The 12 Best Ways to Shop and Earn Money

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In 2021, the global retail market was pegged at $26 trillion. The United States dominated the retail market with $6.5 trillion, followed by China with $2 trillion. 

Global commerce only continues to grow as earning populations expand. People will always shop, whether it’s for groceries, clothing, accessories, home improvement devices, electronic gadgets, toys, and many more.

The retail industry is continuously evolving to encourage people’s shopping habits and further increase spending worldwide. And these developments have paved the way for innovative thinkers to devise methods for people to earn money while shopping. 

Today, many different methods—and mobile apps—will encourage shoppers in the best way: generate income while shopping. Cashback schemes are not a new concept, but the advent of technology and the wide use of smartphones have made it much easier for consumers to leverage these opportunities. 

From old-school personal buying to earning cashback and rewards from online shopping, we rounded up the 12 best ways to make money simply by shopping. Read on for a comprehensive guide that is sure to take your shopping habits to the next level: 

 

1. Personal shopping

Becoming a personal shopper is often the first thing people think about when they hear of an opportunity to get paid while shopping. It’s a fun job for those who love shopping and are happy to do so for others. 

A personal shopper is responsible for buying all the things their client needs. They can also offer professional financial advice while shopping with the client, which will help the client gain the confidence to shop on their own. 

As a personal shopper, you can choose various setups and payment schemes for clients to pay you to shop. You can set a standard retainer fee or charge a percentage of the total sales. 

Some department stores also employ personal shoppers who are trained to help clients make purchasing decisions. They are paid either per hour or on commission. 

 

Full-service shopper

Independent contractors or full-service shoppers use their own vehicles to visit different stores and buy what their clients ask for. When all the shopping is done, they deliver the items to their clients and get paid for every completed order. 

Instacart is the perfect example. It is an online grocery service where users can order from over 500 retailers in the country. An Instacart member will place an order on the app, and the system will connect them to one of its many contractors to fulfill the order.

You can apply to be an Instacart contractor and get paid to shop by completing the various tasks you will be assigned. 

 

2. Loyalty programs

Around 72% of American adults are enrolled in at least one loyalty program, and one loyalty program member has an average of eight other memberships with various brands. 

Loyalty programs help shoppers save money and earn reward points, discounts, and other perks. It’s a relatively straightforward system: the more you buy from the brand, the more credits you earn. 

For years, loyalty programs were represented by a card you needed to carry around everywhere and present with every purchase. Now, branded apps store all customer details and shopping history for loyalty programs.

Here are some of the most popular programs you can sign up for and take advantage of customer rewards:

  • Sephora Beauty Insider Loyalty Program – Shoppers earn Beauty Insider points when they shop from Sephora. Every 500 points is worth $10 off online and in-store purchases, and accumulated points can also be redeemed for rewards. 
  • Starbucks Rewards – When you buy coffee or any other Starbucks item, you get points in the form of stars. When you collect 150 stars, you can get a free coffee or food item. 
  • The North Face XLPR Pass – For every $1 you spend on the brand, you earn one point. Every 100 points is equivalent to $10, which you can redeem or collect to purchase exclusive gear. 
  • American Airlines AAdvantage Program – This frequent-flyer program is among the most popular and oldest loyalty programs in the US, launched in 1981. Accumulated miles can be redeemed in the form of tickets, a service upgrade, or discounts on car rentals, hotel accommodation, and merchandise from partner brands. 
  • CVS ExtraCare – Shoppers that sign up for this program earn 2% back on purchases—they can add up or be used as discounts. Members can also take advantage of discounted prices on healthy snacks and personalized deals on various products. 

 

3. Shop on the Monetha app

Shopping while lying in bed or lounging on your couch is peak convenience; earning shopping rewards while doing so is even better. 

The world of ecommerce is growing every day—by the end of 2023, the online shopping market is expected to make up 22% of all global retail sales. This is why there are hundreds of web and mobile apps that cater to online shoppers. 

One great example is Monetha. When you make online purchases through the Monetha app, you earn instant rewards. This shopping app is perfect for forward-thinking shoppers, as it converts rewards into three options: electronic gift cards, cryptocurrency, or donations.

You can add up and enjoy these rewards with these easy steps:

 

How it works

#1. Create a profile to boost your savings

Download the Monetha app and sign up. Fill out the profile page and read about the mechanics and terms and conditions. 

#2. Shop on the app

Look up your favorite stores and products from the app’s partners. Shopping categories include apparel and accessories, computer and electronics, food and beverage, home and garden, games and entertainment, health and beauty, and so much more. 

There are over 160 store options, and they are expanding every day. 

#3. Get rewarded instantly

As soon as your online purchases have been confirmed, you will get your credit immediately. You can view all of your earned points on the Rewards page.

#4. Enjoy your benefits

Most shopping apps only offer loyalty points, discounts, and cashback options. Not many allow you to convert your rewards to cryptocurrency, which 300 million people use globally

Even fewer apps will let you convert your rewards into donations. Monetha has partnered with hundreds of charities and organizations worldwide, so shoppers can give back to their favorite causes. 

 

4. Get real cash back with Ibotta

With the Ibotta app, shoppers can enjoy as much as 30% cashback while shopping at thousands of the world’s top retailers. 

 

How it works

#1. Sign up

Sign up to Ibotta and get exclusive cashback offers. You can also download the Ibotta app on your browser for convenience. 

#2. Activate by shopping

Begin shopping to activate your account. Just log in to your browser and start spending money. You can shop from your favorite brands and marketplaces; thousands of them are on Ibotta. 

One unique benefit of this app is that shoppers are not limited to online options; you can earn rewards from in-store shopping as well. 

#3. Withdraw earnings

Link your bank account on the app so you can withdraw your cashback earnings, which you can use to shop even more. It’s a fantastic cycle of making online purchases, earning money, and going shopping again and again. 

 

5. Become a field agent

You can also explore becoming a mystery shopper for Field Agent, the first on-demand retail-solutions platform. The company’s goal is to help brands develop sales and marketing solutions to improve online shopping experiences. 

Field Agent requires “agents” to come up with the best solutions for their clients. The agents are real shoppers, and that’s where you come in. The goal is to visit stores, try certain products, and write reviews. Field Agent agents earn between $3 and $10 for each task completed. It’s easy money for people who enjoy shopping. 

 

How it works

#1. Create an account

Download the app and create your secret shopper account. 

#2. Find available mystery shopping tasks

There are two options for finding a task: the list view or the map view. The list view will have a rundown of all available tasks from which you can choose your preferred shopping job. The map view allows you to choose the gig that’s nearest you. You can click on the map bubble to view the list of instructions for the task. 

You can choose from the following assignments:

  • Buy and try – You buy new products, test, and review them. 
  • Buy, try, and share – You buy new products, test, review them, and then post about your purchase on social media.
  • Audits – You investigate a product display—check its availability and where it is located. There is no actual shopping involved. 
  • Mystery shop – You must follow a script on questioning employees about products or services to evaluate the quality of the customer service. 

#3. Accept the job

When you find a job you like in your preferred location, click the accept button. The countdown timer will begin when you click accept—remember that the timeline to accomplish the task is very strict.

#4. Send the task for approval

The list of task instructions will include what you must do to prove that you did the job. You may be asked to fill out a form or upload photos. 

When you’ve accomplished your assignment, you will receive a message congratulating you for completing the task. This is also your ticket for submitting the job. 

#5. Wait for the payment and reimbursement

As a Field Agent shopper, you must use your money to buy the indicated products and complete the task. Field Agent will also reimburse you for the purchase along with your payment. 

 

6. Work as a Mystery Shopper

Market researchers use mystery shopping to determine a brand’s quality of sales, service, and regulatory compliance. It is also an excellent way to gather specific information about how competitors do business. 

As a mystery shopper, you are assigned to do in-store shopping, eat at restaurants, or answer a survey. After completing the tasks, you will report the experience to the research team. 

You will earn money for every task completed. You would be reimbursed for your expenses if you had to buy groceries or dine at a restaurant. Payments can be made through direct deposit, PayPal, cash, or whatever arrangement you have with the company that hired you. 

Where can you apply to be a mystery shopper? The following are some of the best companies that pay you to shop in exchange for a rundown of your customer experience:

 

7. Get Cash Back from Rakuten

Rakuten is one of the largest ecommerce sites in the world. It offers cash back from over 3,500 stores when you shop on the app. 

The rules in using Rakuten are very clear-cut. Just download the shopping app and follow these steps.

 

How it works

#1. Go to your favorite stores

Find your favorite store on the app. Rakuten has over 3,500 partner stores, so you won’t have a problem looking for products to purchase, such as clothing, electronics, airline tickets, hotel bookings, office supplies, toys, subscription boxes, fitness gear, and even digital services and streaming. 

#2. Shop

The cashback feature is automatically activated once you start shopping. Here are just a few of the cashback benefits to expect:

#3. Earn cash back

Rakuten earns money through commissions every time a customer makes a purchase. They share those commissions with members in the form of cash back.

Cash back rewards accumulate until you use them to shop again. You can get paid via PayPal, cash, or check. 

 

8. Use Coupons

This age-old method of saving money goes back to the late 1800s. More than a century later, people are still using coupons. The difference is that there is no need to pore over dozens of magazines and newspapers to cut out coupons—shoppers can easily access coupon codes online.

Most coupons offer generous discounts. But did you know that when you are serious about couponing, you can earn money from it?

When you combine different coupons whose collective value is more than the item you intend to buy, you get the extra amount. 

 

How it works

#1. Set aside time

If you want to earn cash from couponing, you have to work hard at it. Some people treat it as a regular job, spending hours looking for coupons online and printing them or cutting coupons from newspapers and magazines. 

Spending an hour a day just looking for coupons can significantly impact your financial health. 

#2. Know the best places to find coupons

As already mentioned, there are many coupons in newspapers and magazines. You’ll also find them in many flyers distributed by stores. 

You can also find them online through these websites and apps:

 

9. Get Your Groceries with Shipt

Everybody needs to buy groceries, and some people even enjoy doing it. If you are one of those who enjoys the task, you might as well earn from it too. 

Buying groceries will never be the same again when you become one of the many Shipt shoppers

Shipt, owned by Target, is a company that delivers groceries door to door. By becoming a Shipt shopper, you can connect with people who need certain essentials but can’t get out of the house to shop. You can earn money by fulfilling their shopping lists and delivering the items to them. 

Shipt has partnered with dozens of local stores and large retailers like Target, CVS, and Office Depot. It’s a fun way to earn money as long as you meet these requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Valid U.S. driver’s license and auto insurance policy
  • Current mailing address
  • Reliable vehicle (manufactured in 1997 at the latest)
  • Basic knowledge of produce selection
  • Can lift at least 45 lbs
  • Smartphone use (iOS 10 or newer/Android 5.1 or newer)

The onboarding process is a bit more complex than other gigs listed here. But once you become a Shipt shopper, you can earn as much as $16 to $22 per hour. And when you deliver groceries, you get to keep 100% of the tip. 

There are also great perks for Shipt shoppers, such as subsidized car insurance and phone plan discounts. 

How can you maximize earnings from Shipt?

 

How it works

#1. Set aside time for shopping

One of the perks of being a Shipt shopper is that you can complete tasks on your own time. So when you spend most of the day Shipt shopping, you can grab as many orders as you want. The more you shop, the more cash you can earn. Remember, you get to keep the tip, too. 

#2. Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle

The disadvantages of gigs like Shipt shopping are the fuel expense and the vehicle’s wear and tear. So if your vehicle is a gas-guzzler, you can swap with someone who has a fuel-efficient car to save on gas. Fortunately, Shipt also provides subsidies to offset your expense. 

#3. Provide excellent service

When your client is satisfied with your shopping job, they might just give you a large tip. Keep clear lines of communication while shopping on their behalf. Give them updates and ask for alternatives if a product is not available. 

It also pays—literally—when you deliver their groceries with a smile. 

#4. Learn to shop efficiently

You might think that shopping is easy; after all, you do it all the time. However, there are tricks of the trade that you can learn through Shipt’s free learning materials and Frequently Asked Questions. These tips and techniques will make you a more efficient shopper so you can take on more tasks within a certain time. 

 

10. Use Cashback Credit Cards

With cashback or rebate credit cards, you can earn back some of the money you spend shopping. However, you can only fully take advantage of the rebate when you pay off your credit card balance every month. 

The more you shop using your credit card, the more cashback you can earn. 

Here are some of the credit card companies with the best cashback offers:

 

11. Spend and earn every day with the Drop app

Drop is a rewards app you can use to earn points and rewards every time you spend money on food, groceries, clothes, etc. 

The mechanics are simple: You earn $1 for every 1,000 points you earn from shopping. The point system is not uniform; they depend on the brand. Drop app users can also take advantage of special promos to rack up even more points. 

There are also ways to earn rewards aside from shopping. Drop app users can play games or answer online surveys to earn rewards, usually in the form of gift cards from their favorite brands. 

 

How it works

#1. Download Drop

Download the free app, complete your profile, and link your card to earn points immediately.

#2. Earn more by shopping

You have to shop on the app to earn points. There are currently over 500 brands associated with the Drop, and the number is expected to balloon because the app now has over five million users. 

Here are some of the brand’s point systems:

  • Home Depot – 56 points for every $1
  • Nike – 50 points for every $1
  • Alamo Rent A Car – 40 points for every $1
  • Choice Hotels – 15 points for every $1 Bloomingdale’s – 7 points for every $1

 

12. Shop, Dine, and Earn with Dosh

Dosh is one of the most popular cashback apps available today. It is associated with thousands of merchant partners where you can do online or in-store shopping, eat or order out, and even book hotel rooms. Cashback rewards are automatic with each purchase. 

Dosh also has a referral program where you can earn as much as $10 when you refer a friend. You simply send a Dosh sign-up link to the friend, and once they input their credit or debit card information, you get your money. 

 

How it works

#1. Download Dosh

Download the app, sign up, and complete your profile. 

#2. Connect your card(s)

Input your credit or debit card information in your Dosh account. You can immediately earn $5 just for linking your credit card. And of course, you will earn more when you shop.

#3. Shop

Every time you purchase using the Dosh app, you earn cash back. You can shop online or in-store, or dine at restaurants. There are over 10,000 merchants to choose from.

There are also 600,000 hotels associated with Dosh, making this the perfect app for travel enthusiasts and jet-setters. 

#4. Transfer money

You have to wait until your cashback has reached $25 before you can transfer the money to your bank account, PayPal, or even Venmo. There is also an option to donate the cash to charity. 

 

Earn Money While Shopping

It might be every person’s dream: earning money by spending money. Thousands of brands worldwide offer incentives to encourage customers to shop, whether it’s through their own loyalty programs or partnering with cashback apps. 

With so many options available at your fingertips, it’s time for you to start shopping smart and start earning while spending!

FAQs

If you want to get paid to shop, you can sign up for many apps and apply to several positions. Old-school programs like using coupons and loyalty programs continue to help shoppers earn money or rewards. This time, there are online options, too. 

Shopping rewards apps are today’s most popular way of earning cash while shopping. You can purchase items online or in-store and spend as much money as you can to earn something in return. You can get cash back and earn rewards, gift cards, and points that can be converted to cash. 

The best shopping rewards apps have straightforward mechanics, partner with thousands of brands, and give shoppers the versatility to earn as much as they can while shopping. 

One prime example of a fantastic shopping app is Monetha, which rewards you every time you shop. This app is unique because you can convert rewards to gift cards, crypto, or donations to charitable organizations. 

Ibotta and Dosh are popular shopping rewards apps because they are simple to use and are associated with thousands of brands. They will give you an expansive pool of products to choose from, so you can earn points, rewards, or cashback every time you spend money. 

If you want to leverage your shopping expertise, you can become a personal shopper, purchase items for your clients, and even dish out advice. For a more systematic personal shopping service, you may join Instacart or Shipt to go grocery shopping for their members.

Being a mystery shopper also pays well. The role involves shopping and collecting information from the subject brand or company to contribute to market research. Many companies pay people to be mystery shoppers, and Field Agent is one of them. 

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