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In recent years, investing has become more accessible and affordable than ever. With the rise of app-based brokers, commission-free trading and fractional shares, just about anyone with an internet connection can get in on the stock market.

But for many people, investing even a little every month can put a strain on their budget. However, the good news is that there are a handful of programs that allow you to earn stocks just for doing your regular everyday spending.

If you're looking to start investing but don't have the cash to do it, here are the top debit cards and shopping apps to use.

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Bumped is a program that functions similarly to cash-back websites like Rakuten or TopCashback. The company allows you to earn rewards in the form of stocks when you shop with one of roughly 1,000 participating retailers.

You'll start by selecting specific brands within certain categories — for example, AT&T for communication or Disney for entertainment. The brands you choose will be the stocks you'll earn when shopping with Bumped's partners in its online portal. The rewards rate can range from 1% to 15% for most brands.

You can also link debit and credit cards to your Bumped account, so that when you shop in-store with participating merchants, you'll automatically earn rewards with your chosen stocks. The stocks will be deposited into your brokerage account with Bumped, which you'll open when you sign up.

Bits of Stock

Similar to Bumped, Bits of Stock is another program that gives you stocks when you shop with its partner brands. The difference is that Bits of Stock doesn't have a desktop application — it's mobile-only. According to the mobile app, it only has 30 partner brands, and the rewards rate is 0.5% for all of them.

You'll earn rewards when you link a debit card tied to a bank account — credit cards and prepaid cards aren't eligible — then shop with the participating retailers online or in-store. You'll earn stock with the retailer that you're shopping with, and fractional shares will be deposited into your account within the Bits of Stock platform.

Stash Stock-Back Rewards

Stash is a financial services company that offers a range of products, including investment and banking accounts. With the Stash Banking account, you'll earn up to 5% back in the form of stocks every time you use your debit card.

If you're shopping with a company that has a stock listed on Stash's platform, you'll earn that stock. For companies that aren't publicly traded, such as local small businesses, you can choose which stock or exchange-traded fund (ETC) you want to earn on those purchases.

The base rewards rate is 0.125% on your everyday purchases, but Stash offers up to 5% at certain merchants. The basic account with Stash costs $1 per month, but if you want to double your rewards, it's $9 per month.

Acorns Earn

Acorns is a micro-investing app that allows users to round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. The broker now also makes it possible for customers to earn investment rewards when they shop with one of the company's hundreds of participating retailers or when they use their Acorns Visa debit card.

Acorns Earn works similarly to Bumped and Bits of Stock, where you'll earn a fixed amount or percentage of your purchase amount when you go through the Acorns portal. Alternatively, you can download the platform's browser extension, which will notify you when you're shopping with a partner and tell you how much you can earn. Rewards rates go as high as 20% with some partners. You can also link your debit and credit cards and shop with partners in person.

If you also have the Acorns Visa debit card, you can earn up to an additional 10% when you shop with its partners. It costs $3 per month to get this benefit.

Once you've decided which debit cards and shopping apps to use for getting free stocks, figure out which brokerage platform you're going to sign up for to manage your portfolio. With brokerage account deals and bonuses, you can also earn free stocks and cash.

The Bottom Line

If you're thinking about getting in on the stock market but your budget doesn't provide a lot of wiggle room, using debit cards and shopping apps that earn stock rewards can help you achieve your goal.

Also, note that when you use your credit card to make purchases with these programs, the stock rewards you earn are in addition to the rewards you may earn on your card.

That said, it's never a good idea to spend money just for the sake of rewards, so plan to use these programs only on purchases you were already planning to make.


Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.