Wanna make a quick buck? Just refer a friend to a company that compensates you for making the match. It's a win-win-win: The company gets a new client, you get some kind of payment, and the new customer often gets a bonus. But first, you need to know where to find the offers.
Online forums and blogs pitched to the frugal-minded are useful sources of so-called refer-a-friend links, and Groupon is well-known for $10 Groupon Bucks awarded for enticing a friend to sign up and buy a deal. When you're interested in opening a bank account, say, signing up for cable TV, or even buying beauty products online, looking for a referral link can be more lucrative than finding a coupon. Frequently the referee (that would be the friend), not just the referrer (that would be you), is rewarded as well.
RefAround.com is a relatively new site whose sole purpose is to act as a platform for finding and sharing refer-a-friend links. Although the membership-based site is still in beta-test mode, more than 200 programs are listed already. The most popular to date is Dropbox, which awards referrers an additional 2GB of cloud storage and referees an extra 500MB; more than 800 people have received these bonuses. Some programs posted on the site reward points (on the order of hotel chain points or frequent flyer miles) and others offer monetary payouts. Online brokerage OptionsExpress gives both parties $100, while Bank of America gives new members $25 if they sign up for an account after being referred and rewards the referrer with $50. A sister RefAround site in France boasts more than 45,000 members who have used 1,500 refer-a-friend offers to make, collectively, more than $1.3 million over a 12-month period.
Anyone can use the site to find a refer-a-friend deal but only members can add new refer-a-friend programs or promote their referral links and reap the rewards. Members also can friend each other and connect via Facebook to see which friends are already members and RefAround will recommend using a friend's link over a stranger's link to the same deal.
To become a member, just login and create an account using Facebook. If you don't want Facebook involved, you'll have to join the waitlist; founder Nicolas Davoust is keeping the membership base small while the site is still a work in progress. (The first 100 people to use the referral code "Cheapism" will be instantly approved. We do not earn a reward for this referral.)
Davoust is trying to involve users as much as possible. He's offering rewards, in the form of points that affect how often your refer-a-friend links are displayed, for reporting bugs, suggesting improvements, logging in daily, and -- you guessed it -- referring friends to the site. In an interview he said that free use of the site and the opportunity to earn rewards motivates users to report problems and "forget about complaining."
In our time on RefAround we noticed some areas that need improvement; member-submitted refer-a-friend program descriptions are often confusing, for example. But there's a lot of potential in the concept. Being able to host all your refer-a-friend links in one place is certainly convenient and letting them work for you to earn a little money on the side never hurts.