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Refer-a-friend programs can be a surprisingly lucrative side hustle. Recommending businesses, services, and apps you already love can net you a thousand — or even tens of thousands — in referral bonus dollars per year. If you’re new to these referral bonus apps or not sure how to get started, I’m about to show you how to make bank with some of the more lucrative refer-a-friend programs. After all, time is money, and you only want to invest your time in the programs that are most financially beneficial.
But before we get to the list of programs, let’s talk about referral apps and how they work.
The (brief) lowdown on referral bonus apps.
Here’s the gist: these referral bonus apps are an easy way to refer friends to businesses from your phone. The “refer-a-friend” feature is built into the app, allowing you to reach out to a friend with the offer — and allowing them to easily accept it.
Businesses each pay a specified bonus amount to customers who refer a friend when the friend accepts or makes their first purchase. Referral bonus apps for mobile devices tend to work well for everyone involved because we use our phones for absolutely everything.
1. Chase refer-a-friend programs can pay $1,250 per year.
Have a Chase credit card? Odds are you qualify for one of Chase’s refer-a-friend programs. The amount of your Chase referral bonus will change depending on your card but can be worth up to $1,250 each year.
|Card Type||Refer-A-Friend Bonus||Max Bonus per Year|
|Chase Freedom||$100 cash back per referral||$500 cash back|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||10,000 bonus points per referral, which can be redeemed for $100 cash back||50,000 bonus points per referral, which can be redeemed for $500 cash back|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||15,000 bonus points per referral, which can be redeemed for $150 cash back each||75,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed for $750 cash back|
|Chase Ink||20,000 bonus points per referral, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back||100,000 bonus points, which can be redeemed for $1,000 cash back|
There are also Chase refer-a-friend programs for these credit cards:
- Any Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card
- Any United MileagePlus credit card
- British Airways Visa Signature card
- Any Marriott Bonvoy credit card
- Any World of Hyatt card
- Any Disney Visa card
- IHG Rewards Traveler or IHG Rewards Premier card
Tip: If you have a Chase Sapphire card or a Chase Ink Business Preferred card, your points have more value in Chase’s travel portal. Ink Business referral bonuses in the portal are worth $250 in travel credit for each friend referred or up to $1,250 per year total.
2. Net about $1,100 per year with the Amex refer-a-friend program.
American Express (Amex) offers different refer-a-friend programs depending on the card.
For example, in 2022 if you had the American Express Platinum Card, you could be eligible for a 15,000-point Membership Rewards referral bonus if your friend applied and qualified for an Amex card. At the time, this was worth about $90 if you used your points to pay off your credit card statement.
The Amex refer-a-friend program had a 55,000 Membership Rewards (valued at about $330) annual cap at the time, though, so you’d max out your points after referring two friends.
Tip: Make sure you’re up on your payments! If your account is past due, you won’t be eligible for the Amex referral bonus.
3. You can get $500 through Capital One’s refer-a-friend program.
The Capital One refer-a-friend program pays out differently depending on the card. It’s most commonly the equivalent of $100 per friend, up to $500 per year.
Like Amex, you will need to be current on your accounts in order to qualify for the Capital One refer-a-friend program.
Tip: Money earned from referral bonus apps is taxable. Be sure to check with your card issuer for the right forms come tax season.
4. The Discover refer-a-friend program pays $50 – $100 per friend.
Discover pays between $50 and $100 for each friend you send their way — as long as they qualify for a Discover credit card. The max amount you can claim per year will vary depending on the card you recommend.
There are a few stipulations to qualify for the Discover refer-a-friend program:
- If you hold a Discover it Secured Credit Card or a Discover it Business Card, you don’t qualify
- If your friend opts out of marketing communications from Discover, you won’t qualify
- Your own account must be in good standing
5. The T-Mobile refer-a-friend program pays up to $500 per year.
If you have T-Mobile or Sprint, you could qualify for the T-Mobile refer-a-friend program. Assuming that you:
- Pay your bill at the end of your service period on a monthly basis
- Have less than 12 lines
- Are in good standing as far as your bills
- Have a friend who activates their services within 15 days of accepting the invitation
- Have a friend who keeps their account in good standing for 30 days after activation
You can refer a friend if they’ve had T-Mobile or Sprint in the past, but only if they haven’t had an account within the past 90 days. If you meet all these stipulations, you’ll get a $50 Virtual Express Prepaid Mastercard for each friend you refer, up to $500 per year.
Tip: Not with T-Mobile? Check with your mobile provider to see if they offer their own refer-a-friend program.
6. Get paid up to $500 per year with the Xfinity refer-a-friend program.
Trust me, I would never “recommend” Comcast to a friend. I think most of us feel that way about our cable companies.
But there are usually only one or two options when it comes to cable and internet service providers. If you have a friend who is thinking about switching over to Comcast Xfinity, as it’s the only other option in town, make sure you send them an invite through Comcast’s refer-a-friend program.
Qualifying services include:
- Xfinity internet, as long as download speeds are at least 25Mbps
- Xfinity TV with X1
- Xfinity Home
- Xfinity Voice
- Xfinity Mobile
You will be paid through a prepaid gift card, up to $500 per year. Plus, each friend gets up to $100 for each service they enroll in.
Tip: Your friend only qualifies if they haven’t had Xfinity services in the past 120 days. You’ll also want to make sure they take advantage of your invite and start services within 30 days.
7. Earn up to $100 through PayPal’s refer-a-friend program.
Participating in PayPal’s refer-a-friend program is easy. Simply go to the “Invite a Friend” page and sign in to grab your personalized referral link to send your friends.
Then after your friend makes their first $5 purchase via PayPal or sends at least $5 to a friend, you’ll be rewarded with a $10 referral bonus. (And so will they.) You can get up to $100 per year in PayPal referral bonuses.
8. With bonuses, Acorns can pay over $500.
Acorns is an investing platform with a very low barrier to entry. You can get started with just $5. When you refer your friends and they make their first $5 investment, you’ll be rewarded with a $5 referral bonus to invest in your Acorns account.
Acorns will sometimes run even more incentive programs. For example, in early November 2022, you could earn an additional $500 bonus when you referred three friends over a 6-day period.
Tip: If you’re not already maxing out your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, the best way to use Acorns is through one of their “Later” accounts.
9. Rover pays you $20 – $50 to refer a friend.
Rover is an app that connects pet owners and pet sitters. If you refer a pet owner, they get $20 off their first booking as long as they book within 90 days. After the stay, you’ll get a $20 promo code for a discount on your next booking.
With the pet sitter refer-a-friend program, you can earn a $50 Visa gift card for each friend you refer.
10. The DoorDash referral bonus can be as high as $9,000 per year.
If you refer your friend to DoorDash as a diner, you’ll earn a modest referral bonus. The offer varies by region. In November 2022 I was offered $5 for each friend I referred who placed an order of $20+, up to 25 friends per year.
If you want to refer a friend as a DoorDash driver, the pay goes up. Again, the amount of the award varies based on the city and changes over time. Your friend will have a set amount of days to complete a specific number of deliveries. If they’re successful, you’ll earn the referral bonus.
For example, in 2022 some cities were offering a $600 referral bonus if your friend completed 290 deliveries within 60 days. Others were only paying as little as $200.
You can refer up to 15 drivers per year.
11. Instacart pays up to $2,500 when you refer a new shopper.
via Sam’s Club
When you refer a friend to Instacart as a customer, you’ll earn $10 after they complete their first delivery. You can refer up to 100 friends per year.
If you’re referring someone so they can start a side hustle with Instacart, you can also earn a bonus. This bonus varies by region, position, and demand, much like DoorDash. Your area may be paying $25, or it could pay up to $2,500 per shopper.
In order to qualify, you must have worked at least 40 hours for Instacart over the past six months.
12. Ibotta only pays $10 per friend. But there’s no annual cap.
Ibotta is one of the best rebate apps out there. Use it to earn cash back on groceries and retail purchases.
Every time you refer someone to Ibotta and they make a qualifying purchase, you get a $10 referral bonus. There’s no cap on this program, which means you can refer as many friends as you want.
Tip: Be sure to download the KCL app for more money-saving tips, deals, and coupons.
13. The sky’s the limit on your Rakuten earning potential.
You can earn cash back from over 3,500 stores with Rakuten, as well as get access to loads of killer coupons and promo codes.
You’ll earn $30 for each friend you refer to Rakuten when they complete a $30 qualifying purchase. The best part of this program is that there’s no cap on the number of friends you can refer. Your potential earnings are limitless.
14. Refer your friends to earn up to $580 in ThredUP credit.
The amount you earn through ThredUP’s referral program can vary throughout the year. In November 2022 I was offered $10 in ThredUP credit for each friend I referred. The max credit you can claim per year is $580.
Tip: Shopping for clothes on the cheap? Be sure to check out these top cheap online clothing stores!
15. If you have 500 friends, you can earn $5,000 with Drop.
Drop sells headphones and keyboards. If you’re a fan, you can earn $10 in credit for each friend you refer. While most programs have an annual cap for how much you can earn through their refer-a-friend program, Drop has a lifetime cap: $5,000.
16. Get $5 for each friend you refer to Decluttr.
Decluttr helps you earn a little extra cash by cleaning out your home. They buy items like books, phones, CDs, DVDs, video games, and even Legos. Decluttr’s refer-a-friend program pays $5 for each referral, with no limit on the total you can earn.
What are your favorite referral bonus apps? And how much have you earned? Share your story in the comments!