant

During the pandemic, Airbnb has enhanced rules for cleaning. These rules mean you’ll want to be extra sure you take care of things like ventilation and sanitizing your Airbnb properties after you clean but before your guest arrives.

In addition to enhanced cleaning rules, there are also pandemic rules about host interactions with guests. Airbnb is encouraging contactless check-ins during this time. If you must meet with guests, you must wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance.

Generally speaking, if you have COVID-19 or a recent exposure, you’re not allowed to travel or host on Airbnb. There are special cancellation policies in place right now to accommodate this circumstance, and there are some cases where you’ll be allowed to rent out your Airbnb  for quarantine and isolation stays.

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Is Starting an Airbnb Business Worth It?

If you’re investing in or renting property, you’re taking on significant financial risk by starting an Airbnb business. That being said, being an Airbnb host is a side hustle that has plenty of room for significant profit.

It could even turn into a full-time job. If you can handle the financial risks and are looking to accumulate more properties than just the one, this can be a good side hustle or even full-fledged, successful Airbnb business.

But if you’re not in a position to float months where your business turns zero profit, or would be in financial ruin if local laws surrounding short-term rentals became suddenly more restrictive, you may want to consider keeping things low-key by just renting an extra room in your home for some additional income.

You could also start a different business altogether. Ideally one with lower startup costs.

Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Some content from former staff writer Carson Kohler is included in this report.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Best Checking Accounts December 2021

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Do you remember why you chose your current checking account?

If you got started early, your parents might have helped you open a kids’ checking or savings account at their bank’s branch. Or maybe you went with the credit union down the street from your work after getting your first W2 job.

Whatever the reason, location likely played a big part. Thankfully, you’re no longer confined to a financial institution for a checking account because of its proximity to you — or a brick-and-mortar site altogether, for that matter.

From higher interest rates to better benefits, it pays to expand your search beyond your local bank or credit union these days. Here’s how to choose the right checking account for you.

10 Best Checking Accounts for December 2021

Account Rewards ATM Access Fees

Chime Spending Accounts

0.50%

37,000+ MoneyPass ATMs

None

Varo Bank Account

Up to 3%

55,000+ Allpoint ATMs

Out-of-network ATM

Chase Total Checking

0.01%

16,000 ATMs

Yes, but may be waived

TD Bank Convenience Checking

0.01%

1,900 ATMs

Yes, but may be waived

Axos Bank Essential Checking

None

Fee reimbursements

None

Ally Interest Checking

Up to 0.25%

55,000+ Allpoint ATMs

None

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards

2.09%

Over 30,000 ATMs

Overdraft fees

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

0.03%

Fee reimbursements

None

Chase College checking

None

16,000 ATMs

None

Montgomery Bank New Start Checking

None

Low fee reimbursement

None

Chime Spending Account

Best for Digital Features
4.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Free access to in-network ATMs
  • A “Pay Friends” feature to give money to friends
Chime is an online checking account that truly embraces the digital banking space — consider that its app has over 300,000(!) five-star reviews. The company’s tagline is “banking that has your back” and it aims to do that through its Early Payday function (where you get access to direct deposit funds up to two days early), fee-free overdraft services and more.
Chime Spending Account
Fees
None
APY
0.50%
ATM access
37,000+ MoneyPass ATMs
Promotions
None
Prime perk
“Pay friends” feature

Chime doesn’t charge overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, foreign transaction fees or minimum balance fees. You can also open an easy-to-access connected savings account — it allows you to automate your savings with features like the round-up tool, which will round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and dump the change into savings. Bonus: Chime has a “Pay Friends” feature, so you don’t have to mess with cash, math or other apps to split the bill.

Varo Bank Account

Best for Keeping Track of Your Accounts
4.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • No hidden fees
  • Early access to your paycheck
  • Tool to project your cash flow
Varo has combined traditional banking tools with modern technology to help its customers become financially healthy. Its big selling points include Varo Perks — get up to 15% cash back with in-app purchases — no hidden fees and early access to your paycheck. You can also earn up to a whopping 3.00% APY with a Varo high-yield savings account.
Varo Bank Account
Fees
Out-of-network ATM and cash deposit fees
APY
Up to 3.0%
ATM access
More than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs
Promotions
None
Prime perk
Tools to analyze cash flow

With Varo, you’ll pay no monthly service fees, no minimum balance fees, no foreign transaction fees and no cash replacement fees. You’ll just pay out-of-network ATM fees and cash deposit fees if you deposit cash in-store through Green Dot. Varo keeps tabs on how much you spend across all your accounts, too, so you can better analyze and project your cash flow. It also allows you to set spending caps so you have a better handle on your money.

Chase Total Checking Account

Best for Promotional Offers
3.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • A hefty sign-on bonus for new customers
  • Offers online, mobile and text banking
  • Lots of branch locations in the U.S.
Chase Bank is a well-known entity in the financial world, and we had to include its Total Checking Account on our list. The account comes with a $12 monthly service fee, but it’ll be waived if you have monthly direct deposits of at least $500. If you don’t have direct deposit, you can also have the fee waived with a minimum daily balance of $1,500 (or $5,000 across multiple Chase accounts).
Chase Total Checking Account
Fees
Yes, but may be waived
APY
0.01%
ATM access
16,000 ATMs
Promotions
Yes
Prime perk
Branches in 33 states to avoid fees

This Chase account has other fees. For example, you can use a Chase ATM for free, but you’ll pay a $2.50 fee for non-Chase ATMs in the U.S. and $5 for international withdrawals — so, this account isn’t the best for frequent international travelers. Thankfully, the bank has branches and ATMs in 33 states around the U.S., so you can avoid the fees if you’ve got one nearby.

Bonus (literally): You can get $225 when you open a new checking account. Getting it is pretty simple, too, compared with similar offers — open a new Chase Total Checking® account* with $0, and set up direct deposit within 90 days of opening. Keep your account open for at least six months, or you’ll lose the bonus at closing.

TD Bank Convenience Checking Account

Best for Mobile Banking
3 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • Free online and mobile banking
  • A sizeable bonus for new customers
  • Monthly fee that can be waived easily
TD Bank is another big name on our list. All TD accounts include free online and mobile banking, including mobile check deposit. The $15 monthly fee on this account sounds hefty at first, but it’s waived if you maintain a $100 minimum daily balance. However, if you tend to keep a low balance, that fee — and the account’s $35 overdraft fee — could pinch your wallet.
TD Bank Convenience Checking Account
Fees
Yes, but may be waived
APY
0.01%
ATM access
1,900 ATMs
Promotions
Yes
Prime perk
Get paid for opening an account

Anyone can open an account online, but the brick-and-mortar banks (and ATMs) are mostly located along the East Coast. With a $3 fee for using an out-of-network ATM, you might want to have a physical location nearby.

The best thing about this financial institution is it’ll pay you — just for opening an account. For a $300 bonus and an interest-yielding account, consider TD Bank’s higher-tier Beyond Checking account. You must meet certain criteria (and be a new customer) to earn this bonus.

Axos Bank Essential Checking Account

Best for Online Customers
4 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • Up to 1.00% APY on certain accounts
  • Requires balance of only $1
  • Unlimited ATM-fee reimbursement in the U.S.
Axos’ Essential Checking account comes with no monthly, annual or overdraft fees. An Axos representative told TPH all its checking accounts require a $100 minimum opening deposit — but, after that, you only need a minimum balance of $1. Despite the low minimum balance, this bank rewards its customers with up to 1.00% APY on their balance (though Essential Checking accounts are not eligible).
Axos Bank Essential Checking Account
Fees
None
APY
1.00%
ATM access
Unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements
Promotions
Yes
Prime perk
Online bankers valued

Axos offers a lot if you’re in the market for an online-only account. On top of no fees, Axos will also reimburse you by the end of the next business day for unlimited ATM fees within the U.S.

Regarding spending abroad — per a rep via live chat, you’ll pay a 1% service transaction charge on purchases made in other countries. So, even though this online bank account is flexible, it isn’t ideal for international travelers.

Ally Interest Checking Account

Best for No Fee Perks
4 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • Any Allpoint ATM in U.S. free of charge
  • No overdraft fees
  • Up to 0.25% APY
With Ally’s online Interest Checking account, you can take advantage of no minimum required deposit and use any Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. for free. Plus, Ally will reimburse you up to $10 for other ATM fees within the U.S. As for no fees, there’s more good news: In June 2021, Ally permanently suspended overdraft fees for all accounts.
Ally Interest Checking Account
Fees
None
APY
Up to 0.25%
ATM access
More than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs
Promotions
None
Prime perk
Account accessible online or through app

With a daily balance of $15,000 or more, this Ally checking account yields 0.25% interest. Below $15,000, it’s 0.10%. That tops a lot of bank accounts, but it’s not as impressive as we’d expect for an account with “interest” in the name — and that balance requirement is a beast.

You can access this account online or through the Ally app, so it’s an accessible choice for anyone within the U.S.

Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards

Best for High Balance Benefits
3.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • Earn 2.09% interest
  • All ATM fees in the U.S. are reimbursed
  • Branches in IL; anyone in U.S. can bank online
Prefer to bank at a credit union? Check out the Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking Account. The interest is solid and the rewards are pretty sweet — no monthly maintenance fees, good APY, early direct deposit and more — but the requirements are a bit hefty.
Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards
Fees
Overdraft fees
APY
2.09% (but up to 4.09% for all accounts)
ATM access
Over 30,000 ATMs
Promotions
None
Prime perk
Solid interest offers

With this Consumers Credit Union account, you’ll earn 2.09% interest on your balance up to $10,000. You’ll also have all ATM fees reimbursed, as long as you:

  • Make 12 debit card purchases each month without using the PIN (as a credit transaction).
  • Have at least one direct deposit or ACH credit of $500 or more each month.
  • Enroll in e-documents.

In addition to that, you can earn 3.09% or 4.09% APY on balances up to $10,000 if you meet CCU Visa credit card spending requirements: $500 and $1,000, respectively.

All CCU branches are in Illinois, but anyone can open and manage an account online and through the mobile app.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

Best for International Travelers
3.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • Easy-to-use app
  • ATM-fee reimbursements around the world
  • No fees or minimum deposit required
Schwab Bank is loved by international travelers. The account offers unlimited ATM fee rebates for cash withdrawals at ATMs anywhere in the world. You can manage your account online or through the Schwab app for iPhone, and make deposits through the app, so this account keeps up with jet-setters.
Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking
Fees
None
APY
0.03%
ATM access
Unlimited ATM-fee reimbursements
Promotions
None
Prime perk
Free ATM rebates worldwide

The downside? Schwab’s online-only High Yield Investor Checking account must be linked to a Schwab One brokerage account. Luckily, there are no fees or minimum deposits to open either account, as long as you open them together.

Neither account comes with monthly fees or a minimum balance, but “other account fees, fund expenses and brokerage commissions may apply” to the brokerage account once you begin investing, according to the Schwab site.

The checking account offers a variable interest rate. If you want to grow your savings through Schwab, you’ll want to invest through the brokerage account.

Chase College Checking Account

Best for Responsible Students
3.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • New applicants can qualify for a bonus
  • Lots of branches and ATMs in the U.S.
  • No monthly service fee
The Chase College Checking Account is designed with the college student in mind. For anyone ages 17 to 24 with proof of college enrollment, there is no monthly service fee. However, it does come with some hefty insufficient-funds fees and fees for using non-Chase ATMs.
Chase College Checking Account
Fees
None
APY
None
ATM access
16,000 ATMs
Promotions
Yes
Prime perk
$100 for signing up

New Chase College Checking applicants can get a $100 bonus in their account just for signing up for paperless statements and making 10 qualifying transactions within the first 60 days. Debit card transactions count, so that should be easy.

No other rewards are a part of this account, but that’s typical with a student checking account. Beyond that, the account comes with the accessibility of one of the nation’s largest banks, so ATMs are plentiful and online and mobile banking is available.

Montgomery Bank New Start Checking

Best for No-Frills Banking
3.5 out of 5 Overall
Key Features
  • Low minimum deposit to open an account
  • No service fees or required monthly balance
  • Free debit card
The Montgomery Bank New Start Checking account is what you want in a second chance banking account. No frills, but no unnecessary fees, either. All it takes is a $20 minimum deposit to open the account. While this is a no-frills account, it offers a lot of benefits for those who are looking to get back on their financial feet again.
Montgomery Bank New Start Checking
Fees
$20 to open, and then none
APY
None
ATM access
$6 ATM-fee reimbursement per cycle
Promotions
None
Prime perk
Lots of freebies

This Montgomery Bank account is loaded with freebies and other extras, such as free direct deposit, unlimited check writing and a free debit card. You can also open interest-bearing accounts with the bank if you’re interested in other options.

How to Choose a Checking Account

You probably already know that you need a checking account. It serves as the primary hub for your money. It’s where your paychecks land, and, from there, you use the money to pay bills, buy the stuff you need and hopefully slide some of it into a savings account.

Picking a bank account is a surprisingly personal choice. What makes an account “good” depends largely on your financial situation and goals. Checking accounts come in a lot of varieties these days, each with different features and benefits. It’s up to you to do the research and find the one that will benefit you and your lifestyle the most.

But we can tell you a few things that make any account good. Here are a few important features to keep in mind:

  • Fees: How much will it cost you to manage your money with this account?
  • Rewards: What do you earn in return for using the account?
  • Accessibility: What are the requirements to open this account and earn the rewards?
  • Mobility: Can this account travel and move with you?

Types of Checking Accounts

There are a few varieties of checking accounts out there that offer different benefits. You just need to figure out which kind will work best for you. Some of your options are:

  • Student Checking: These accounts usually feature minimal fees and no minimum balance. They also don’t offer a lot of perks. They’re bare-bones accounts designed for cash-strapped students who just need the basics.
  • Express Checking: This is the checking account for today’s digital person. If you don’t like going to the bank, this could be for you. These accounts are designed for use on computers, phone apps, ATMs or by telephone. You may actually get a fee for going to a live teller. The upside is fees are minimal as long as you keep banking digitally.
  • Joint Checking: Need to share a checking account with a spouse or another person? A joint account lets you both put money in and take money out as needed.
  • Fresh Start or Second Chance Checking: If you’ve run into financial trouble and have had your accounts closed, it can be tough to get a new account. These accounts are designed to minimize the bank’s risk, but they allow you to open a new account. If you maintain it well for an extended period of time, it may open opportunities for you to upgrade.
  • Rewards Checking: Rewards checking offers the highest perks, such as annual percentage yield (APY) interest on the account balance. Debit card purchases could also receive cashback bonuses or earn points for things like airline travel or gift cards. Some, however, will come with an annual fee.
Pro Tip

Check out our current list of bank promotions for a chance to gain a monetary bonus when signing up for a new bank account.

Choosing a Checking Account vs. a Savings Account

First off, don’t think of it as an either-or situation. Both a checking account and a savings account are essential components of a healthy financial setup. You want to have one location for more regular, everyday expenses (checking) and one for longer-term savings and goals (savings).

You can also mix and match. For instance, you might go for an online checking account and a savings account at a local credit union. You can also have multiple checking accounts; perhaps one offers a new-member bonus for an influx of free cash, while another offers free overdraft protection for regular spending. Alternatively, when it comes to savings accounts, one might offer a higher annual percentage yield, while another offers other saving products like a money market account.

Regardless of the checking account or savings account you choose, it’s a good idea to have at least one of each.

Choosing a Bank vs. a Credit Union vs. a FinTech Company for Your Checking Account

Similarly, opening a checking account, period, is generally a good move, regardless of where you do it.

Keep your own habits and preferences in mind, especially when it comes to choosing between a brick-and-mortar and online-only setup. Consider fees, from initial to ongoing, as well to make sure the account doesn’t end up costing you.

Don’t get hung up on too many details: When it comes to personal finance, it ultimately comes down to what works for you and your situation.

So How Do You Choose? Our Methodology

We decided to see how some of our favorite checking accounts stack up against this criteria.

We graded 10 bank and credit union accounts on the factors that we like to see in any checking account — no fees, free ATMs, good rewards, easy setup and accessibility.

If an account has a monthly fee or out-of-network ATM charges, we highlighted some more positive qualities (think: a low minimum balance requirement, interest checking account offering or a free debit card). With that said, we prioritized those checking accounts that nixed monthly maintenance fees, featured savings accounts and had no-charge or reimbursed network ATM fees.

Here are the best checking accounts we found across (online) banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Checking Accounts

When it comes to choosing the best checking accounts, there’s a lot of information out there. Here, we’re answering some of the most popular questions about checking accounts.

What Is a Checking Account?

A checking account is a vehicle where you hold money at a bank, credit union or other financial institution. You typically use this account to pay for everyday expenses (think a cup of coffee or UberEats purchase) or bills (like that biweekly trip to the grocery store). Depending on where you have your account, you can access your cash in person, or via an ATM or debit card.

Unlike a savings account — which you typically use for an emergency fund or other financial goal — checking accounts should be fairly accessible for regular spending. For the most part, checking accounts do not accrue interest, like traditional or high-yield savings accounts do, but there are exceptions. For instance, high-yield investor checking accounts offer an APY.

How Can I Open a Checking Account?

Every checking account — whether it’s through a physical or online bank, credit union or other fintech setup — will have its own requirements. Generally, to open a checking account, you need to be at least 18 years old (though guardians can sometimes co-sign an account for a minor) and have a government ID (such as a passport or driver’s license). You’ll likely also need to supply contact information and possibly an opening deposit.

Which Is the Best Bank to Open an Account in?

The best bank to open an account will depend on your individual needs. If you prioritize banking at a physical institution with plenty of locations where you can interact with staff in person, you might choose to go with a big-name chain. If you prefer a bank where you might qualify for higher interest rates in lieu of having access to brick-and-mortar locations, an online setup might work best for you.

Of course, you want to consider fees — no or low is ideal — and the availability of banking products, too. For example, if you’re interested in personal loans or small-business resources, you’ll want to keep that in mind when you search for a bank. No matter your choice, it’s a good idea to evaluate it over time; if a bank ends up not being a fit, you can always move to a different one. And you should if it’ll mean higher rates, lower fees and access to better service.

What Is the Best Free Checking Account?

The best free checking account will vary based on your wants and needs in a banking account. You’ll want to look for an account that has no (or low) fees, a free debit card and easy access to your money — whether that means an ATM, a physical branch, an app or all of the above. Bonus: look for a free checking account that also offers a new-user bonus.

Right now, Chime, Varo and Axos are overall solid free checking account options. But again, it’s essential to shop around and look for a checking account that’s best for your individual situation.

Is Wells Fargo or Chase Better?

Wells Fargo and Chase are well-known financial entities and each offer checking accounts, among other banking products. However, both have monthly fees — which, in some cases, you can avoid if you follow certain stipulations — too.

Depending on your needs, one account might suit you better. For instance, each bank offers online and in-person banking; so, one could be a better fit depending on branch locations in your area. Another consideration: Chase tends to offer pretty significant new-user sign-on bonuses.

Evaluate Wells Fargo’s and Chase’s current offerings and see which one is a good fit for you.

What Bank Is Good for a Checking Account?

What makes a bank good for a checking account weighs largely on what you prioritize in both a bank and an account.

As a whole, you want to consider fees (how much does it cost you to keep your money there?), rewards (do you earn anything for banking with them?), accessibility (what are the requirements to open and keep your account open?) and mobility (are there foreign transaction fees?). Bonus points if they give out a… bonus, too, for being a new account holder.

It’s worth repeating: The best checking accounts will vary person-to-person based on their wants and needs.

How Is Interest Taxed on a Checking Account?

The interest you earn on a checking account is considered taxable income. So, your bank, credit union or financial institution will send you a 1099-INT form each year your account earns interest over $10.

You file this paperwork along with your yearly taxes. And don’t let this income being  taxed deter you from saving money; a traditional or high-yield savings account is still a worthwhile tool for your money.

The Bottom Line When It Comes to Checking Accounts

We provided a lot of things to consider when opening a checking account.

To recap, the best checking account for you will depend on what you need and want. If there’s a monthly fee but no network ATM fees, that account may be worth considering. Similarly, an interest-bearing checking account may rank higher on your list than online bill pay capabilities.

Ideally, you’ll find an account with no or low fees that offers easy banking options, whether you prefer in-person or mobile banking, or something else. (And hey, a cash bonus and other perks don’t hurt, either.)

Remember, you don’t have to stick with the same checking (and savings) accounts, either. It quite literally can pay to shop around for better offers.

Contributor Kathleen Garvin (@itskgarvin) is a personal finance writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and former editor and marketer at The Penny Hoarder. She owns a content-writing business and her work has appeared in U.S. News, Clark.com and Well Kept Wallet.

*Chase Fine print:

“Checking offer is not available to existing Chase checking customers, those with fiduciary accounts, or those whose accounts have been closed within 90 days or closed with a negative balance. To receive the $225 checking bonus: 1) Open a new Chase Total Checking account, which is subject to approval AND 2) Have your direct deposit made to this account within 60 days of account opening. Your direct deposit needs to be an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or the government. After you have completed all the above requirements, we’ll deposit the bonus in your new account within 10 business days. You can only receive one new checking account-related bonus per calendar year. Bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT.

“Account Closing: If your checking account is closed within six months after opening, we will deduct the bonus amount at closing.”

Editorial Disclosure

This content is not provided by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The 13 Best Money-Making Apps of 2021

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  1. We already spend hours on our phones each week. Apple has made us keenly aware of that with its weekly screen time reports.

    Why not turn those hours into some money?

    There are dozens of money-making apps on the market these days — for both Apple and Android users. You can earn money by taking surveys, playing games, watching videos, investing — even shopping.

    The Best Money-Making Apps of 2020

    Trust us when we say we’ve tested a ton of apps. We weeded out the duds and compiled a list of our favorite top-rated money-making apps.

  2. 1. InboxDollars: Get Paid to Watch Videos

    A woman sits on a sidewalk bench and uses her laptop.

    If we told you that you could get paid to watch videos on your phone, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? 

    But we’re serious. A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. Topics include cooking, entertainment, news, sports and health shows. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.

    No, InboxDollars won’t replace your full-time job, but it’s something easy you can do to make extra money while you’re already on the couch tonight. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

    (Never used InboxDollars before? Here’s our guide for beginners.)

    Pros: Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cold, hard cash — not points or gift cards. It also offers more ways to earn, such as taking surveys, playing scratch-off games and searching the internet.

    Cons: You have to earn $30 to cash out, which is a bit high compared to other sites on this list. You’ll also have to pay a $3 transaction fee.

    Payment method: Check via mail or cash via PayPal

    Pro tip: Earn a $5 bonus just for signing up and watching your first video.

    Available on Android (rated 4.1 stars) and iOS (rated 4.5 stars).

  3. 2. Lucktastic: Play Free Scratch-off Tickets

    There’s something so satisfying about those gas station scratch-off tickets, but it’s better to avoid them because, well, that’s not Penny Hoarding.

    Instead, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $2,500. 

    The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free to play.

    Pros: Lucktastic is free to download and use. If you have free time, you have nothing to lose.

    Cons: Actually winning money might be rare, according to user reviews. However, we interviewed single dad Oneil Campbell from Boston, who won $5,000.

    Payment method: Earn at least $2, then cash out for an instant gift card to retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Sephora and more. Hit $10 or more, and you can opt for a check in the mail.

    Pro tip: Lucktastic releases new scratchers each day, so don’t forget to check the app daily!

    Available on Android (rated 3.9 stars) and iOS (rated 3.9 stars).

  4. 3. Fetch Rewards: Get Free Prepaid Visa and Mastercards

    What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, the cashier hands you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.

    But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into gift cards. It partners with tons of brands to give you points for every grocery receipt you share. Then you can exchange them for prepaid cards for Visa and Mastercard.

    All you have to do is download the app and create an account, then submit photos of your grocery receipts.

    Pros: This is perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into making money. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.

    Cons: You need a minimum of 3,000 points to cash out, but offers range from 250 to 3,000 points, so it should be easy to hit the minimum quickly. Some examples of offers we’ve seen include 2,000 points for a Suave female hair product and 2,000 points for a 12-pack of Blue Moon beer.

    Payment method: When you reach your minimum, you can cash out in the form of prepaid Visa and Mastercards, or for gift cards to participating retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Chipotle.

    Pro tip: When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points when you scan your first receipt. Receipts are valid for up to 20 days after your purchase, so start snapping photos of your recent receipts to see how many points you can earn without a single trip to the store!

    Available on Android (rated 4.4 stars) and iOS (rated 4.8 stars).

  5. 4. Ibotta: Trade Your Receipts for Cash

    Nancy Frost uses the Ibotta App

    We all want to save money on our purchases. What we don’t want to do is put a ton of work into it.

    If this sounds like you — someone who just wants to get in and out of the store and save money without doing much thinking — the Ibotta app is a great way to earn cash back on certain purchases.

    Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $20 sign-up bonus. Here’s how to get it:

    1. Download the Ibotta app, and create an account.
    2. Shop online through the app or in the store and take a photo of your physical receipt.
    3. Redeem 10 offers within 14 days, and you’ll get that $20 bonus.

    Every time you scan a receipt that includes a participating brand, you’ll earn cash back.

    Pros: Ibotta is a legitimate way to earn cash back on items you already buy, both in the store and online. We talked to Nancy Frost, who earned $432 in cash back in a year.

    Cons: Be careful about buying items you don’t really need just because you want to get cash back. It’s tempting!

    Pro tip: Sometimes you’ll find “freebies” on the Ibotta app. These are cash-back offers that cover the cost of the item, making it totally free once you redeem the offer through Ibotta.

    Payment method: Hit $20, then cash out via PayPal or Venmo, or opt for a gift card to a popular retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, Target or Walmart.

    Available on Android (rated 4.3 stars) and iOS (rated 4.8 stars).

  6. 5. Nielsen Consumer Panel: Get Rewards for What’s in Your Fridge

    Remember the Nielsen company? The one that’s always tracked TV ratings? Well, now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.

    When you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, you'll gain access to the NCPMobile app. (If you don't have a smartphone, Nielsen will send you a scanner.) As you unload your groceries after your next shopping trip, simply use the app to scan items' barcodes before you put them in your fridge.

    With Nielsen, you’ll earn rewards, including free gift cards, electronics (new TV, anyone?) and household items. The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunities you have to earn rewards.

    Pros: Applying to become a panel member is straightforward. You'll answer some basic questions about you and your household, then Nielsen reviews your application and will contact you when you're eligible to join.

    Cons: You won’t get paid in cash — just gift cards and prizes.

    Payment method: Earn points you can redeem for gift cards and other rewards, which could include toys, electronics or household appliances.

    Pro tip: If you’d rather not use the app, you can request a handheld scanner.

    Available on Android (rated 4.4 stars) and iOS (rated 4.3 stars).

  7. 6. Acorns: Invest Your Spare Change (and Get $5)

    A man looks through his wallet.

    Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common: They own another company. 

    But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

    That’s why a lot of people use the Acorns app. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies — for as little as $5. And with the recent sell-off in stocks, you might be able to buy them for cheaper than earlier in the year.

    Acorns allows you to invest in a bundle of well-known companies, letting you own a little of each of them while spending as little as $5. It takes two minutes to sign up.

    Pros: Be as hands-on or hands-off as you’d like with Acorns. Its round-up feature automatically rounds up each transaction and invests your digital change. The app helped Jeremy Kolodziej stack up more than $2,000 in investments in about two years.

    Cons: Acorns subscriptions start at $1 a month. So it’s a bummer it isn’t free, but think about it like this: You can get one year of investing for the cost of one month of Netflix.

    Payment method: There are no restrictions or fees on withdrawals. Cash out as often as you’d like, though investing works out better if you hang out long term.

    Pro tip: When you sign up for Acorns through The Penny Hoarder and make your first investment, you’ll snag a $5 bonus, basically giving you five free months of using the app.

    Available on Android (rated 4.5 stars) and iOS (rated 4.7 stars).

  8. 7. Rakuten: Shop Online? Use This Website

    Chances are you do some of your shopping online. Whether it’s pet food from Walmart, toilet paper on Amazon or even a flight home for Thanksgiving… But here’s the thing. You’re probably leaving money on the table. 

    A free website called Rakuten has the hookup with just about every online store you shop (more than 2,500 retailers), which means it can give you up to 40% cash back every time you buy.

    It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account and start shopping. All you need is an email address, then you can immediately start shopping your go-to stores through the site.

    Pros: This is a super-easy way to get money back for the things you already buy. And it can be pretty lucrative, too. For instance, since Denver resident Colleen Rice started using Rakuten, it’s sent her checks in the mail totaling $526.44. Rice says she uses Rakuten for things she already has to buy, like rental cars and flights. 

    Cons: The cash-back offers are always changing, so one week you might be able to get 8% back on your Petsmart order and the next week you may only be able to get 1%.

    Payment method: Each quarter, you can get your money through PayPal or opt for a check in the mail.

    Pro tip: If you use Rakuten to earn money back within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10 on the first check it sends you. 

    Available on Android (rated 4.2 stars) and iOS (rated 4.3 stars).

  9. 8. MyPoints: Get Paid for Taking Surveys

    A man is sitting in at a table uses his phone and drinks an iced coffee.

    What did you think of the new superhero movie? What’s your favorite beer to buy? Who’s your favorite Real Housewife?

    The market research company MyPoints will pay you to take surveys and answer questions about different products and services you use. In return, it’ll give you free gift cards. You can even do this from your phone.

    To date, MyPoints has paid people more than $236 million in gift cards.

    Pros: You receive points even if you don’t qualify for a survey. Additionally, it’s an easy-to-use portal that offers multiple ways to earn points, including participating in polls and watching videos.

    Cons: MyPoints connects you with surveys on third-party consumer marketing sites, so you’ll often navigate away from the site’s portal. Online user reviews report difficulty qualifying for surveys.

    Payment method: Gift cards to popular retailers, including Amazon, Old Navy and Starbucks

    Pro tip: Get a $5 Amazon gift card when you sign up and complete your first five surveys.

    Available on Android (rated 4.3 stars).

  10. 9. Swagbucks: Make Extra Money From Your Couch

    A free rewards website and app called Swagbucks will pay you to take surveys. Yup. All you have to do is answer some questions about yourself, and you can get paid.

    This might sound too good to be true, but we talked to one Swagbucks user in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who earned $1,200 in a year. Not bad for something you can do from your couch, right?

    It takes seconds to make an account with your email address and a password. If you’re new to Swagbucks, check out our complete Swagbucks review.

    Pros: There are a ton of ways to earn money through Swagbucks, so you’ll never get bored. Take surveys, go shopping online, clip coupons, watch videos — you name it. It’s a great distraction when you’ve got nothing else to do.

    Cons: You’re not going to necessarily get rich using Swagbucks, but you can earn some extra cash. 

    Payment method: You can collect your money through PayPal or in the form of gift cards.

    Pro tip: Penny Hoarders can get a $5 bonus when they sign up and start making money.

    Available on Android (rated 4.1 stars) and iOS (rated 4.4 stars).

  11. 10. Make Money When You Hang out With Dogs

    A dog licks a man's face.

    If you’re a fan of pets, on the Rover app, you can choose to offer a variety of services, including dog walking, overnight boarding (at your home or theirs) and daycare. Rover says sitters can earn as much as $450 a month.

    Pros: Is there anything better than hanging out with dogs? But seriously. With Rover, you set your own hours and your own rates. You’ll also choose which services you’d like to provide.

    Cons: In order to establish a positive reputation on Rover, you might need to initially set your hourly rates lower until you break into your city’s market and garner some positive reviews.

    Payment method: You set your own rates. (Rover keeps a small percentage as a service fee.) You can receive payment directly to your bank account. It’ll take up to 72 hours for funds to transfer.

    Pro tip: Boarding is the app’s most popular service, so offering it can get you more gigs.

    Available on Android (rated 3.9 stars) and iOS (rated 4.9 stars).

  12. 11. Stash: Spend $1 to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies

    Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company. 

    But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.

    But with an app called Stash, it doesn’t have to be. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — on Stash you can buy pieces of other companies for as little as $1.

    That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google, Apple and more1 for as little as $1 through a Personal Portfolio2. The best part? If these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.3 

    And for investors who want to be more hands-off — or just don’t know where to start — there’s an option to have Stash create and manage a personalized portfolio for you. It’s called Smart Portfolio4, and it aims to diversify your investments based on your risk profile, then automatically updates your investments to keep you on track. 

    It takes two minutes to sign up, and your investments are protected. With Stash, investments are held by their custodian, Apex Clearing Corporation, which is a third-party, SEC-registered broker-dealer and a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) — that’s industry talk for, “Your money comes with protection.”5

    Plus, when you use the link above, Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account.6

    1This material is not intended as investment advice and is not meant to suggest that any securities are suitable investments for any particular investor. Investment advice is only provided to Stash customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value. All product and company names are trademarks ™ or registered ® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

    2This type of account is a Non-Discretionary Managed Account. This includes a self-directed individual taxable brokerage account whereby Stash does not manage this account on a discretionary basis.

    3Not all stocks pay out dividends, and there is no guarantee that dividends will be paid each year.

    4This type of account is a Discretionary Managed Account. This is a taxable brokerage account that Stash has full authority to manage according to specific investment mandate. Diversification and asset allocation do not guarantee profit, nor do they eliminate the risk of loss of principal.

    5To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.

    For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

    6Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.

    The Penny Hoarder is a paid marketing partner of Stash. 

    This information is for educational purposes only. Investment advice is only provided to Stash customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value

  13. 12. Foap: Cash in on Your iPhone Camera Skills

    Take decent photos on your smartphone? Sell those photos through Foap.

    List your photos on the app’s marketplace, then when someone purchases the license to the photo, you’ll typically earn 50%. If it sells for, say, $10, you’ll earn $5 every time.

    Pros: Phones these days have awesome cameras, so it’s easier to take high-quality photos. Once you snap the perfect shot and upload it to Foap, the work’s done. You just wait for a sale.

    Cons: There’s no guarantee your photos will sell. Additionally, don’t expect to make hundreds of dollars; this is just a fun way to potentially make extra cash.

    Payment method: You’ll cash out via PayPal.

    Pro tip: Be sure to add relevant tags to your photos. Just like on Twitter or Instagram, it’ll help users find your photos.

    Available on Android (rated 3.4 stars) and iOS (rated 4.5 stars).

  14. 13. Letgo: Declutter and Earn Money

    A woman photographs her clothes to sell online.

    If you have old stuff you haven’t even looked at in the last year, why hang onto it?

    Try selling these items (clothing, electronics, decor) to folks in your area through a marketplace app like Letgo. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.

    Pros: You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This app lets you snap a photo and upload your item in less than 30 seconds. Another major plus? Letgo doesn’t take any percentage of the sale, so everything you earn is all yours.

    Cons: There’s no guarantee that you’ll sell your goods. Your items might sell like hotcakes in record time… or they continue to collect dust in your closet for a little while. But that’s a risk on many apps like this, so buckle up and be patient.

    Payment method: Letgo is just the app you use to advertise your items for sell — not to complete the sale. Its recommendation for handling money? Meet in person in a public place and transfer money only after the buyer inspects the item.

    Pro tip: You can accept cash, or use a secure payment platform like PayPal. Don’t accept a “certified check” — Letgo says this is a common scam. Shipping items is discouraged, as well.

    Available on Android (rated 4.5 stars) and iOS (rated 4.4 stars).

  15. Carson Kohler is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves testing out new money-making apps.

    App ratings are accurate as of May 2020.

    * For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

    ** You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

    The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk. 

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