While your day job may be the most important source of income, having other sources of income can help speed up your path to financial independence. It also helps when you can create multiple streams of passive income that allow you to earn more money without too much extra effort.
To be clear, passive income is almost never 100% passive, and requires monitoring and maintenance over time. Passive income comes in all shapes and sizes, with some requiring more effort up front, and others requiring more cash up front. But overall, creating a recurring income stream can help buffer life’s financial setbacks and accelerate your financial goals.
44 Ways to Earn Passive Income
We’ve rounded up some of the best ideas to earn passive income, no matter what your stage of life. Whether you want to invest more, start a passive income business, or just generate money while you sleep, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite ways to earn passive income.
Dividends are payments from corporate earnings to company shareholders as a reward for owning the stock. Dividends can come in the form of cash or extra company shares, and some dividends can be immediately reinvested back into the company to purchase more shares.
Investors can earn dividends directly from company stock, through a dividend mutual fund, or through an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that pays dividends.
2. Crowdfunded Real Estate
One of our favorite ways to earn passive income is investing in crowdfunded real estate. Whether it’s a small loan for a fix-and-flip project, or buying shares of a large commercial real estate project, crowdfunded real estate gives you access to high-quality projects without the headaches and up-front capital costs of buying property.
There are several ways to invest in these projects, here are a few of the top companies that offer real estate crowdfunding investments:
- Crowdstreet. Crowdstreet offers accredited investors access to commercial real estate deals with high returns.
- Fundrise. Designed for beginners, Fundrise offers access to commercial and residential real estate deals for as little as $500.
- DiversyFund. DiversyFund specializes in multi-family real estate deals, allowing investors to participate for a minimum $500 investment.
Want to get started in real estate? Check out the best real estate crowdfunding sites.
3. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are investment companies that own assets related to real estate such as buildings, land, and real estate securities. REITs are typically available publicly-traded company shares (similar to stocks), making them easy for investors to purchase and less risky for investors to own because they are well-diversified and liquid investments.
These investments are truly passive, as the REIT companies pay investors in the forms of dividends, derived from rental, management, and other real estate income.
If you want to invest without the hassle of choosing the right investments, using a robo-advisor can be a great option for passive income. Robo-advisors offer investing portfolio management, and come with a suite of automated investing tools that allow users to stay “hands-off.” The best robo-advisors also offer tax-efficient investing strategies, and ways to optimize your portfolio based on your income and growth goals.
We've already done the hard part for you. We've found the best robo advisors.
5. Invest in Cryptocurrency
While highly speculative, cryptocurrency investing can provide investing returns, sometimes very quickly. Certain crypto can also be “staked,” allowing users to lend their crypto to an exchange in return for interest payments. With some staking services offering over 8%, these returns are attractive. But fair warning, cryptocurrency is highly volatile, and comes with the risk of total loss.
Don't forget to check out the best crypto exchanges for your needs.
6. Bitcoin ATM
While Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are continually making headlines for huge valuations coupled with crazy volatility, more and more businesses are offering Bitcoin ATMs alongside traditional cash ATMs. A Bitcoin ATM allows users to deposit cash and withdraw Bitcoin to their digital wallet. As the ATM owner, you will need to purchase the ATM machine, place it in a business location, supply the ATM with Bitcoin (via a hot wallet address), and regularly empty the ATM of cash to deposit into your bank account.
7. Cash Back Apps
Did you know there are apps that will pay you to shop at places where you are already spending money? There are quite a few decent cash back apps available, like Rakuten and Honey. One of the best new apps is CapitalOne Shopping, which offers a mobile app, as well as a Google Chrome extension. It finds coupon codes for you and applies them while you are checking out online. This can save you money, as well as earn cash back rewards.
Bonus Tip: The Acorns app offers cash-back rewards for shopping through its online portal, and the cash back is automatically invested. Check out how in our full Acorns review.
8. Rental Property
One of the most popular forms of passive income is owning rental property. Whether you invest in single-family homes or multi-family properties, you can purchase a property and collect monthly rents as income. To make it more passive, you can hire a property management company to handle the day-to-day tasks such as application review, collecting rent, scheduling maintenance, and handling evictions (if needed).
Rental property also offers various tax advantages, such as depreciation and other deductions.
9. Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer lending allows investors to loan money to borrowers and collect interest payments on the loans. This income is 100% passive, as you simply lend funds and receive regular interest payments on the loan.
A great example of peer-to-peer lending is PeerStreet. Designed for accredited investors, this platform allows users to fund residential and commercial real estate projects, and collect interest on those loans monthly.
10. High-Yield Savings Account (HYSA)
A true form of passive income, putting money in a high-yield savings account can earn you monthly passive income in the form of interest payments. While yields have been relatively low over recent years, some savings accounts still pay up to 0.60% APR.
Are you getting the best interest rate? Check out our favorite savings accounts.
11. Hire a Financial Advisor
Investing is a great way to build wealth and earn passive income, but it can feel overwhelming just to get started. Finding a quality financial advisor can help you invest wisely, and while they do all the work, your money grows in the background.
There are several services that offer access to a financial advisor with reasonable fees. One of our favorites is Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. It offers direct access to licensed financial planners for a low 0.30% annual fee. They will answer any investing questions you have, and help you build a custom financial and investing plan. Vanguard also gives you access to a dashboard to track your investments, as well as debt payoff and other financial goals.
You can learn more in our Vanguard Personal Advisor Services review.
12. Rent Out Your Car
Did you know you can rent out your car? Sites like Turo.com and others allow car-owners to put their car up for rent. While Turo does collect a hefty fee, it reports that average car owners can earn in excess of $10,000 per year renting out their car.
If you want a quick way to earn some extra cash, Airbnb allows you to rent out a room or your whole house online. Renters can book your place, pay you in advance, and even cover additional fees such as cleaning. Airbnb rentals can earn you thousands per month, depending on your location and the size of your property.
14. Negotiate Debt Interest Rates
While it may not feel like passive income, lowering your debt interest rates can put real money back in your pocket each month. Consolidating credit card debt, negotiating your current debts, or using a low-interest personal loan can lower your monthly payments as well as the total amount of interest you pay over time. This is a one-time action that can save you hundreds of dollars or more.
15. Sell an Online Course
Do you enjoy teaching others a skill you have acquired? Maybe you play a musical instrument, or understand how to trade stocks. If you want to generate a passive income source online, creating and selling an online course is a great way to do it. You can create a simple course using platforms like Udemy or Teachable, offer video lessons in a step-by-step format, and charge a competitive price.
16. Affiliate Marketing
If you regularly tell others about a company you enjoy using, find out if they offer a referral or affiliate program. Some companies will pay you a commission if someone you refer signs up to their product or service using your referral link. This works even better if you have a strong social media, YouTube, or website presence where you can share it with a larger audience.
If you have a strong social media or website following, brands may be willing to sponsor you for a mention of their product or service. Whether it’s a simple post on Twitter or Instagram, or a full blog post, YouTube video, or social media campaign, companies will pay to get in front of your audience.
Start by finding a company in your niche that you already enjoy using, contact their media relations team, and start chatting about a potential sponsorship. If you already have a big following, you will find that brands will be reaching out to you proactively, making this a very passive income source.
18. Sell a Digital Product (like an eBook)
Selling digital products online can be a great way to create passive income online. One popular method is to create an eBook that solves a user’s problem, or teaches them a new skill (such as how to invest). While it takes some work up front, the great part about a digital product is you can earn money from it over and over again without any extra effort besides ongoing marketing.
19. Rewards Credit Cards
One of the easiest ways to earn extra income on the side is taking advantage of credit card rewards. There are several types of rewards cards, including cash back, travel rewards, hotel cards, and general points cards. Many credit cards also offer sign-up bonuses after hitting a minimum spending limit within the first few months of opening the card. These bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars in travel and cash back rewards.
Do you want better rewards? Check out our comparison of the best rewards credit cards.
20. Advertise With Your Car
Did you know some companies will pay you to wrap your car with a banner advertisement? Companies like StickerRide connect brands with car owners to wrap vehicles in advertisements. Users can download the app, select an advertisement, and the StickerRide team will wash and wrap the car. When driving, users must activate the app, and will get paid for miles driven.
If you don’t mind being a rolling advertisement, this is a great way to passively earn!
21. Automated Investing
Most investment accounts allow you to set up recurring investments, automating your contributions. Most people do this with their work retirement account, but this can also be set up manually in your individual retirement account (IRA) or brokerage account.
Simply select the account you want to fund, choose your investments, and set up an automatic transfer at a set interval (such as bi-weekly or monthly). This allows you to invest and grow your money over time without lifting a finger.
22. 401k Match
If your 401(k) plan (or other employer-sponsored retirement plan) offers matching funds, this is access to “free money.” For every dollar you contribute, your work will match those funds up to a certain percentage, adding to your investments. These funds are not given to those who don’t invest, so make sure to ask your company HR team if there are matching funds available.
23. Refinance Your Mortgage
If you want to lower your monthly payments, and possibly your interest rate, refinancing your mortgage can help free up cash flow and save you money in the long run. If your mortgage interest rate is high right now, exploring a refinance may allow you to save thousands over the life of the loan. In addition, if you pay for mortgage insurance, a refinance may be able to remove it permanently, lowering your monthly payment.
Mortgage rates are still low. Check out our mortgage guide and the best rates.
While blogging is not passive in the beginning, building up a large following allows you to earn money on your website through advertisements, affiliate promotions, and sponsorships. While it can take up to a year (or more) to build up website traffic, a blog can turn into a huge income source. By following the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO), and helping users answer questions and solve problems, blogging can generate an income stream that becomes more passive over time.
25. Car Wash
Buying a cash wash and hiring a team to manage the day-to-day operations can be a good way to earn passive income. There are several different types of car washes, with the self-service pressure washer style car washes being the most passive. If you purchase an automatic drive-through car wash, it will require more hands-on maintenance and upkeep, as well as employees to manage it.
Similar to a cash wash, owning a self-service laundromat can be a good way to earn money without much involvement. While it is a true business, and not as passive as other options on this list, a self-service laundromat allows owners to earn money without needing to be there daily. Yes, there is ongoing maintenance and repairs needed, but this is more passive than most other business models.
27. Certificate of Deposit (CD)
Investing in a certificate of deposit (CD) can earn you higher interest rates than standard savings or checking accounts, without the same risk as investing in stocks or real estate. A CD is a type of savings account that offers a higher rate of return to lock a user’s money away for a period of time (usually one year or more). The longer the term, the higher the rate of return.
28. Create an App
If you know how to code, or have an idea you want to create into an app, this can be a way to generate passive income. While building and launching a successful app can be a daunting task, once it is launched, you can monetize it in several ways. Free apps may offer in-app advertisements or affiliate links, or you can charge a one-time or recurring fee for using the app.
29. Rent Out a Room
Renting out a room in your home is a simple way to earn income. If you own your home, this means creating a rental agreement and lease for the renter to agree to. You collect monthly rents, while still living in the home. If you are a renter, you may be able to “sublet” a room in your rental, but will need approval from your landlord before doing this.
30. Buy a Vending Machine Business
Vending machines are everywhere, and owning a vending machine business can net you some passive income. While you will need to collect cash, and re-stock the machines regularly, these tasks can be hired out to make the business more hands-off. There are ongoing costs for operating the business, but if you pick a good location and snacks, you can out-earn those expenses for a tidy profit.
31. Sell Your Clothes
If you have clothes you no longer wear that are in decent shape, you can sell them online. Places like Poshmark allow you to create a simple online shop to share and sell your old clothing, ideal if you have higher-end clothing brands. If you simply want to consign your clothes, you can send them to a service like thredUP, and they will pay you directly for pieces they are able to sell for you.
32. Buy and Sell Website Domain Names
Domain names are valuable assets in the online world, and buying domains to sell later can be very profitable. If you have a knack for spotting trends, and can find domain names that include popular brands or ideas, you may be able to sell them for a profit on places like GoDaddy Auctions, Flippa, and Namecheap Marketplace. Since many domain names can be purchased for under $10, this is a low-cost option for earning extra income.
33. Rent Your Storage Space
If you have open land or extra storage space (such as a shop or garage) on your property, you can rent it out directly to people. Places like Neighbor.com allow individuals to rent out parking spaces and storage locations for parking cars, RVs, boats, as well as general storage (similar to a storage unit). Users can register their location and storage options on the app, create a list price, and share their location. When a user books the storage option, they create a payment plan, and you collect monthly rent directly through the app.
34. Buy Bonds
A bond is an agreement between an investor and a bond issuer, where the investor loans money in exchange for interest and the return of principal at maturity. Bonds are considered a fixed-income investment, as returns are predictable, and interest is paid regularly. This is a simple way to earn passive income, and requires no work on your part. Simply pick a bond (or bond fund), invest your money, and collect interest.
35. Collect Music Royalties
If you create or produce music, you can license that music for commercial use and collect royalties as income for its use. With more and more video content being uploaded to YouTube every day, and other forms of media (such as podcasts), there is an increasing demand for music, and businesses are paying for the right to use it. The key here is to upload your music to a library where users can find and purchase it. Finding a good performing rights organization (PRO) such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, will help you license and track royalty income from your music.
36. House Sitting
While not entirely passive, house sitting is a great way to earn income for staying in someone’s home while they are away. You may need to do small tasks, such as watering the plants and collecting the mail, but you also get to stay at someone’s house, rent-free, and even get paid for it. You can do this for family and friends, or you can offer your services to others through places like Housesitter.com.
37. Sell Your Photos
If you take photos as a hobby, or a side hustle, you can sell them as stock photos online. Uploading your photos to a marketplace like DepositPhotos.com allows you to sell your photos, receiving a commission each time someone makes a purchase. This can become passive over time, as your uploaded photos can be purchased over and over again, generating you income with no extra effort.
38. Sell Your Designs (Etsy)
If you are crafty, and enjoy creating and designing items, you can set up shop online using a service like Etsy.com. While this is not truly passive, if you already enjoy designing and creating things like t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other craft items, you might as well get paid for it. Online shops like Etsy allow you to design a virtual store, collect orders, facilitate shipping, and create sales to entice customers. If you end up outsourcing your designing and creating, this could become a more passive business over time.
39. Join a Sleep Study
Get paid to sleep? Why yes, it’s possible. There are local sleep studies all over the U.S. that offer payment in return for being studied while you sleep.
Ok, that sounds creepy, but it’s not. Research hospitals and universities perform a variety of scientific studies, and sleep studies allow them to understand personal sleeping habits and issues. You will need to find a local school or medical facility that is offering a sleep study, but then just show up and dream the night away while earning cold, hard cash.
40. Buy a Billboard
Have you ever noticed a billboard on the highway? Did you know you can own one? While it does require some research and understanding local permitting laws, purchasing and installing a billboard in a high-traffic area can command a good amount of money from advertisers. You can sell billboard space by connecting with local businesses that want more foot traffic, and charge them a monthly or annual rate.
41. Pet Sitting (at Your Home)
If you don’t want to leave the house, what about watching someone’s pet in the comfort of your own home? Places like Rover.com allow you to create a pet-sitting business, charging users a daily fee for watching their dog (or other animal). While this isn’t 100% passive, if you already enjoy animals, why not get paid to play with Fido?
42. Rent Your Tools
If you have a decent collection of tools and don’t mind lending them out, you can earn passive income using a peer-to-peer platform like Sparetoolz. This allows you to rent out your tools locally for a fee, earning you money by simply sharing what you already own.
43. Become a Notary
A notary is a public officer that serves as an impartial witness in non-contentious matters. In other words, you watch as someone signs papers in front of you after checking their ID in order to help prevent fraud. The process to become a notary depends on your state, but it is typically easy and involves taking a simple training course. Notaries often work from home and set their own hours.
44. Lower Your Bills
While this doesn’t sound passive, there are apps that make this super easy. Apps like Trim and Truebill help you identify wasteful subscriptions, and will even cancel them for you. They also offer bill negotiation, where their team of experts will call and find better deals on your internet, cell phone, and other costly bills. This is a passive way to lower your monthly expenses without the hassle of waiting on hold.
Which passive income stream should you check out first? Crowdfunding real estate and robo advisors are a great place to begin.