Did you know that donated blood is usually sold? Although most blood banks are nonprofits, the Red Cross and others often sell donated blood. The Red Cross alone sells about $2 billion worth of blood each year. Part of the money these organizations gain from selling blood is used to cover costs associated with blood testing and processing, as well as employee salaries.
Every time you donate, you give roughly one pint of blood. A single pint of blood sells for $180 to $300. You don’t have to give your blood away just to let a company get paid instead of you — at many blood banks, you can ask to receive payment for the blood you donate. Payments range from $10 to $60 per donation.
Selling your blood or plasma is not just a way to earn a little side income. People all over the world rely on the generosity of plasma donors whose valuable plasma proteins treat rare, chronic diseases. This article explains where to go, how to donate blood for money, how much you can get paid, what it’s like to give blood, whether blood donation money is considered taxable income, and more.
How Much Money Can You Earn Donating?
People usually talk about donating blood, but it’s what’s in your blood that matters: plasma. When you donate, it’s the plasma that most blood banks want. Plasma is about 90% water, while the other 10% is made up of salts, enzymes, antibodies, and proteins. You can legally donate plasma as often as twice per week, but some blood banks may have a stricter limit.
Prices for donating plasma vary. You can generally expect to receive about $30 per donation at most blood banks, but payments may range anywhere from $10 to $60 per donation. Blood banks usually pay you right after you donate blood, either via cash or prepaid debit card.
You can’t make donating plasma a full-time job, but it can be a reliable source of side income. If you find a blood bank in your area that pays $60 per donation and allows you to donate twice per week, you could earn up to about $500 per month, or about $6,000 per year. However, given the payment range and differing policies on donation frequency, it’s safer to assume you may earn around $80 to $240 per month.
All blood types (A, B, AB, and O) are paid the same amount, with one exception: If you have Rh-negative blood, you may be paid more than Rh-positive donors, since Rh-negative blood is rarer than Rh-positive blood.
The consensus from blood banks is that since you’re “donating,” any compensation you earn isn’t taxable income. If your donations were considered taxable, the blood bank would need to get your Social Security number and send you a W-9. As long as this doesn’t happen, you can be sure the income is not taxable.
Who’s Eligible to Donate Blood?
If you are between the ages of 18 and 65 and weigh more than 110 pounds (see our article to find out where you can weigh yourself for free), you’ve met the first two requirements for donating blood. You’ll also need to be in generally good health and will have to do some sort of physical examination at the blood bank before your first donation. Requirements vary slightly by state and by donation center.
You are ineligible to donate blood if you:
- Have or have had certain medical conditions:
- those who are HIV-positive
- those who have had hepatitis after their 11th birthday
- those who have had babesiosis or Chagas disease
- those who have risk factors for or a blood relative with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Take or have taken certain medications:
- those who take a blood clotter
- those who have taken etretinate (Tegison) for psoriasis
- those who take isotretinoin, a drug used to treat severe acne, commonly referred to as Accutane, Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Myorisan, or Zenatane.
- those who have ever had drug injections not prescribed by a doctor (think illegal drugs or steroids)
- Have certain travel experiences:
- those who have visited a malaria-risk country recently (See the CDC’s website for specific details if you have traveled or lived in a malaria-risk country.)
- those who have received a blood transfusion in the UK or France between 1980 and the present
- those who have spent significant time outside of the country recently
- Fall into one of these other categories:
- those who have exchanged sex for money or drugs
- those who have gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months (This rule may not apply in all states.)
Keep in mind that there are some potential disadvantages to blood donation including bruising, continued bleeding, physical weakness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and pain. For may donors and sellers, the side effects of donation are mild and are outweighed by the opportunity to help people (and, in some cases, make a little money). However, before donating, it’s best to consider your own well-being and whether you have had particularly strong side effects after having blood drawn in the past.
Where to Donate Blood for Money
There are more than 400 licensed and certified plasma collection centers located in the United States. Each center may have slightly different rules about age requirements and additional medical requirements, such as brief physical exams or drug tests. Please note: Not all plasma donation centers offer compensation to donors. See our article for a list of plasma donation centers near you.
What to Expect When Donating Blood for Money
Typically, you do not need an appointment to donate plasma. You will have to bring the following with you:
- Current photo I.D.
- Social Security or Border Crossing ID
- Proof of local address
Once you arrive, you’ll go through the following sequence of events:
- A donation center associate will greet you and check your identification. If it is your first visit, you will receive a physical examination from a medical professional.
- A technician will take a blood sample from your finger.
- You’ll complete a donor history questionnaire.
- If you’re determined eligible to donate plasma, you’ll be taken to the donation area.
- A technician will prepare your arm by wiping it with antiseptic. Then, he or she will insert the needle and start drawing blood. When the needle is inserted, you may feel some initial discomfort. But once the needle is in, you shouldn’t feel any pain.
- While the blood is drawn, plasma is separated from other blood components, and red blood cells will be returned to your body. The whole process takes two hours on your first visit and approximately an hour and a half for subsequent visits.
- After completing a successful donation, you’ll receive compensation for your time. The amount and form of compensation will vary by agency and individual donation center, but donors are typically paid with a prepaid, reloadable card.
Before you head to your appointment, you should eat a healthy meal (stay away from too many fats) and drink two extra glassfuls of water. Donating can leave you more susceptible to dehydration.
Right after your donation, you may feel a bit dizzy. Make sure to eat some food, drink plenty of water, and relax for a bit. Most donation centers will offer doughnuts, cookies, juice, water, and other treats to help you re-energize. Leave your bandage on for at least four or five hours after your blood draw. If your arm is a bit sore, you can take acetaminophen or ice the area. You should feel completely normal in a day or two, or even sooner.
Now you know how to donate blood for money. If you’re eligible, donating plasma can be a great way to earn a little side income and feel like you’re helping people at the same time. You can earn up to about $500 per month selling plasma, but will more typically earn between $80 and $240 per month. But, please note, not all plasma donation centers compensate donors. For example, the Red Cross relies solely on volunteers. You can find donation centers nationwide, with KEDPlasma, CSL Plasma, and BioLife Plasma being some of the biggest. Many companies have multiple locations and work in multiple states.