The best gigs for earning a quick $500

Beer on tap is dispensed into a glass
If you can pour beers or make mixed drinks, Instawork can help you find bartending gigs. That’s one way to make $500 fast.
(Isaac Hale / For The Times)

In a financial jam? Whether it’s because your car broke down or inflation left you with more month than money, you sometimes need to earn cash in a hurry. With that in mind, the editors at searched through our database of 450 side hustle platforms to find those that could help you earn $500 fast.

Our criteria for fast? We looked for jobs that could deliver $500 within a month — from sign-up to the cash landing in your bank or PayPal account. And this assumed you’d work just a few hours each day to accommodate a day job. This winnowed our search to jobs that are in high demand with platforms that pay promptly and offer decent hourly earnings. We also culled out jobs that require extraordinary skills, such as coding, accounting or law.

Here are five good options.

Walk or watch dogs with Rover

Millions of pets were adopted over the last two years. Now, two factors are creating a booming business for dog walkers and pet sitters: vacation season and companies pulling workers back into their offices.


For freelancers who like animals, this is a pleasant, well-paying side hustle. Dog walkers typically charge between $15 and $25 for a 30-minute walk. That works out to $30 to $50 per hour. And pet sitters can get more than $50 a night for hosting someone else’s pet — or pets — in their home. The best place to list both services is Rover. Rover allows freelancers to set their own rates and terms, and pays you within two days of completing a job. The site takes a 20% commission from most bookings.


It’s not glamorous, but watching other people’s children can be a great way to earn a fast buck too. Dozens of online platforms, including Bambino, Urban Sitter and SitterCity, can connect potential sitters with clients. Sitters typically charge between $15 and $25 per hour and are almost always paid within hours of completing a job. Sitters can also find work by simply posting their availability on free neighborhood websites, such as Nextdoor.


At many restaurants, the menu in the window is being replaced by a “Help Wanted” sign. The shortage of waiters, bartenders and chefs has been acute since the nation started to reopen after the lockdowns. Several online platforms help you find work as a waiter, bartender or cook. The best bet?

Consider these side hustles an alternative to playing Sudoku or Solitaire. They’re a breeze to sign up for and easy to do — but there is a privacy cost.

April 24, 2022

Instawork connects hospitality workers with businesses and organizations that need bartenders and waiters. Workers earn between minimum wage and $25 an hour, and are normally paid once a week by direct deposit. However, those who complete a set number of shifts and get consistently good reviews can qualify for Instant Pay. Instant Pay compensates workers within hours of completing a shift. Instawork is available in more than 30 major markets nationwide.

Other good options: Jitjatjo hires part-time bartenders, servers and caterers to work as W-2 employees in select cities. Qwick staffs food and beverage positions for restaurants and special events. The site pays within days.


If you are proficient in any subject and think you could tutor, dozens of sites will help you market your services.


For those able to provide music instruction, the top choice is LessonFace. The platform differentiates itself by charging low site fees — 4% to 15%, depending on who found the student. (Other music platforms charge 20% or more.) And LessonFace pays tutors within three days of completing a lesson.

For academic subjects, there are several good choices:

Wize, formally Wizedemy, is an online education platform that allows tutors to set their own rates and receive 100% of what they earn. (The site makes money by selling college prep materials.) Wize pays tutors on request, as often as they want.

Varsity Tutors also enlists freelancers to tutor in a wide array of subjects, paying $15 to $40 per hour. Tutors are paid twice weekly by direct deposit.

TutorOcean accepts tutors in nearly all subjects, including academic basics like reading and math, as well as music and sports. Tutors set their own rates but pay a marketing fee to the platform. Those who choose Stripe as their payment method are paid a week after a session. Those who prefer PayPal are compensated just once a month.


With soaring gas prices, few driving and delivery jobs make sense, unless you have a hybrid or electric vehicle. However, food delivery jobs may be the exception for people who deliver only within their neighborhoods.

DoorDash is the best option, providing details on pay and distance to pickup and delivery with each job. “Dashers” are paid weekly. However, the smartest way to work food deliveries is to sign up with multiple platforms, including Grubhub and UberEats, and try to pick up and deliver multiple meals in a single trip. A seasoned freelancer says he makes between $30 and $40 per hour this way, mostly delivering meals by bike.

Pro tip: Deliver only during lunch and dinner hours, when demand is highest and you’re more likely to get multiple orders that can be delivered all at once.

Kristof is the editor of, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.