Make Money Gaming Apps

21 Cash Review 2024: Can You Win Actual Cash?

21 Cash is a mobile card game app that offers opportunities to win real money in most states. You can also play for free without depositing any actual cash.

Updated June 7, 2024
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21 Cash
4.3

21 Cash

OUR VIEW

21 Cash is an online card game app that you can download and play for free on your compatible iPhone or iPad. We found it to be fun and competitive as we played against other people to see who could score the most points in gameplay that’s similar to the classic 21 card game.

We like how you can play in free or cash game modes (depending on where you live) and how winning is based on skill rather than chance. But we think it might be difficult to earn lots of extra money playing this game unless you have the skills to consistently win matches.

Let’s dig into our 21 Cash review to see how the game works, how much money you can potentially earn, and whether it might be the right fit for you.

Pros

Free to play with many opportunities to win cash
The game mechanics are simple and easy to understand, especially if you’re familiar with 21 or blackjack
Skill-based and fair

Cons

Skill-based games, so no guaranteed winnings
Cash tournaments aren’t allowed in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, South Carolina, and Washington
How we evaluate products

Key takeaways

  • Free and paid games are available in most states.
  • You must be at least 18 to play 21 Cash.
  • We like that winning is based on skill rather than chance.
  • 21 Cash has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on the App Store.
  • You can withdraw available funds using PayPal or Apple Pay; deposit methods include Apple Pay, PayPal, and credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express).

Is 21 Cash legit?

Yes, 21 Cash is a legit mobile game app from Papaya Games. It’s available on iOS or Samsung devices (although not on other Android devices, since the app is not in the Google Play store). The 21 Cash app gets generally good ratings — it has 4.7 stars on the App Store.

This game really does let you try to win money, as long as cash games are allowed in your state. Papaya’s terms of service state that it matches players together based on similar skill levels, so you’ll have opponents that you can feasibly beat. If you beat all your opponents in 21 Cash and achieve the highest score in a tournament, then you can win the first-place cash prize.

What is 21 Cash?

Platform 21 Cash
4.3
Developer Papaya Games
Compatible systems iOS, Samsung
Types of in-game currency Gems
Bonus cash
Minimum entry fee (for cash tournaments) $1 (can be lower with gem combos)
Minimum cash deposit $5
Minimum withdrawal amount $5
Withdrawal fee $1
Withdrawal methods PayPal (or as a refund to your original payment method)
States that prohibit cash tournaments Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, South Carolina, and Washington
Game modes Cash tournaments

Coin tournaments

Download 21 Cash

The 21 Cash game board is set up like a combination of solitaire and blackjack. You’ll get four empty rows and a draw pile of cards at the bottom.

The goal is to stack cards in each column in a way that adds up to 21. Each card is worth a set number of points (regardless of suit):

  • Kings, Queens, and Jacks: 10 points
  • Aces: 11 points or 1 point
  • Jokers: Wild (can clear any column)

Each of the numeral cards is worth that exact number of points. For example, if it’s a 4 card, it’s worth four points.

Once a column hits 21 points (or has five cards in it that add up to less than 21), the stack will clear. The goal is to clear the draw pile and place all of your cards on the board, as well as avoid pushing any column’s total past 21 (at which points the column “busts” and your score drops).

If you don’t want to use a card right away, you can save it in the “hold” pile. But you can only save one card at a time, and you only get three holds per game.

21 Cash is also timed. You have three minutes to clear the draw pile and complete the game. Finishing early will score you a time bonus.

My gameplay experience with 21 Cash

I played 11 cash tournaments in 21 Cash, as well as quite a few gem tournaments, which you can play for free. (Gems are an in-game currency.) It only took me about 10 minutes to get up to speed with how the game worked, although it took me longer than that to feel comfortable with the gameplay and start implementing strategies to score more points.

The level of strategy in 21 Cash is a nice middle ground between a relaxing game like Solitaire Cash and a fast-paced, multitasking game like Bingo Cash. 21 Cash will keep your brain engaged, but it probably won’t stress you out.

Despite how easy this game was to learn, I found it more difficult to win than with most other gaming apps I’ve played. Of the 11 cash tournaments I played, I won first place in one and second place in another, but those were my only significant wins. I typically have more of a 60/40 success split.

Despite my losing streak, the app worked well. My only major complaint is how many annoying pop-up promotions this app has. These aren’t exactly ads — they’re in-game promotions offering mini challenges and bonus cash deals in an attempt to make you deposit real money.

You don’t have to deposit money in order to play 21 Cash. The game gives you gems and bits of bonus cash (another form of in-game currency) for free in various ways. But the game app tries its hardest to encourage you to put in real cash as well.

Warning
21 Cash has no guaranteed wins. If you deposit real money, you stand the risk of losing it all if you spend your cash on entry fees but don’t win any tournaments.

Tips for scoring points

The best tip I have for scoring points is improving your mental math abilities. The faster you can mentally calculate what numbers add up to 21, the more successful you’ll be at this game. But you can play even if you’re not a math whiz (I’m certainly not). The game board shows you the total number at the top of every column.

Here are my other tips for scoring more points in 21 Cash:

  • Play the free game modes to practice and get better before you deposit money and play in cash tournaments.
  • Play quickly to earn a time bonus.
  • Avoid busts, because it’s negative 250 points per bust, and you get a 250-point bonus at the end if you’re bust-free.
  • Use your hold pile strategically (like holding a joker that can clear any pile) so you can clear multiple piles at the same time and get a streak bonus.
  • Build multiple piles at the same time so you can increase your chances of getting a streak bonus.
  • Consider building piles to values of 11 because the chances are high that you’ll get a 10-value card from the deck.
  • Keep in mind that you’re likely to get better at a game like 21 Cash if you play a lot. And because you can play for free, you can get in a lot of practice games before you try out a cash tournament.

How much money can you make?

During my time playing 21 Cash, I saw tournaments with prize pools as high as $35. But keep in mind that that’s a prize pool, not the prize itself. If I had won first place in that $35 tournament, then I would have actually won a $21 prize. The rest of the money is distributed between the second and third place spots.

I also never recommend that players enter these high-value cash tournaments, because the entry fees are much higher than the low-ball options. For the $35 tournament I saw, the entry fee cost $10. So you’d have to win first or second place to net a profit on the game (and only the first-place prize would be worth it).

I stuck to Rookie tournaments, which are much more affordable. These tournaments typically have a $1 entry fee, although the game offered me a 10%-off promotion where I could enter for only $0.90. To make money off this tournament, I needed to win either first or second place (so there’s already a little more leeway than with the higher prize pool game).

Cash withdrawal options

If you make enough money in 21 Cash that you want to withdraw it, you can take it out via PayPal. 21 Cash will also issue withdrawals as refunds to your original payment method. So if you originally paid with a credit card, then you’ll get at least part of your winnings back as a refund (up to the total amount you’ve paid in deposits).

Since I lost most of the games I played in 21 Cash, I didn’t make enough money to withdraw. I had an ending balance of $4.60 (after originally depositing $5). And when you account for the money I spent on entry fees, and how much of my total balance is actually bonus cash (an in-game currency you can’t withdraw), then I ultimately lost money.

Warning
There’s a $5 withdrawal minimum on this 21 Cash, so you can’t withdraw any winnings less than that. The app also charges a $1 processing fee, and you can only withdraw in whole numbers.

FAQs about 21 Cash

Is 21 Cash legit?

Yes, 21 Cash is a legit mobile game app that you can play for free or in cash games to try and win real money. 21 Cash isn’t a scam because winning is based on skill rather than chance. If you’re better than your opponents at 21 or blackjack, you’ll likely have a better chance of winning.

Are game apps that pay you legit?

They’re typically legit if they’re from trusted companies and have good app reviews. Depending on the game, you might have to pay money to try and win money. Here are some examples of legit game apps:

Is 21 Cash gambling?

No, 21 Cash isn’t a gambling game. It’s a mobile game app that uses a skill-based system to match you against opponents of a similar skill level. 

Whoever does the best in each match wins. So 21 Cash is a skill-based game rather than a gambling or casino game, which are typically games of chance.

Alternatives to 21 Cash: Bingo Clash and Solitaire Cash

If 21 Cash isn’t the right app for you, consider some of our other recommended game apps.

Bingo Clash

Bingo Clash is a top-rated game on the App Store that puts the classic elements of bingo into a fun and competitive mobile app. Games are quick, and you have the option to play against other players for free or in cash games for a chance to win real money.

Learn more in our Bingo Clash review.

Solitaire Cash

Solitaire Cash is a free skill-based gaming app based on the classic Klondike Solitaire game. You can play in free game modes against other players or participate in cash tournaments to win real cash prizes.

Check out our Solitaire Cash review.

21 Cash review: Bottom line

21 Cash is a fun and competitive mobile game that’s easy to learn and understand, especially if you already know how to play card games such as blackjack or 21. We like how easy it is to get started and that you have the option to play free or paid game modes in most states.

It’s also nice to know that matchmaking against other players is based on skill, so you shouldn’t necessarily get blown out of the water in every game by top players. But it could be difficult to turn this into a serious side hustle unless you have the skills to make it worthwhile.

Check out our page on the best side hustles to see more ways to make money in your free time.

21 Cash
4.3
Free to play with many opportunities to win cash
The game mechanics are simple and easy to understand, especially if you’re familiar with 21 or blackjack
Skill-based and fair

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.