If you’re looking for the best referral programs online, you know how easy it is to make some side cash by joining them. You tell your friends and family about the product or service you use or like, share the link where they can get it, and earn some money in return. Pretty simple, right?
There are, however, a few things to know about referral programs before you start joining them and expecting a reward. Even though anyone can become a referrer, a person who recommends a product or service, there is one requirement you need to satisfy to become one.
Also, they are not the same as affiliate programs. Knowing how to make a difference between them can help you avoid wasting your time when looking for a referral program to join. Finally, not every referral program is worth joining.
This is why we’ve made a list of the best referral programs for 2023. They can also be useful to anyone looking for referral marketing ideas for their own business. But before we review each of them, let’s explain what they are and how they are different from affiliate programs.
What Is a Referral Program?
A referral program is a system that encourages existing customers of a brand to recommend their product or service to family and friends. It’s a word-of-mouth marketing strategy that helps brands reach more people. At the same time, happy and loyal customers that advocate the brand are rewarded with discounts, gift cards, free products, or cash.
As you can see, it’s a win-win situation for both sides. The brand gets new customers that will pay to use their product or service (in most cases), and the referrer who makes their network a source of customers gets a reward, so everyone is happy.
And if the new customers are happy with the product or service, they can also become a referrer and earn a reward by recommending it to their friends and family.
There are no requirements to become a referrer, except that you have to be a customer of the product or service you want to refer. So why not earn some money from something you already use or like, right?
If this sounds like an affiliate program to you, it’s not. They are two different marketing strategies, and we’ll help you make a difference between them.
Affiliate Program vs. Referral Program
Many people think affiliate programs are the same as referral programs, mostly because they both involve recommending a product or link and getting paid for it. Both marketing strategies focus on boosting brand awareness, increasing sales, and getting more customers. However, the program participants and the rewards are different.
For starters, the participants of referral programs are usually existing customers, so if you want to be a referrer, you must purchase the product or service or join a program before referring it and start earning from it. On the other hand, the participants of affiliate programs are usually content creators that don’t need to purchase the product or service to start recommending it on their site, blog, social media, or YouTube channel.
The next difference is the audience. As a referrer, you can earn from the product or service you use by recommending it to your friends and family. On the other hand, as an affiliate, you can earn a lot more as you’ll be recommending the brand to your entire audience.
Another difference is the marketing channel. With referral programs, you’ll most likely use social media and email to recommend the product or service you use and leave your link for your friends and family to buy it. With affiliate programs, you can promote the brand’s product or service in your blog posts, videos, reviews, and even social media.
When it comes to rewards, referrers usually get free products, discounts, or commissions. On the other hand, affiliates earn a commission for each sale made through their link or each new user joining.
Lastly, referral programs can have a limited number of referrals, whereas affiliate programs have no limitations in that part.
Now that you know what referral programs are and how they differ from affiliate programs, we can suggest the best ones to join in 2023.
Full Providers Review
With hundreds of referral programs on the internet, choosing the best ones to join takes work. Some may not be active right now, and others may have unclear or confusing terms and conditions. That’s why we’ve scoured the internet to find the best referral programs for 2023 that are easy to join and give the most valuable rewards.
Pawns.app is a free app that allows you to earn a passive income by sharing your bandwidth with others for legal online activities and taking paid online surveys in your spare time. Desktop and mobile apps are available worldwide, so all you need to start using them is your phone or desktop and an internet connection. With IPRoyal standing behind it, you can rest assured your data privacy and earnings are guaranteed.
Pawns.app lets you maximize your earnings by joining its free referral program and recommending it to your friends and family. Everyone who joins the app using your referral link gets a $1 starting bonus and brings you a $1 when they make their first withdrawal. But that’s just the bonus. The program will pay you 10% of their earnings for life, or 10% of every payout they make.
But don’t worry, Pawns.app won’t take that 10% of your friend’s earnings. They will keep the total earnings while you get your 10% straight from the app. Now that’s a great passive income source as long as your referrals stay active.
Pawns.app will give you all the tools, media, and other materials you need to attract more referrals. The best part is that the reward is cash, unlike many other referral programs that offer free products or discounts. You can get paid through PayPal or Bitcoin.
- Commission rate – Pawns.app pays you up to 20% commission from earnings made by referrals for life.
- Getting paid – you can receive payouts from the earnings of referrals 30 days after they join and start using the app.
- Payment methods – PayPal, Bitcoin, and virtual gift cards.
- Cookie duration – 90 days.
Toluna is a prominent survey site that rewards you for answering questions about popular brands and your habits as a customer. You can use the site on your desktop, laptop, or phone while waiting in line or commuting to work or school. Every time you complete a survey, you’ll be rewarded with Toluna points. You can redeem these points for vouchers from great shops and brands or cash through PayPal. Signing up and becoming a part of Toluna’s community is free.
The survey site has a referral program that can help you increase your earnings by inviting friends and family to join it. You can share the link on whatever platform you want so you can attract more referrals. As long as they use your unique referral link to sign up on the platform, you can get 500 points for each completed registration. To give you an idea of how much that is, 300 Toluna points are worth $1.
However, there’s a limitation on the number of new people you can refer per month, so the platform can check all of them and ensure they are real people. You can bring up to ten new friends on the platform monthly and boost your earnings from their registrations.
- Commission rate – 500 points for each completed registration.
- Payment methods – PayPal.
- Cookie duration – 30 to 100 days, depending on the location.
Ipsos i-Say is a legitimate market research company that lets you earn by sharing your opinion. It’s a paid survey site available in many countries across North America and Europe. Although it may offer fewer survey opportunities than other survey sites on the market, it’s still worth considering if you need a few extra bucks in your pocket. Completing each survey will give you points you can exchange for cash or gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc.
Ipsos i-Say has an affiliate program called the “Refer a Friend” program that allows you to invite friends on the survey site and increase your earnings. The program pays 100 points for each new person you bring to Ipsos i-Say. However, you can only invite people that live in the US. As long as you invite a friend from the US who successfully registers on the platform and completes at least one survey, you’ll get 100 points.
Even though Ipsos i-Say allows you to invite as many friends as you want, you’ll get rewarded for only five new successful referrals per month within five days of completing their first survey.
- Commission rate – 100 points ($1) per referral, limited to 5 referrals per month.
- Getting paid – 5 days after each referral completes their first survey.
- Payment methods – PayPal, gift cards (Starbucks, Amazon, Target, and more).
The global market research and data analytics company YouGov can be a decent passive income source for anyone willing to share their opinion on different topics. You can find many interesting surveys and earn points after completing them. The company notifies you about new surveys being available by emailing you, so you don’t miss any opportunity to earn. Completing YouGov surveys will give you points that you can redeem for cash.
You can join their free referral program and earn additional points for referring friends and family to the survey platform. The program will pay you 200 points or £2 for each person who joins YouGov using your original referral link. However, you’ll only get paid after your friend completes six surveys.
You can promote your referral link on social media, private messages, or anywhere else on the internet, provided that you’re not posing as or claiming to represent them or attempting to deceive or mislead prospective members into using your link to join.
- Commission rate – 200 points or £2 for every new YouGov user who signs up and completes six surveys.
- Payment methods – gift cards or bank transfer (after reaching the minimum payout threshold of £50).
- Cookie duration – 30 days.
With over 10 million members within 15 years, PrizeRebel is one of the market’s largest and oldest survey sites. The platform connects you with many survey opportunities, allowing you to earn some side income in your spare time. Completing PrizeRebel surveys earns you points that can be exchanged for cash via PayPal or bank transfer, or gift cards from Walmart, Amazon, Target, Starbucks, etc., after reaching the minimum payout threshold of 200 points.
Joining the PrizeRebel referral program gives you access to an unique referral link you can use to invite friends, co-workers, and family to join as well. You can share the link on social media, emails, etc., and increase your PrizeRebel earnings whenever someone uses it to sign up on the platform.
To get your share of their earnings, your friend must use your referral link and sign up to be counted as your referral. The program gives you up to 30% of all the points earned by each referral. So if your friend earns, let’s say, 100 points, you’ll automatically get 30 points. The best part is that there’s no lifetime limit to how much you can earn, which is a great way to set up a passive income stream.
- Commission rate – 30% of your referrals’ earnings.
- Payment methods – bank deposit, gift cards, PayPal, online game codes.
- Cookie duration – N/A.
MarketAgent is an online research agency and survey platform based in Austria, giving people an opportunity to earn passive income in their spare time. Registering on the platform is free and easy, and so is completing your profile. Both of these things will give you points that will help you get started. Completing each survey will give you anywhere between 10 and 250 points, where 100 points are worth around $1.25. You can exchange these points for cash via PayPal or Skrill.
The platform has a free referral program that lets you invite your friends or family and earn a commission of 50 points per user. So whenever someone uses your referral link to sign up on MarketAgent, you get 50 to 150 extra points. However, they have to complete one survey so you can receive your bonus.
The program will give you promotional banners that you can use to promote MarketAgent anywhere you want. Also, there’s no limitation on the number of new referrals per month, so you can invite everyone you know older than 13.
- Commission rate – $1.20 per referral.
- Payment methods – PayPal or Skrill, with a minimum payout limit of 200 points.
- Cookie duration – N/A.
Swagbucks is more than just a survey site, as the platform gives you a few ways to earn some side cash. Besides taking online surveys, you can also earn by watching videos, playing games, shopping online, and even making it your default search engine. The platform pays in SB points, where 100 points are equal to $1. You can exchange your SB points for cash and receive them through PayPal or gift cards from over 1,500 retailers, including Amazon and Tesco.
The Swagbucks referral program lets you earn 10% of the earnings from every new person you bring to the platform. You can invite your friends and family by sharing your unique referral link and get your share from their points for life. As long as they stay active, you’ll receive your share. The platform allows you to invite as many friends as you want and earn 10% of whatever they earn and whenever they earn it.
If your friend earns 500 SB points in one day, you’ll get 50 SB points in return. So, the more people you invite, the more chances to earn.
- Commission rate – a flat rate of $2.20 for each lead that signs up for Swagbucks through your link.
- Payment methods – PayPal or bank transfer.
- Cookie duration – 30 days.
OnePoll is a legit survey site only available in the UK and the US. It allows anyone from these regions to earn a passive income by completing online surveys. Although it doesn’t pay as much as other survey sites on the market, it can still help you pay for your morning coffee. Completing one survey can take anywhere between 2 and 10 minutes and give you around $0.25. The platform has a high reputation and is praised for its reliable customer support.
The OnePoll referral program can help you maximize your earnings by inviting your friends and family members to join. Each friend that uses your referral link to register on the platform will earn you $0.50. Also, once they reach a particular earning milestone, you’ll get a bonus. For example, when they reach $20, you’ll get a $1 bonus or a $2.50 bonus when they earn $40.
You can refer up to 15 people on the platform per month, which means you can’t invite an unlimited number of friends.
- Commission rate – $0.50 per registration, $1 bonus when your referral earns $20, $2.50 when they earn $40, limited to 15 new referrals per month.
- Payment methods – PayPal, bank transfer.
- Cookie duration – N/A.
How to Make Your Referral Program Work?
If you’re considering making a referral program, checking out the ones on our list will give you an idea of how a successful referral program looks. But here are a few more things you can do to maximize your chances of success and make it work.
The first thing is to make sure you know your customers. Once you understand their needs and wants, you can create a program that is tempting enough to join and encourage them to invite their friends and family.
Then, offer a reward your customers want. Whether that’s a gift card, discount, or free access to a service, it has to be something that they find helpful. To make your referral program even more tempting, you may want to offer a reward for their referrals as well.
Also, make the registration process as simple and easy as possible, as people don’t want a complex sign-up process. Encouraging online reviews will help you get noticed, gain a reputation, and avoid being regarded as a scam.
Last but not least, you can build a referral program with other small business owners to team up and tap into each other’s existing networks so that you significantly increase your number of prospects quickly.
Types of Referral Programs You Should Know About
Whether you want to create or join a referral program, knowing the different types out there can help you make the right choice. So the most common types of referral programs include:
- Direct referral program – where the company asks their existing customers to invite friends as long as they are satisfied with the product or service.
- Implied referral program – where the company lets its target market know that they are doing work for similar clients without directly asking for a referral.
- Tangible referral program – where the company gives referral partners a product or service that they can provide to prospects for free.
- Community referral program – where the company partners with a nonprofit organization to support them, thus motivating them to do the same thing and promote your brand.
Tips for Increasing Referral Rates
Knowing your referral rate will help you measure the success of your referral program. You can calculate it by dividing the number of referral link clicks by the total number of purchases made from those links. If you’re not satisfied with the result, you can do a few things to improve it.
As we already mentioned, understanding your audience is crucial for the success of any referral program. Therefore, take all the time you need to get to know your existing customers and find out what they need and want. The point is to realize what excites them most so you can promise them a reward they can’t resist.
Gift cards, store credit, discounts, and free products are all attractive rewards, but the key is finding out the best choice for your customer.
Another thing you can do to improve your referral rate is to promote it everywhere, including your site, newsletters, and transactional emails. The more you promote it, the more people can find out about it and join it.
Last but not least, using A/B testing will help you make well-informed decisions in every stage of the referral marketing funnel. This way, you can modify certain aspects of your campaign to create the most successful version.
A referral program won’t get you rich, but joining multiple good programs will help you pay the bills. For that purpose, we’ve compiled a list of the eight best referral programs for 2023 and shared a short review of each.
And if you have a referral program or plan to create one, we hope the programs on our list will help you build it in a way that will bring you lots of new customers.
What is referral marketing?
Referral marketing is a marketing strategy for promoting products and services to new customers through existing customers. It’s encouraging people to tell their friends and family about the brand’s product or service they use.
How does a referral program work?
Companies ask customers to recommend their products or services and refer friends and family members. Those who manage to bring new customers to the company or brand get rewarded with gift cards, discounts, free goodies, etc.
What are referral activities?
It’s the assessment of data to locate problems and determine the advisability of referral to other specialists.