Thinking About Selling Plasma? You Could Make $70/Week (Plus Free Cookies)

Donate plasma
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We’ve written about plenty of flexible jobs for college students — but what about a gig that lets you study while you earn?

Selling or donating plasma is exactly that!

Because most of this “gig” is down time, you can catch up on reading or studying while you donate — and leave with a free cookie.

Beats that lackluster study group at the library.

Here’s the skinny on this life-saving money-maker.

Who is Eligible to Sell or Donate Plasma?

Eligibility requirements vary by state, but some are pretty standard.

For example, to give plasma to Biotest, which operates donation centers in several states around the U.S., you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds.
  • Be in general good health., a general plasma donation resource, echoes those requirements, adding you must:

  • Pass two health screenings.
  • Test non-reactive for transmissible viruses (e.g. hepatitis and HIV).

It also recommends you:

  • Follow a suggested diet, including 50 to 80 grams of protein daily.
  • Notify donation center staff if you’ve had recent surgery, gotten a tattoo or piercing within 12 months or are taking any medication. These won’t necessarily disqualify you from donating, but they’re important to know.

Where to Sell Plasma

In addition to simply entering “plasma donation centers” into Google or Yelp (really!) to find local centers, try these sites to search for centers nationwide:

What Do You Need to Bring?

Biotest asks donors to show a photo ID with your current address and “a document with (your) Social Security number or an INS number.”

Some centers also require a proof of residency, like a piece of mail or lease in your name with your current address.

Writer Charlotte Edwards talked with some students around the country who earn money selling plasma without cutting into their study time. Here’s what she learned:

How Much Do You Get Paid for Donating Plasma?

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It’s common for plasma donation centers to pay between $20 and $30 per visit, up to twice a week, Edwards found.

Courtney McClellan, a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho, sold plasma during the school year for at least three semesters. She’d earn $25 for her first session of the week and $45 for her second — that’s $70 a week, or $1,120 for a 16-week semester!

Want to earn even more? Edwards recommends:

“Before you make an appointment, do a quick search online or in your local papers to look for opportunities to make more money. Many plasma centers offer sign-up bonuses that significantly increase the amount you earn for your donation.

If you can’t find one, see if someone in your social network can refer you. … Chances are, you’ll find a way to score a little extra for your first few visits.”

What to Expect When You Donate Plasma

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McClellan told Edwards she’s “experienced a few issues during the physical that nearly prevented her from donating. She’s had times when her heart rate or temperature have been slightly too high, and once was even told not to wear nail polish.”

If there’s a snafu with your physical, you may be able to re-do it or just reschedule your appointment.

Then comes the needle…

In case you’re worried about this part, Edwards describes the actual extraction:

“Once you get the green light to give, the nurse inserts a needle in your arm. A sterile machine draws your blood out and separates the plasma from the blood cells, which are then returned to your body.

“As soon as this process starts, you’re free to study or read while you sit for the duration of the draw. Jessica Gierach (who has sold plasma in Wisconsin) explained that it takes time to get used to the sensation, and she favors using small electronic devices over reading physical books. … From start to finish, the whole process takes less than two hours.”

Not too bad, right?

Tips for Selling Plasma

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Gierach gave plasma twice a week for most of a summer, but had to stop after a few months because of her body’s low iron levels.

To ensure you’re in good health for giving plasma, follow these health and fitness tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Maintain a healthy iron level by eating iron-rich foods, like red meat, fish poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals and raisins.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
  • Drink an extra 16 ounces of water before your appointment.
  • Eat a healthy meal before your appointment. Avoid fatty foods like hamburgers, fries or ice cream (yes, all the best foods). These can affect your blood and make tests ineffective.

In general, “don’t go in for a session if you’re feeling under the weather,” Edwards recommends. “Chances are you’ll fail the physical and have wasted your time and energy in the process.”

How Often Can You Donate?

Like the center McClellan visited, most plasma centers (e.g. OctoPharma, Biotest) let you donate up to twice a week. The FDA considers twice a week safe, with a minimum of 48 hours between donation times.

Can You Donate Plasma For Free?

Finally, earning money is great — but what if you’re just trying to do something nice for people in need?

You can donate plasma without getting paid. The Red Cross accommodates plasma donation along with regular blood and platelet donations.

However you decide to do it, you won’t get rich giving plasma. But an extra $200 or $300 a month isn’t bad for a side gig that lets you read or catch up on Netflix while you earn!

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post,, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).