The Referral Backpedal


Yes, yes, I know: the only thing worse than another blog post proclaiming the God-like virtues of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is yet another blog post fretting about whether or not the blogger in question should make money from credit card signup referrals. So, rather than belabor the point I’m just going to come right out and tell you what I’ve decided to do:

  • I have a few permanent pages on the Frequent Miler site. These will continue to show credit card signup links that I’ll profit from, but I’ll only show a link if I believe it is a good deal and if I too have the card or I’m planning to get the card.
  • From now on, I will not post referral links within my blog posts, with one exception: when I create new permanent pages on my site (or make major changes to them) I like to copy the contents into a blog post so that people who subscribe via RSS, email, etc. will get a chance to read the contents. In those cases, if the permanent page happens to have credit card signup links then the blog post will too.

Like other bloggers, I enjoy blogging and hope that someday blogging can become my daytime job. The reason I started using credit card referral links is that ad revenue doesn’t amount to much. I’ll be lucky if ad revenue covers some of the extra expenses of this hobby such as conferences and DOs. On the other hand, it is more important to me that you see me as a trustworthy source of information. I’ve come to realize that credit card links take away from that perception. The ads on the site are a BoardingArea thing which I can’t control, but I can stop hawking credit cards in my posts. For those who want to help me out by using my links for credit card signups, you can continue to do so. Just visit and click on Preparing for Miles.

Was this the right move? Should I have eliminated links altogether? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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[…] like writing them either.  Soon after I started using affiliate links, I changed my blog policy.  I would no longer include affiliate links within blog posts.  And, I have no intention of changing that policy going […]

[…] Beginning December 27th 2011, I stopped putting affiliate links in any blog posts (see “The Referral Backpedal“).  I had tried putting links in posts before then (e.g. “if you sign up now for […]


I appreciate you doing this, you have become the #1 on my blogroll and #1 choice when using referral links because of this. I really appreciate your quality daily posts!


Daniel: Thanks!

Don T

You gave me some good advice by email, so I felt you deserved the referral fee.


Don T: Thanks!

[…] use any of the links on my credit card pages to sign up for a card, I’ll make even more.  As I promised a while ago, I won’t put credit card links directly into my posts unless the post is slated to become a […]

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Grant Thomas

Great blog, I have no problem clicking on the referral links, they actually save me time and usually offer points that would be difficult to find. Keep up the great work FM

[…] is intended to be a permanent page on my site.  This is the case with this post.  Read “The referral backpedal” for more […]

[…] Frequent Miler…ral-backpedal/ […]

[…] Edited to add: I've gone out of my way to give frequentmiler every credit card referral I can since the referral backpedal. Last edited by HikerT; Today at 7:51 […]


Well, I will give props to Rick. I stumbled on his blog a couple years ago while googling for an orbitz discount code and it dawned on me I needed to get back into the credit card churning and milage accumulation game. I followed his blog until the imfamous “TPG took a hotel comp blog post”. I prompted me to read other blogs and I discovered that there was a lot more out there I was missing, including TPG, and the boarding area blogs which pretty much cover everything I need. This blog in particular is outstanding for some real cutting edge and out of the box thinking. So thanks Rick for leading me here and elsewhere, even though I don’t follow your blog any more.


“If I had a suggestion to FrequentMiler it would be to leave the referral links up and give it all to charity.”

Hikert, “Hope against hopen” 😉

You are one heck of a rebel. 🙂
Firm believer that some virtues cannot be taught in life , they are ingrained. Frequentflier writes interesting stuff , stuff with twists ;). HOPEFULLY , he will have conscience to do right but at the end of day this blog will still remain his blog.

Rick, for sure is definitely not the “common man” he depicts irrespective of what people or he believes. He sure might have helped many but blog is a business venture and blog focus is very profitable source(credit card sign ups). Charities I guess would help depict you as Saint but should also help at end of year at time of tax deductions ;). As a such an elderly person, I don’t even know why he has come back and reply to posts the way he does left and right on other blogs. And why he is the one who is in center of all these controversies. 🙂

I don’t see many people take their issues with bloggers like Gary, Lucky or other ( or may be I live under the rock :))

Rick, Please don’t mind but the first time I saw your pic I could see in your eyes that you are not Sincere.

People do help others but not necessarily by shouting on top of their voice and bragging about it,So HikerT must have contributed lot more ways than you know.


What you’ve proposed sounds like a good compromise. One of the areas you stand out in is the way you approach the possibilities of *how* you can use the best credit cards/malls/offers. The cards and bonuses are great, but there is often more out there than the one lump sum and it often takes creativity to figure it out. Keep up the good work and research, and thanks for trying to do what you can to differentiate between card offers and card strategies!


Rick, I sure hope I helped folks get their AMEX bumps when AMEX started to deny them. The silence was deafening from those who reaped the referral bonuses. But this is not about me. I say kudos for the backpedal. If I had a suggestion to FrequentMiler it would be to leave the referral links up and give it all to charity.


Congrats on a sound move! The Chase Sapphire was cool when it gave a way 100k instead of 50k points due to a glitch… 🙂

Rick i

Hiker T; and what, if anything do you do for anybody other than complain? For once, try to make a positive contribution. Many of us make contributions. And you?


Rick, what’s most hilarious is you of all people posting that others are “trying to sound virtuous with their decisions”. Weren’t you the one who felt compelled to tell everyone you donate a small fraction to charity? As if that makes you more virtuous. Hilarious.

Greg Z

On an unrelated note, where are folks emailing for missing Ultimate Rewards shopping transactions?

I’m missing a Groupon deal from the 7th (digital picture frames)



Thanks everyone for the positive comments. I especially like the ones complimenting my blog :).

Greg Z: log into and look for the secure message center.


Why not, when others are minting money, why you shouldn’t. Have come to conclusion no one is blogging as a social service :).



Well…here we go again. In a nutshell, I like your approach. At the end of the day, this is YOUR blog and u will do what you want with it! I agree with Rick, watching this issue bloom so much lately has become…a combination of disturbing and hilarious!!

Content still is what matters. People will stop visiting a blog if the content is subpar. You are developing a niche on very creative thinking of miles/points.

I commend your goal of someday doing this full time! I wonder if this is possible as your target market appears to be a very small niche. See how Rick has (I think successfully) diversified his target market by opening up his blog posts to appeal to additional segments.

Having said all that, based on what I do for a living, I think everyone pimping for revenue should think twice and wonder if instead you hurt people more than you help them. Not everyone is like us, to never carry a balance, cancel before an annual fee hits on cards we only get for the scores. There are newbies out there who get into this who are not disciplined enough and/or life gets in the way and end up carrying balances or (worse) get loaded up in debt and they can’t get out of it without undue hardships. It DOES happen and I (personally again) could not sleep soundly if I was ever responsible for something like this! There IS a reason credit card companies keep doing this mega miles/points promos…there ARE suckers out there who are paying for our miles/points with blood and tears!!!

My 2 cents

Steve K

An article that compares various offers is high value to me. If it happens to include links, that’s fine. No one should be expected to work for free; the commissions don’t cost me anything; they’re disclosed.

Blogs that sign every entry with a link or a beg are the other extreme.

I think you’ve found a good compromise.


I think this is a good policy. Of course, you’re entitled to monetize your site however you please, but your new approach sounds the least annoying.


A DO is an expense that the blog is supposed to cover?


I think you’re fine, don’t worry over it. I agree with Rick about the latest bandwagon that has affected some blogs. That said, I believe the blowback from many readers over referral links is ridiculous. Anyone not living under a rock knows a website gets revenue (potentially) from ads embedded on the site…and most of you bend over backwards to mention it. If a site becomes too much of a card-pimping venue, it will be obvious and lose readership. Content is what matters, and I like yours btw

Rapid Travel Chai

I have been waiting for the blogosphere proclamation of the Church of Sapphire, where all egos are sated in supplication before the metallic card where the mysterious numbers are revealed only to those souls enlightened enough to turn the card over.


Good move. Seeing how other blogger’s content and style of writing changed so quickly once they started being compensated for credit card applications, has been quite remarkable (and disturbing). I do not mind bloggers posting links and disclosing they are compensated, but to build complete posts around the virtues of x credit card, and weaving in 5-6 other links (by conveniently mentioning the virtues of other cards) in the same post now makes me nauseous.

It was better when people did it for the love, not the money. I’d be happy if I only saw 1 post a week, compared to the diarrhea we’re seeing now.


Keep posting the links. They serve as a reminder to your new blog readers, as well as some of us that have been reading blogs such as frigaltravelguy for a long time. I (we) owe much of our newfoundmiles to the blogs.

Now as for your comment on the expense of going to a Conference or DO. Gave me a chuckle. Said with love.

Rick i

As one of the first bloggers to include credit card referrals over two and a half years ago the latest onslaught has been hilarious to watch. Some of the most respected bloggers have absolutely changed the content and feel of their blogs by suggesting they are doing it for their readers and at times trying to sound virtuous with their decisions. One newer blogger even suggested a reader survey would determine the outcome of his “credit card no credit card” decision and also suggested as a part time blogger he could do better than the rest of us with keeping his page the most current. It has been laughable. Here is the truth, bloggers get PAID for accepted applications from their links. We are required by law to disclose it although many don’t.

The onslaught is MONEY driven. Credit card sign ups have been the basis of high miles awards for several years now. Why now all the new ads, new blogs and coverage? They just woke up to the potential financial gain and/or the owner of Boarding Area relented and let them start placing text link ads. Plain and simple.

Your decision is commendable. Once you establish a policy stick with it. I’ve held by my schedule for several years now and don’t plan on changing it. Some days get credit card coverage. Others none at all other than the banner ads.

Good luck and I enjoy reafiing about your creative thinking.


As long as you fully disclose the fact you are receiving a referral fee I don’t see anything wrong with having the links up. I too am sick of hearing about the virtues of the Chase Sapphire card….especially when other bloggers are promoting one of their very deceptive business practices. (No foreign transaction fee…what a crock of S#*$ that is….sure they don’t break it out as a seperate line item like AMEX but they build the fee into the exchange rate.)

Keep doing what you’re and there is nothing wrong with earning a litte income to subsidise your hobby…..just so long as you disclose it.


I think that you If you only provide links to cards that you would own then it is completely fair. Don’t worry so much and keep working on your blog.


Great idea. I noticed a lot of bloggers trying to generate revenue and I felt like im watching a commercial at times. Started getting annoying.