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These days, mobile applications cater to the needs of customers and serve a wide range of solutions. But how can those needs align with your need for app monetization?

apps that make the most money

Planning a vacation, ordering food or a taxi, scheduling your work, and enjoying the moment while gaming are some of the opportunities you can get on your smartphone and other mobile devices.  

For users, mobile applications are either a means of getting entertainment or satisfying their practical needs. 

For businesses, mobile applications are some of the main sources of revenue. Many entrepreneurs use mobile apps to sell various useful solutions to users.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the profitable app categories where the highest paying apps belong. We’ll also cover how today’s top apps generate mobile app revenue.  

What are the most profitable app categories to grow your businesses?

Typically, mobile app development or creating an app starts with an idea. Surely, almost anybody can come up with a brilliant app idea. 

And with so many mobile apps available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, it seems that everybody is turning those app ideas into action.

But which are the highest paying apps? And which types of mobile applications are making money? 

The first thing you need to do before going through the long process of learning how to code and build an app is to come up with a plan.  

Is it worth it to build mobile applications for your business?

The answer may vary depending on the type of app you’re trying to develop. 

Some app categories are more successful than others. The highest paying apps are those that cater to the broader mobile app market.  

Top Apps That Make Money 

  • dating apps
  • entertainment apps
  • gaming apps
  • lifestyle apps
  • fitness apps and more.

The apps in these categories make money on Google Play Store and Apple App Store through a wide range of methods. 

You need to determine the main reason why you want to create an app:

  1. You want to build an app that will represent your business or brand online.
  2. Or you have an ingenious idea for the next groundbreaking mobile app. 

If you fall under the first option, the primary goal of your app is most likely to improve the user experience for your existing customers. If you continue to provide for your customer’s needs and wants, you’ll eventually see a significant revenue stream increase. 

Increased Customer Acquisition Equals Increased Revenue

grocery shopping app

Additionally, apps that are an extension of your business can be an excellent way to acquire new customers, which also results in increased revenue. This is especially true for e-commerce businesses. 

In the United States alone, the projected mobile e-commerce sales in around $430 billion.  

How will mobile apps generate revenue? 

You need to understand how your revenue can be broken down. 

The most common available monetization methods for your business are most likely:

  • Subscriptions and
  • In-app purchases 

Revenue and Profit

It is also essential to understand the difference between revenue and profit. 

In truth, your mobile app can have a high revenue but it may not be generating enough profit for your business. The result would be a net loss.  

To illustrate, let’s say your app’s monetization method is in-app purchases. If you generate $6,000 a month, then your annual revenue would be $72,000. 

However, if running the app costs you $68,000, your annual profit is only $4,000. While this is too low, at least you’re not at-a-loss. 

We see this all too often when we’re consulting with various companies. They seemed too focused on revenue and failed to realize their profits are too low.  

To determine your profit, you need to subtract your total costs from the total revenue. 

List of Highest Paying Apps for Businesses and Mobile Users

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to follow the path set by successful app owners. In theory, if you can copy their successful monetization strategy, then your mobile app could produce similar results.

tiktok app

Highest Paying Apps with In-App Purchases and Subscription Services

According to a Data.AI report, these are the highest-earning apps across the globe between Google Play and Apple App Store combined: 

  1. TikTok
  2. YouTube
  3. Facebook
  4. HBO Max
  5. Instagram
  6. Facebook Messenger
  7. Snapchat
  8. ZOOM Cloud Meetings
  9. Cash App
  10. Netflix

Popular Video Streaming Apps Offer Premium Subscriptions

YouTube, HBO Max, and Netflix offer their users premium subscription options. This feature allows users to unlock extra features and maximize the overall user experience. 

For instance, Sing! Karaoke and other apps on the list have several in-app purchase options, which cost between $0.99 and $99.99 per item.    

Even if you have in-app purchases or premium subscription services, it doesn’t mean users have to spend money to download your iOS or Android app. 

Moreover, there are a larger number of free apps than paid apps in the mobile app market. A majority of the top money-making applications on the list are free to download.  

Top Money-Making Apps for Playing Games

gaming app making money

On average, app users in the United States aged between 14 and 24 often spend 39 minutes per day playing games. Still in the United States, around 18% of these users play mobile games while at work. 

Top 10 Mobile Games on the iOS Platform Based on Daily Revenue

  1. Roblox
  2. Candy Crush Saga
  3. Coin Master
  4. State of Survival: Zombie War
  5. Homescapes
  7. Pokemon Go
  8. Clash of Clans
  9. Project Makeover
  10.  Gardenscapes

These figures might change a bit if we add in Android app users and combine that data with those on global revenue.

Top 10 Mobile Games with the most revenue on the Android Platform

  1. Coin Master
  2. TikTok
  3. Candy Crush Saga
  4. Garena Free Fire – Illuminate
  5. Roblox
  6. Clash of Clans
  7. Genshin Impact
  8. Gardenscapes
  9. Homescapes
  10.  Evony: The King’s Return

The list above consists of the best revenue-generating apps for playing online games. Many of them are free to download. 

While playing the basic versions of these games is good enough, in-app purchases can surely offer a better user experience. 

Let’s take a popular mobile game like Pokemon Go for instance. You have to level up so you can get items such as:

  • Poke balls
  • incense
  • lure modules
  • lucky eggs and 
  • egg incubators

Why In-App Purchases are Essential for Money-Making Apps

While reaching a new level without making a purchase is possible, buying an item can make things easier.

Besides, some people can be quite impatient while playing mobile games. They want to get good at the game but they also want a smooth experience while playing. 

Indeed, getting stuck at a certain level can be so frustrating at times and that’s no fun at all.

Enter the In-App Purchase Model

So this is where a simple in-app purchase comes in. Users can spend money to accelerate the level-up process.

what type of app makes the most money

Like other apps for gaming, Pokemon Go makes in-app purchases a breeze through its coin system. Instead of saying “an item costs $0.99,” they would say “an item costs 100 coins” or something like that.  

How In-App Purchases Allow You to Make More Money with Mobile Apps

That Pokemon Go strategy we mentioned works well at enticing people to buy more coins. Users are willing to spend money because they know that they get more with each dollar spent. 

Purchasing 100 coins often translates to a penny per coin. However, if you purchase 14,500 coins, you’ll get more than 30% of the coins with each dollar spent. 

The Winning Formula

Going back to our discussion between revenue and profit. If you have a fixed overall cost with an increased revenue — that surely is a winning recipe.  

And thus, you should consider what we have discussed if you’re looking to develop an app for a mobile game. Consequently, a good coin conversion strategy can be an excellent formula for success. 

Other Types of Apps that Make the Most Money

Now that we’ve covered the top revenue-generating apps and how they make money, let’s take a look at the other types of apps. 

If you’re looking to create the best money-making apps for your business but don’t know which category your app should fall into, this section should be a helpful read.  

1. General Apps

apps that make the most money

Apps in the general category are often an extension of a company’s brand. Typically, you are building a mobile app version of your website instead of coming up with an entirely new concept. 

Having a mobile app version can be a huge advantage especially if your site has long loading times that results in a high bounce rate.

These apps do not have to belong to any specific group. You just need to narrow your search options based on how you list them on the iOS platform.

Depending on your app’s main function, Apple allows you to assign an app category.

Some of the app categories that are considered profitable include:

  • Shopping 
  • Lifestyle 
  • News 
  • Finance 
  • Travel 
  • Business 
  • Sports 
  • Health & Fitness 
  • Photo & Video
  • Medical 
  • Food & Drink 
  • Weather 
  • Utilities 
  • Navigation 
  • Kids 

2. Music Apps

music apps

While this app category is pretty self-explanatory, it’s worth noting that there’s a market for music apps.  

Spotify and Pandora Radio are among the apps in the music category that generate the highest global revenue. Currently, Spotify has over 180 million premium subscribers across the globe.

A Highly Competitive App Category

If you’re thinking of developing music apps to make money, you need to understand how competitive this category is. Industry giants already dominate this space.  

But this should not discourage you from creating music apps. You just have to come up with ideas that are unique and revolutionary. 

3. Social Media Apps

social media apps

Social media apps are excellent at connecting users from different parts of the world.

Popular social apps include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Whatsapp and
  • Skype

Similar to music, this one is also a highly competitive category. That said, you can still make money with social apps. 

For instance, these profitable apps can help influencers earn money through online purchases. 

Facebook is a giant in this category with 2.91 billion active users per month.

Other apps that help connect people from different parts of the world are also making money even if they’re not on the top 10 list of this category.

4.Entertainment Apps

entertainment app

A majority of apps in the entertainment category contain videos. 

If we look back at our list of the top-earning apps on both Android and iOS platforms across the globe, Netflix and HBO NOW are both in the top 10. 

This is not surprising since entertainment videos are growing in popularity. 

Traffic for videos on mobile devices is expected to grow by 50% year after year. This growth estimate for the entertainment category is even higher than both the music and social media categories combined.

5. Dating Apps

dating app

A Statista report shows that in 2021, the online dating segment’s projected total revenue was $3,241 million. A study by the Pew Research Center reveals that 30% of adults in the United States have tried such apps at least once in their lifetime. 

Many of these apps make money by offering ad space to advertisers and freemium features from their subscription model. 

When it comes to generating the highest annual revenue, Tinder stands on top in the dating app category.  

6.Health & Fitness Apps

health and fitness app

With the advances in technology and the adoption of smartphones and other smart wearables in every sector, apps for health and fitness have the potential of generating a huge amount of revenue.

Besides, these apps are being used by fitness enthusiasts, athletes, patients, etc. In the United States, Fitbit and Adidas health trackers are the leading products in the fitness app market. 

Additionally, these types of apps were downloaded 593 million times during the first quarter of 2020.

Highest Paying Apps for Mobile Users to Earn Cash for Free

While this section is for people who want to earn extra cash on the side, it can also provide some insights on how businesses can make money with their apps.   

1. Swagbucks

swagbucks app

Swagbucks is a free app version of a micro jobs website site that allows users to make money by completing small online tasks. Many of these tasks are often what people would normally do anyway.    

Every time users complete a task, they automatically earn points. Users can exchange earned points for cool prizes including Amazon gift cards.  

Moreover, the app lets users to earn points in several ways such as:

  • Watching videos
  • Filling out polls
  • Playing games
  • Clipping coupons
  • Taking paid surveys
  • And More

One of the popular ways people make money with Swagbucks is by watching videos.

The videos play automatically. And so, users don’t have to do other things to earn free money. 

Swagbucks gives users a registration bonus of $5. 

By watching hot movies, game trailers, and comedy clips alone, users can earn around $30 a month. Of course, they can earn extra cash by completing other tasks.


education app

VIPKID is an online tutorial service where users remotely teach English to kids from other countries. It is one of the best highest-paying apps on this list. 

Users earn anywhere between $14 and $22 per hour. People who teach English on the platform are paid through direct deposit. 

While users can make more money with the VIPKID platform, it does take the most amount of effort. 

3. Acorns

investment app

As an investment app, the Acorns app helps users invest their spare change. Starting with a $5 registration bonus, users can use their stock portfolio to begin investing $5 at a time.  

The app will monitor each user’s bank account. And then, it will automatically invest any change taken from a user’s daily online purchases. 

For instance, if someone spends $1.75 for a coffee, the app will automatically round that up to $2. The $0.25 is then invested in the “smart portfolios”. 

Users of the Acorns app don’t have to be experts, though. This is because the app will take care of the investing part itself. 

All the users have to do is simply sign up and complete their financial profile. And then, the app will suggest the type of investment that perfectly matches that profile. 

4. Rakuten (formerly Ebates)

affiliate and cash back app

Rakuten allows users to earn money from a cash back for items that they buy through the app. 

Many cash back platforms help users save money on items purchased online. A user can earn rewards such as extra cash, gift cards, and more. 

When a user buys an item from partner retailers across the web, Rakuten gets a commission and gives some portion of that to the user in the form of a cash back.

While the cash back rate might be lower in comparison to those offered by competitors, some retailers are willing to give a bit more. 

As Rakuten users earn money from shopping online, the app earns money as well. 

But the one thing that makes Rakuten different from its competitors is that the cash back earned can be used in-store. That said, the in-store shopping rate is only between $1 to $2. 

Like other cash back apps, users can also earn gift cards for inviting their friends to sign up.

5. InboxDollars

apps that make you earn money

A bit similar to Swagbucks, InboxDollars is a micro jobs website with a mobile app version that users can download on the Google Play Store for free. 

With InboxDollars, anyone can earn extra money by completing small tasks such as:

  • shopping online
  • reading emails
  • watching videos
  • playing online games
  • referring friends 
  • and more.

Users can start earning money after receiving their $5 registration bonus. The minimum balance required for cash out is $25. 

With surveys, users can earn at a rate of about $10 an hour. 

Unfortunately, the videos on this free app do not automatically play. And thus, it’s not a good source of passive income.

InboxDollar also has a referral program, too. This means the app allows users to earn cash by referring friends. 

6. Survey Junkie

survey app

Survey Junkie is a survey app from an online market research company with more than 10 million members worldwide. It is one of the most popular survey apps today and among the highest-paying apps in its category.

Users can earn extra money by providing their opinions on products and services from featured brands and businesses. 

After completing a survey, users earn points that can be exchanged for Amazon gift cards or PayPal money. Users can earn between $10 to $20 an hour with this popular survey app.

But what many people like about Survey Junkie is that if they don’t qualify for a certain survey, they can immediately move on to another so they can continue earning more. 

7. Opinion Outpost 

opinion survery app

Opinion Outpost is one of the well-known legit survey sites owned by another market research company. Members can get rewards after they complete surveys, test products, watch ads, and complete missions in their locality. 

Users must sign up for a free account and complete their profile so they can start completing surveys. Points starting at $5 can be redeemed through a PayPal account, Amazon gift cards, and Virtual Visa prepaid cards.

8. Instacart

instacart shopping app

Instacart is one of those side hustle apps people use to make money by grocery shopping for other people. App users either help to prepare grocery orders or work as full-service shoppers who also deliver the orders.

Full-service shoppers on Instacart are independent contractors, which means they can work when their schedule allows it. They get paid for every set of orders they complete. 

The best part, they can keep 100% of the tips they receive from customers. 

Since the job involves delivering grocery orders, those allowed to sign up for Instacart must: 

  • Have a reliable vehicle
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to lift 40lbs

9. TopCashBack

app that makes you earn money

TopCashBack is the perfect app for people who do a lot of online shopping. It has thousands of partner retailers with their affiliate links.     

When people click on those links, TopCashBack earns a small commission and gives a portion of it to the user in the form of cash back, which is around 7% for purchases done online. 

While many people know TopCashBack as a website, it does have a mobile app that people use to make money. 

Almost anyone can sign up to TopCashBack for free. New members will get $10 as a registration bonus. 

Coincidentally, users must reach a minimum of $10 before they can withdraw to PayPal. They can also redeem those earned cash back rewards for Amazon or Amex gift cards. 

10. Seated

table reservation app

Seated is for people who love going out to eat while earning rewards at the same time. It rewards people who make reservations through the app.   

The rewards come in the form of gift cards. A typical user can make around $10 to $50 each time he or she books a reservation using the app. 

People who eat out a lot can make over $200 in one month using the Seated application. 

The main reason why apps like Seated exist is that many restaurants are looking for ways to get new loyal customers. Restaurant owners are willing to give rewards to keep their businesses afloat.

Let Dom&Tom Build Apps That Make The Most Money For Your Business

Hopefully, you now have an idea of which app types make the most money, which profitable category your app should be in, and which monetization models to implement. 

Your next step is to partner with a highly-skilled team of app development professionals at Dom&Tom to build an app for your business. Schedule a consultation today! 

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