Surrogate Pay: How Much Does a Surrogate Make

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How much a surrogate makes depends on many variables. These variables include whether or not they are working with an agency, how experienced they are as a surrogate, the number of embryo transfers it takes to establish the pregnancy if any complications occur, and many other potential events throughout the surrogate process .

Because of this, surrogates can be paid anywhere from $0 to over $100,000 per surrogate pregnancy.

How much a surrogate makes also depends on what you count as “surrogate pay.” Surrogates who miss work as part of their duty as a surrogate are usually compensated for those lost wages. But do lost wages count as surrogate pay or do they fall into a different category since the surrogate is only being compensated for wages they would have made from their job if they weren’t a surrogate?

Similarly, part of surrogate pay is often in the form of stipends that can only be put towards certain surrogacy-related expenses and things to improve their quality of life during the surrogate pregnancy, for example, mental health services, a budget for pregnancy clothes, and more.

As you can see, how much a surrogate makes is complex.

This article will serve as a valuable resource for understanding the complexities of how much surrogates make. By the end, you will know just how much you can make as a surrogate and the categories of surrogate pay.

Surrogate Pay Overview

Surrogates make anywhere from $0 for a “compassionate carry” to over $100,000 – though making close to or over $100,000 is exceedingly rare.

Most surrogates work with agencies for money and take home around $30,000 to $60,000. At surrogate steps, our base pay starts at $44,900, with most of our surrogates making between $44,900 and $60,000.

As mentioned, however, surrogate pay gets complex quickly.

To make things simpler, it is helpful to break surrogate pay into five distinct categories:

  • Base Surrogate Compensation: Includes payments for things that all surrogates receive. For example, payment for the embryo transfer and the pregnancy itself.
  • Quality of Life Stipend & Per-Diems: Payment for things that improve the quality of life for the surrogate during pregnancy. For example, a stipend for maternity clothing and mental health services.
  • Treatment, Pregnancy, and Post-Partum Bonuses: Bonus payments for unique surrogacy-related events. Some, but not all surrogates will encounter these events during their surrogate journey. For example: needing multiple embryo transfers to establish the pregnancy or providing breast milk to the parents.
  • Standard Reimbursements: Payments made to reimburse specific, required expenses encountered due to surrogacy. For example, reimbursing lost wages or childcare expenses.
  • Impacted Health/Procedure Bonuses and Reimbursements: Bonus payment made to the surrogate for going through uncommon and unexpected medical hardship. For example, having an ectopic pregnancy and losing a fallopian tube.

While there are numerous variables, the most common lever in determining how much a surrogate makes is their experience as a surrogate. The more experienced you are as a surrogate, the more you get paid.

Your pregnancy distribution (part of your base surrogate compensation) is $40,000 at Surrogate Steps as a first-time surrogate. With each successful surrogacy, your pregnancy distribution increases by $5,005.

So, if it is your 3rd surrogacy (two previously successful surrogacies), your pregnancy distribution will be $50,010, and your total surrogate pay will be $50,010 + all your other bonuses, reimbursements, and payments.

Now that we have a basic understanding of how much surrogates make let’s dive deeper into each aspect of surrogate pay.

Base Surrogate Compensation

Base surrogate pay represents the amount a surrogate will take home should they complete a surrogate journey with no major hiccups.

At surrogate steps, base surrogate pay included:

  • Pregnancy Distribution: The pregnancy distribution represents the largest bulk of surrogate pay. The pregnancy distribution is split up into 10 equal payments starting with confirmation of the fetal heartbeat and the last payment made 7 days post delivery of the child. At surrogate steps, first-time surrogates make $40,000. Experienced Surrogacies get $5,005 for each previously successful surrogacy.
  • Monthly Allowance: A monthly allowance of $250 is given to surrogates. Some may consider this a reimbursement since it is intended to cover miscellaneous surrogacy-related expenses, but because the surrogate does not need to submit any receipts to account for the spending, we consider it part of the surrogate base pay.
  • Clearance Bonus: Bonus paid to the surrogate as a one-time payment upon signing of Gestational Carrier Agreement and medical clearance by the Intended Parent(s) fertility clinic.  This fee is only paid to the surrogate if the Agency obtained all the surrogate’s medical records, as well as all other necessary forms and ob/gyn clearances that are needed to match the surrogate successfully, and has done so within 30 days of the Agency’s interview with the surrogate.
  • Embryo Transfer Bonus: Every surrogate receives a one-time payment of $300 for starting the medications of each embryo transfer and $1,000 for the completion of the embryo transfer.
  • Spa Day Bonus: A “spa day” bonus of $300 is paid to the surrogate after the child is discharged from the delivery hospital. Funds can be used to for a nice spa pamper day or in any other way the surrogate decides.

As you can see, even surrogate base pay is variable due to experienced surrogates getting paid more and the fact that surrogate journeys that take longer also lead to the surrogate being paid more due to the monthly $250 allowance.

This is one of the main reasons why surrogate pay can vary so much.

A first-time surrogate likely has a base pay of around $45,000 when adding up all of the “required” payments.  Someone with three prior surrogacies makes around $65,000 in base pay.

Now that we have a more detailed account of base pay let’s look at some standard quality-of-life stipends & per diems.

Quality of Life Stipends & Per-Diems

Quality of Life Stipends & Per Diems are a form of surrogate pay that are given out to maximize the surrogate’s comfort and quality of life during their surrogate pregnancy.

At surrogate steps, some of the stipends must be accounted for by receipt, whereas others are not.

Stipends that must be accounted for by receipt:

  • Mental Health Services: A surrogate may spend up to $1,500 for counseling or mental health services by a counselor, coach, or therapist during their pregnancy and one-month post-delivery.

Non-accounted for Stipends/Per Diems:

  • Maternity Clothing Allowance: A surrogate is paid $750 intended for maternity clothing but does not require receipts to prove how the money was spent.
  • Long Distance Travel Per Diem: If overnight lodging is required, or travel is greater than four (4) hours per day, the Gestational Carrier shall be compensated a non-accountable $75.00 per day per person (the surrogate and their companion), for food and other miscellaneous daily expenses.

Treatment, Pregnancy, and Post-Partum Bonuses

How much a surrogate makes is in part due to their Fertility Treatment, Pregnancy, and Post-Partum Bonuses.

These are bonuses that surrogates receive should their surrogate journey include specific events. These events are relatively common, but they do not happen in all surrogate journeys. Therefore, they are not considered part of the base surrogate pay.

Examples of these bonus surrogate payments are:

  • Mock Cycle Bonus: A mock cycle is like a practice embryo transfer. As it requires more effort for the surrogate, the surrogate is paid an additional $500.
  • Multiple Fetuses (Twins) Bonus: As twin pregnancies carry additional risk, a surrogate is paid an additional $7,500 for twin pregnancies.
  • Additional Embryo Transfer(s) Bonus: The surrogate is paid $1,000 for each additional embryo transfer if it takes more than one embryo transfer to establish the surrogate pregnancy.
  • Breast Milk Bonus: If it is agreed that you will supply breast milk, you will be paid $250 a week.

Standard Reimbursements

Standard reimbursements are part of surrogate pay, but because they are paid to cover actual expenses, it shouldn’t really count toward how much a surrogate makes.

Standard reimbursements are paid to surrogates to ensure that large “expenses” that the surrogate encounters due to their role as a surrogate are paid for by the intended parents, not the surrogate themself.

Standard reimbursements differ from quality-of-life bonuses (which may also be a reimbursement) in that standard reimbursements are intended to bring the surrogate’s financials back to baseline, whereas the quality-of-life bonuses are intended to make the pregnancy more enjoyable.

A majority of reimbursements are for lost wages. That is, wages from work that the surrogate misses out on due to time off required by her role as a surrogate.

Examples of standard reimbursements include:

  • Lost Wages:
    • For Screening & Transfer: 
      • For Surrogate: A surrogate often has to travel to a fertility clinic out of state for their fertility testing and embryo transfer. If they miss work, they will be paid back any lost wages.
      • For Spouse/Companion: A companion can travel with the surrogate for their safety and comfort. If the companion misses work for this, they, too will be compensated any lost wages.
    • Post-Vaginal Delivery: A gestational carrier is granted 4-weeks to recover post-vaginal delivery. If the surrogate loses income during her granted 4-week recovery time, the gestational carrier shall be reimbursed for lost wages.
  • Childcare Compensation: Gestational surrogates are reimbursed for required childcare (capped at $200 per day) during long-distance travel, doctor-prescribed bed rest, or other times if necessary to comply with their surrogate obligations.

Impacted Health/Procedure Bonuses and Reimbursements

While relatively uncommon, surrogacy, as with all pregnancies, carry risk.

Should a surrogate require any procedure (including a c-section), lose any part of their reproductive organs, or be placed on medically required bedrest, the gestational carrier will be paid a bonus and or reimbursement for lost wages.

Impacted health/procedure bonuses include:

  • Medically Required C-Section: A surrogate receives a bonus payment of $2,500 if they undergo a medically required C-Section
  • Selective Reduction: A surrogate makes an additional $1,500 for any selective reduction/abortion they undergo
  • Ectopic Pregnancy Procedure: A surrogate makes an additional $1,000 for an ectopic pregnancy procedure.
  • Invasive Procedure: A surrogate makes $500 for other invasive procedures.

Impacted health/procedure, reimbursements include:

  • Lost Wages for Medical Required C-Section: A surrogate is allowed 6 weeks of paid recovery time post C-Section. The surrogate will be “reimbursed” for any lost wages during this time.
  • Lost wages for medically required bed rest: A surrogate is “reimbursed” for any lost wages during a physician-ordered bed rest during pregnancy.
  • Childcare expenses incurred during medically required bed rest: Childcare is compensated as required at $12/hr during the daytime hours and $100 per night with a cap of $150 per 24-hour period.
  • Housekeeping expenses during medically required bed rest: Housekeeping is paid to reimburse the Gestational Carrier up to $100.00 per week, and not to exceed a capped amount of $600.00.


Surrogate Pay Calculator

Now that we have reviewed all aspects of surrogate pay in detail, you should have a good understanding of how surrogates make what they do.

With so many variables and potential scenarios, it can be helpful to visualize what this looks like. Our surrogate pay calculator is a great way to explore and visualize exactly how much you can make as a surrogate.

Click the + and – symbols to expand or collapse various sections and click on the toggle to turn on/off specific events/payments.

In addition to the above compensation, all required long-distance (greater than 50 miles) travel expenses will be purchased ahead or reimbursed for the carrier and their companion (ie. hotel, plane/train tickets, gas/car mileage). The carrier will also have a life insurance policy with a minimum benefit of $750,000.00 for a beneficiary designated by the Gestational Carrier and will also have all surrogacy-related healthcare expenses covered, including health insurance premiums and deductibles.

Timeline of Surrogate Pay

One question potential and active surrogates ask is when they get paid. Of course, it varies by agency, but here is a general outline of when a surrogate is paid at Surrogate Steps using a straightforward case of a first-time surrogate who does not hold other employment, gets pregnant on their first embryo transfer, and has no complications.

1 Month Before Surrogate Pregnancy: Screening, Clearances, and Signing Agreement

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $1,000 after signing gestational carrier agreement and receiving medical clearance from the IP’s fertility clinic

Month 1 of Surrogate Pregnancy: Taking Embryo Transfer Medications and Embryo Transfer

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $500 starting embryo transfer medications
  • $500 upon completing the embryo transfer

Month 2 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon confirmation of fetal heartbeat around the sixth (6) gestational weeks of pregnancy
  • $4,000 upon the eighth (8) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 3 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the twelfth (12) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 4 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the sixteenth (16) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 5 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the twentieth (20) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 6 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the twenty-fourth (24) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 7 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the twenty-eighth (28) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 8 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the thirty-second (32) gestational week of pregnancy

Month 9 of Surrogate Pregnancy:

  • $250 monthly allowance
  • $4,000 upon completing the thirty-sixth (36) gestational week of pregnancy

Post Delivery:

  • $4,000 7 days post-delivery of child
  • $300 Spa Day Bonus

The Bottom Line About How Much Surrogates Make

As you can see, exactly how much someone can make as a surrogate depends on how experienced they are as a surrogate and the specifics of their surrogate journey.

Because of this, surrogates can be paid anywhere from $0 to around $100,000 per surrogate pregnancy, with a vast majority at Surrogate Steps making between $45,000-60,000. Of course, this depends on the surrogate agency you work with and can vary substantially between agencies.

If you’re ready to become a surrogate, we encourage you to fill out our surrogate application, and if you have questions, check out our FAQs or contact us.



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