Tens of thousands of people donate plasma every month. Some do it to help others in need of the treatments, drugs, and procedures that donating plasma provides.
Others seemingly do it for the money.
Making Money Donating Plasma
Yes. You can make some money by finding a center in your area and donating plasma.
The question really is, how much can you make, and is it worth it?
First-time donors receive $60 for their first donation. You are encouraged to come back twice per week, which is the maximum. For that, you will be considered a “qualified donor”.
Qualified donors are paid $100 per week, if they donate twice, every week for a month. Otherwise, you’re paid $30 per donation.
If you become a qualified donor you are also eligible for bonuses, usually $10 per week.
Maximum Monthly Earnings?
Qualified donors can earn up to $110 per week: $440 monthly. Max.
Remember that all donation centers are different. Some will pay less then what I’m reporting here. But, in all my research I haven’t found any locations that pay more.
The compensation will, of course, depend on your center’s need for donors. Centers located in highly populated areas like LA, for example, will most likely pay a little less.
As you would expect, there are some requirements you would have to meet in order to donate.
The basic requirements to become a plasma donor are this. You must be:
- 18 years old
- Able to pass a medical exam
- Submit to an extensive medical history screening
- Test non-reactive for viruses like HIV and hepatitis
- Follow a diet that includes 50 to 80 grams of protein daily
As you can see, there are some basic requirements that you would probably expect. However, there are also some major inconveniences you must prepare for if you want to donate plasma.
Is it Realistic To Turn A Profit?
You have to be in reasonably good health to pass the medical exam, which rules-out anyone with high blood pressure or other similar conditions. Also, you can’t donate if you’ve had a tattoo or piercing in the last twelve months.
If you’ve traveled to certain countries like England or France you’re ineligible also.
These, and many other inconveniences are probably what keeps most people from donating. But there are other, more serious inconveniences that make donating plasma unrealistic when it comes to making money.
For example, the amount of protein your body needs in order for you to qualify to be a donor is quite a lot (50 to 80 grams).
Depending on how you consume that protein, it could cost a lot.
High protein foods are going to be things like meat, eggs, and nuts, all of which can be pretty expensive. Even if you eat really plain, store bought foods, it's going to balloon your diet budget. 6oz of chicken breast contains about 43 grams of protein and may cost you about $2 from the grocery store.
Immediately that's another $5 to your daily budget of food. But what happens when you get sick of eating that?
Even doing something cheap and quick like a protein shake will cost about $1 per serving for cheap whey protein, and you'll need 2-3 scoops per day, costing about about $21 a week. That’s 19% of your possible weekly earnings, and that’s just to qualify you.
Don’t forget your body needs that protein for recovery. Without it, you’re at a much higher risk for illnesses like common colds. Of course, when you have a cold you can’t donate (not that you’d want to).
And since it can take three to four hours per session to donate, most of your day is already gone. Most people report feeling dizzy or fatigued for hours after donating, so it’s not like you can go straight to work afterwards.
Some even report prolonged random dizzy spells for days after donating. That could mean your whole weekend is spent in recovery.
The costs to your health are quite significant. You are now more susceptible to colds, which means spending more on medicines, doctor visits and time off work.
Speaking of work, if you miss even one day, your profits from donating have really taken a hit. If you do have a family that depends on you, you have to also consider how the, illness, dizzy spells and fatigue will affect your life at home. Dizziness is not guaranteed of course, but it is a risk you have to consider.
If you spread that illness to your family and the costs begin to multiply quickly. It's hard enough to maintain a home without caring for sick kids and trying to recuperate from your own sickness.
Never mind that, the fatigue alone is enough to bring your household duties to a screeching halt. Again, we're talking worst case scenario here, but these are all things you need to think about before skipping off to donation center.
Oh, and I almost forgot — you no longer receive cash from most plasma centers.
Many have moved to using pre-paid debit cards that pay you once your donation is “accepted”, whatever that means. In some cases, you may not get the funds transferred to your card for 24 hours, or more.
Putting your money on a card also opens you up to a number of fees, the most certain of which, will be the ATM fees. Of course, you can get around the ATM fees by using a machine that is “in network.”
I took the liberty of checking on that and found that there are four (not thousands…four!) types of “in network” ATMs you can use without being charged a fee.
- Money Pass
- 7 Eleven
Good luck finding a 7 Eleven. I haven't seen one of those since I was a kid. In fact, the only one that rings a bell is Citibank.
All this to say, you are definitely going to be charged an additional fee to get your cash.
Minus the 19% to reach the proper protein levels, missing an entire day of work (maybe more), increased sickness, and the cost of gas to get you there and back, you’re looking at a very small amount of actual net profit. I would be willing to bet that it isn't much than minimum wage…and not the $15/hour fast food wage from progressive states New York and California!
It seems like a lot of people turn to options like donating plasma in times of financial stress. It may be a quick fix to small money problem like buying groceries for the week or paying a bill that's coming up soon.
But as a source of regular income, it's probably not something that's sustainable in the long term, and it doesn't actually earn you that much once you calculate for time and costs.
When you consider the potential dangers to your health, and the fact that there is no future potential for income growth, the positives of making money by selling your plasma suddenly don't seem as great.
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Make Money Donating Plasma
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I’ve been donating plasma for a couple of months now and it’s worked pretty well for my family and me. Every time I go my protein level is excellent and I’m a vegetarian. I don’t change my diet at all to donate other than drinking more water, and that’s free. The first session can be lengthy because of all of the initial paperwork but after that the process usually takes an hour or less. I’m a stay at home mom so it’s a good way for me to contribute a little financially. The process does make me a little woozy sometimes but I recover fairly quickly. I go in to donate after my husband gets off work so he takes care of the kids while I donate and recover. It’s never been an issue. Financially it gives us a bit more “wiggle room” at the end of the month. I also like that I’m providing something very valuable to people who need it, just like donating blood, and that alone is a reason to not discourage people from donating. Overall, donating has been a very positive experience for me and I encourage others to do it because plasma saves lives.