Determining the right commission payout schedule is prominent among the many facets of managing a successful affiliate program.

On the one hand, you want to attract and retain top-performing affiliates with timely and competitive payouts. On the other hand, you need to manage your business’s cash flow effectively, ensuring operational expenses are covered without hitches.

As an advertiser, understanding the nuances of commission payout schedules is paramount. Your payout schedule not only impacts your relationship with affiliates but also affects your business’s financial health.

Commission Payout Schedules: How Often Should Your Affiliate Program Pay?

This blog post will introduce you to various types of payout schedules and guide you in determining the optimal structure for your affiliate program.

Whether you are setting up a new affiliate program or refining an existing one, this guide will give you the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your commission payout schedule. 

So, let’s delve in and explore how you can balance affiliate satisfaction with your business’s financial needs!

Why is the Commission Payout Schedule Important?

The commission payout schedule is the pre-determined timeline the affiliate program sets to compensate the affiliates for their promotional efforts. It details when and how often affiliates can expect to receive their earnings.

This schedule not only forms the basis of your contractual agreement with the affiliates but also plays a pivotal role in your program’s overall appeal.

Implications for Affiliate Recruitment and Retention

A well-structured and transparent payout schedule can be a significant motivator for affiliates. It gives them a clear picture of their potential earnings and when to expect them.

This clarity can help attract new affiliates to your program and retain existing ones, as regular and timely payments can foster trust and promote long-term collaborations.

The Impact on Business Cash Flow

From a business perspective, your commission payout schedule impacts cash flow management. By stipulating when payouts occur, you can ensure that your business maintains sufficient funds to meet these obligations without hindering operational expenses.

Commission Payout Schedules

Affiliate programs have varying commission payout schedules depending on their policies.

The frequency of payments is one of the key factors that affiliates consider when joining a program. 

Here are some common types of commission payout schedules:


This is the most common payout schedule. The affiliate earns monthly commissions, and the payment is processed at the end of the following month. This allows time for returns and refunds to be factored into the final commission amount.

Bi-monthly or Semi-monthly

Some programs offer payments twice a month, often in the middle and at the end of the month. This can be appealing to affiliates who prefer more frequent payouts.


Some affiliate programs offer weekly payouts. This is less common and often associated with non-refundable digital products or services with less concern about returns.

Net 30, 60, 90

This refers to the payment being made 30, 60, or 90 days after the sale was made. This is often used when the product or service has a return or refund period, and the company wants to ensure that the sale is final before paying the commission.

  • Net 30: This is one of the most common payout terms in affiliate marketing. In a Net 30 setup, affiliates receive their commissions 30 days after the end of the month in which the referred sale was made. For example, if an affiliate made a sale on March 15, they would receive their commission for that sale on April 30th. This, however, does not mean they will receive a payout instantly.
  • Net 60: In a Net 60 setup, affiliates receive their commissions 60 days after the end of the month in which the sale was made. So, if a sale was made on March 15, the affiliate would receive their commission on May 31st.
  • Net 90: This payout term is less common and is typically used by businesses that have longer sales cycles or extended refund periods. With Net 90, affiliates are paid their commissions 90 days after the end of the month in which the sale occurred. If a sale was made on March 15, the affiliate would receive their commission on June 30th.

Upon reaching a minimum amount

Some affiliate programs set a minimum balance that affiliates must reach before receiving a payout.

This could be $50, $100, or another amount. This helps the program save on transaction fees, reduce payout request loads and often prevents people from referring themselves and getting paid, because a few more commissions would need to be processed before receiving the bonus.

Factors to Consider When Setting Your Payout Schedule

The payout schedule that an affiliate program chooses can depend on several factors.

While more frequent payouts can attract affiliates, remember that it also requires more administrative work to process payments. Finding a balance that works for the affiliate program and the affiliates is essential. 

You can devise a payout schedule that aligns with your business goals and meets your affiliates’ expectations by evaluating these key aspects:

1. The Nature of Your Product or Service

The type of product or service you offer can significantly influence your payout schedule. For instance, if you’re selling physical products, you might need to consider shipping and delivery times. Conversely, if you provide digital products or services, the sales process may be immediate, allowing room for quicker payouts. 

Understanding the sales cycle of your product or service is the first step toward determining an appropriate payout schedule.

2. The Average Return or Refund Period

If your product or service has a return or refund period, it’s essential to incorporate this into your payout schedule. You wouldn’t want to pay commissions on a sale that is later returned or refunded. Therefore, consider setting your payout period after the expiry of the return or refund period. 

This approach ensures that the commissions you pay out are for confirmed sales only.

3. The Average Commission Amount

The average commission amount can also impact your payout schedule. If the commissions are generally high, you might prefer a less frequent payout schedule to manage your cash flow better. 

Conversely, if the commissions are relatively low, a more frequent payout schedule could be more appealing to affiliates, encouraging them to promote your products or services more actively.

4. Your Program’s Cash Flow

Cash flow management is crucial for any business; your affiliate program is no exception. You need to ensure that your business has sufficient funds to cover both operational expenses and affiliate payouts

Therefore, when setting your payout schedule, consider your program’s cash flow and the impact that payouts will have on it.

5. Preferences of Your Affiliates

Last but not least, consider the preferences of your affiliates. Some affiliates prefer more frequent payouts, while others might be comfortable with a longer waiting period if the commission rate is attractive. Understanding your affiliates’ preferences can help you balance their expectations and your business conditions.

Looking to Take Your Affiliate Program To A New Level?

Now that you’re armed with the insights needed to evaluate and construct an effective commission payout schedule, it’s time to put this knowledge into action. Whether you’re refining an existing affiliate program or embarking on a new one, understanding and implementing a well-thought-out payout schedule is key to your program’s success.

If you’re an affiliate program owner, we urge you to take a moment to review your current payout schedules. 

  • Are they aligned with your business goals and the preferences of your affiliates? 
  • Are they taking into account your product or service nature, return periods, average commission amounts, and cash flow needs?

 If not, it might be time to make some adjustments.

For those setting up new affiliate programs, remember that a fair and timely payout schedule is a key factor in attracting and retaining quality affiliates. Use the tips discussed in this guide to create a payout schedule that fits your business model and meets your affiliates’ expectations.

Why Choose Scaleo?

Managing an affiliate program doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools, you can simplify processes and focus on what truly matters – growing your business. 

Scaleo, a cutting-edge affiliate marketing software, can help you achieve just that.

Not only does Scaleo allow you to set flexible payout schedules, but it also automates the billing process, saving you valuable time and effort.

Take the first step towards scaling your affiliate program, start a free trial, and see how Scaleo can help you streamline your marketing processes and ultimately, propel your business to new heights. 

Scaleo - affiliate marketing software for automated payout and schedule of the payments


Balancing the expectations of your affiliates with the financial and operational realities of your business can be a complex task. However, by considering factors such as the nature of your product or service, the average return or refund period, the average commission amount, your program’s cash flow, and the preferences of your affiliates, you can create a payout schedule that mutually benefits both parties.

Whether you’re operating a well-established affiliate program or setting up a new one, it’s never too late or too early to review and refine your commission payout schedules. Implementing a fair, timely, and well-structured payout schedule can be the key to attracting and retaining high-performing affiliates.

Don’t overlook the power of technology in managing your affiliate program. Tools like Scaleo can streamline your payout processes, provide flexibility in setting payout schedules, and automate your billing process. By leveraging these tools, you can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on growing your business.

Remember, a successful affiliate program is a result of a combination of factors, with an effective commission payout schedule being a cornerstone. By paying careful attention to this aspect, you’ll be setting up your affiliate program for success. Good luck!

Last Updated on August 23, 2023


Elizabeth is a Senior Content Manager at Scaleo. Currently enjoying the life in Prague and sharing professional affiliate marketing tips. She's been in the online marketing business since 2006 and gladly shares all her insights and ideas on this blog.