One of the best ways to generate passive income online is through referrals. Referring your friends and acquaintances to products, services, and brands you like or use requires little effort and can have surprising payout rates. In fact, many of the most successful bloggers out there today make a good portion of their living this way.
On this list, you will find some of the most lucrative programs that will pay you a commission for every friend you refer. Commissions can vary immensely, ranging from $5-$20 per referral to upwards of $300.
We’ve broken down referral sites by type, so you can choose from the three best programs within each category. Here are some of the top-rated referral sites with the highest pay-out rates:
Shopping Site Referrals
Where you shop can make a big difference. Here are the three shopping sites with the biggest payouts.
Swagbucks: I've found this to be the best site for earning. As a matter of fact, I ended up with $325 in gift cards by the end of the year. I snagged 1 Amercian Eagle card for $100 for my daughter, two Amazon cards for $100 each and I got myself a $25 Starbucks card. I was able to knockout not only a small “treat” for myself — but three of my main Christmas gifts for my husband, son and daughter.
Groupon: With this limited-time couponing site, as long as the friend you refer makes a purchase within 72 hours of signing up, you receive $10.
Cashback Shopping Referrals
These savings platforms offer deals, coupons, and cashback when you shop certain brands and stores.
Be Frugal: This program offers the most money per referral. Each referred friend receives $10 when they make a purchase of $25 or more while the referrer receives $15.
Rakuten: The most popular name in cashback portals allows you to receive $5-$15 per referral and the friend you refer gets $10 when they spend $25 or more.
Giving Assistant: This charity-focused site allows you to choose what percentage of cashback you keep and allows you to donate the rest to the charity of your choice. They also provide a meal to someone in need every time you make a purchase using one of their links. You and the friend you refer can both enjoy $5 every time a $25+ purchase is made.
Survey Site Referrals
If you are one of the many thousands of people earning $300-$1000 each month filling out surveys, take advantage of the referral programs.
PaidViewpoint: When a friend signs up based on your referral, you earn 20% of what each of your referrals earn up to $25.
Survey Savvy: This site pays up to $15 for each referral as well as $6 for the referrals your referrals make.
FusionCash: I've found this one years ago. And it's consistently earned for me month after month. It will not make you rich – but cashing out $40-$50 each month is super nice. I put all my cashouts in a savings fund now and use it for investing. You'll get $1 for every referral that confirms their email address, $2 for any offers they complete and when your referral earns enough to cas out — you get another $5! Trust me, this adds up.
Earn money by performing a variety of tasks such as opening emails and testing and reviewing products.
Swagbucks: The most popular rewards site allows you to earn points for completing unique tasks and lets you cash out once you reach $25 in earnings, offering $5 per referral and 10% of that person’s earnings. As I said up above, this is definitely worth it. I absolutely use this to help with my holiday gifts year after year.
Gift Card Referrals
The top three gift card referral programs all work the same way, in that you and the friend you refer each earn $5 when you sign up. They are:
Raise – You'll earn $5 for everyone you refer and they will earn $5 too. (When they make a purchase within 30 days of signing up.) You can buy and sell gift cards on this site. Many are discounted- so you can grab up some pretty decent deals if you check often (which I do!)
InstaGC – This is the site I use to grab Amazon cards. Admittedly, these cards are sometimes $1 and $3 cards. But I was so thrilled to have them when I needed to get some things for my son in basic training. Little address books, chapsticks, cough drops, waterproof paper and pens. These gift cards helped me with the expense.
Money Site Referrals
Whether we like it or not, we all have to spend money. We might as well earn some back as we do it.
Debitize: This site helps you stay responsible and accountable by withdrawing funds from your debit card every time you spend money on your credit card. They then use that money to pay your credit card bill for you at the end of the month. Referrals earn both you and your friend $10.
Circle: A payment site that allows you to transfer money between friends, circle operates locally and internationally for free. You and the person you refer each get $5 when they spend $25.
Square Cash: This app is similar to PayPal and allows you to earn $10 per referral.
What Do You Need to Start?
The truth is, there are many referral programs out there that anyone can join. However, these tend to offer less in terms of payment or other rewards and it can be harder to get a lot of referrals. There is an application process to become a paid affiliate for some brands and companies.
Though having your own website, blog, and social media following are not required for many affiliate/referral programs, both will help you generate more referrals and money and gain affiliation to the brands that pay the best rates. I have a step by step guide on how to get start your own blog.
As with most things, you get out what you put in. The programs that pay the most require more effort. You can earn anywhere from 10 cents to $5,000 depending on how much work you do and how effective you are at gaining referrals. Making the right connections can make all the difference.