Credit Cards The Basics

Behind the Scenes: Affiliate Links and How This Site Makes Money

banks tighten
Written by Charlie

This is a behind the scenes look at how this blog makes money, including a look at affiliate links for credit cards and more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Money is one of those uncomfortable things that people often do not like to talk about. But, as I have learned from traveling, that is more a US thing than other countries (where they have no problem asking “how much do you make every year?”). Plus, I have had a few people say some things lately about supporting the site here so I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at how this site makes money.

Behind the Scenes: Affiliate Links

chase 5/24

| Courtesy Shutterstock

When I first started this blog, I honestly did not think I would ever make any money doing it. But, I did start early enough that banks were handing out affiliate links (more or less) to anyone that applied. So, I applied and thought, why no?!

The Direct Affiliate Credit Card Link

I was quite surprised when I learned how much these affiliate links for credit cards paid out. Now, let me explain – there are two kinds of credit card links. One is the direct link where you click an affiliate link and it takes you directly to the credit card application. The other is the indirect link where it takes you to a page of credit cards and you select your card from there.

Numbers

As you can imagine, the first kind of link (direct) pays quite a bit more than the other! I cannot give exact numbers (I no longer have direct links but still cannot discuss amounts since I have the indirect links) but I can tell you that the payouts for most cards would range between $100 – $300 with the middle being more of the average.

Yes, that is a decent amount of money! But, it only is paid when someone clicks on the direct affiliate link, completes the application for the card, and is approved. General numbers say 2-4% of the clicks on a direct affiliate link actually convert to a payout.

Compliancy and Quotas

As things changed and more blogs got into the space, it became more of a costly proposition for the banks to continue tracking all of the blogs that they were affiliated with, especially if some of those blogs did not bring in enough money to justify it. Because of compliance concerns (and the penalties that some issuers had to pay for false advertising), compliance departments had people reading every post from affiliate bloggers. That is a lot of resources being used! So, they began to issue quotas that had to be met over a rolling period to keep the links.

I ended up losing my direct affiliate links because I was unable to meet those quotas. Sure, I may have been able to do it if I had pushed the links a lot harder, but I had a decision to make. Do I want to push links all the time and meet quotas (and potentially turn away the more loyal readers) or do I want to attract readers to visit more often and have a more loyal readership? For a few different reasons, I opted for the second decision.

The Indirect Affiliate Credit Card Links

affiliate links

This is the banner on the page when you click my indirect affiliate links

So, now I have the indirect affiliate links. These links are what you see on my Credit Cards page through the menu tab at the top and the advertisement on the top right of the sidebar. When you click on those links, you are taken to creditcards.com where you select your card from a list of various credit cards. Then you apply. It gets you the same bonus as the direct affiliate link but it requires that extra step for the end-user – you.

Can and Cannots

Of course, these pay quite a bit less. Plus, there are compliance issues with these as well. I cannot say “click on this link here to be taken to my card page and then select the 3rd card down” or anything like that. I also cannot draw you a picture of that. 🙂 But, I can mention that you can find this card and more through the credit card link at the top (and that same link is found in the disclosure at the top of every post).

How This Site Makes Money

So, which cards do I get paid for? I have had many people mention lately that they had used my links (specifically for the Mercedes Benz Amex Platinum and the AA Platinum Select 50K offer) and they were glad to support the site with it. I am very thankful that you found the card offers helpful and that you did apply after reading the post!

But, I also want to let you know that if you click on any card link in a post and it takes you directly to the card application, I do not get anything for that! And, I am ok with that. Most of these great offers I write about are not affiliate links and I would far rather you get a great offer than apply through my affiliate links and get a lesser offer (with me getting a referral).

A great example is the Amex Platinum the other day – the public, direct link I wrote about was for 100,000 Membership Reward points and paid me nothing. My link through the creditcards.com page was only for 40,000 points. Please, please, please – always apply for the offer that gives you more points!

But, if the offers are the same, when you apply through my creditcards.com links and select your desired card from that list, I do receive a commission on those applications!

Other Income Sources

Advertising

As for other arms of income here on the site, advertising is a big part of it. That means every time you come and read a post, the ads displayed on the site help to pay. BoardingArea hosts my site and handles everything on the technical/advertising side for me and I get a revenue split from the advertising revenue. It is much better than if I was on my own, plus I have a fantastic, helpful team that is always there to help (not to mention Randy Petersen who is a goldmine of encouragement and advice!).

So, thank you for visiting and reading! I do my absolute best to not try and lure you here with clickbait titles (I know there are times that I fail in that but I always strive to get better!) and I try to offer you some kind of value-add, especially if it is about something that you were likely to have seen on a dozen other blogs as well. Thank you for stopping by and reading! Each time helps to support the site a bit more!

Other Affiliates

Finally, I have Amazon and eBay affiliate links. When you buy something through those links, I get a small commission on those as well. Both of those sites are accessible through banners on the sidebar. Other than that, if there is something that I find to be of interest to the readership, I will put those links in a post (and I put a disclosure in the post as well so that you know that it is a referral link).

Summary

First of all, thank you for stopping by and reading! It is always an encouragement to write more and to improve when I see all of you that stop by. The income from the advertising is also a nice encouragement to keep going! 🙂

Thank you also for the many of you who had expressed your thanks and informed me that you had used credit card links found here to support the site. I hope I have been able to make it clear which ones do and do not support the site, if you do not mind making that extra step! At the end of the day, though, I want you to get the best offer – even when it does not pay me anything. So, always choose the better offer over the referral offer that pays me!

Thank you also for clicking and using my Amazon and eBay links. When I do giveaways, that money comes from the affiliate income that has been generated from Amazon so you are helping to fund these giveaways when you buy through the site!

Final Explanation!

Finally, I hope this has helped to explain a bit about how these things work. I remember early on that a blog had a post about the Amex Platinum card and how you could phone in to get matched to a huge offer but you had to apply through his (lower offer) link first and then call. I had no idea at the time that this writer was getting hundreds of dollars per approval and that there was a link available that would give that huge bonus without having to call! There were some people who refused on the match and could have applied directly and received the full 100K, but this blogger was not upfront about that.

After that, I knew that I wanted to try and be more upfront and reader-first with my site – even if it costs me income. That is not some holier-than-thou complex but is just based on my wanting to treat my readers the way I wish I had been treated as a reader.

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

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