Your plasma payment is loaded onto a prepaid debit card.
Your plasma payment is loaded onto a prepaid debit card.

Donating plasma is a lucrative way to pick up a few bucks when you're short on cash. While the process takes about a 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how many other donors are at the plasma center that day, the compensation can add up to $75 a week to your budget, depending on your weight and the current payment schedule.

Plasma Centers

Locate a plasma center by looking in the Yellow Pages under Plasma or Blood Plasma. Most plasma centers are located in larger cities, so you may have to go online to find the nearest donation location. The website Donating Plasma has a nationwide locator that lists plasma centers by city and state or ZIP code. To qualify, a donor must be over 18, weigh more than 110 pounds, be medically screened and in good health. Plan on staying for several hours on your first visit. After verifying your identity with a photo ID, Social Security card and a piece of mail, such as a utility bill, you will be medically screened before your first donation.

The First Donations

Compensation varies according to your weight. If you weigh 110 to 154 pounds, you'll receive approximately $30, and if you weigh 155 to 174 pounds, $50; if you're above 175 pounds, you will get $50 for the first visit. On the second visit, the payments are approximately $40, $60 or $60 for each weight range, and on the third visit, $30, $50 or $50. At some locations, new donors also receive a higher payment for a fourth donation. The actual amount of compensation varies according to the company's policies and the current need for blood plasma.

Regular Donations

After the initial three or four donations, depending on current compensation schedules, donors are encouraged to return twice weekly. As of February 2015, the compensation for the first visit of the week is $15, $25 or $25, depending on your weight. You can return after 48 hours and receive $20, $45 or 50 for your second donation of the week. The end of a week is the close of business on Sunday, with Monday starting the new week. The Food and Drug Administration limits donations to twice within a seven-day period, so if you donate on Wednesday and Friday, you can't come in earlier than the following Wednesday to donate again.

Incentive Programs

In addition to the regular compensation, plasma centers have incentive programs to encourage repeat donations. These programs may include a bonus payment or a prize, such as movie tickets, for the second visit of the week, or for the sixth or eighth donations of the month. Incentive programs vary among the different companies and may change every month. You may also receive a bonus payment if you bring a friend to the plasma center with you. Your payment is added to your prepaid debit card after he is approved and successfully donates plasma.