Edit: A lot of the apps in this list have recently been removed from the Google Play Store. If you are looking for other passive income ideas, I suggest reading my post on 21 passive income streams that actually work. or my post on the best passive income apps.
As you know, I’m an advocate of using our smartphones to generate passive income.
We carry our phones around everywhere we go, and often times, we even have extra smartphones collecting dust in some forgotten box or drawer.
My phone farming guide was the first post I wrote on This Online World. It highlighted how you can easily earn $40-$50 of passive income a month (or more) with just a few smartphones.
Recently, I’ve started looking into some of the best lock screen apps for smartphones; especially lock screen apps that pay money.
So, if you’re looking to earn some lock screen rewards without much effort, this is the post for you.
How do Lock Screen Apps Reward Users?
Lock screen apps earn money and reward their users by transforming the lock screen of a smartphone into an advertisement rich environment.
Lock screen apps have varying levels of intrusiveness or user interaction requirement, but in general they work like this:
- A user downloads a lock screen app and gives the app permission/control.
- The user must watch a short video advertisement to unlock their phone, or the user must exit out of an advertisement or skip an advertisement.
Once the user has unlocked their phone, the user earns in-app credits which can be redeemed for gift cards or cash and their phone continues to function normally.
Some lock screen apps occasionally present surveys that users can answer to earn additional credits, but the premise is the same across all apps. Simply view some advertisements or promoted content before unlocking your phone, sit back, and enjoy some additional income!
Time to take a look at some of the highest paying lock screen apps!
I’m going to cut to the chase and state that S`mores is the best lock screen app for earning passive income.
Most lock screen apps barely pay per unlock. This means in order to actually earn, users will have to possibly unlock their phones dozens of times within a single day and watch advertisements.
With S`mores lock screen, you are guaranteed to earn $0.10/day as long as you unlock your phone once.
S`mores will also present surveys once in a while, but the guaranteed earnings is what makes S`mores the best way to earn lock screen rewards.
If you want to earn $36.50/year without doing anything, just install the S`mores app on one of your phone and forget about it.
S`more lockscreen has a minimum payout threshold of $1, and you can cash out rewards through Amazon. This app is also only available in the United States.
Sign up for S`mores on the Google Play Store.
ScreenLift is one of the newer lock screen reward apps out there, which is good news seeing as so many fan favorites have been shut down.
There’s nothing revolutionary about ScreenLift, but the reviews are decent for the most part. Simply install the app, enable it on your lock screen, and gradually earn rewards for unlocking your phone.
You don’t have to actually read articles to earn lock screen rewards from ScreenLift, and the app isn’t immensely intrusive. It is a slower earner than the S`mores app, however.
Users can cashout via PayPal or Amazon gift cards, and payments are processed within a few business days. This app is only available in the United States as well.
Checkout ScreenLift Rewards on the Google Play Store.
Edit: Fronto has been taken down from the Google Play Store. The makers of Fronto have come out with another lock screen app called Mintscreen, so you can try that app as an alternative to Fronto but I have no knowledge of how the app performs.
Fronto is one of the most popular lock screen apps that pay users, and it’s not overly intrusive.
When you unlock your phone with Fronto, you can choose to swipe left or right to unlock your device.
Swiping right will unlock your phone normally, while swiping to the left will cause an advertisement to appear. This is extremely handy in case you don’t want to be bothered by an advertisement or offer.
The points you earn per swipe is varied based on the action you take. Actions can include:
- Reading an article.
- Unlocking your phone.
- Downloading an app.
- Following a company or individual on social media.
I’ve used Fronto for a few weeks, and all I ever do is unlock my device.
Unlocking your phone typically earns around 30 points, and 3,250 points = 1 dollar. This is pretty abysmal. However, Fronto also offers daily check in bonuses of 100, 500, or 1,000 points.
EDIT: 01/15/2019: Slidejoy is no longer available on the Google Play Store.
Sllidejoy is another immensely popular lock screen rewards app for earning money, and it is certainly better than Fronto if you want to use it on just 1 phone farming phone or your personal device.
Slidejoy also lets you swipe left or right to check out of advertisements or learn more, and the direction of your swipe has no impact on your earnings.
One main difference with Slidejoy is that points take roughly 24 hours to sync and will appear around 12pm EST for the previous day.
Slidejoy makes an effort to present users with tailored advertisements. They even suggest connecting through Facebook so their algorithm can figure out who you are and display targeted advertising.
Not only does this element creep me out quite substantially, but I also don’t think it’s worth it to earn a bit more money.
In any case, your earnings will vary. Some users earn $1/month, while others earn $5-$10 every month if they use Slidejoy on their personal smartphone.
Edit 10/25/2018: It seems like the Adme app is no longer offered on the Google Play Store and the app is winding down it’s reward program.
Adme is another contender in the lock screen app family. While it’s only available in the United States, Adme remains relatively popular and a frequent lock screen app recommendation.
Adme’s lock screen offers 3 different modes: Content Feed, Fullscreen Ad, and Double Screen Feed + Ad.
All modes essentially accomplish the same thing. You view ads (or ads and text feeds) before unlocking your phone and earn money for doing so. Double Screen Feed + Ad mode pays the most but requires the most interaction, whereas Fullscreen Ad and Content Feed have reduced earnings.
Your Adme balance is updated every 24 hours, and on average, most users earn between $0.10-$0.20 a day.
Survey Cow – Lock Screen Rewards
Edit: 12/29/2018: Unfortunately Survey Cow has also been taken down from the Google Play Store at this time.
SurveyCow is a different form of lock screen app as it presents users with a 1 question survey before they unlock their device.
All you have to do is answer the question, and you earn Beef Points. Beef Points can be redeemed for PayPal, and it’s as simple as that.
Surveys on SurveyCow are fairly simple questions, and you can get through the lock screen fairly quickly without much thought process. Depending how often you unlock your phone, SurveyCow can also be a pretty strong earner (even more than S`mores).
SurveyCow also has an unfortunately high $10 minimum payout, but it might be worth putting on a phone farming device.
BillsBoard Lockscreen App
Edit: 12/29/2018: BillsBoard is unfortunately no longer available on the Google Play Store.
BillsBoard is very similar to other lock screen apps in concept. Simply install the BillsBoard app on your Android device, create an account, and enable the app to take over your lock screen.
Before unlocking your phone, BillsBoard will present news stories or advertisements that you can choose to view or skip over quickly. You don’t have to read stories or watch advertisements to earn money with BillsBoard.
BillsBoard won’t make you rich, but like any other lock screen app, it can be a decent way to accumulate a few dollars every month if you’re looking for some relatively passive income options.
BillsBoard allows users to cashout through PayPal cash, Amazon gift cards, Google Play Store credits. Users can also transfer their BillsBoard credits over to their Zap Surveys account if they have one (since Zap Surveys owns BillsBoard, I believe).
Edit 5/28/2019: Whaff Locker is no longer available on the Google Play Store.
Whaff Locker is the last lock screen app that I will include on this list, and it is also a peculiar lock screen app due to some interesting rewards and payment scheduling (more on this in a bit).
When you install Whaff Locker, your phone’s lock screen is transformed as with any other lock screen app and will include the following sections:
- Premium Picks (app downloads).
- Lockscreen Earning.
- Other Picks (more downloads).
- WHAFF Picks (more downloads).
Basically, Whaff Locker will then enable users to earn points by downloading apps, using apps, keeping apps installed on their phone, or passing through the lock screen.
If you are looking to make passive income, Whaff Locker’s download to earn section isn’t useful. Additionally, their payment schedule is a bit wonky for the lock screen part.
Initially, Whaff will pay around $0.01/swipe, but this amount will decrease overtime. The general consensus on Reddit is to use Whaff Locker until your first redemption, and then to ditch the app for a higher paying lock screen app.
So, what rewards are available through Whaff Locker?
A fair variety, including:
- Google Play Store credit.
- XBOX cards.
- Steam cards.
- PayPal cash (requires a minimum balance of $11).
- Amazon gift cards.
All rewards require $11 or more to cash out, which is absurdly high for a lock screen app. If you are truly desperate to make extra money or haven’t found a lock screen app that pays, perhaps consider giving Whaff Locker a try.
How much can you earn from lock screen apps?
Truthfully, you can’t earn that much from installing lock screen apps on your personal smartphone.
However, if you’re looking to score a $5 gift card every month or so, lock screen apps can at least give you that satisfaction.
Additionally, if you are currently into phone farming, installing apps like S`mores can increase your overall earnings without adding much more work to your phone farming maintenance.
It might not seem luck much, but for every phone you successfully install S`mores on, that’s $3.10 a month. Add a few devices with Slidejoy or Fronto (for the daily bonus) and it can become a noticeable difference.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I use multiple lock screen apps on one phone: You can, although it will force you to go through multiple advertisements to unlock your phone.
- Do lock screen apps drain battery life? Slightly, but there aren’t significant differences in battery life or phone performance. My phone pauses for 1 second before unlocking after using a lock screen app, but that’s it.
- Am I eligible for these apps? Most of the lock screen apps I mentioned in this post are only available in Canada or the United States, but check the Google Play Store in your country.
- Can’t you just unlock your phone 1,000+ times a day and make a lot of money? Lock screen apps use algorithms to determine how much you earn, and they also cap your earnings. As far as I know there isn’t a way to break this system.
- Why can’t I earn money with lock screen apps on IOS? The Apple App Store does not allow the listing of apps that take over how a phone functions, and lock screen apps violate their terms.
Are Lock Screen Apps a Scam?
There are plenty of positive and negative reviews about various lock screen apps, but this is what it boils down to: lock screen apps won’t make anyone rich.
These apps are a useful way to earn extra income every month, but don’t expect something that will break the bank. Additionally, you should know that payment schedules can vary between apps, and apps can also perform worse with time. This is the unfortunate nature of lock screen apps or other phone apps that pay.
All of the apps I have mentioned in this list have been verified by dozens of users to have paid out, and I used most of these lock screen apps on my phone farming phones. Just keep up to date with industry news via Reddit or forums and make sure you set some realistic expectations!
Ultimately, after testing various lock screen apps I’ve decided not to use any on my personal smartphone.
Earning an extra $0.10-$0.20 a day simply isn’t worth the annoyance of dealing with advertisements.
However, I have installed Fronto and Slidejoy on 2 phone farming devices, and I will monitor how much they can make after 1 month. I suggest other phone farmers do the same and add these lock screen apps to some idle smartphones.
Unfortunately S`mores is not available for download in Canada. However, if you live in the United States I highly recommend giving S`mores a try!
Making money with lock screen apps might seem like a waste of time, but if you have spare phones for your phone farm or are looking to generate passive income, they aren’t a bad idea!
If you are looking for some other side hustle ideas to make money and want to venture away from the land of passive income, I suggest reading these posts:
- The best gig economy platforms to make extra money.
- How to make money by writing on Medium.
- 12 ways to make money in a pinch.
- 5 different income sources to boost your monthly income.
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to This Online World with your email if you want to receive updates the moment posts are released.
Catch you guys in the next post!
Tom is a 23 year old recent college graduate from Canada with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and marketing. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
If you’re interested in freelance writing services or want to partner with This Online World, please visit Tom Blake Digital to get in touch!