Need money now? 5 places to look for extra cash

Eemptied your piggy bank to buy Christmas presents? Or maybe you just want a little extra cash to buy yourself something special. Taking a side hustle may not be feasible for you, and it takes time to earn and receive your first paycheck.

Instead, try looking for extra money in these five places. Whether you have cash ready to wait or need to follow a few steps to access it, chances are you can find a few dollars to spend on your next purchase.

1. Cash in your credit card points

If you have a travel credit card, redeeming credit card points for travel often gets you the most bang for your buck. For example, if you have the Reserve Chase Sapphire, a point earned on your spend is worth 1 cent when redeemed for cash back, but is worth 1.5 cents for travel when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

But with Variants of Covid-19 proliferate, you might care less about a vacation you might take next summer than about having more money this month, even if that means redeeming your points for a lower value.

It gets a little tricky depending on what type of credit card you have, but the thing to remember is that chances are your rewards card has a redemption option that can help your current situation.

For example, when you use a credit card that offers a percentage of cash back on every purchase you make, your options for redeeming those earnings may include taking them as a statement credit, direct deposit, or sent check. by mail for the amount of cashback you’ve earned.

If you have a rewards card which lets you redeem points for a variety of rewards, from travel to gift cards to cash back, consider which options offer the most benefit for your current needs.

In general, cash back is the most flexible reward of all because you can often use it to buy anything you want, but you can also choose to use it as account credit for your purchases.

Read more: The best rewards credit cards

2. Check Your Cash Back App Balances

If you use cashback apps like Rakuten, Ibotta, or Dosh, it’s time to check your earnings balance. Apps that reward you for shopping at certain stores or for buying particular items often have a $15 or $20 threshold before you can “cash out” your earnings.

If you’ve reached the minimum accumulation amount, request your money through PayPal or direct deposit, and you’ll see it in a few days. If you participate in a program that still sends old-fashioned checks, make sure you’ve cashed the most recent one instead of letting it languish in a pile of tasks.

Read more: 5 Money-Saving Apps and Browser Extensions for Online Shopping

3. Look for unclaimed money

Did you know that each state keeps track of unclaimed money that belongs to you? These funds may include refunds, security deposits, or final paychecks that could not be delivered to you for various reasons. This money is held for a period of time before being released to your state, where it is then up to you to track it down and claim it.

Our unclaimed money guide tells you how to search for silver in your state. It only takes a few minutes to submit a claim, and it only requires a few quick forms and proof of identity. Don’t forget to also check any states you’ve lived in before.

There is a caveat to this trick: it may take a few weeks to physically receive your unclaimed funds.

Read more: There are billions of dollars in unclaimed money. Here’s how you can claim yours

4. Empty your peer-to-peer payment account

When was the last time you checked how much money you had in your Venmo, CashApp, or PayPal account? These handy peer-to-peer payment apps keep all the money your friends and family pay you, so you can send some of your money to someone else more easily later. It’s up to you when to transfer your balance to your bank account.

Read more: 8 tools to quickly send money to family and friends

The advantages are twofold. First, you can use money from your bank account in more places, to make debit purchases or pay bills. The average Venmo transfer in 2018 was $60 – that’s serious money, if you have it in your account!

Second, it’s probably safer to keep this money in a bank or credit union account. Peer-to-peer platforms are hotspots for scammers and hackers.

Payment platforms claim to offer robust security, and some offer pass-through FDIC coverage for your balance, which means the platform works with banks to hold your funds, so you have the same insurance to protect your money as you would with a regular bank account in the event that bank fails.

But you’ll probably keep better track of those funds in your checking account or savings account.

5. Check Unused Gift Card Balances

Store credit isn’t as useful as cash, but it could help fill a void elsewhere in your budget. For example, if you have a gift card for a grocery store, pharmacy, or convenience store, you can use that balance as soon as possible. This could free up funds from your grocery and essentials budget to spend on other bills.

One thing to watch out for with gift cards: If you haven’t used a gift card in over a year, the card company is allowed to start deducting a fee from the balance, and they can do monthly.

So if you’re thinking of hanging on to that special occasion gift card, you might want to ditch that plan and adopt a “not like the present” mindset. Otherwise, you may end up with less money than you remember receiving.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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