How Are Affiliate Commissions Paid Out?

Affiliate marketing is a profitable way to earn passive income through your business or blog. If you’re already involved in affiliate marketing, you understand that there’s a great deal of money out there available to those who operate effectively in this field.

But one topic not many people discuss is how affiliate marketers actually get paid. This looming question can leave potential affiliates hesitant to join a program or even pursue affiliate marketing at all.

In this post, then, we’ll detail how affiliate partners (or publishers) get paid so you can better understand the different payment options affiliates have available to them.

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Types of Affiliate Programs

Before we discuss payment options for affiliates, one thing that’s important to note is the different types of affiliate programs out there:

  • Traditional Affiliate Program – This is the standard program most people imagine when they think of affiliate marketing. In this type of program, an affiliate gets a referral link, and any time a sale is made through that link, the affiliate makes a commission.
  • Multi-level Marketing Affiliate Program – In these types of programs, a publisher (or affiliate) may get an affiliate link for sales as they would in a traditional affiliate program. However, they’ll also be rewarded for recruiting other affiliates. So, any time someone an affiliate has referred makes a sale, the affiliate also makes a commission from that sale.
  • Lead Program – Some affiliate programs will also pay publishers for bringing leads to their business. This means that any time someone fills out a contact form, a quote request, or reaches out to the business in any way, the publisher gets a commission or reward.
  • Tiered Affiliate Program – These types of programs increase a publisher’s affiliate commissions the more sales they make. 
  • Affiliate Portal – Companies like ShareASale are affiliate portals where publishers can pick and choose from many different programs rather than being limited to just one affiliate program at a time. 

How Often Do Affiliate Marketers Get Paid?

The number of times in a month an affiliate marketer gets paid depends on the affiliate program they’re a part of. 

Most affiliate programs pay their affiliates once per month, however there are some that pay per quarter. There are many that also pay only when an affiliate’s total earnings reach a certain amount.

Affiliate Marketing Payment Types

Affiliate marketers can get paid in many different ways. Here are a few:

Monetary Commission

The most common and popular way affiliates are paid is through monetary commission. That is, when a publisher generates sales and makes commissions, the online business they’re an affiliate for pays them with actual money.

Credit Commission

Some affiliate programs also allow affiliates to use their affiliate earnings as credit toward that online business’ products or services. For example, if a publisher has a subscription with a stock photo site, their affiliate earnings may be used as credit toward subscription renewal. This type of payment is favorable to some affiliates because it helps save money on subscriptions and business expenses.

Discount Commission

Some programs offer discounts to affiliates who create enough referrals. This type of payout is popular with retail and health-related affiliate programs. After a certain number of sales and conversions, the publisher’s discounts can increase, which gives them more buying power on products they love from companies they trust.

Payment Options

Whether you’re running a very modest or super size affiliate program, there are many tools you can use to pay your affiliates.


PayPal is one of the most popular payment systems on the internet. The great thing about PayPal is that it doesn’t give affiliate programs access to their publisher’s banking information; all of the publisher’s commissions go to their PayPal account for them to transfer into their outside accounts. The other great thing about PayPal is that it’s ideal for international customers.


Stripe is another excellent affiliate payment gateway. It works similarly to PayPal, in that, all the publisher needs to provide to the affiliate program is their Stripe email address. Stripe also offers integrations with third-party tools to help make the process of managing and paying affiliates easier and automated.


Skrill, which was formerly known as Moneybookers, is another payment processor that affiliate programs use, especially those with international affiliates. The cool thing about Skrill is that affiliate payouts can also convert currency, so no matter where an affiliate is located in the world, they can receive an accurate payout without any issues.


Venmo is a payment service that is currently owned by PayPal. Using this service, affiliates can be paid via transfer. However, the only drawback to using this tool is that both parties must be based in the United States. So this is not ideal for companies with affiliate programs overseas.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money passively for individuals and an excellent means of marketing for businesses. Hopefully, the information above has helped you gain a better understanding of how affiliate marketing and affiliate commissions work.

To learn more about the world of affiliate marketing, be sure to check out our posts about why you should start an affiliate program, content that works well for affiliate promotions, and how you can maximize affiliate sales during major sale seasons

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