I've been a digital and affiliate marketer for many years, and referral programs are one of my favorite ways to earn money online.
I have promoted programs over the years to generate a solid passive income.
However, not all referral programs are worth joining.
In this post, I'll tell you the best referral programs to make money and how much you can generate per referral.
These pay good reward bonuses; you can pursue them full-time or as a side hustle.
Let's dive right in.
What is a Referral Program?
A referral program involves promoting a product or service for a reward bonus. I'll explain the difference between a referral and an affiliate program later.
Referral program payments can come in several forms, including:
- Direct deposits to your account
- Prepaid cards
- Electronic gift vouchers
You qualify for the payment when the person you refer buys the product or signs up for the service you're promoting through a unique referral link.
Note: All the online referral programs I've highlighted here pay cash deposited directly into your bank account, vouchers, or free gift cards. Most pay every month.
What Are the Best Referral Programs?
As I've mentioned, not every referral program is worth your attention. Some of the factors to consider before joining any program include:
You want to promote a referral program with a reasonable reward. Remember, you're in this to make money, so go for a program that allows you to generate a decent amount with few referrals.
A great referral program has a short payout frequency. While most pay every month, some release payments every week or bi-weekly.
You don't want to wait to get paid several months after referring a customer. Pick a program with a short, realistic payout frequency.
Reliability and Trust
Choose programs that have established trust with online marketers. You can determine if a program is worth your attention by reading independent reviews from people who've previously promoted the offer.
A good program has positive feedback and high ratings from users.
You don't want to join a referral program that doesn't have a well-structured tracking system. You want to be sure that every customer you refer to the program is recorded and trackable.
That way, you can be sure you'll receive what's due in your bank account without any discrepancies or disputes.
The best referral programs have long cookie durations. If you refer a friend to a specific program and are not ready to buy yet, you want the company to guarantee you'll get paid if the person purchases at a later date.
Most programs have a thirty-to-ninety-day cookie duration.
When you need clarifications or encounters, you want to be sure the program you're promoting can sort things out fast.
Pick a referral program that has a reliable help or support desk. While most referral marketing programs don't offer round-the-clock support, you want one that can address your concerns in a few hours. Also, check if the platform has live chat support.
The programs below offer competitive rewards for referrals, user-friendly interfaces, robust tracking systems, and dedicated customer support, making them ideal if you're looking to make extra online.
While ShareASale is an affiliate network, the platform uses several strategies to attract new merchants.
ShareASale will pay you a referral bonus if you recommend a new vendor to the platform through a referral code.
You can earn up to $150 for every new vendor, making ShareASale a good option if you're looking for a high-paying referral program.
Promoting ShareASale is easy — you just have to introduce the vendor and get paid when they sign-up. The straightforward promotion model makes this one of the best referral program examples if you know anyone seeking to launch an affiliate program.
ShareASale is a reliable and trustworthy platform. It boasts a robust referral portal with thousands of products and companies in many countries.
Other notable highlights include a user-friendly interface that's easy to navigate. The interface makes it easy to search affiliate programs and create an extensive directory of partner links on various referral sites. The network pays on time with no complaints of delayed payments from merchants.
Furthermore, you only need to register a ShareASale account to promote the network. What's more, opening an account on the platform is free, making it easy to get started.
ShareASale pays via direct deposits to your bank account, Wire, or Check.
PartnerStack is one of the best referral programs to make money in you're in the B2B SaaS space. Unlike most platforms, it provides several opportunities to grow your partnership.
The referral program allows you to recruit various partners, including resellers, influencers, affiliate marketers, and agencies.
Like ShareASale, PartnerStack has a minimalist, easy-to-understand interface, so you shouldn't have difficulty navigating it.
Notable highlights include the ability to allow you to automate your partner recruitment. You have all the tools you need to refer new leads and get rewarded automatically for every conversion they generate.
Further, PartnerStack provides custom onboarding for every partner. You can onboard leads as if they're joining your own referral program, helping nurture a healthy relationship from the get-go.
In addition, you can automate your partner's payout based on their performance. You don't need to set reminders and timing — PartnerStack will pay for every qualifying purchase on time.
Speaking of payments, the platform offers a minimum of $25 for referring friends to the network via PayPal.
Fiverr is one of the leading marketplaces for freelance services, whether you're looking for web designers, voice artists, software developers, and more.
Stats show that Fiverr has a massive user base of 5.5 million active buyers. The platform covers over 500 service categories, grossing $189.51 million in annual revenue per year.
With these numbers, Fiverr is a good place to earn extra money by referring people to the marketplace,
The Fiverr referral program pays 10% when referrals sign up. You can generate up to $500 in credit through this referral program. It is important to note that the platform that a limit of up to five referrals before you can cash out your reward.
Apart from receiving referral rewards, the Fiverr program also gives new buyers a 10% discount for their first purchase if the purchase is $100 and above.
Note: The Fiverr program is only available for registered users. You'll need to be an active user to make the most of this program to make money.
Wise is a peer-to-peer money transfer service that offers great conversion rates for overseas transfers. The platform stands out because of its low transfer fees.
Customers can spend, send, receive, or hold money in multi-currency accounts. In addition, they can hold and convert cash in over 50 currencies. Wise offers real-time conversion in the current exchange rates.
The company says sending and receiving money through the platform is six times cheaper than most services.
Wise has one of the best-paying referral programs. You're given a unique referral link once you sign up for the program.
Your job is to refer friends to the service by sharing links. When people sign up through the referral link, Wise waives processing fees for the first transfer up to £500.
When three of your referrals transfer at least £200, Wise will pay you up to £75 in referral bonuses.
The Wise Invite program is automatic once you create your account.
It is important to note that the referral bonus may vary from region to region. It may also change if there's a promotional campaign.
Robinhood is a leading US-based brokerage dealer trading shares and recurring investments. It is also involved in exchange-traded funds (EFTs) and cryptocurrencies.
The company offers its referral program to new traders. When you sign up for the platform using a referral link, you'll receive free stock directly deposited into your bank account. The stock's value can vary from $3 to $225 — which may fluctuate depending on the state of the stock market.
Robinhood supports seven cryptocurrencies; Litecoin, Ethereum Classic, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Bitcoin SV, Bitcoin Cash, and Bitcoin.
Besides rewarding people who signup using referral links, Robinhood will give you a random free stock for every person you recommend to the company. You can earn up to $500 in free stock per year.
While the Robinhood referral reward may not sound much compared to other referral programs, the advantage is that you can hold your stocks and reap big over the years. You only need to monitor the markets to know when to cash out your stock for a profit.
Hostinger has one of the most successful referral programs.
First, Hostinger, a web hosting service, has a user base of over 29 million and is available in 178+ countries.
As an online marketer looking to promote a trusted and popular referral program, Hostinger will make a perfect choice.
The company offers a 20% reward for friends and family that sign up through your referral link. Given the popularity of this hosting service, you can easily make extra money as long as you're actively promoting the offer.
On top of the bonuses, your referral will receive a 20% discount at checkout.
Note: Hostinger gives a 45-day allowance to your referral to decide if the service suits their needs. You'll be rewarded if your referrals don't ask for a refund.
In addition, it is essential to remember that the Hostinger referral program isn't available for email services.
Do$h is one of the best app referral programs, offering cashback rewards.
Unlike most programs that allow you to earn referring customers, the cash app pays you in cash back when you use your credit to debit card to purchase items through the cash app.
You can also earn by encouraging your friends and family to use the platform's mobile offers. Once the referring customer installs the Do$h app and registers as a member, they can scoop one of the mobile offers available.
The referral must complete the offers to earn a cashback reward.
In addition, you can recommend your referrals to link their credit or debit cards to the cash app, and you'll automatically earn money once their cards.
You can also make money if you refer a friend to the cash app and advice them to use it to book hotel reservations.
The Do$h app referral program pays you up to $5 for every new person that signs up. The service lets you cash out your bonus once you've earned at least $15 via Venmo or PayPal.
That said, Do$h is one of the top referral bonus apps if you have friends who like to shop.
You can earn up $30 for anyone you refer to the Rakuten referral program as long as they sign up and purchase through the app.
Getting started is pretty simple. You need to create an account and then install Rakuten's browser extension for Chrome. The extension ensures you earn cash back every time you shop online from your favorite stores.
Cash back percentages typically range from 1% to 10%, so every online purchase contributes to your earnings.
The cashback you earn is transferred to you quarterly through PayPal, a paper check, or American Express reward points.
Considering how often people shop online, referring to Rakuten is easy and rewarding, making Rakuten one of the best referral programs to earn money.
Your referred friend also receives a $10 reward from Rakuten upon making their first online purchase. Occasionally, there are extra referral bonuses available if you refer a specified number of people within a certain period.
You can easily keep track of all your referrals on the Rakuten website, monitoring who has signed up through your link.
Remember, to qualify for the $30 bonus, the person you refer must sign up and make their first purchase with a Rakuten partner retailer.
T-Mobile has an excellent referral program offering cash rewards when you refer friends to their services.
You can refer friends through a unique referral link as a T-Mobile or Sprint postpaid smartphone plan customer in good standing.
Here's how it works.
You refer someone to T-Mobile. The person must be new to T-Mobile, Sprint, or Metro by T-Mobile.
In addition, your referring customer needs to open an account at T-Mobile, activate at least one line of postpaid smartphone service, and port in at least one line from another eligible carrier.
In addition, they must also maintain their account in good standing for a minimum of 30 days.
The referral process includes registering the number ported on the referral site. Once the referred person ports over the registered number to T-Mobile within 15 days of accepting the referral, you're eligible for the reward.
Each referral reward is given per account, not per line. The rewards are distributed through Virtual Express Prepaid MasterCard cards. You should receive your referral bonus within 15 days of completing the referral process.
You can earn up to $500 in referral rewards annually.
SoFi is a one-stop financial platform offering a range of services, from student loans to credit cards, saving accounts, and personal loans.
The company will reward you handsomely for referring your friends and family to their products, making it great for affiliate marketers and bloggers looking for high-paying referral programs to generate extra money.
If you refer a friend who successfully refinances their student loan through SoFi, you can earn up to $1,000.
Additionally, if you recommend a friend to SoFi's personal loans, you receive a $300 bonus, and your friend will also get $300.
Furthermore, if you know someone in need of a private student loan and refer them to SoFi, you could earn up to $500.
You'll pocket A $100 refer bonus for every successful referral that signs up for the SoFi credit card. Moreover, you can earn up to $75, and your friend gets $25 with SoFi's checking and savings referral through your link or referral code.
To get started, look for the "Refer a Friend" section in your SoFi profile, where you'll find your referral link. You can share this link with your friends and family via social media, email, or text.
PayPal's referral program is a good opportunity for you and your friends to earn extra cash back.
You can earn $10 cash back or 1,000 PayPal Reward Points for each referring customer who signs up, links their bank account or card, and spends a minimum of $5 within 30 days of signup.
The company's referral marketing program extends to a maximum of ten friends, which means you can earn up to $100 cash back, or 10,000 points, by inviting your friends to join the PayPal community.
You can redeem the earned PayPal Reward Points for cash back at checkout when shopping with PayPal. Alternatively, you can convert the referral bonus to cash to pay friends, donate to a cause, transfer to your bank, and more.
Note: Rewards may take up to two weeks to appear in your account after your friend completes their first purchase.
If you're a Payoneer customer, you can join their "Refer A Friend" referral program to make extra cash online.
It's a simple and rewarding program designed for existing customers eager to spread the word about Payoneer to their network.
The company has recently upgraded its customer referral program to allow you to manage your referrals directly from your Payoneer account.
The improved program has a personalized dashboard that keeps track of all your referrals. It lets you know how many friends have signed up through your referral link.
You can also see the total money you've earned from the program. In addition, you get a detailed breakdown of your referrals and their status within the dashboard.
Sharing your referral link is straightforward. You can do it via multiple channels like email, social media, or your website.
The Payoneer referral program is a mutually beneficial arrangement that gives you and your friend a reward bonus.
Once your friends and family sign up and receive $1,000 or the equivalent in another currency, you will earn a $25 reward.
Tesla's Referral Program seeks to encourage the use of sustainable energy solutions by incentivizing existing customers and prospects.
As a Tesla owner, you can earn bonuses by referring friends to the brand's community. The referral program allows you to redeem the referral bonus for cash or free charging miles for your vehicle.
The process is simple: for every person you refer who purchases a Tesla vehicle, you receive 1,000 miles of free supercharging. That way, you can save money on one of the critical running costs of an electric car.
The program offers a referral fee when your friends purchase Tesla S, X, 3, or Y car models.
The Tesla referral program extends to Tesla's solar products.
If your new customers' referral purchases a solar panel or roof, you'll receive $1,000 off your purchase after the system is activated. As a result, you generate extra case and also promotes the use of clean, renewable energy.
Note: The referral money earned is accrued under a single balance and remains valid 12 months from the Grant Date - this is the date when the Tesla vehicle is delivered or the solar system is activated.
Coinbase is one of the best referral programs to make money if you are a crypto enthusiast.
The company has made a name for itself as a reliable platform for people looking to exchange cryptocurrencies. The platform was launched in 2012, years before the Bitcoin craze.
The Coinbase referral program is easy to navigate and understand. Like most options on this list, you must create an account on the platform.
The next step is to find friends looking to make money through cryptocurrency and can recommend Coinbase to them.
Referring friends to the platform enables you to generate up to $10 in bonuses. However, your friend must buy or sell $100 worth of crypto for you to make money. Your friend will also receive $10.
Coinbase deposits the money into your account within 180 days of the transactions.
While you can redeem the money in hard cash, Coinbase also allows you to spend your referral fee on coins like Stellar, Tether, Ethereum, or Bitcoin.
Swagbucks is one of the most sought-after referral bonus apps if you're in for gift cards and cash. The program attracts users because you don't need a qualifying purchase to earn money. Instead, you can generate extra cash by doing what you love online.
So, if you like watching videos, participating in short surveys, or shopping, Swagbucks could be the referral program to help you generate more money.
The platform pays you by completing mundane tasks such as filling out online forms or completing questionnaires on the survey website.
The Swagbucks is quite popular, handing out over 7,000 gift cards daily. You can redeem your card for cash or invest in crypto, stock, etc.
When you refer friends to Swagbucks, you take home 10% of their earnings. You'll also get an extra 100 Swagbucks deposited directly to your account.
Like any program that offers a referral fee, you'll make more money if you actively promote the program and generate leads that convert.
Zoho is a platform offering office productivity and management solutions like workspace, financial, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools.
The company's refer-a-friend program allows you to earn 15% of the referrals subscription fee. Zoho pays the reward 90 days after your friend signs up and uses the product.
The platform doesn't allow you to redeem the reward in cash to your bank account. Instead, you'll receive Zoho Wallet credits valid for 12 months.
You can use your Zoho Wallet to renew your subscription, buy the new app and get add-ins. The referral program has a huge earning potential, primarily because of Zoho's good standing on the market.
Besides the bonuses for bringing in new customers, Zoho also gives your referrals $100 in promotional credit.
Note: A few programs continue to reward bonuses if you refer buy additional products.
However, Zoho only pays you once, but on the flip side, you can redeem your bonus when it's due for withdrawal. Moreover, the Zoho Wallet credit is valid for one year, so you have enough time to decide what you want to do with your reward.
Xfinity is a product of Comcast, an internet and movie streaming service.
Xfinity offers communication services ranging from the internet to home security systems and telephone services.
We're living in the internet age, which ensures Xfinity products are in demand throughout the year. In other words, Xfinity is one of the most lucrative online referral programs for affiliate marketers looking to earn money by referring new customers to the company.
The Xfinity referral program will pay you up to $175 per referral. You get $50 as a referral fee for anyone who signs up for one service and $150 for a customer who registers for two or more services.
Xfinity also pays $25 if the referral signs up for multiple services and shifts to the platform's mobile service.
The payout makes Xfinity one of the best referral programs to make money. However, it is crucial to note that the referral program caps the amount you can earn per customer to $500 per year.
Casper is a customer-to-customer brand that sells mattresses and pillows. The company has sold over two million mattresses and pillows since its inception.
The brand thrives on product quality, offering a warranty of up to 10 years and a 100-night risk-free trial.
Further, Capser has donated over seventy thousand to partners like A Sense of Home, Badass Brooklyn, and Rescue Committee.
Casper's program will pay up to $75 in Amazon gift cards for every successful referral. Further, the new customer enjoys a 25% discount on their first order if they buy a mattress using your unique referral links. You can also earn $10 if your referral buys Casper pillows.
While the Casper program is lucrative, there are a few caveats you need to know. First, you can only earn a referral fee for every friend who buys and pillow and mattress.
Apart from that, the total amount you can earn every 12 months is capped at $599. Still, Casper is a popular brand, so you can make a pretty penny promoting the company's referral program.
19. Direct Energy
Direct Energy will pay cash to promote its referral program. The company's offer can be attractive if like helping your friends and family keep their utility costs down.
The company offers a platform where users can shop for deals that'll help them save money on utility bills.
Direct Energy focuses on helping customers save on natural gas and electricity. It aims to ensure consumers can cut down their utility budget by several hundred dollars annually.
Your job is to tell your friend about the benefits of using Direct Energy to pay electricity bills or buy natural gas.
The first step, however, is to register a Direct Energy free account and use the service. Once you're a "member," you can start earning money in referral fees.
Direct Energy pays $50 for everyone who signs up using your referral link.
The "refer a friend" bonus is wired to your prepaid Visa card, and you can use it to buy things offline and online.
Keep in mind that Direct Energy allows you to earn up to $500 in bonuses per year, making it one of the best referral bonus apps.
What is the Difference Between a Referral and an Affiliate Program?
While referral and affiliate marketing are more or less the same, they're significantly different. Here's a rundown of what makes them different.
A referral program pays existing customers for promoting or sharing a company's products with family, friends, colleagues, etc. It involves promoting the referral offer to people you know.
Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, involves promoting products and services to people you don't know. If you're a blogger, content creator, or influencer, you can use your platform to bring in new customers to the business or brand you're promoting.
A referral program often rewards you with coupons, gift cards, swag, and account credits. You can also get your referral fee in cash.
The reward for an affiliate program is typically in cash deposited to your back. The commission is a percentage of sales or a flat fee.
Referral marketing will give you a one-off payment. In most cases, it is capped at a certain amount per year.
Affiliate programs pay recurring commissions, often every month.
A customer generated through referral marketing is likelier to become a loyal customer who makes a return purchase over the years. That's because referral marketing involves recommending a product or service to a close friend or family.
A customer gained using affiliate marketing is likely to make a one-off purchase. Affiliate programs have a lower engagement and retention rate.
Customers gained through referrals result from trust and personal connections. Affiliate programs, on the other hand, are based on your influence or authority.
Side Note: I have created a comprehensive guide on how to start an affiliate marketing blog if that's something you'd like to try.
Strategies to Promote Referral Programs
While promoting referral marketing programs can earn you good money, you must know how to spread the word.
Without a solid promotion strategy, you'll struggle to generate revenue even when promoting programs that pay well.
That said, here's an overview of how you can promote referral programs to make money.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
You can use your social media platforms to promote programs — the secret lies in creating engaging and shareable content.
Post content that explains the referral program and also sparks interest.
You can use stunning visuals and catchy phrases to draw your target. In addition, make sure that your content is creative enough to make your connection want to share with their friends to boost the program's reach.
Further, encourage direct sharing to personal networks to increase conversion rates.
Maximize Email Marketing
Your existing email subscribers are likely interested in your offer. Leverage this already engaged audience to promote your referral program.
Personalize your emails to make each recipient feel valued. Focus on the benefits they could gain from the program.
Email marketing can be an excellent strategy to keep your referral program fresh in their minds, increasing the chances they'll refer others.
Incentivize Your Referral Program
Offering appealing incentives for successful referrals can significantly boost participation.
Whether it's exclusive discounts, freebies, or credit for future purchases, a valuable reward system can motivate your customers to share your products or services with their networks.
Incentives work best if you have your own referral program.
Ensure a User-Friendly Referral Process
An effective referral program is simple and easy to use.
New customers are more likely to participate if the referral process is straightforward.
Collaborate with Influencers and Bloggers
Influencer marketing can be a powerful strategy to promote your referral program.
Influencers have already established trust with their followers. By partnering with them, you can effectively introduce your referral program to a large, engaged audience.
Provide influencers with all the information about the program to communicate its benefits accurately and enthusiastically to their followers.
Referral Programs to Make Money - Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)
How Do Referral Programs Work?
Referral programs work on the principle of 'word-of-mouth' marketing.
You're given a unique referral link or code when you join a referral program. You share this link or referral code with others, and when they make a purchase or sign up, you earn a reward.
The reward could be cash, discounts, credit, or other incentives.
How Much Money Can I Make from Referral Programs?
The earning potential from referral marketing varies.
It depends on the company's offer, how many referrals you make, and the actions your referrals take. Some programs offer a flat rate per referral, while others may offer a percentage of the sales made through your referral.
Are Referral Programs Free to Join?
Yes, most programs are free to join.
Some may require you to be a registered platform user or a customer of their product or service. Always check the specific terms and conditions of each program before joining.
Can I Join Multiple Referral Programs?
There's no limit to how many programs you can join. However, focusing on a few that align well with your audience's interests is best to increase the chances of successful referrals.
Best Referral Programs to Make Money - Final Thoughts
Referral programs offer an excellent way to earn extra cash.
Whether you're an individual, a blogger, a social media influencer, or a business, these programs can help monetize your network and influence.
That said, choosing the right program is crucial. You want to pick those that align with your interests or your audience's needs.
In addition, promoting your referral links requires a strategic approach. The idea is to integrate referral links seamlessly into your content to encourage organic interactions.
Further, make sure the rewards offered by the program are worthwhile for you and the individuals you refer.
Also, use more than just one program. Diversify your portfolio by participating in multiple programs. That way, you can maximize your earning potential by tapping into different audiences and opportunities.