The best money is free money
There are a whole load of apps and schemes out there promising to boost your bank balance with minimal effort… but do they really work?
We’re all feeling the pinch right now when it comes to cash flow (is anyone else fantasising about winning the lottery about 200% more regularly?), which makes the wave of new schemes that promise ‘free money’ (for little to no effort) sound so inviting. From apps that pledge you a percentage when you buy your regular items through them, to paid surveys, stepcount reward schemes and quick ways to sell bric-a-brac, there are a ton of options. But are any of them actually a good use of time? After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, right? Or is there? We put four free-to-download cashback schemes to the test.
WeAre8, a social media site that shares revenue with users for every ad they watch
Tester: Jade Biggs, features writer
Trialled for: Two weeks
So, how was it?
After seeing ads for WeAre8 everywhere, I downloaded the app to see what all the fuss was about. Hailed as being ‘social media with a purpose’, I was enticed by its promise to pay me for watching ads. Seeing as I spend so much time online anyway, I thought I may as well monetise that, right!?
It’s easy to use, too, with the same scroll-through-the-feed set-up that Instagram and TikTok deploy. My mates haven’t joined, though, so there were only the posts of WeAre8 and the odd celeb, who had been roped into promoting the app itself or a fitness plan, on it. As for the money-making? You have to look out for a notification that lets you know there’s an ad to watch. You click on it to find out how much you’ll earn. Then, after you watch it, you answer a few questions and money is deposited into your app’s ‘wallet’ – but you have to wait 30 days to access it IRL.
Sadly, I didn’t have much at the end – not even enough to buy a Crunchie. Most days, there were only one or two ads to watch; on others, there were none at all. Many came with the potential to only earn a few pence at a time, too. One positive is that a portion of your earnings is donated to charity, or you can donate your entire fund. However, if you’re looking to earn major money, this isn’t the way to go. Profit: 49p, plus 9p to charity
TopCashback, an app and website that lets you get a percentage of… well, cash back on purchases made from various popular retailers (from Asos to Argos) Tester: Hanna Ibraheem, acting beauty editor Trialled for: Four months
So, how was it?
Between planning a wedding and buying a house, I’m in full-on money-saving mode. During a chat with a friend, in which we were talking about how expensive everything is (a common topic nowadays…), she mentioned TopCashback. She had just finished making a bunch of big purchases while renovating and told me she’d saved hundreds of pounds in the process. I downloaded it immediately.
The excitement was shortlived – my first purchase saw me get 60p back for train tickets that cost £116.60. But I stuck with it, as it’s simple to use. Just search for a brand, find a deal that suits you (you get more if you’re a first-time buyer from a specific retailer, for example) and then click ‘cashback’. It’ll take you to the retailer’s website to shop as normal. It’s no more effort than a quick Google search, but you get money back.
It’s not a speedy process, but over the past four months, I’ve racked up nearly £40. It might not sound like loads, but as it requires little effort, I’m still pretty happy – that’s £40 I wouldn’t have otherwise. The best bit? The range of things you can get money back on – I’ve had £16 back for a hotel stay, £8.10 for a Lego set (yep, it’s handy for gifts) and a fiver back on some M&S wine. Profit: £39.21
Ziffit, an app that scans all your unwanted books, DVDs and CDs then redeems them for speedy money Tester: Isabella Silvers, Cosmopolitan contributor Trialled for: Two weeks
So, how was it?
Needing to clear some space on my bookshelves (and keen for some pocket money), I downloaded Ziffit. I first tried it two years ago after I saw it advertised online; that time, I made £14. As I’d used it before, I already had an account, so I just had to scour my flat for books and scan their barcodes. This was quite satisfying; less so was the price Ziffit was willing to pay per item, ranging from 8p to £1.10, and a few were declined.
Even new releases didn’t stack up the cash. I was hoping to meet the weight limit of 5kg, so Ziffit’s courier would collect my books for
I scoured my flat for books – but even new releases didn’t stack up the cash
free. But I only had a few, so my options were a Collect+ store or an InPost locker. I chose the latter but had to go three times before one big enough was free. Nine days later, I got an update – my items were in quality check. Thankfully, they all passed and I got paid the same day. Ker-ching! Profit: £5.37
Sweatcoin, an app where the amount of ‘sweatcoins’ you earn correlates with your daily step count. These can be redeemed for vouchers, prizes and more… apparently Tester: Jennifer Savin, features editor
Trialled for: One month
So, how was it?
Although the effort, for me, to accumulate sweatcoins was pretty minimal (I try to be active every day), the pay-off was zilch. When I first saw I’d amassed enough points for a £10 Turtle Bay voucher, after just a couple of days, I was excited – until I followed Sweatcoin’s clunky process. It turns out I wasn’t just being given a voucher for walking, no strings attached, but was rather being redirected to a discount site that wanted me to input a load of personal information, in order to get the voucher as part of the welcome package. Given I could easily have found this myself via Google, the app felt unnecessary.
You can also bid for prizes, such as homewares, tech gadgets and gift cards, but you need to have thousands of points to win (context: after having the app for a month, I’ve now got 158 sweatcoins; elsewhere, someone just won a £250 H&M gift card after bidding… 30,000 sweatcoins for it). One silver lining is that you can donate points to charity, too, but if you’re hoping for some quick cash or goods? It’s a waste of time. That said, I’ll leave it ticking away on my phone – maybe in a decade I’ll have enough coins to buy a coffee.
Profit: £0 (and tbh, I feel like they owe me for all that faffing)