[Disclosure: None of the links in this post are affiliate links!]
I’ve always placed disclosures at the TOP of each blog post whenever a blog post contains a link which pays us a commission (often called affiliate links). And I’m extremely proud that my Hot Deals pages almost always have the best links to credit card offers regardless of whether they pay me a commission or not.
Readers sometimes ask how they can get these affiliate links for themselves, and there seems to be a big interest in affiliate link practices and disclosure on FlyerTalk and other blogs, so I thought I’d write a few posts on it.
What is an affiliate link?
An affiliate link is a way to identify which website generated a sale for advertisers.
For example, Emily and I get a commission if you apply for certain credit cards using links found on the Million Mile Secrets blog. And we’re always very grateful to readers who apply for cards using our links. 🙂
I’m not allowed to disclose how much each affiliate links pays in cash, but you can get a good estimate by googling. I suspect that the affiliate marketing company doesn’t want folks comparing their commission with others and negotiating for a higher commission!
How Can I Get My Own Affiliate Links?
Enterprising readers often email to ask how they can get their own affiliate links to use themselves or to send to their friends! I get my links from FlexOffers since I’m too small to get them directly from the banks. Credit Karma and Credit Card Broker are other affiliate marketing company which provides affiliate links.
I’ve heard from readers that while it is easy to get approved to join the affiliate marketing companies, it isn’t easy to get approved for many of the credit card affiliate programs. You usually require a website with a decent amount of traffic before you can get approved for credit cards.
And readers say that sometimes their affiliate manager is not very responsive to their needs.
Another option could be to investigate Commission Junction and Bankrate’s creditcards.com. American Express used to offer extra points to cardholders who referred other cardholders, but they no longer seem to be doing that. I wrote about that before when I told folks that they were better off not using my links for the American Express Starwood card if they could refer or get referred themselves.
Why Are Affiliate Links Bad?
But not ALL affiliate links are for the best available offer. For example, the affiliate links (which pay a commission) to the Citi American Airlines credit card is for only 30,000 miles when there are better links for 40,000 miles and 50,000 miles.
Many websites try to direct you to the best offer, but there is an obvious conflict of interest if one link (with a lower sign-up bonus) pays the website owner more than another link.
But sometimes the links with the higher sign-up bonus have technically expired, but still work (like the Citi American Airlines card with 50,000 miles). Or require you to attempt to make a hotel reservation (like I wrote with the Marriott or Hyatt cards).
The most common question I’ve received is from folks asking if they will really get 50,000 miles for applying for the Citi American Airlines card using the links on the blog. I can’t guarantee 50,000 miles, but I let them know that both Emily and I have got the bonus miles, as have readers and folks on this FlyerTalk thread, and they almost certainly will get 50,000 miles if approved (based on everyone’s experience).
I don’t get a commission for the 50,000 mile cards, but I owe it to readers to encourage them to apply for a card with 20,000 more miles versus a card with 30,000 miles, but which pays me a commission.
You can also make the case that since websites earn money from credit card commissions, some go out of their way to promote offers which aren’t in their readers interest or to intentionally mislead readers to apply for a card which isn’t necessarily the best offer for that card.
Or sometimes, a website will mention a better offer in passing, but continue to promote an inferior offer in ads and in other posts on the website.
On the other hand, some websites are scrupulous about disclosure and pass on links to better offers to readers.
Do the banks police your affiliate links?
Yes, the banks read your blog (as well as the forums). The banks don’t have an issue with editorial content on your blog, so I never got any feedback for writing, for example, why I thought the American Express Starwood card was overrated or why I wouldn’t get the American Express Business Gold card with 75,000 points.
But they do poke around your site. Sometimes their concerns are trivial, such as an incorrect spelling or misplaced trademark sign. And sometimes their concerns are more legitimate such as an incorrect sign-up bonus or minimum spending requirements.
I have been told that I shouldn’t promote other non-affiliate links (with better offers) on certain other cards. But I’ve always stood my ground and worked out creative ways to get around the banks’ concern. Though I understand why some may not want to negotiate with the banks just to be able to promote an offer which doesn’t earn them a commission.
But Million Mile Secrets readers can usually expect an update every few days on better credit card offers which don’t pay me a commission!
And there have been times when I’ve had my commission earning links removed (and lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars) because I publicized an offer when I first heard about it (despite being told not to) rather than waiting for my affiliate links.
In tomorrow’s post I’ll list my disclosure and policies around affiliate links and a few tips on how readers can find the best credit card offers for themselves!