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5 min read 49 comments

How to get paid apps for free on Android

We love apps. We love free apps. And we love paid apps being given away for free most of all. But we don't like pirates and we don't like stealing. There are plenty of legal ways to get paid apps for free on Android – including in the Play Store – and we're going to share a few with you. 

Before we continue, it's worth pointing out that free apps may cost in other ways: as one study discovered, ad-funded apps can use an average of 79 percent more mobile data than the ad-free equivalents. If you're on a limited monthly mobile data plan, choosing the "free" version of an app may be a false economy.

Free App of the Day

Freapp is one of my favorite apps because every morning I'm greeted by another new app for free. It's not always one I want but saves me having to look through a ton of lists that other sales apps have. 

Naturally, you don't get anything for free on an app without looking at ads. / © AndroidPIT

As with any deals program, the offers vary: some apps won't be eligible for updates, and some of the free apps probably don't cost anything to start with. Nevertheless, the deals just keep coming and there's often some real gems in there. 

Ask the Internet hive mind

On the Internet, no power is more remarkable than swarm intelligence. A good place to look when researching for exciting deals is Reddit. In particular, the subreddits googleplaydeals and AndroidGameDeals. Follow the link below to check them out together:

The games posted there are sorted by popularity and discussed on site. Quite often the app developers themselves will answer your questions.

Google Play surveys

We've written about Google's free Play Store credit in exchange for answering surveys before. If you're not aware of it yet, Google offers its very own rewards program because, well, it wants even more information about you and your habits.

Simply install the Google Opinion Rewards app, fill in a short survey and collect your coinage. You're limited to one survey a week (so you won't exactly be able to retire early), and you don't always get paid for every survey, but you can earn up to a dollar per survey. Not bad for a few minutes of your time.

AndroidPIT Paid Apps For Free Google Opinion Rewards
Google likes to know things about you, and it is willing to pay you for it. / © ANDROIDPIT

Discounted apps and sales

Some apps, such as AppSales, enable you to add apps you're interested in to a watch list, so you can be notified when they go on sale. It isn't exactly free, but it's still better than full price. Plus, AppSales does occasionally post free apps.

Appsales tracks both discounts and freebies. / © AndroidPIT

Google Play return policy

Be warned: doing this too often could lead to Google flagging you as suspect and refusing to refund paid apps.

If you're interested in a game and don't mind spending a few bucks on it — but don't want to commit unless you know it's actually worth it — then you can take advantage of Google's returns policy for apps. When you pay for an app you've got two hours to test it out before you are stuck with the purchase.

A couple of hours may not seem like a long time, but it's definitely long enough to get a feel for a game and know if you actually want to pay for it or not. And if you're really, really broke you could manufacture a night's entertainment out of just your phone and a stopwatch. 

AndroidPIT Google Play app refund The Martian
Google allows you to refund an app with two hours of the initial purchase, no questions asked. / © ANDROIDPIT

Troubleshooting: "Can't give you a refund at this time" 

It may happen that you try to refund an app you just purchased only to be greeted by the message "Can't give you a refund at this time. Try uninstalling later." Of course, the refund clock is likely still ticking while you're blockaded by the Play Store and it's possible the refund window will close before the Play Store allows you to successfully uninstall and refund the unwanted app.

In this case, there's not a lot you can do. But one thing we would recommend is that you take a screenshot of the error message that clearly shows when you installed the app and when you were trying to refund it. This provides proof that you were encountering errors on Google's end within the refund timeframe.

AndroidPIT Google Play app refund cant refund at this time
If you can't refund the app in Google Play, make sure you get a screenshot of the attempt. / © ANDROIDPIT

You can then email the screenshot (make sure you get the date in there too) to the developer requesting a refund. The developer's contact details are now required at the bottom of each app description in Google Play.

If the developer is unresponsive, you can also try contacting Google via the Google Play help page for returns and refunds and hitting the Contact us button in the top right-hand corner. There's no guarantee Google will refund your app purchase price, but the fact that you have proof you tried to refund it within the returns window should be enough to get your money back.

How do you score paid apps for free (no illegal methods, please)? What's the best deal you've ever found for a paid app? Make yourself heard in the comments. 

Readers' favorite comments

  • Paco Inurreta Jul 22, 2014

    If you speak any other language other than english you can also try to contact the developer and help him translate the app, most of them give you the pro/premium version "for free" for helping them.


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  • Zafeer 8 months ago Link to comment

    A nice piece of information and looking fabulous, Honest work and please update some more.

  • yes these are the true methods to use i have used google surveys and a app which gives gives you notifications of ongoing sales of free apps using the apps provided by apk apps sites are not the best way because you can get a virus or file you dont want and also it is not good to get someones work for free, i only like the google syrveys vecause its secure and google already knows about you so no metter if they ask anything.. But a great post.

  • D. L. 11 months ago Link to comment

    Sorry to toot the competition's horn, but Android Police runs a feature a couple times a week, usually on Wednesday, listing free and on sale apps & games. I've seen big named apps there on sale, like popular launchers, Nova, and others. They feature new and notable apps that are only weeks old. So if you like trying out new stuff, you should definitely visit AP.

  • Dan Bod 11 months ago Link to comment

    You've missed, "Paid Apps Gone Free" (or "PAGF").

  • Reg Joo 11 months ago Link to comment

    The apps that you get from other app stores most of the time, won’t be updated through the play store, even if that same app is on it, especially paid apps. If the other AppStore doesn’t have a updater,you won’t be able to update, unless apkmirror has a newer version.

  • Jay W 11 months ago Link to comment

    Amazon underground app! This app has an entire section of 100% free apps, and it's not cheesy apps either, I'm taking about good quality apps like plex ($4.99 on Google play) In addition to this, the Amazon app store gives away a free app every day. Just sign in an look for the free app of the day. I have a rediculous amount of good free apps from Amazon, apps like Where's my water, Tetris and Cut the Rope. Amazon is all you'll ever need.

  • I had also written about apps which are free available fro people i think you will enjoy that to get apps in your pocket with your smart phone here is it on geeksjar.com

  • almost all paid app are available free in Google play but then you can play some of the mission there and then you should pay for other mission.

  • Hi,
    I can't seem to find the Google play store "free app of the week" has it ended or moved?

  • Google Play Rewards were constantly giving me surveys.....I earned a bit here & there & loved it but now I hardly here from them . My tablet is set to alerts & nothing.....I've reinstalled the app a few times but still having issues...
    Same with the App of the Day,same as above but if I want to check it out I have to press on the widget......

    All settings are correct...Just in case you were wondering...I formerly had an Acer tablet which I loved...I now have a Samsung Galaxy s4 16G. ...

  • On Amazon you can also get free apps

  • You can also go to Google Play - Get paid apps for free. good luck!

  • Google Play Rewards is great! Able to get premium version of Nova Launcher without spending my own hard-earned $$$

  • Nice idea, but m not sure its 100% legit.

  • I use Blackmart app to get paid apps for free ;-)

    • I'd be wary about blackmart, Aptoide or any other app pirating app/site. Any of their pirated apps (i.e. any paid apps for 'free') have the ability to compromise your phones security at root level and install undetectable or unremovable trojans. If you don't pay a developer for his work, you pay in other ways ;)

      • Ya I know and blackmart app always ask for root access but i denies that, I use android fire wall to break internet collection of certain apps and also xprivacy Xpose module so that i have permission controls over those apps

      • I am more sacred after using app called "king Root" which give you root access in just 1 click without doing anything
        What if that apps source codes r mixed with a malware,virus or torjan apps to get them root access that will make them more worse ,user will never get to know about it
        This is a that a serious problem
        u should post about it in AndroidPit informing people not to install apps from untrusted source

      • That won't really help, it stops the simpler hacks like malware and phishing but won't detect certain intents that seem legitimately coded into an app. Obviously it's your choice; most of the apps from these sources aren't decompiled/recompiled by pros so the damage can be and will be limited, but similarly this is where some coders introduce new hacks. Plus you're depriving someone their income, but that's for other threads.

  • The Amazon Appstore for Android also gives away a bunch of paid apps for free about once a month. There's typically between 25 and 35 apps, normally costing around $100, available for free for two or three days.

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