A Play-By-Play of the 100K Amex Offer

First things first – a BIG thanks to FlyerTalk user jimmicka. He was the one who originally found this deal and really deserves ALL credit for it.

Second, a thanks to FlyerTalk user michael_v for linking to my post in this FT thread. I really appreciate it.

I want to give a play-by-play with commentary of how things worked out yesterday in regards to this 100K point Amex deal (sort of like on the old TV show “24” but with points instead of terrorists). The process was kind of unusual and this was the first time I beat other bloggers to a deal, and I just think it’s an interesting story and figure others might find it interesting as well.

Monday morning, I just happened to get approved for an affiliate link with creditcards.com. The payout structure is nothing like what the other bloggers get, but I figured it would be worthwhile because I can at least submit my own apps through it and collect a few bucks in the process. I never really thought much would come of it since asking people to go through a separate portal is kind of annoying, but I put it on my Credit Cards page anyway.

A few hours later, there was chatter on Twitter about a 100K Amex Platinum personal card offer. I found out that there was a FlyerTalk thread dedicated to it, but the initial post had been deleted and the thread was mysteriously locked. I thought that was very unusual – perhaps the Illuminati of the points world were out (I wrote about this topic in what used to be my most popular post). Thankfully I already knew the details of the deal from Twitter. Note that I also wrote about the importance of Twitter to the points game…two times.

I proceeded to see if I could replicate the deal, and sure enough I could. It prompted a mini app-o-rama/churn for myself, and I continued discussing it on Twitter. I wondered to myself, “why haven’t any of the big bloggers written about this yet? What the heck is going on?” I wasn’t sure if I was missing something or not – maybe this deal was too sensitive to be blogged about and I just didn’t know better. I asked Twitter users Amol (@PointstoPointB, see his awesome blog on my blogroll) and Michael (@bitachu) if I should make a post about it. Michael made note that it already hit SlickDeals and was public, so both basically agreed I should. And I did.

Approved!

Approved!

At this point I knew I was extremely lucky to get approved as an affiliate to a not-so-popular website, right when that website shows the best deal available in months. I figured I’d put up my new affiliate link and instructions, along with screen shots of my personal application showing 100K confirmations the entire way through. I had no idea if I’d get paid or how much because there are several clicks required and it wasn’t as straightforward as the other applications would be, but I had nothing to lose.

I submitted the post, and it started getting some traffic. It was mostly from Twitter since I don’t have a very big following, but it was more than usual. Suddenly, I got a massive amount of traffic, almost all of it coming from FlyerTalk. This was when user michael_v posted a link to my post.

So there were likely thousands of people applying for this card at this point. Posts slowly started going up around the web, but none from the big bloggers in the points world. I even tweeted a link to my post to several of them (yes, my shameless promotional plug), and none had acknowledged it. I had no idea what was going on.

Then finally all the Boarding Area bloggers figured it out. Many of them Hat Tipped me, some of them did not. I wasn’t sure whether to be upset about that or not since I didn’t really find the deal myself. Even if I did, there’s no copyright on it so I decided to not care. I will say that I REALLY appreciated posts by Mommy Points, Million Mile Secrets, and Points to Point B, all of whom prominently mentioned my post, and the latter two even encouraged people to use my link. That was awesome of them.

The day went on and my website’s traffic for the day increased by 1200% of normal levels on Monday. On Tuesday, I had more views by lunch time than all of Monday, somewhere to the tune of a 2000% traffic increase from normal. Crazy levels, at least for me and my little blog.

Ridiculous traffic.

Ridiculous traffic. And that’s mid-day on the 8th also. Crazy!

For those interested, The Points Guy directed by far the most traffic to me. I find this fascinating because his post was late (and done by an intern) and the Hat Tip was all the way at the bottom. In second place was Mommy Points (who posted quickly), and then One Mile at a Time. I’ve concluded that these blogs likely get tons of views on a regular basis.

So all this time, I had absolutely no idea if I’d earn a commission from these. I could see how many clicks I got, but I couldn’t see any “conversions” or other information. I don’t know if these are eligible for commission. There’s a tiered payout structure, and I have no idea where this card is on that tiered system (though I would think it’s high considering it’s a “premium” card). Still, the affiliate payout would “only” be double digit dollars if I’m eligible (and possibly even as low as single digits with the odd, tiered payout).

It was my first day as an affiliate, so I decided to read the Terms & Conditions of my agreement to make sure I was following the rules. After all, I was just approved that morning and had a pretty significant amount of clicks very suddenly, so I figured it might look suspicious. Lo and behold, the first sentence of that agreement told me I couldn’t refer to ANY financial institution or product name. I could only refer to creditcards.com, and that’s all. I quickly made updates to my post taking down any reference to Amex, Membership Rewards, Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold, and so on, while doing my best to ensure people would still know what I was talking about. I removed the screen shots I took. I even went back to edit my comments. I didn’t want to risk losing a potential payment for something stupid like that.

Then it hit me.

It had only been a few hours and I was already a slave to the affiliate company. Indeed, the money holds a lot of appeal…and to this point I still have no idea if any of it is even coming my way (or even how much it might be). Thankfully I have a day job so I don’t need it (and in fact I’m trying not to get my hopes up that I’ll get anything), but I sure do want it, even if it’s a small amount. I guess that’s just how this game works. And literally as I finished writing that last sentence, I received an email letting me know I’ve been declined by Chase as an affiliate. C’est la vie. UPDATE: Also declined from Citi and Capital One on Thursday morning.

Interestingly, most of the other bloggers didn’t have their own affiliate links for creditcards.com since it’s run through a completely different program than the one’s they usually use. Again, it was simply a perfect storm of circumstances for me. I got lucky and had lots of help from everyone I mentioned above.

The deal died early Tuesday. Deals like this are usually short-lived, so you should jump at the opportunity if something similar presents itself.

It was a fun couple of days. From what I read it seemed like there was a 99.9% approval rate. I was receiving funny comments all of Monday and Tuesday, saying things like I “WON the internet” on Monday and Travel Blogger Buzz joked that I’m now a “Legend,” and I didn’t even make MVP Post of the day. Twitter users joked I’d likely be invited to speak at FTU and that I’d have groupies. Still waiting for both!

So that’s the story. I thought it was interesting, and maybe some of you out there did too. I’ll probably have a few more readers than before since not many knew who I was, but I intend on writing the same type of material I did before. My blog is still finding it’s identity (a topic Scott at Hack My Trip referenced recently), and I’m sure it will evolve going forward. Also, I recently upgraded the website and you might find ‘dead” links. I’d appreciate you pointing those out to me if you find any.

Again, thanks to everyone for the support. I truly appreciate it and hope to continue providing valuable information whenever I can.

 

Note that Kathy at Will Run for Miles also gave her perspective on this deal.

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Comments

  1. Great post. It was fun sharing some of this with you. And, don’t forget me – I was friends with you and reading your blog even before you hit it big in Hollywood. Thanks for mentioning my post. and thanks for fixing the flying “t” and “f” on your website. My epilepsy is now stable.

    Kathy – http://www.WillRunForMiles

  2. oh, snap, the “t” and “f” are still swimming around up and down on the page. Call the ambulence.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Still trying to find a better solution to the floating icons, but they’re gonna have to stay for now.

  3. Congrats on the bump – hope it sticks, and that you end up getting some referral $ out of it!

  4. I don’t get this whole affiliate thing –

    why does Million miles, mommy, the points guy, etc all get to be affiliate of Chase & you get declined?

    Why does Credit Card.com care if you mention AMEX in the post?

    Why was it a 99% approval rate?

    • Travel Summary says:

      Affiliate stuff is often times based on traffic. My traffic isn’t (and will likely never be) at the same level as the ones you mentioned. The banks don’t want to just hand out affiliate links to anyone, otherwise they might end up paying commission all the time.

      Creditcards.com probably, and I say that with a high degree of uncertainty, wants affiliates (me) to only advertise THEIR company. They are technically a middleman in this I think. They’ll get paid a commission from Amex, and in turn they’ll hopefully pass some of that on to me. That’s how it works in theory, anyway.

      I have no idea why everyone and their mom (almost literally) was approved for this card. Praying that Amex does not renege on this. Lot’s of people have received confirmations while activating the card already, so that’s a good sign.

      • well i got it by UPS alread! & the CSR said the 100k is attached – do you know if the $450 fee which will be assessed at the end of the first cycle can count towards the $3,000 mimimum for getting the points?

  5. When Hollywood comes calling, please put a word for me, I can consult with the director on this stuff, thanks!

    And thanks for the mention. I would like you to tell me what it amounted to (in rough/ball park numbers when you find out).

    Oh, and I totally forgot about the MVP Post of the day…i just make it as I go along;-)

    • Travel Summary says:

      I’ll let Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg figure out which one of them gets the honor, I’ll let them know you’ll be on as Executive Producer.

      This whole affiliate thing (at least the one I’m using) isn’t as clear-cut as I assumed it would be. I have access to two statistics and neither tell me if I get paid. I think I’ll only know if I happen to get a check at some point in the future…

  6. Congrats on getting all that traffic. Wow. Seeing that bar chart was stunning.

    Always, appreciate learning how affiliate marketing works. Sad that it can affect the content.

    Being a bit of a geek, did you have any problems with your web hosting during the high traffic period? Some web hosts will take you offline for consuming too many resources.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Thanks! My website, hosted by Bluehost, had absolutely no problems handling traffic. But I wasn’t exactly walmart.com on Black Friday either.

  7. Great post! I love your openness and honesty about the whole thing. I’ve been a fan since I found your site, and now more so. Just FYI, my wife was approved for the Platinum card Tues morning and the card arrived on Wednesday!

    Also, I second the request to get rid of those floating buttons!

    • Travel Summary says:

      Thanks! Attempting to make honesty and straightforwardness a hallmark of my site. I know I appreciate it when i see it and hope others do too.

      Congrats on the approval, just read the churn post this morning. As far as floating buttons, plenty of others have complained! Trying to find a more suitable fix but all the other options always ruin something else on the website!

  8. The Deal Mommy says:

    How fun to see the blow by blow! Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes.

  9. Thanks for the tip. I was lucky enough to get in on the deal, and have added you to my RSS feed. Keep up the good work, and the transparency.

    Cheers!

  10. I loved reading about this whole thang! You’re kinda like the Matt Drudge of the points world. One story and boom…you’re huge!

    • Travel Summary says:

      haha I wouldn’t quite say I’m “huge”…it’s more that I was huge for a couple of days. But at least people know I exist now!

  11. Chris myler says:

    Dood wtf, you don’t mention the end results? Did you end up getting paid for all the people you referred? How much? Etc.. C’mon I read this whole thing and was looking forward to hearing what happened at the end regarding CreditCard.com paying you..

  12. Yeah, what happened with the creditcards.com affiliate. Did they pay you your money at the end?

  13. Travel Summary says:

    Since I’ve received a couple of questions about it – yes, I did eventually get paid for many of the signups. It wasn’t as much as I was originally expecting but it was still a lot of money to me. I won’t share how much.

    • Thanks for the quick reply. I’m actually an affiliate on there myself, and started referring a decent amount of traffic to them. I am new to their program though, and just wanted to make sure that they were legitimate and actually pay their affiliate publishers. I see a decent number of “leads” being posted to my CJ account, but there are no “sales” – therefore giving me $0. It’s been like this for a week already.. is that normal? From your experience with them, how long do the sales take to post after being in the leads status..?

      Would really appreciate your response!
      Thanks :)

      • Btw, I am referring to the CreditCards.com Affiliate Program on CJ.

      • Travel Summary says:

        It takes a LONG time and there’s no clarity in the process. It was something like 60-90 days before I saw anything. Like yours, mine kept showing up as zeros until a long time later. It’s very confusing and there’s no way to argue, and the affiliate companies don’t have answers either. I reached out directly to creditcards.com about it and they basically told me to wait and that everything will load appropriately.

        This was all through the Google Affiliate Network – I haven’t used it much on CJ yet.

        Good luck!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] my post on the play-by-play of the 100k offer, and even on the 100k post itself, many people were pleasantly surprised at my [...]

  2. […] my knowledge) that wrote about the deal (note that I learned it from a FlyerTalk user). I wrote a play-by-play of how it went down and in my opinion it made for some fun reading. I was fortunate enough to […]

  3. […] companies that make these links available. I’ve shared my thoughts on affiliate links and companies several times before […]

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