Getting paid to watch ads is a real thing, but it’s important to go in with realistic expectations: while the sites and apps on this list do pay (either in cash or free gift cards), the pay rate is very low.
To compile the list below, we collected data from user reviews on platforms like Trustpilot, the Better Business Bureau, the App Store and Google Play. Then we dug into what real users had to say on forums across the web. Lastly, we tested the sites and apps ourselves to verify that they work and pay as advertised.
Our top picks include:
- Best overall: Swagbucks. Earn rewards by watching ads, then complete small tasks like answering questions. Swagbucks has the most ways to earn money and a low minimum withdrawal ($3), making it our top choice.
- Best for Short Videos: InboxDollars. Specializing in brief ad content, InboxDollars offers a quick and efficient way to earn money by watching ads.
- Best for movie trailers: MarketForce. Get paid to visit movie theaters to watch ads and previews.
- Best for passive income: Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel. Effortlessly earn rewards while this app gathers user data to contribute to essential market research.
Note: The review counts and ratings data contained in this article were last updated on November 7, 2023. We update this article regularly throughout the year to keep the data current.
#1. Swagbucks Video
Swagbucks gets a lot of attention and is widely considered one of the best overall survey and rewards websites. That’s partly because it’s more versatile than many others. In addition to making money watching ads, you can get paid for taking surveys, playing games and more.
In fact, we identified over 20 different ways to make extra money on the site in our comprehensive Swagbucks review.
While you’re not going to get rich from watching videos and ads through Swagbucks, the extra cash does add up over time — especially if you combine it with some of the better money-makers on the site, such as its online shopping portal.
For example, if you’re booking a vacation, Swagbucks often has cash-back offers on travel websites like Expedia that pay up to 5% (and occasionally more). These larger purchases are a great way to rack up reward points quickly. Those points, called SBs, can be redeemed for gift cards or PayPal cash.
There’s also a $10 sign-up bonus, which you can earn after spending $25 through the cash-back shopping portal.
InboxDollars is another legitimate, widely-used rewards website, having paid out more than $80 million to its members since its inception in 2000.
The Penny Hoarder claims you can make up to $225 a month by watching ads, movie trailers, app trailers and other videos on the site.
Based on the research and testing we conducted for our InboxDollars review, that figure seems like the high end of the range. We estimate the average person can earn $25 to $50 per month with consistent usage.
As with Swagbucks, you can also earn cash by taking surveys, printing and redeeming coupons, shopping online, browsing the internet and reading emails. And if you’re a gamer, you can get paid for playing games like sudoku, solitaire, chess, arcade games and crossword puzzles.
You’ll also get $5 just for signing up.
While the site does have great reviews, the one drawback compared to Swagbucks is that you’ll need $30 in your account to request a payment. Swagbucks has no minimum withdrawal, with most of its cash-out options starting at just $3.
MyPoints is a decent tool to use to watch ads for money. Some of the entertaining videos you can watch include things like Golden Globes coverage and gossip from Hollywood. The problem is that the videos on the platform don’t pay much.
But there are other ways to earn extra cash on the site, and most of them pay better. You can cash in on your hobbies to make money, like playing games, traveling, using coupons and filling out online survey questionnaires.
You’ll earn a $5 signup bonus for taking five surveys. And since the minimum payout is only around $3 (depending on the option you choose), it’s easy to quickly earn a free gift card, travel miles or PayPal cash.
Learn more about the site in our MyPoints review.
AdWallet offers a straightforward proposition: get paid 50 cents for watching a 30-second ad and answering one simple question about the content. It’s the most clear-cut offer of any option on this list, and with a pay rate that adds up to $60 per hour, it’s the most lucrative one by a wide margin.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should plan on quitting your day job. Like all of the platforms listed here, AdWallet offers a limited number of earning opportunities.
The specific amount of videos you’ll be able to watch depends on your demographics and household composition. In our initial 30-day test, we received one opportunity per week. So while the pay rate of $1 per minute is excellent by any standard, it would take two and a half months to earn enough to cash out.
For comparison’s sake, Swagbucks’ hourly earning potential isn’t nearly as high, but it has a much larger inventory of videos. Plus, there are multiple ways to earn.
When you do accumulate $10 in your AdWallet account, you can withdraw your funds directly to your bank account, or choose from around 200 digital gift cards.
Note that to use AdWallet, you’re required to provide a cell phone number, and the system does not accept VOIP numbers (such as those from Google Voice). AdWallet doesn’t have an iOS or Android app, so the company uses text messages rather than push notifications to let you know when new videos are available.
Still, if you’re willing to give the company your cell phone number, we think AdWallet offers a solid combination of straightforward earning potential, good pay for the time and effort, and easy cash-out options.
Learn more by watching the video below and visit AdWallet here.
Ibotta is a bit different than other get-paid-to-watch apps, because it’s not as simple to use as just clicking “Play” and letting a video roll. But it does offer some of the best reward-for-effort of any option on this list.
After creating an account, you open the app to look for in-store offers that you want to take advantage of. For example, you might see an offer for $1 cash-back on any loaf of bread, or $2 cash-back when you buy a specific brand of yogurt.
In the screenshot below, you can see an example of an offer for $3 cash-back on any three boxes of cereal:
To qualify for this cash-back, you’ll need to click a button to add the offers to your account. And in some cases you’ll be asked to watch a short video ad. (That’s usually the case with the highest-value offers.)
Ibotta started out as strictly a cash-back app for groceries, and it’s still one of the best ways to save money at the grocery store. But recently, the app has added additional ways to earn rewards, such as via online shopping and by linking your store loyalty cards.
Just make sure to grab your receipt! You’ll need to snap a picture of it to claim your rewards.
Learn more in our Ibotta review.
#6. Market Force
Are you a movie buff? Do you love seeing the previews of all the new movies that will be coming out soon? Why not cash in on that passion?
Movie studios are eager to learn more about their audiences and what brings them in. To get that information, they pay audience members to give them the details they want.
It’s like mystery shopping, but in a movie theater. Check out Market Force Information to see the opportunities available and fill out a brief application.
If you’re selected, you’ll get email alerts for assignments in your area, which include:
- Watching and recording each movie trailer that plays before a movie.
- Counting the number of patrons in attendance at a certain show.
- Watching the different advertisements the movie theater plays before the trailers start.
Pay varies by area, but you can expect to earn around $10 per theatre check.
#7. Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel
You can make up to $50 per year through the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel. All you have to do is download their app to your smartphone and then use the device as you normally would — whether you’re watching TV shows online, scrolling social media or playing games.
Participants are also entered into sweepstakes, so you could potentially win more than $50 a year. Every month, the company gives away $10,000, which is split between 400 winners — with the grand prize winner getting $1,000.
The set-up process is easy. All you have to do is give your basic information, create a username and password, and install the app. Then you’re done.
If you’re going to be online anyway, this is a good opportunity to make a bit of cash off of it.
The following sites are all frequently recommended platforms, and while we’ve verified that each one does allow you to get paid to watch ads, we do not recommend them for the reasons explained below.
- GG2U: This rewards site offers video ads, paid surveys and more, and it has relatively good reviews from users with a 4.2/5 rating on Trustpilot. However, the site has a reputation for deducting unredeemed points from users’ account balances — often for dubious reasons and without sufficient explanation.
- GrabPoints and ZoomBucks: The bulk of the earning opportunities on these nearly-identical sibling sites are reserved for people who live outside the United States.
- InstaGC: During the testing for our InstaGC review, we earned an average of just five cents per hour watching ads on the site. The one plus is that you can run these videos in the background, making this a (limited) passive income source.
- QuickRewards: Has a 1 cent minimum redemption and claims to have paid out more than $7 million to members since 2002, but it only has a 3.4/5 rating from users on Trustpilot.
- ySense: Owned and operated by the same company that runs Swagbucks, ySense is an online rewards site with a dedicated video ads section called ySense Watch. Unfortunately, users report that it rarely has any ads available.
Make Money Watching Ads: FAQs
Is It Worth It to Watch Ads For Money?
When using the sites listed above, it is possible to get paid to watch ads, app trailers, and other types of short video content. And if you enjoy the content you’re watching, it isn’t the worst way to spend a few minutes of your free time.
But it’s important to recognize that your earnings on a per-hour basis will be very low — most likely $1 to $2 per hour in an absolute best-case scenario.
Plus, to actually see any money in your bank account, you need to earn the minimum withdrawal amount for any given site. On some sites (like Swagbucks) that minimum is $5 or less, which is reasonable. But on other sites, the minimum withdrawal can be as high as $20 or $30, and you’re unlikely to ever earn that much from watching videos alone.
So at the end of the day, this doesn’t rank as one of the best ways to make money online. See our list of the best money-making apps for better options.
For those looking for a more legit, video-based side hustle, getting paid to do movie theater audits can produce a decent hourly wage. You can learn more about how to get started in our beginner’s guide to mystery shopping.