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.
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.
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.