Referral programs can be a great way to make extra money online.
All you need to do is share products you love with your friends, family, and social media followers.
If they sign up or make a purchase using your referral link, you can get rewarded with money, credits, discounts, or gift cards.
But not all referral programs are worth your time. Some pay little, some have strict conditions, and some are just plain shady.
That’s why I’ve done the hard work and put together the best referral programs to make money in 2023.
These are all legit programs that pay well and have good reputations.
What is a referral program?
A referral program is where a company rewards you for recommending their product or service to others.
The reward can come in the form of a fixed sum credited to your account, free hours on an app, eGift vouchers, or even prepaid debit cards.
Basically, you get paid to refer a friend as a new potential customer for a business.
The latter seems to be the reward of choice for big brands currently operating referral marketing programs.
None of the programs listed below payout in “store credit,” though. You’ll either earn hard cash for your referrals or receive an Amazon gift card or one for a major offline retailer like Walmart.
Referral program vs affiliate program
Referral marketing and affiliate marketing both fall under the category of performance marketing, but they are separate strategies. Here’s a table comparing referral programs and affiliate programs:
|Criteria||Referral Program||Affiliate Program|
|Reward type||Rewards existing customers for sharing your brand with people they know (family, friends, colleagues)||Rewards third-party content creators (bloggers, influencers, etc.) for bringing in new customers from their audience|
|Reward form||Rewards can be non-cash (gift cards, coupons, account credits, swag) or cash||Rewards are usually cash-based (percentage of sales or flat fee)|
|Reward recurrence||Rewards are usually one-off or limited||Rewards cam be recurring or unlimited|
|Referral quality||Referrals are more likely to be loyal and sticky customers||Referrals may have lower retention and engagement rates|
|Referral source||Referrals are based on trust and personal relationships||Referrals are based on authority and influence|
The choice between referral programs and affiliate programs will depend on your specific goal, budget and resources. You can also use both strategies together to maximize your results.
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Best Referral Programs To Make Money
- ShareASale ($150 per referred affiliate)
- Fiverr (Up to $100 in Fiverr Credits)
- Payoneer ($25 per referral)
- Revolut (€5 per referral)
- Wise (£50 per referral)
- Paypal ($10 per referral)
- Robinhood (Up to $200 in gift stock)
- Swagbucks (10% of what referral earns)
- Coinbase ($10 per referral)
- SoFi ($50+ per referral)
- Rakuten ($20 per referral)
- Acorns ($5 per referral)
- Casper (Up to $75 Amazon gift card)
- Do$h ($10 per referral)
- Sam’s Club ($10 gift card)
- T-Mobile ($50 per referral)
- Direct Energy ($50 per referral)
- Xfinity (up to $175 per referral)
Yes, we’re aware that ShareASale is an affiliate network.
But how do you think they get new merchants to sign up with them? Well, one way is they will pay you to refer new vendors to them through a referral program.
To the tune of $150 each.
And all you need to do is make the introduction. So if you know of a business that’s actively looking to start its own affiliate program, then this could be an easy win for both parties.
It’s also worth remembering that 99% of people looking to profit from referral programs will never think of affiliate networks.
That gives you a strategic advantage here – one you should make the most of.
You will need a ShareASale account to promote this offer. But they’re free to set up, so there’s no real barrier to entry here.
URL: ShareASale referral program
Referral fee: $150
Fiverr is a marketplace for freelance services, covering everything from web development to graphic design and content writing.
As of September 30, 2022, some 4.2 million active buyers were using Fiverr to make purchases across 500+ categories, including household names like Google, Facebook, and Netflix. Meanwhile, figures from May 2021 show freelancers have collectively earned over $2 billion selling digital services through the platform.
Fiverr’s referral program pays 10% of the qualifying purchase amount from each successful referral, up to $100 in Fiverr Credits. Referrers can earn up to $500 in credits through the program — effectively meaning there’s a limit of up to five referrals.
As well as rewarding the referrer, Fiverr’s program gives new buyers a 10% discount on their first purchase, again capped at $100.
Before signing up, be aware the program is only open to registered Fiverr users.
(N.B. Want to make more money promoting Fiverr? Check out our Fiverr affiliate program review.)
Referral fee: Up to $100 in Fiverr Credits
Payoneer is an online-only service that allows you to receive and transfer money. So, it’s kind of like PayPal but minus all the red tape.
It’s also the payment method of choice for many affiliate marketers. Especially those either living the digital nomad lifestyle or working from international accounts.
And they also operate a referral program.
You take part in their “refer a friend” program, and you get paid a cash bonus for doing that.
The financial services industry is super-competitive, so Payoneer is always happy to have lots of new clients referred to them.
And they’ll pay up to US$25 per referral you send their way.
The only proviso is that your “friend” needs to receive at least US$1,000 into their account before you get paid your referral fee.
URL: Payoneer referral program
Referral fee: $25
Revolut is a UK-based fintech company that allows customers to send and request money and split bills with people in 200+ countries.
It offers many other exciting finance-related services, such as linking accounts from multiple other banks in a single platform and trading crypto, bullion, and 1,500+ global shares from within the app.
Unusually, Revolut’s referral program specifically targets under-18s. Specifically, it pays €5 (or equivalent) to teenage users aged 18 or under who refer other under-18s to Revolut:
Unfortunately, the program is only available in 23 countries, including the UK and most EU member states (check out the program terms for a complete list). So if you’re based anywhere other than Europe — or are over 18 — this program isn’t for you.
Referral fee: €5
Wise — formerly known as TransferWise — is a fintech company that allows its 15+ million customers to hold, receive, send, and spend money from a multi-currency account.
Users can hold cash in over 50 currencies and convert it at the real-world exchange rate whenever they want. According to Wise, sending and managing money through the platform is 6X cheaper, on average, than with UK banks.
The company changes the terms of its referral program pretty frequently, but it’s currently offering a reward of £50 (or equivalent) once three referred friends make an international transfer of £200+ after using your unique referral link.
Bear in mind the transaction must involve a currency conversion — otherwise, you earn a big, fat nothing.
While £50 is the current standard reward, this amount may vary from region to region and can also change during special campaigns and promotional periods.
Referral fee: £50
PayPal is arguably the world’s best-known payment platform, offering a website and mobile app that allows users to send and receive money online. Customers with verified accounts can send up to $60,000 in a single transaction.
The platform has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, with the number of active PayPal accounts increasing from fewer than 100 million in 2010 to over 432 million in Q3 2022.
PayPal’s referral program is pretty simple: once your friend signs up and spends at least $5 via the platform, you both receive $10. Rewards are typically paid within 24 hours, although the process can take up to two weeks in some cases.
As with many other referral programs, PayPal imposes a cap on how much you can earn, limiting referrals to ten friends — or up to $100 — in a calendar year.
Referral fee: $10
Robinhood is a commission-free trading and investment app allowing members to buy stocks and other assets, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
The platform’s popularity has risen in line with growing awareness of crypto, with the number of users increasing from just half a million in 2014 to almost 23 million in June 2022.
Want to recommend Robinhood to your friends? The platform’s referral program offers rewards in gift stock when your friend signs up, gets approved, and links their bank account.
Theoretically, users can earn up to $200 per successful referral, but Robinhood notes that 98% of participants receive rewards of $5 – $10. You can earn up to $1,500 per calendar year.
It’s possible to sell your gift stock within three trading days of receiving it — after which you can spend the money on any other stocks. However, if you want to withdraw the cash, you must retain the gift stocks for at least 30 days.
URL: Robinhood referral program
Referral fee: Up to $200 in gift stock
What if you could earn gift cards and cash for doing the stuff you already do online?
Like watching videos, shopping, or even taking a short survey.
That’s what Swagbucks offers its users – the ability to get paid for doing mundane stuff like completing a questionnaire on survey sites.
And they have a lot of takers – they hand out 7,000 gift cards every single day.
Which isn’t quite the same as hard cash…but it’s close.
And it’s also entirely anonymous.
You could easily use some of those gift cards to invest in cryptos, for example.
Does that sound like the kind of opportunity you’d recommend to a friend?
If you do, you’ll get 10% of whatever your referral earns, plus an additional 100 Swagbucks deposited to your account.
The more referrals you make, the more you’ll earn in gift card rewards.
URL: Swagbucks referral program
Referral fee: 10% of what your referral earns
And now we come to something a little different a – cryptocurrency referral program.
Coinbase is one of the better-known crypto exchanges.
Something they’ve done for their customer base since 2012… long before the Bitcoin frenzy took hold.
So they basically provide you with an easy-to-use platform to buy and sell cryptos on.
But you can do that with FIAT currency i.e. a credit or debit card, which makes it ideal for crypto newbies like me!
Anyways, the Coinbase referral program is a pretty straightforward deal.
You sign up for an account with them.
Then you recommend it to friends via your “refer a friend” link.
Once your referral buys or sells US$100 worth of cryptocurrency you will both receive a $10 bonus to your account within 180 days of that happening.
Which you can then spend on even more Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Stellar Lumens, etc.
URL: Coinbase referral program
Referral fee: US$10
SoFi started out as a way to provide better options for those needing student loans.
But the service proved to be such a success that they’ve since expanded into other financial markets.
So you can now apply for a student loan, personal loan, or even a mortgage with them.
Basically, the goal of SoFi isn’t to “punish” you for taking out a loan with them.
They instead want to help you get out of debt while learning how to manage your finances better.
And part of that is their referral program.
SoFi will give you a cash reward if your referrals sign up for (and funds) any of the following:
- SoFi Money account
- Investment account
- Student loan refinancing
- Personal loans
If, for example, a referral opens up a SoFi money account and deposits $500 to that account, you’ll receive a $50 bonus.
But they cap the number of possible referral earnings at US$10,000 per year.
This means they have existing “advocates” earning at least that much with their referral program.
There’s no limit, however, on lifetime earnings.
Referral fee: $50+
You’re probably already familiar with this company, thanks to our review of the Rakuten affiliate network.
But affiliate marketing is only part of what they do, including a streaming TV service, for example.
Rakuten is actually a massive Japanese e-commerce platform.
And with a history dating back to 1996 of helping shoppers find the best deals online.
Your visitors basically start from the Rakuten store and choose from their list of vendors.
They’ll then get money back when they make a purchase – this is paid to them by PayPal or check.
But you can also earn a referral bonus for every friend you refer to Rakuten.
Because who doesn’t want money-back deals, right?
The only condition is every friend you refer has to spend at least $25 on Rakuten partner deals within 90 days of signing up.
Otherwise, you don’t get paid a referral bonus for referring your friends.
But they do offer unlimited referrals, so this could be a nice way to earn some extra money.
Referral fee: $20
Why would you call your investment platform Acorns?
Because “…mighty oaks from little acorns grow” – it’s an old English proverb.
It’s basically saying that your tiny investments can become huge given enough time.
And that’s what Acorns offers you – a way to invest your spare change on autopilot.
All the work of choosing what stocks or bonds to invest in is taken care of for you.
You just set it and forget it.
Their referral marketing offer works as follows.
You receive $5 for every person you refer.
Acorns, then invest that $5 for you.
So, that means you can’t “cash-out” to your bank account.
But you are building a long-term asset in the form of investments.
It’s also worth mentioning that the person you refer has to be approved and make an investment of $5 before you receive your bonus.
Referral fee: US$5
Casper is a direct-to-consumer mattress brand that has sold mattresses and pillows to over two million happy sleepers. It offers free no-contact delivery, a 10-year limited warranty, and a 100-night risk-free trial.
Committed to social good, the company has made 70,000+ donations to partners like the International Rescue Committee, Badass Brooklyn, and A Sense of Home.
The Casper mattress referral program pays up to $75 in Amazon Gift Cards per successful referral. When your friend buys a Casper mattress using your unique referral link, they also get 25% off their order. Alternatively, referrers can earn $10 on sales of Casper Pillows.
Unsurprisingly, there are a few terms and conditions to bear in mind. Firstly, you can only earn one referral fee per friend, even if they buy a mattress and a pillow. Also, rewards are capped at $599 per calendar year.
(N.B. Like the sound of making money promoting mattresses? Read our roundup of the best mattress affiliate programs.)
Referral fee: Up to $75 Amazon gift card
Dosh (English slang for money) is another cash-back app of the many that exist right now.
But they don’t appear to be tied to the stores you typically find on other sites.
Sure, you can earn up to 40% cashback from grocery shopping.
But Dosh also covers the eating and drinking side of life.
So you can get cash back on a pizza, a box of delicious donuts, and even your next vacation.
Or even your next car or truck.
It seems that they’ve negotiated several private back deals of the 10,000 brands they work with.
Obviously, the more users they can get to download their app, the better for Dosh.
And what better way to do that than offer an incentive in the form of money?
They’ll pay you US$10 for every new referral that is happy to link a valid debit or credit card to their account and receives their first rebate.
Referral fee: $10
15 Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club is part of the Walmart family of stores.
So you get the same basic deal of brand name goods at low prices.
Except Sam’s Club follows the “Big Box” warehouse model – once you become a member, you can buy 12 boxes of Kleenex at once.
Or an entire refrigerator and a new sofa.
But at warehouse prices.
And as a member still get 2% cashback on all your purchases even though you’ve already probably saved a small fortune by shopping there.
In terms of rewarding you for referring a friend, this is paid in the form of a $10 gift card per referral.
Your referral benefits too, because they’ll also receive a $20 eGift card.
All you need to redeem your gift card is an active account with Sam’s Club.
URL: Sam’s Club referral program
Referral fee: $10 gift card
So we’re not going to spend a lot of time telling you who T-Mobile is.
They sell Internet connections, smartphones, tablets, and corporate phone systems.
They’re one of the “Big Three” communications providers in North America, with 98.3 million customers.
So there’s a very good chance you’re an existing customer of theirs.
And if you are, you might not know they operate a referral marketing program.
I didn’t until I started the research for this roundup.
But that’s one of the many benefits of doing better research than your competitors.
So how much can you get paid for referrals, as an existing T-Mobile customer?
You can receive up to US$50 for every friend you refer x 10 referrals.
For a total of $500.
Each referral bonus of $50 is paid via a Prepaid MasterCard, so it’s the same as hard cash.
URL: T-Mobile referral program
Referral fee: US$50
17 Direct Energy
The amount of energy our planet can currently produce is finite.
So as the population continues to grow, so will energy costs.
That’s why it’s such a good idea to have a service like Direct Energy where customers can shop for the best deal to keep your utility costs down.
Be that for electricity or natural gas.
A lower rate can save you several hundred dollars per year in energy costs.
And you could make even more money with Direct Energy by taking part in their referral program.
You will, however, need an account with Direct Energy.
So how much do you get paid per referral sign-up?
Up to $50 each.
Your “refer a friend” bonus is sent in the form of a prepaid Visa card, which you can use for online or offline purchases.
Just bear in mind that you can only earn a maximum of $500 in referral bonuses per calendar year.
URL: Direct Energy affiliate program
Referral fee: US$50
Comcast doesn’t sound like a sexy Internet/movie streaming service does it?
Xfinity, however, does.
Which is why Comcast uses that brand name.
Xfinity covers all your digital communications needs, from the Internet and telephone to home security products.
Not that anyone has a home telephone these days…but whatever.
The home broadband market is absolutely cutthroat, so companies are willing to do almost anything to win new customers.
And in the case of the Xfinity referral program, that’s to pay you up to $175 per referral.
That’s $50 per referral for anyone who signs up for one service, $150 for a referral who signs up for two or more services.
And then a final $25 if your referral signs up for two more or more services but also swaps to Xfinity’s mobile service.
That makes it the best referral program here by the payout.
But they limit how much you can earn from such referrals to $500 per year.
Referral fee: Up to $175
How to promote referral programs
So you’re all excited about earning money with referral programs.
Now you have to ask yourself how you’re going to get eyeballs on your referral link.
Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to make money offline, or offline, for that matter.
So let’s take a look at two ways to do that:
Use social media
You probably already have an account on at least one of the many social media platforms.
So make the most of it by finding a friendly way to mention the referral program you like in your posts, Tweets, or whatever.
But don’t start messaging friends to “sign up”– that’s as bad as trying to get them into your MLM downline.
If you’re feeling really brave, then you could use a platform like TikTok.
Just record a quick video about a problem a lot of people have right now e.g. expensive cable service.
Then record another video that explains how excited you are because you found a great new Internet streaming package…one that’s actually saving you money every month.
And then your final video would be where you drop your referral link on them.
You could do the exact same thing with a series of Facebook posts or Tweets.
Go old school
Most of the referral programs listed above don’t really care how you promote them, as long as it’s not illegal.
Some of them even hint at printing out your referral code and handing it out to family and friends.
So why not do that?
Get your referral code printed on some cheap-as-you-can-find business cards.
And then hand them out to friends.
Or leave them with your tip at your favorite coffee shop or eaterie.
Put a compelling message on the front side like, “Sick of paying through the nose for your cable service?”
And then on the reverse side, you list either:
- Your referral link
- A link to your free blog (Blogger, etc) where you feature your referral link
Why aren’t we recommending that you start a blog instead and not bother with the printed card idea?
Because a new blog can take months to get traction in the search engines.
A simple, clever business card can get “immediate” traffic.
It might be an interesting “hack” to experiment with if nothing else.
Over to You
And that brings us to the end of our roundup of the best referral programs we could find.
So can you make money with referral sites?
And there are a whole lot of high paying referral programs out there once you actually start looking.
You don’t have to rely solely on the typical “cashback” sites or apps.
But I wouldn’t make it your primary income stream.
That’s because the really good programs limit how many referrals you can make.
Although SoFi does have a referral limit of $10k per year – which is amazing when you think about it.
But “caps” are not something you typically have to deal with when promoting affiliate programs.
The sky tends to be the limit.
But there’s no reason you can’t promote both affiliate and referral programs as ways to make money online with your site.
You don’t have a site?
No problem – you should tune in to our free training.
You’ll learn what it takes to get your first affiliate site up and running, niche research, how to use affiliate links, etc.
It’s an entirely ethical and legitimate “home business” model that you can run from anywhere.
Cool – shoot over the best email address to send your invite to.
We do the rest.