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There are all sorts of ways to earn a little side cash without having to hand out your resume. One savvy way to make some extra money is by using online refer-a-friend programs. Many companies offer these programs as a way to attract new customers, and they’ll use average consumers to do the legwork for them in exchange for a commission. 

Payouts for these programs vary a great deal. And while you may only make a couple of dollars here and there, you could potentially earn a few thousand dollars by simply serving as an affiliate for businesses. If you don’t want to take out a personal loan, the cash you earn from referrals can help get you out of debt or build an emergency fund.

Let’s take a closer look at refer-a-friend programs, how they work, and how much you can potentially earn.

What Is A Refer-A-Friend Program?

Also known as a “referral program,” a refer-a-friend program can help you earn rewards when you refer people to certain products or services. When your referral makes a purchase, you get rewarded. These programs offer an easy way to make extra money on goods you already use. 

Companies use refer-a-friend programs as a way to gain exposure and advertise their products and services. They grow their customer base using the social network of their current users. 

Current customers who already use company products serve as the perfect trusted ambassadors to help gain new leads and attract new customers. As a result of the relationship existing customers have with a business, refer-a-friend programs continue to be highly effective growth strategies.  

How Does A Refer-A-Friend Program Work?

Refer-a-friend programs work somewhat like affiliate programs in that you get paid when someone you refer to a specific product or service makes a purchase. Different referral programs vary in terms of how they work.

For instance, some programs work by inviting current customers to join their referral program and providing them with a unique link. When a customer buys through that specific link, the referring person earns a commission.  

Another variation of these programs includes providing existing customers with a referral code. When someone enters that unique code when they’re checking out, the referring individual earns a reward. 

It should be noted that you don’t necessarily have to be an existing customer of a particular company to take part in their refer-a-friend program. Sometimes all you need to do is create an account with your email address to get a custom referral link, and other times you may not need an account at all. 

You can share your referral link or code via word of mouth with your friends, family, and colleagues. Or, you can publish your link on your social media profiles, websites, and any other public platform.

Rewards are usually made in cash, gift cards, points, or store credit. 

Refer-A-Friend Programs You Can Earn Money With 

Many companies offer some form of refer-a-friend program that incentivizes current customers to encourage others to shop. Here are a few examples of companies that offer these programs: 


KOHO is a unique type of hybrid account that combines the perks of a savings and spending account, along with some features of a credit card. They even have a credit building program to help you with your credit score. This account is designed to help you streamline your finances and help you achieve your financial goals. 

Right now, KOHO is offering $20 to both you and your referred friend. You can refer up to 50 people, which means you can earn as much as $1,000 as part of KOHO’s referral program. 

To take part in the program, you’ll need to access your unique referral code, which you can find in the Perks tab on the KOHO app. You can then share the code any way you like. When someone uses your unique code to sign up with KOHO and makes a purchase within 30 days of registering an account, you and your friend will each be credited $20 into your KOHO accounts. 

Simplii Financial

Simplii Financial is an online-only bank backed by CIBC. Since there’s little overhead thanks to the lack of physical branches, the financial firm does not charge monthly fees.

Simplii Financial’s referral program pays out $125 when you refer someone to the bank and they activate or use: a No-Fee Chequing Account, a High-Interest Savings Account, a personal line of credit or if they use Global Money Transfer. Plus, your friend can earn $50. However, there is a $500 referral bonus when your referral takes out a mortgage. Your friend can earn $100. All of this happens when your referral uses your referral link. 


Drop is a cash back app that allows users to earn points when shopping at participating retailers. When you link your debit or credit card to the app, you can use the points you’ve earned for gift cards and other rewards.

Drop has a referral program that pays its users cash back rewards. To earn your referral reward, send your unique referral link provided by Drop to friends and family. When they use your link to join Drop, they’ll earn $10 that they can apply toward their first purchase of at least $50. Then, you’ll earn your own $10 credit that can be applied to your next purchase of any amount. You can earn a lifetime total of $5,000 in credits. 


TopCashBack is a digital cash back and coupon website and app. When you make online purchases using their links, you earn cash back. 

You can earn $10 cash back when you invite people to join TopCashback through your Tell-a-friend link. In order to be eligible for this reward, the person you refer must earn their first $10 Cash Back reward.

Paymi App 

Paymi is similar to the Drop app in that you can collect cash back rewards when you use your linked debit or credit card to make purchases. You can earn cash back when you make purchases at participating merchants, both online and in-store. 

Right now, Paymi will give you $5 for every referral you make as soon as the person you refer makes their first qualified purchase. 

Investment Apps With Refer-A-Friend Programs 

Not only can you earn rewards by referring friends and family to cash back programs such as those just mentioned, but there are also referral programs offered by several popular investment apps, including the following:

Wealthsimple Referral

Wealthsimple is an online self-directed investing platform that makes it easy for investors to buy and sell stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on stock exchanges. 

By referring people through a Wealthsimple referral code, you’ll earn a cash bonus when they register for and fund an eligible account, such as a stocks & ETFs account, crypto account, or managed investing account. The reward varies, usually between $5 and $3,000, though the average reward is around $10. The person you refer can also earn a cash reward.


Questrade is Canada’s largest discount brokerage that offers low fees and a handy online investment platform for investors to trade stocks. 

The company’s referral program allows you to earn $50 for each person you refer who opens an account as a new client. You can refer up to 30 people each year, which means you can earn as much as $1,500 annually just by referring friends and family. 


Moka is an app that automatically rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests that money to help it grow quickly. 

The app will give you a referral link that you can use to encourage others to join Moka. If someone joins the platform using your link, you will both earn $10 each. 

Budget Apps Refer-A-Friend Programs

The following apps not only provide accessible financial products, but they also offer their own unique refer-a-friend programs:


The STACK app offers instant cash back rewards when you shop at participating retailers. There’s also a STACK prepaid reloadable Mastercard you can use to shop anywhere that accepts the major credit card brand.  

You can earn money by referring family and friends with your STACK unique referral link. When someone signs up using your link, you’ll receive $5 for each of the first five referrals, $10 for the next five, then $15 for every referral made afterward. Each person you refer will also receive $5 when they sign up.

There are tons of easy ways to earn a few extra bucks a month, and taking online surveys is one of them. But not only can you earn money by completing surveys yourself, you can make some extra cash by getting your friends and family to take them too. Here are a few survey platforms that offer referral programs:


Swagbucks is an online rewards program that lets users earn rewards by completing various activities, including taking surveys, watching videos, and even playing games. You can earn cash and gift cards for every activity you complete. 

Swagbucks also has a referral program that will pay you $3 for every person you refer. You’ll also get a 10% commission from the rewards earned by your referrals for life. That means that if your referral earns 700 SB (Swagbucks) in the future, you will earn your commission. Plus, new users will receive a $10 bonus after making a $25 purchase from any website that Swagbucks is partnered with. 

Daily Rewards 

Daily Rewards is another rewards platform that pays users for completing surveys, watching videos, reading emails, and other tasks. 

When you refer a family member or friend, you’ll earn a 10% commission on their earnings. 

Cell Phone Referral Plans

Koodo Mobile Refer-A-Friend

The Koodo Mobile Refer-A-Friend program is pretty great. Whether you are on a prepaid cell phone plan or a monthly plan, you can earn $5 toward your bill for 5 months. That means a total of $25 in savings off your phone plan. For the prepaid plans, you max out at $150 in credits per year. For the monthly plan, your maximum is $300 in a year.

Fido Refer-A-Friend

The Fido Refer-A-Friend program is really unique. Fido lets you earn up to 5 months of free service every year. That’s right, you can get almost 50% off your annual Fido mobile bill when your referral activates their refferal link within 45 days.

Of course, you have to be an existing data, talk and text customer with an account in good standing for 30 days. Your referred friend (or family) also has to join as a new Fido member and open a new data, talk and text plan.

Final Thoughts

While you won’t earn a full-time income with a refer-a-friend program, the extra cash you can make may be just enough to cover some bills or simply to pay for your daily coffee. Many companies offer a referral program, and all you need to do is spread the word about various services and products to earn recurring income on the side.  

Refer-A-Friend FAQs

How much money can I get from a refer-a-friend program?

The amount you can earn from a referral program can vary quite a bit. Based on the above information, payouts can range from as little as $5 per referral to as much as $3,000. Your earning potential comes down to how many people you can refer and the referral payout that companies offer.

Which refer-a friend-program gives the most money?

It’s difficult to say which program offers the most money since they each work differently. That said, some programs seem to stand out, like Wealthsimple, which can pay out as much as $3,000 (though not typical), and Questrade, which pays out as much as $1,500 per year.  You can also potentially make a decent amount with Swagbucks and Daily Rewards if you can refer a lot of people. Both programs pay out a 10% commission on all rewards that each referred person makes going forward, which could potentially be limitless. 

What type of companies offer refer-a-friend cash bonuses?

All sorts of businesses offer refer-a-friend programs, including banks, credit card companies, retailers, restaurants, online investment platforms, and many more. Referral programs can be lucrative for companies and are often part of an overall marketing strategy to draw in as many customers as possible. 

Is Rakuten Refer-A-Friend available in Canada?

Unfortunately, Rakuten’s Refer-A-Friend program is only available in the United States.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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