Did you know you can earn money donating plasma at a nearby plasma donation center? In fact, it’s possible to make up to $300 per month by donating plasma – and it helps people.
If you have experience donating blood, this can be a worthy side hustle to boost your income.
What is Plasma?
Blood plasma is the clear liquid part of the blood. It contains water, some enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. They use it to create products that can help folks with blood clotting disorders and other diseases.
To get just the clear liquid part:
- Your blood is drawn
- the plasma is separated
- and the blood is returned to your body
The plasma donation process takes about an hour and a half and you can make between $20 to $50 per donation.
How Much Do You Get Paid?
How much you can make donating plasma is based on a bunch of different factors. Also, who much you make each month will depend on how often you donate.
You can expect to be paid around $20 to $50 per donation. We show the amount as a range because it depends on the volume of plasma you're allowed to donate each time you make a plasma donation. The FDA sets the guidelines and it's based on weight – the ranges are 110-149 pounds, 150-174 pounds, and 175-400 pounds. The more you weigh, the more plasma you're allowed to donate, and the more money you'll make.
Most places will pay you via a debit card to make the payment process smoother too. You're not in the charitable arena of the Red Cross anymore, these are businesses and so are you.
Also, each plasma donation takes approximately 1 hour versus 10 minutes to donate red blood. You must also make two donations before the plasma center can start using your donation – and before you receive payment.
Look for First Time Donor Bonuses
Blood plasma is a competitive business. You should compare how much you can earn when there are multiple donation centers nearby.
You may be able to get higher than typical payouts, but not always.
Start by searching for a first-time plasma donor bonus to increase your payout (at least the first few times). Many centers publish their promotions on their website. For instance, you might be able to earn $600 in your first month instead of the standard $300 monthly payout.
A lot of plasma donation centers run promotions where you get paid more if you donate more often. For example, ADMA BioCenters in Atlanta has a coupon for an extra $5 on your first donation and pays more if you have a special antibody (Anti-D).
It feels a little weird, seeing coupons and promotions on a blood plasma donation site, but that's how this world works.
Is Donating Plasma Taxable?
Plasma centers load your payments onto a prepaid debit card. However, they are unlikely to provide you with a tax form reporting your taxable income like your day job.
Not getting an IRS Form 1099-MISC doesn’t let you off the hook at tax time. The IRS requires you to file a tax return if you made more than $400 doing “gig work – and donating blood counts as gig work.
You are responsible for reporting your donation income when filing your taxes. Setting aside a few dollars from each payment can help you avoid a tax surprise.
How to Find a Plasma Donation Center Near Me
The FDA inspects plasma donation centers for compliance with laws but the FDA doesn't manage them. They're run by companies so there's no central clearinghouse, you need to just search for a local one near you, confirm it's in compliance, and then see which one makes it worth your while.
Here are the major companies with many locations across the United States:
Octapharma Plasma has over a hundred locations spread out across the United States, chances are you'll be able to find one of their plasma donation centers near you. The website is a little strange in that there are locations without hours or contact information, so they may be closed or future locations.
Octapharma Plasma pays with a prepaid debit card and payments for future donations will be put on that card. Pay varies by location.
They even have occasional frequency bonuses and a $250 New Donor bonus on the website. For example, in the month of February, you can earn extra if you donate more often. The bonus varies from location to location so check to see what the local promotion is.
The donor promotions can be higher when plasma demand is high but there are few donors.
Grifols has over a hundred locations across the United States under a variety of names. You can search for Grifols, Interstate Blood Bank, Plasma Biological Resources, Talecris Plasma Resources, and Biomat USA. It depends on where in the U.S. you're located.
Grifols pays with a prepaid debit card as well.
CSL Plasma has locations in 39 states and oftentimes many locations within a state. Alabama, for example, has four locations (Auburn, Birmingham, and two in Montgomery). They say new donors can earn up to $400.
Grifols pays with a reloadable prepaid card and has an iGive Rewards Program where you can earn points and redeem them for different rewards.
BioLife Plasma Services
BioLife has locations in 28 states across the United States. New donors at select centers can earn up to $600 in the first month. Each center may run their own local promotions.
Your income loads onto a BioLife Debit Card. This debit card works at any merchant accepting Mastercard and over 900,000 ATMs.
BPL Plasma has centers in 13 states primarily in the southern United States. It’s possible to earn up to $300 per month. Promotions vary by donation center to earn more.
KEDPlasma has locations in 11 states. You will need to contact your local donation center for payment details. Returning donors might be able to redeem a “$20 lapse bonus coupon” if it’s been at least 14 days since your last full donation.
All compensation loads onto a Wirecard prepaid debit card. You can also enroll in the loyalty rewards program (Kedrewards) for additional bonus opportunities.
Atlanta residents can visit ADMA Biocenters in Marietta. New donors who live within 50 miles of the center can schedule an appointment. It’s possible to earn up to $400 per month and potentially more if you qualify for specialty programs.
ADMA pays you with a “cash card” that links to an electronic payment account. You can access your funds electronically or by making debit card purchases.
DonatingPlasma.org isn't itself a plasma donation company but a website set up by the donation industry to help educate and inform potential donors. They also have a plasma center search tool that will find a plasma donation center near you from their list of 450+ locations.
Search for reviews of the centers and see what others are saying, then pick one that works for you.
Who Is Eligible to Donate Plasma?
To be qualified to donate plasma, you need to be 18-69 years old and over 110 pounds.
Local and state laws may override center requirements. For example, in Nebraska, you must be 19 years or older or produce written consent. Other centers may have a maximum age limit of 65 years to donate.
Each company will have its own donation requirements, from weight to age to general health, but you can check their website for specifics.
If you are in good health, you're generally eligible. Many of the eligibility rules are the same as red blood donation. If you have any recent piercings or tattoos within the last 12 months, you may not be eligible.
You cannot donate plasma while pregnant. It’s possible to start donating again between six and twelve months after having your baby.
Can You Donate Plasma After COVID-19?
It’s possible to donate plasma after recovering from COVID-19. The FDA encourages you to start donating after testing negative and having “a complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days prior to a donation.”
Your “convalescent plasma” may now have antibodies that can help others fight COVID-19.
What Should You Bring?
Proof of address, a valid photo ID and proof of your Social Security Number. Your name must exactly match on those documents. Proof of address can be what's on your photo ID.
In preparing, make sure you eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids.
What is the Donation Process Like?
My blogging friend Melissa Blevins has donated plasma and shares her experiences with the plasma donation process: (below is just a small excerpt, read her entire post for the full details)
During the blood plasma donation exam, you’ll be moved to an exam room where a staff member will ask several questions about your medical history and any tattoos, brandings, and/or piercings you have currently or have gotten in the past 12 months.
They clean the injection site with iodine, and they insert a needle for the plasmapheresis process (extracting your blood, separating the plasma, and putting your blood back into your body).
The needle feels exactly like an IV. It only hurts if they can’t get a vein, blow a vein, or you wiggle around a lot during the process.
I suggest taking a stress ball to squeeze so that your flow isn’t interrupted and you’re able to complete the process faster.
Sounds just like donating red blood.
How Long Does It Take?
Your first plasma donation takes longer than future visits. The first donation will take around two hours because you'll need to fill out paperwork. Return donation visits should only take around an hour and a half.
If you are larger, the process will take a little longer because you'll be donating more plasma (and be paid more).
Be sure to bring a book or a streaming device to help pass the time and to help you relax. Many plasma centers offer free Wi-Fi.
Remember that a complete plasma donation requires two separate visits. The minimum waiting period is one day between the two donations. It’s possible to donate on Monday and again on Wednesday.
The maximum interval between donations can be 14 days or you forfeit your payment and the plasma center disposes of your first donation. Some centers hold your first donation for up to six months until you make your second donation.
You won’t earn money donating plasma if you only visit the plasma center once. Plasma centers issue payment after you donate the second part.
How Often Can You Donate Plasma?
This will vary from place to place, the American Red Cross only lets you donate once every 28 days.
Private centers let you donate up to twice in seven days with at least one day in between. You want to check with the center to see often you can safely donate. Frequent donors can receive weekly payments.
Donating plasma weekly is how they come up with figures like “make $300 a month.”
Are There Side Effects & Risks?
Donating plasma is a relatively safe and well-understood process but some people can experience side effects after donating plasma. Many of these side effects are similar to donating red blood cells.
Since the process involves needles, some donors can experience bruising and/or tenderness at the needle injection site. There may be swelling, discoloration, or pain but should generally subside relatively quickly. Donors can also react to the disinfectant being used to clean the site, often iodine.
Since the process removes fluid from the body, some donors can experience dizziness or feel faint. It's a reaction to the stress on the body and the loss of blood volume. You can prepare to mitigate this by ensuring you drink plenty of fluids ahead of time but it's not a foolproof preparation.
Less common is a citrate reaction. Citrate is used as an anticoagulant so that your blood doesn't clot during the collection process. Donors can react to it and it often presents itself as a tingling feeling in the fingers or around the nose and mouth.
In more severe cases, it can cause shivering, a rapid or slowing pulse, twitching, and shortness of breath.
Why Can You Make Money Donating Plasma but Not Red Blood Cells?
It’s not illegal to make money donating blood but there are ethical concerns for paying blood donors. Paying for blood donations can reduce the quality of donations as people with underlying conditions have more incentive to lie and scam the blood donation center.
Blood donations are easier to make. Red blood cells only require a single 10-minute donation but plasma donations require two 90-minute donations for the donation to be usable. People are less likely to provide a bad sample because plasma donations require more effort than going to a local blood drive.
Here's another kicker about why you can earn money donating plasma – you're not donating to the Red Cross. You're donating to a business. They will sell your plasma to companies that turn them into products. It's only fair they compensate you for the time and your plasma, right?
You Can Donate Plasma for Free
Does the idea of selling plasma for money irk you? Do stories of people selling plasma for money leave a bad taste in your mouth? No problem – you can donate it for free if you want.
The American Red Cross collects plasma too and will let you donate every 28 days. Just call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.
Is Donating Plasma Ethical?
As an aside, I've been asked whether I think donating plasma is ethical.
Yes, it's perfectly ethical.
It's your blood, your time, and you should do whatever you want with it. I've heard stories of people earning a nice supplemental income donating plasma and paying off their debts with it.
Being able to earn money donating plasma is a legit way to help others while paying your bills. You only need up to two hours a week to donate plasma. No special skills are necessary which makes this an easy way to earn extra income–if you’re comfortable with needles.
Have you donated plasma?