Miles & Points blogs and conferences often revolve around strategies for credit card churning to earn vast amounts of points and miles to fuel your travel without the need to travel.
BAcon provided a seminar on credit card affiliate marketing for the blogger as a revenue stream. The presentations were about as vague as bloggers are about their relationships with credit card affiliates.
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DISCLAIMER: Some links to credit cards and other products on this web site will earn an affiliate commission, and this web site has a financial relationship with several credit card-issuing banks. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the card issuer.
Basically any travel blog site with a disclaimer like this on the bottom of their page is participating in the credit card affiliate marketing program with some intermediary corporation who is the conduit between the banks and the bloggers.
The whole thing looks like a pyramid scheme to me, but several bloggers are making enough money to quit their day jobs and write about points and miles credit cards as the greatest innovation for (U.S.) travelers since the invention of air travel.
And maybe it is.
But I have a problem with award travel inflation rapidly increasing the cost of flights and nights within global frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. Billions of miles and points are issued and sold through credit card loyalty program relationships with the banks and these hotel and airline credit cards overwhelmingly cater to U.S. residents as the only travelers eligible for most of these credit cards.
So what does an approved credit card referral pay?
Apparently, the card payment to an affiliate marketer (i.e. travel blogger) is in the range of $80 to $200 per card. $80 being so low that part of the credit card referral payment probably went to another blogger higher up the food chain. $200 being the payout for a premium credit card.
Since I do not belong to any of these affiliate marketing programs, I have no contractual agreement to keep secrets from my readers on credit card payout rates.
However, I can’t tell you which bloggers let the fee out of the bag or they might have to silence me permanently. No telling what T&C are in those contracts about disclosure. They must be iron clad since it has taken a long time for me to get the details.
I have been sitting on the fence for the past couple of years about credit cards. That is a lot of money to turn down for mostly passive work. Cranking out a credit card post and telling how great the bonus is for your travel and where you can go with those points and miles sounds like easy writing to me.
The one thing that bothered me about the whole credit card affiliate marketing scheme is the representative stated that your referral sign-up rate must be maintained and grow through your blog to be retained as an affiliate marketer of credit cards. That kind of explains to me why the posts on credit cards come so rapid fire whenever there is a new card bonus out there. To keep on keeping on the blogger has to pimp enough cards to keep the affiliate marketer paying for credit card sign-ups happy or risk losing the generous revenue stream.
The aspect of the affiliate marketing I learned is that I can’t simply put up some credit card links on a back page of Loyalty traveler for the major hotel loyalty programs and passively sit around receiving payments for approved credit card member applications. The affiliate marketing company wants to see growth in approved credit card referrals to be happy with the blogger partner.
In whose interest?
I also loved the comment made by the credit card affiliate marketing representative that blog posts about churning credit cards are frowned upon and may result in the blogger’s affiliate contract being terminated.
I guess I read more blog posts than the typical credit card affiliate marketing representative.
The Devil’s Tool
I don’t think credit cards are the devil’s tool. Credit cards are necessary for most travelers planning to fly on an airplane or stay at a hotel.
My prior impressions though were confirmed by a major bank credit card representative when he stated something to the effect that the bank will use travel bloggers to market their products as long as it is in the bank’s interest to do so. Once bloggers become a liability that relationship will be severed.
I firmly believe the central issue is the bank’s interest.
That interest serves you as the consumer as long as you can pay off your bill every month and rack up free travel points and miles. Avoid illness, divorce, unemployment and unanticipated major expenses and life will be fine with you and the bank issuer of your credit card. That relationship changes quickly once your less-than-full balance payments start accruing 18% interest or even higher.
Bottom line is credit card affiliate marketing has turned into a major revenue stream for travel bloggers.
That explains the frequent flash floods of credit card signup bonus posts every time a new credit card bonus offer appears.
I guess I should look over my email closely from the past week and see if I received any emails from the credit card affiliate managers who took my business cards last week.
I like the idea of making some money for nothing and taking my trips for free.
And I won’t be able to write anything about the business of credit card affiliate marketing once I ink that contract.