If you are interested in plasma donation, you have probably seen some version of an ad promising “up to $400 per month”.
You’re probably pretty skeptical of any offer promising easy and quick ways to make money. But, you really can make hundreds of dollars a month from plasma donation. Actually, you can even make more if you know how the process works.
I’ve spent years working at a plasma company and will share everything I know about how donors are paid for their plasma.
This is one of the best ways out there to make a little extra money. You are in control of your plasma donation pay. There isn’t a schedule or boss telling you how many hours you can work. You have the freedom to donate at whatever level is right for your needs.
How much money can you make donating plasma
You can generally average around $50-$60 a donation as a first time donor. Once you become a regular donor it will likely average around $35-$45 a donation.
In reality, there is so much variability in how much you will make depending on where you go and how much you donate. That’s why you will usually find some vague answers to this question, something like $20-$50 per donation.
My focus is to educate you on the different ways that plasma companies pay donors. Once you understand this, you can use it to make the most money possible.
There are typically 5 ways you can make money from donating plasma:
- First time / New Donor Bonus
- Referral program / Buddy Bonus
- Special Offers
- Standard Donation Fee
- Rewards / Loyalty Programs
This can get pretty confusing if you haven’t donated before so l will go through each in detail.
First Time / New Donor Bonus:
This is the primary way plasma companies attract first time donors. In fact, this is probably what got you interested in donating. Your first month as a donor will likely be the most you will earn because these payouts are pretty large. Below are some examples of different New Donor Bonuses, which usually run over 30 days:
- $150 over 2 donations
- $180 over 3 donations
- $250 over 5 donations
- $500 over 8 donations
You will want to make sure you know the amount and order of the payments. There could be two companies offering what looks like the same New Donor Bonus. But they can be very different once you look at the details. For instance, you may see offers for $250 over 5 donations:
- Company A structures the payments: $70, $60, $50, $40, $30
- Company B structures the payments: $30, $40, $50, $60, $70
If you end up only donating 2 times, you will make $130 with Company A. Those same 2 donations will only get you $70 with Company B. You want to go with the option that is front-loaded to make as much as possible if you stop early.
Once you become a donor, you may choose to stop for a while. Once you go over 6 months since your last donation, you are considered an inactive donor. If you want to start donating again, you have to go through many of the same steps as a brand new donor. Many companies will treat you like a new donor again so you may be eligible for another First Time Bonus. Even if you can’t use one, they may have a different type of bonus for you to start up again.
If you are ever in this situation and plan to start up again, you should always look for some type of offer. You can call your center to see if you are eligible for anything or check your email for promotions. This can end up making you a lot of extra money versus walking in and only getting the standard donation fees.
There is also the potential to take advantage of these programs if you have multiple centers around you. You can use the first time bonuses across the different companies and bounce around every 6 months once you qualify again for another bonus. As I mentioned above, these are usually the biggest payouts you will get as a donor. Even if you have to drive a little longer it may be worth it for the extra money.
2. Referral Bonus or Buddy Bonus
Referrals are one of the primary ways plasma companies attract new donors. To get current donors to spread the word, they have referral programs in place as a reward. A lot of companies call this a Buddy Bonus.
There are some requirements to earn the bonus, but as long as you are an active and eligible donor you should be fine. Before the referral bonus will be paid, the person you refer will usually have to donate one or two times.
The payouts for these programs range from $20 on the low end to as high as $100. Companies will sometimes run specials where they significantly increase the referral bonus payout. You definitely want to take advantage of any high dollar offers. When companies are paying $75 or $100 per referral, you can see how your earnings can start to add up.
The nice thing about the referrals is how much upside there is to make money. I am not aware of any referral limits, so if you are willing to hustle you can get as many referrals as possible. It’s pretty common to see donors make an extra $200 or more a month with just their referrals.
3. Special Offers
Most companies supplement their standard donation fees with special offers. These programs are usually short term and often change so you need to pay attention to what a center is running. This is essentially free money they are paying so you do not want to miss out.
There are different types of special offers that you may see:
- Promotions around a holiday: This will usually be a small bonus of $5 or $10 to donate around a holiday. Donors tend to skip these weeks due to their other activities.
- Giveaways or Raffles: Occasionally, there may be raffles or giveaways for prizes, which can be monetary or non-monetary. Example prizes include $500 dollars, a vacation package, iPads, a new bike, TV, etc. There might be a few bigger prizes and a number of smaller ones. While it is nice you have the chance to win a large item, you may not necessarily get anything when these promotions are run.
- Email/Text offers: Some companies send special offers to donors that are not publicly available. Make sure you sign up for text or email messages so you don’t miss out!
- Frequency payments: These are extra payments that donors can get by hitting certain donation numbers in a month. This will be on top of the standard donation payments. Here are some examples:
- Extra $30 on your 6th donation for a month
- Extra $10 on your 5th donation and $30 on your 7th donation for a month
- Extra $80 on your 8th donation for a month
Frequency programs are usually based on donations in a calendar month. If you start donating in the middle or end of the month, you will likely fall short. This is where understanding what programs your location is running is critical. If your center is running an extra $80 on the 8th donation for a month, you don’t want to just get to 7 donations. These payments are all or nothing so you would be missing out on the full $80 by not getting in that 1 extra donation.
4. Standard Donation Fee
Most of your money will come through the standard donation fees once you become a regular donor. These fees can get complex and there is a lot of variability between different companies.
Two primary factors impact the standard fee programs: payment period and donor weight.
Payment Period: This is the time-frame for which a company will structure their fee plans. These will likely be weekly or monthly.
A weekly payment period is a structure that pays out over a calendar week. This is the most common approach to standard donation fees. A company will choose what day their “donation week” starts, which should be Sunday or Monday.
Under these plans, you will get $X for your first donation of that donation week and $Y for your 2nd donation of that donation week. The 1st payment will usually be lower and the 2nd payment will be higher. They do this to get you to donate two times a week instead of just one. Here’s a typical structure:
- 1st donation of the week: $25
- 2nd donation of the week: $45
In concept, the monthly payment period is like the weekly but applied over a full calendar month. There is a set plan for how much you will get based on what donation number you are on for the month. The payments start low for your first few donations and get larger as you near the 8th or 9th donation in a month. Here is an example of what a monthly fee plan could look like:
- 1st donation for the month: $20
- 2nd donation for the month: $25
- 3rd donation for the month: $25
- 4th donation for the month: $30
- 5th donation for the month: $40
- 6th donation for the month: $50
- 7th donation for the month: $50
- 8th donation for the month: $60
- 9th donation for the month: $60
Due to FDA regulations, you are restricted to 2 donations within a 7 day period. Most weeks you can donate 2 times. Over the course of a calendar month, you can usually get in 9 donations depending on how the days fall.
Donor Weight: There are also FDA guidelines for how much plasma you can donate according to your weight. Some companies will pay you different amounts based on the plasma volume donated. It starts with the payment period plan and includes 3 different levels based on the donor weight. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the payments will go up as the volume you donate increases. Here are the different donation volumes based on weight:
- 110-149 pounds: 690ml
- 150-174 pounds: 825ml
- 175+ pounds: 880ml
If you have a few plasma centers around you, there could be one that pays by weight. You may be better off going to one depending on where you fall on the scale. For people on the lighter side, you will likely have higher payments going to the center that pays everyone the same. Heavier individuals will likely get paid more at the center that pays by weight.
Here is an example of what a structure looks like if a company has a weekly payment period and also pays by weight:
For the same two donations, you would only make $55 at the low end, but that goes up to $80 at the highest level.
Here is an example of what a structure looks like if a company has a monthly payment period and also pays by weight. Similar to the weekly plan, you can make significantly more at the higher donation levels.
Also, for plans based on weight, you will get paid according to your weight at the time of donation. If you are between two levels, you can find yourself going up and down throughout the month. It doesn’t matter what your level was for your prior donations. You should get the payment relevant to where you are in the payment period and your current weight.
5. Reward / Loyalty Program
A few plasma companies offer reward programs where you can earn points based on donations or other activities. Points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, or other items. As a reward member, you could be eligible for some other benefits as well.
There can be some strict restrictions with the programs to maintain your points. One of the plans has the points expire if you do not donate in 30 days. You need to understand how to keep your points active so you don’t lose out.
You should not expect to make much with the reward programs, but it is a nice benefit on top of donations you are already making.
How do all these programs work together
Hopefully, you should now have a good sense of the different ways you can get paid for your plasma. Since there are a lot of moving parts, it can get confusing on what you could be making. Especially if you have a few different options on where to donate and they are offering different types of programs.
I’ve put a few different scenarios together for you that should bring it all together. I outlined example plans for 2 companies to show how different things can be. Before each scenario, guess which one you think will pay more and by how much. You will find that just looking at the payment structures on their own is tough to calculate out what you can make.
In this scenario, you can see that the payments end up almost exactly the same if you make 8 donations. The plans are very different, but without working through the numbers, it would be hard to tell. The key to making more money in this example is you were able to get the full Special Offer payments and the extra money for referring 1 person.
In this example, the only difference is you are a regular donor so you did not get the benefit of the New Donor Bonus payments. Even though you made the same 8 donations with 1 referral, you will earn about $100 less. But again, the total payments were similar between the two companies. This is where taking advantage of any potential first time or new bonus programs will help you earn more.
At only 4 donations, you did not earn any of the Special Offer payments and you also did not complete any referrals this month. You can see this really starts to impact the amount you earn. Also, since the monthly payment structure of Company B gets higher as you donate more, you will earn less if you only make a few donations in the month.
The difference from the prior example is you are now taking advantage of the referral programs. One of the best ways to accelerate your earning potential is to get referrals. In this example, you make most of your money through referrals. In fact, you made about the same amount as in the 2nd scenario where you donated 8 times.
How do you get paid for the donation?
The days of getting actual cash for your plasma donation are in the past. You will get your compensation through a prepaid debit card. The card should be loaded with your payment within 30 minutes after your donation. Most of the time it will there before you leave. You also don’t need to have your card on hand to get your payment added, it will happen automatically.
Since this is a prepaid debit card, you will want to understand the fees and restrictions around the card. This is important if you plan to pull the cash out at an ATM. You don’t want to get hit with a bunch of fees to access your money.
Is it legal to sell plasma?
Technically, you are not selling plasma, you donate it. The money you receive is compensation for your time, not the actual plasma. This can be confusing as it is referred to as a donation, but you are getting paid.
Can you donate blood for money?
You don’t get paid for blood donation. It’s technically legal, but no one pays for blood. This may seem odd because the process to get the blood and plasma are very similar. The reason there is a difference has to do with the end-use of the products.
Blood donations go straight into another person. Although it is tested, the fact that it is 1-1 (donor to recipient) has different risks. If you could give blood for money, there would be more incentive to lie about your health or risky behaviors.
Plasma donations never go directly into another individual. Every donation is tested and ineligible units are destroyed. Thousands of units are pooled together and go through a manufacturing process. This process will neutralize or kill whatever virus may exist. Even if something did sneak through, it has been diluted with thousands of other donations. The end product that goes into a patient only has a very small part of any single donation.
Sometimes people refer to plasma donation as “selling blood plasma”. This may be one reason why people believe you can sell blood.
Do all plasma centers pay the same amount?
Given the different components of how you can get paid, no two companies will be the same. Usually, they are pretty close to one another, but there will usually be something different. The other issue is the payment plans can change from month to month, especially the first time and special offers. You’ll need to pay attention to what the centers in your area are running. Companies tend to announce their fees towards the end of the month or right at the start of a new month. Most of the time, notifications will go out through email or text when there is a change.
What is the highest paying plasma Donation Center near me?
If you have different plasma centers in your area, it will take some work on your part to determine who pays the most. There are a few ways you can understand what your local centers are paying:
- Sign up to receive email or text messages
- Call your local centers
- Ask them on one of their social media pages
- Stop by a location
Most of the time, centers do not publicly advertise what they are paying so it can get pretty difficult to know who is paying the most. Any information you find will be pretty general (up to $400 a month) or focused on what a first time donor could get. As a regular donor, it may be a little harder to figure out.
Since all companies are different, not everything discussed in this article will apply. This should at least provide you with a framework for how to evaluate and compare the different payment structures.
Go donate and get paid!
If you do decide to donate plasma, you are doing a great thing by providing people in need with life-saving therapies. In return, my goal is to help you make the most money possible.
This is part of a series of articles I have on donating plasma. Other topics include: