Rewards Credit Cards

Miles and Points, Greedy Bloggers

1. Get  3,000 bonus AAdvantage miles by making your first Rocketmiles reservation by October 31st. Not my referral link.

2. A promotion from National  where you get a free car rental after 2 paid ones. Valid through January 2015, and need to reserve rentals of 2 days or longer, midsize car or bigger. Link to register.

Update: This is not my link. Apparently, you can refer someone and get 300 miles if they complete this promotion. See comments below.

3. But it gets better, folks! If you have a MasterCard and join Avis First program, you might get a  free 2-day car rental. Emphasis on “might.” (h/t View From the Wing)

4. Get 12,500 Rapid Rewards with new Dish contract. Have to keep it for 24 months.

On my mind

When I first started out in this industry, I was puzzled  by how calling your blog a business is a huge no-no around here. But I’ll be honest, after being involved in this crazy world for over a year, I  finally understand. Bloggers don’t want to anger their readers. And who can blame them? The truth is, for many  this is their job, it’s what feeds the family. You almost have to be a skillful politician to operate in the upper crust  of miles and points industry. Obviously, I could never do it, y’all!

While most readers are reasonable individuals who understand that full-time bloggers  need to make money somehow, there is a small and very vocal minority that literally goes bananas when any form of compensation is mentioned.  The whole affiliate situation is a big (and I do mean “big”) elephant in the room. This minority knows that credit card links pay handsomely, but they prefer not to think about it. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

And if bloggers even indicate that they are motivated by money in any way, there will be swift and severe punishment of boycotting their affiliate links. Obviously, it’s not ideal when  commission pays for mortgage and food.

Here is the thing: Most of us care about making money from our blogs. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have applied for affiliate links/Adsense in the first place. I care, even though we don’t depend on this money. Full-time bloggers very much care. And why wouldn’t they if it feeds their family? In fact, if they didn’t, they would be something wrong with them. Unless they are running an illegal million dollar drug cartel, and their blog is just a front, they should care.

To those who argue that it’s wrong somehow for travel bloggers to promote credit cards. Guess what? We are technically not “travel”, but “miles and points” bloggers. We sell a product that is relevant to our line of work. Of course, travel is the whole point, so we show people how to achieve it close to free. Still find credit card links offensive? Don’t click them. No one is forcing you to.

As hard as it is for Angries to comprehend, most people hope to get  compensated for their time and energy investment, even if money isn’t the primary motivator. That doesn’t make us greedy. Of course, any time someone is making  commission on a certain product, beware! That goes for   car and insurance salesmen, as well as investment  advisors who get a cut on every sale they make. While conflicts of interest are much more pronounced in this industry, they are by no means unique to the miles and points world.

You should absolutely  mind that fact and be skeptical about any card I review, that also happens to pay me. That’s why I directed you to Flyertalk credit card forum where you can count on a somewhat unbiased advice. You may have to spend   hours digging through threads, but eventually you should find what you are looking for.

One of the worst things readers can do is put  bloggers on a pedestal. You are setting yourself up for disappointment. Bloggers are just humans  who make mistakes from time to time. There is enough pressure in this industry already, without needing to worry about every word you say, and wondering if it will cost you a reader.

Sure, not all bloggers are honest, and some are downright sleazy and manipulative. But many  are just hardworking guys and gals, doing their best navigating this bizarre and complex industry.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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8 thoughts on “Miles and Points, Greedy Bloggers

  1. I don’t think anybody has an issue with people making money from their blogs, the issue(s) some people have are as follows:

    – Promoting inferior offers
    – Making useless posts just to promote a credit card offer
    – Not properly disclosing when they are being rewarded

    For example, the car promotion gives you 300 miles if somebody uses your link and rents a car. You never disclosed that, which is bad for your readers because if you DID disclose it then they would have the opportunity to join a conga line and earn 300 miles themselves as well. They’d also know that they could earn miles by telling their friends & family.

    Nobody is saying that people shouldn’t be able to put food on the table for their family. They are just saying that they should do so in a responsible manner. Using emotionally charged language doesn’t make your argument stronger, either.

    In any job there are going to be critics. Personally I think the “angries” can overreact sometimes and generally don’t get bloggers benefit of the doubt, that said I’d also say that I generally agree with their criticisms.

    • @William Charles I’m not arguing the following points you made, and agree that they are a problem in this industry:
      – “Promoting inferior offers
      – Making useless posts just to promote a credit card offer
      – Not properly disclosing when they are being rewarded”

      If you followed my blog from the start, you would have known that I’ve addressed those issues on quite a few occasions.
      As far as the car promotion you mentioned, it’s NOT my referral link. In fact, there are no referral links in today’s miles segment. When I include my link, I always say so. Once again, you made an assumption that I tried to mislead my readers, when in fact, I simply didn’t know about this promotion.
      That’s the problem with this industry: Many assume that affiliate bloggers are trying to cheat them ALL THE TIME. Not all of us are evil, as hard as it is to believe. I do my best, but of course, I’m not perfect. If you give me more details, I’ll update with the better offer. But I repeat, I had zero incentive to post inferior offer.
      As far as emotionally charged language goes, that’s how I roll. I’m an intense and passionate person. Some like it, some don’t.

      • I wasn’t having a go at you personally, I’m sorry if you took it that way. The point about the car deal is that if other bloggers had properly disclosed the 300 mile bonus, you yourself probably would’ve know about it and would’ve had the opportunity to tell your readers about it in that frame.

        As I said, people (myself included) don’t give the benefit of doubt most likely too often. I don’t really think anything is solved by calling critics “angries”. I think things have improved and been cleaned out a lot in the last six months – one year.

        There is already a lot of government regulation about what should and shouldn’t be disclosed and those laws are often broken in this niche, the problem is that it’s almost never enforced unless it’s done on a massive scale.

      • @William Charles All good, I didn’t take your comment personally. I myself haven’t given people in this industry the benefit of the doubt all too often. I agree with you, things have improved considerably in the last year. IMO it’s due to many honest affiliate bloggers posting the best offers on their sites. Keeps things in check.
        Aslo, I have no problem with critics. But critics and angries aren’t really the same thing. The first group provides constructive criticism, the second one does nothing but troll the comments sections, spewing garbage. They offer no solutions or alternatives.

  2. I mostly agree with both you and William. My main thing is that you absolutely HAVE to know when the person writing about something stands to benefit from the advice they are encouraging (i.e. affiliate links).

    Most bloggers do that now, but until there was a bit of reader backlash, that disclosure was spotty at best.

    I do also think that there are some blogs (not that I’ve seen here) that really do make a lot of useless posts just to slam down referral links, as William mentions.

    Personally I think they’re good and I like them as a way to reward bloggers who write things I like. I’m prepping for a churn right now and part of my planning is figuring out whose affiliate links I want to use (Since I don’t have any myself currently) so I can more or less drop something in the tip jar.

    • @Pointswithacrew I actually agree with most of what William said as well. There are a lot of conflicts of interest, and many “spammy” posts out there. I do think that haters need to cut bloggers some slack. Many times the stars align, and the offer that pays us actually happens to be good for readers as well. Should we not post about it, just so we don’t appear to be sellouts?
      Of course, if I start writing about it every. single. week and repeat the same thing I said before, I should be called out for it. I try to post things that I believe are beneficial for my audience. Do I always get it right and know what my readers want? Heck, no. I’m not a mind reader.
      Affiliate business is a very tricky subject, and not quite as simple as the angries make it out to be. A lot of bloggers have a life (or remnants of it) and many other commitments, so it’s nice to get rewarded for your efforts. I certainly make no apologies for trying to turn a profit with this blog.
      Just to be clear: I barely make minimum wage, if that, so money isn’t the motivator. At 10PM I want to go to bed, and wouldn’t be staying up for the amount of revenue this blog brings. But I really do love it, and feel like I’m helping families travel close to free. So I sit and write, and give it my all.

  3. I agree with William’s bullet points. I’ll even say that an occasional gratuitous credit card post doesn’t bother me either. However, when the volume of useless posts increases to the point that it is drowning out good content that is relevant to me, that blog starts moving down my “must read” list. If it gets really bad, they probably drop off the list (sorry FTG). I do like it when good bloggers have some affiliate links – like PointsWithACrew said, it gives me the opportunity to put something in the tip jar when I’m in the market for a new signup bonus. As a matter of fact, this blog got an app from me earlier this year.

    • @Erik Thank you for your comment and for applying through my link. I VERY much appreciate it! As I’ve mentioned earlier, William made some valid points, which I couldn’t argue even if I wanted to. In fact, I’ve said those same things myself in this blog.

      My argument has always been that most participants in this hobby are smarter than the average Joe, and can discern bad blogging practices when they see them. Your comment has proven just that. When a blog turns into a spam factory (not pointing fingers here), most readers will be able to tell.

      I do think that some sort of a watchdog is needed. There isn’t one right now, though many would disagree with me. There is a lot of noise and shouting, but no solutions offered. At some point government might step in and force bloggers to be more transparent. As of now, IMO the best antidote to dishonesty are other bloggers in this industry.

      There are a lot of good, honest bloggers out there. But somehow people tend to focus on the bad ones, and go on campaigns to dissuade readers from clicking anyone’s links. That’s not fair. It’s very hard to create decent content.

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