Adiós referral posts

I didn’t start this blog with the intent of earning money.  I started it (and continue it) because I love the game of travel hacking.  I love finding deals and maximizing opportunities.  And, I love learning new tricks from readers who comment or email.  So, earning money is not the reason I write this blog, but I do earn money and that allows me to keep going.  The ongoing struggle I have is in trying to avoid having the money-earning aspect of the blog influence my writing.  I believe that I’ve largely succeeded with this, but I can (and will) do more…

Since I began blogging as Frequent Miler in 2011, I’ve earned money from the blog in three ways: ads, affiliate links, and referral links.  In order to (try to) stay impartial, I don’t include affiliate links in my daily blog posts, but I do often include referral links.  Recently, a reader took me to task for this and argued that affiliate links and referral links are basically the same thing.  I agree.  From now on, you won’t see either type of link in my daily blog posts.


As a blogger on BoardingArea, ads are unavoidable.  BoardingArea sets up each blog template with space for ads and they negotiate ad rates with advertisers.  When people view my site, the advertisers pay BoardingArea a tiny amount for each view, and then BoardingArea pays me a percentage.  The good thing is that I have no idea which ads are being served up at any given time, so I can confidently state that ads do not influence my writing one way or another.

Affiliate Links

Through an affiliate network, I get links to credit cards and other products which I can display on my blog.  When people click through those links and sign up for cards or buy products, I get paid by the affiliate network.  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 the Sapphire Preferred card you can earn XXX,000 points!”), but it felt wrong.  I like writing blog posts, but I don’t like writing advertisement pitches.  And, frankly, I don’t like reading them either.  So, instead, I created a few permanent pages on my blog to host affiliate links.  If people want to reward me by using my links, they can find them as follows:

  1. Best credit card offers: This page can be found under the “Credit Cards” menu on my site.  It lists all of the offers that I think are worth considering to earn great sign-up bonuses.  I always list the best offer I can find even when it means that I use a public offer instead of my affiliate link.  At the time of this writing, less than half of the listed credit cards are affiliate links.
  2. Preparing for Miles: This page lists the credit cards that are best for day to day spend regardless of the quality of the sign up offer.  This page can be found as its own link on my site’s menu bar.  As with the Best credit card offers page, I try to list the best offers available regardless of whether I get paid for them.
  3. Credit Cards: To get to this page, click the top of the menu labeled “Credit Cards” on my site.  A table on this page lists all credit cards for which I have affiliate links.  This is an unedited list, so please use your own judgment as to whether the offers are good or not.


Referral Links

Referral links are similar to affiliate links, but usually they are intended to attract new customers to sign up (for something) for free.  Most referral links are available to anyone who wants to invite friends and colleagues to signup for some kind of loyalty program or service.  For example, most cash back portals offer a way to earn $5 or $10 by inviting a friend to sign up and use the cash back service.  Beginning today, I will no longer include referral links in my posts.  Instead, my referral links page can be found on my blog under the menu titled “Resources“.  Or, just follow this link: Sign-Up Links.  The page is currently a work in progress.  I’ll add more links over time.

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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. FM: proof that a blog doesn’t need to sell out to survive. Two thumbs up. Now if only the rest of BA bloggers would show as much class…

  2. FM you run a classy blog and I think most (sane) readers do not question your honesty and loyalty to your readers. With that said I feel there is no need to (not have) Any referral / affiliate links within your posts, it is your right to earn money because your own hard work. So if your decision is your own and not influenced by the “blog critics” then by all means do what you feel is best, however if you’ve taken this step because of our nonsensical critics, then stick your roots and the valuable content you continue to offer without making changes. At the end, you’re a respected blogger either way and I wish you much success with your blog.

  3. I think you’re going too far. I see no reason to not offer ANY click-related links. You don’t pimp yourself out like every other blog. You should still have those links while continuing not to boast about it every day

  4. You have by far the most informative and well written blog dedicated to our “hobby”. I look forward to your info every day. The links in no way affect my reading and using your information. other have said, it is your decision either way. Don’t let the “winers” make your decision.

  5. You are providing links, just not embedded articles, right? That seems like a completely sane way of doing it. If I click through, I’m ONLY clicking through a consolidated list of links anyway. Which blogger I choose is purely based on the value they’ve otherwise provided to me (not from a single article), and/or the ease of evaluating/identifying the best offer (with least consequence, e.g., information regarding which credit pull occurs). I see no value in embedding links in-text, it would only make you seem inauthentic.

  6. I feel if you provide value and write great content you should be rewarded for it so don’t see a problem with any kind of money generating links. I think this is a mistake and overreaction.

  7. I agree, I see nothing wrong with the affiliate links and the annoyance of the FT complainers is really over the top. I have stopped reading mommy points because the content she use to provide on family travel is now minimal compared to discussions on credit cards. Good blogs should be rewarded with readers using links.

  8. I’d tell the reader who complained to go elsewhere. He should also stop watching television, listening to the radio, and the Internet in general. I’m more leery of someone who has hours to blog without profit than one who has a profit model in place.

  9. What happens to referral links that benefit both of us? For instance, a lot of times the referrer will get $10 AND the referee will get $10. By not having referral links I’d say you’re hurting both you and the readers. Doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

  10. Hi, I made a mistake by applying for two Chase cards for my wife at the same time; the Sapphire, and the British Airways visa signature. She got approved for the Sapphire but denied for the British Airways. I would like them to reconsider but I don’t know if it is possible. We just bought a house and will be spending at least $15,000 to furnish it in the next 2 months. What do you think? StephenM

  11. I guess if you plan your audience to only be savvy blog reading travel hackers then this works, because people like myself who fit into that esteemed category are knowledgeable enough to find your links and click through as a ‘reward’.

    I think there is a larger audience that you are also helping, and they aren’t going to reward you since they don’t know about the links.

    I do use your site for links, currently have a CSP pending for the wife (will get it through soon) and think your content is excellent. I just hope you don’t have to do this from the pressure of the complaining crowd out there.

    There is a balance that can be found embedding offers into posts, providing that they are relevant.

  12. You’re entitled to earn a few dollars from links, referrals etc. I’d suggest a once a week policy.
    Let’s face it, the majority of travel blog readers haven’t stopped reading Rick, Darius, Angelina, Summer and everyone else because they post links.
    Thanks again for the blog.

  13. I don’t know why people ever complained about this. No one is making them click on the links. It’s not a big deal.

  14. I don’t care if you put affiliate or referral links in your blog posts. I don’t care if you earn money by offering a good deal. What I do care about is that the deal you are offering is actually a good deal. If you do a blog post that says “Earn 30,000 miles by signing up for this credit card.” when you know that I could earn 50,000 miles through a different offer (but not your affiliate link) then I think that it becomes a problem. But I don’t see you doing that. In fact, I think that I’ve seen you do the opposite. Point out the better deal even when it’s not a better deal for you! Bottom line, you’re providing a valuable service to me, and I think you should earn money from it.

  15. Greg, thank you for your transparancy and desire to to remain as unbias as possible. It gives further credebility to your posts regardless of your decision on this matter. If i may, id like to add 2 suggestions for your consideration. First, the verbiage on the credit card page should probably be more explicit. Had I not read this post I would think they were simply credit cards you recommended. I know you tried to do that in the first paragraph but its still unclear. To be more explicit you could call it affiliate credit cards and link to this post or just spell it out more.
    Secondly I would reccomend a donate tab/button that explains your affiliate/referral links and/or other ways people can donate. It would be non obtrusive, completely clear, and as long as youre not pushing people to go there it would be completely of their own volition. thoughts?

  16. Good for you.

    I personally okay with affiliated or referral links, so long as non-affiliated non-referral links with better offers are discussed or shown as well.

    Mommypoints blogs about family travels. That is her area. Nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of bloggers talking about credit or other offers. Daraius talks mostly about how to accumulate points with travels too. Lucky writes about premium travels mostly. I am glad that each blogger got their own specialty or all of them will read alike.

  17. FM keep up the solid work and I truly believe the revenue will come in! I used your affiliate links for a recent churn and will do so again for my next churn! As long as I can find the links, I’ll use them!

  18. p.s. if nothing else, the legal disclaimer needs to be fixed on the credit card page. unless not all cards are affiliate there.

  19. Greg, just another post to prove what a class act you are. Do what makes you feel best, but it does not bother me to see a fully disclosed affiliate or referral link in a post. You are providing a valuable service and have the right to seek compensation accordingly if you so choose!

  20. I agree with those who have said… IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL. People need to put on their big girl panties and quit crying that you might link to cards that earn you money. There is nothing wrong with it, morally or ethically, and the whining that ensues sounds like so much jealousy at your exposure and success. Some people feel like they just need to inform everyone around them how the(ir) world is supposed to work; my thought is that your blog should, uh, reflect YOUR content, whatever that may be. (Sorry if that’s a little obvious.)

    Anyway, thanks, from a new reader, for already having such a content-rich blog. It’s already at the top of my Travel list.


  22. I have probably used ur referral links 20+ times for myself and both of my parents. I don’t let my parents sign up for a card without going through your blog first. Great work Greg!

  23. Why is everyone in America so opposed to someone making a profit? There is no doubt you have helped me saved thousands and thousands of dollars. When I apply for a new card I SEEK out the blooger who has helped me the most lately and click on their link on purpose.

    I disagree, I think you should keep them all and not be ashamed at all. This is America and EVERYONE is entitled to make a profit.

  24. I get all my cards through your best cards page. I point anyone else I help get cards there too. It is an easy place to find all the current best publicly available deals (and some that aren’t). Your blog is solely responsible for me getting thousands of points from Staples FAR, to the huge haul with VR’s at Office Depot, and now Bluebird the mother of all points earning schemes. Now I earn points on taxes, daycare, and mortgage that were not available before. Amazing! Keep up the good work!

  25. My next applications will be through your page, FM. Your blog never felt like one big infomercial, like so many others on BA. And this step makes reading it even more enjoyable.

  26. I completely disagree with this logic. Everyone who reads this blog has benefited from the time and energy (and money) you put into it. There is so much guilt in the world from people trying to earn an honest living without the paycheck of a job. There is something wrong with the US when a small business person feels as though they didn’t earn their paycheck because someone else didn’t hand it to them on Friday. I used to feel guilty earning a living working for myself too, but it is a shame that we all feel that way. I would vote for a single disclosure page then simply put your links in line in the blog, no disclosure. We are all capable if making the decision of where to buy lunch or clothing or whatever, we can make that same decision of where to sign up for new credit cards as well. To me running my own business is my American Dream. I have been fortune enough to work for myself since i was in my early 20s. If i would have let that guilt take over, I would be a wage slave again. DON’T GIVE IN!! Make your money and enjoy it – You deserve it. Undoubtedly you have allowed me to make more money and take better and longer vacations spending time with family. Try to put a value in that. I sincerely hope you reconsider.

    PS I would however request you don’t make posts about credit cards just to pump your links. Use them where appropriate and keep the content original.

    Thanks again!

  27. I don’t see anything wrong with affiliate links or referral links. Sometimes it is annoying some bloggers write up an entire post with the sole purpose of promoting those links. However, your blog posts have never done that. Even if you do, bloggers deserved to be rewarded for their work.

  28. Geez…. When did folks get so “anti-capitalism” that they’d hassle someone who is giving them HUGE value for small $$?!

    I intentionally came to your blog to pick up your affiliate links, because I (specifically) wanted to reward you for your blog! Now, you’re making it harder for me to do that! I use your links because you ARE forthright about which are affiliate and which aren’t. You’re not peppering your posts with “Use this card!” “Use this card!”; you’re providing huge amounts of solid info and then providing a (pretty doggoned unobtrusive!) way to ‘tip the valet’!

    I disagree (strenuously, can you tell?!) with this change. Your ever-so-clear way of allowing people to REWARD you when and if *they* feel like it is entirely appropriate and helpful to those of us who wish to reward you for your help.


    p.s., I am NOT a seasoned FF-traveler; and your site started me off on this (soon-to-be-free) ride. Because of your way of differentiating between affiliate and non-affiliate, I felt secure using your affiliate links. (I TRUST you!) What more could one ask?! Please stop being anti-capitalism — which is the brainwashing we’re all under — and return to accepting *legitimate* rewards for the *service(s)* you’re providing! Sheesh. They’re destroying the West — please don’t participate in the destruction!

  29. Funny how we let social pressure make us feel bad about earning a living. The truth is, you put the best and most original content about earning miles of all the blogs. You deserve to make money and you shouldn’t feel bad about it at all. Your posts are detailed, with complicated procedures and NEW clever ideas presented neatly and easily for all to follow. Why should you provide such a valuable resource to so many people and not be compensated for it? Are you that altruistic that you feel that the world must know about this information for free? In truth, the people who read this blog have good credit and enough money to utilize your techniques. The ones that cry about referral links are just downright “hating” on you and are the type of people who will never be content no matter what. In this blog, like in life, i say ignore them. IMHO, with your content, i wouldn’t mind if you had five times the link MMS has on his blog, with his copycat content.

    Sorry, i rarely ever post, but i have been reading for a year now. Just my opinion.

  30. “The ongoing struggle I have is in trying to avoid having the money-earning aspect of the blog influence my writing.”

    @FM. Oh please! Dont think for a minute that everyone believes this nonsense. What struggle? There’s no struggle. You are no different than any other blogger trying to make a quick buck. How do I know that? Read further.

    Tell us why you waited a week to mention in your blog when the Ink Bold card reduced its spend requirements from $10K to $5K for 50K bonus points late last year? Explain why you waited to announce the new spend requirements only AFTER your affiliate links were updated to reflect the new offer. Why didn’t you notify your precious followers about the new offer that was available via the Chase website. I would love to hear your explanation.

  31. Count me in as one of the folks who isn’t offended by CC links. At this point I’m pretty well used to ignoring obvious shill posts (I’m looking at you, VFTW) and scroll down to posts with interesting content. The Frequent Miler is a pretty reliable read as it is, so I don’t think his new policy will change much. I will say that when applying for a card, I’d rather use a link and reward folks that provide interesting content than apply direct.

  32. I agree with Matt(#21)completely. I am new to this and if there is no link in the article, I would not know where to find it.
    You are doing a great great job. Thank you!!!

  33. This is the first post you have written that makes me angry. Why does everyone assume the public is so stupid we can’t decipher when someone might be influenced by the perks they have received. Why is it the whiners and complainers get to decide everything?

  34. you guys need to calm the down and stop hating on greg for his decision. if your hating on him for giving in to haters how the hell is giving into ur whining going to be any better? furthermore he didnt change because of the whiners he changed because he was already thinking that way, the whiner just made him think about it more. his ultimate decision was because HE thought it best, not because of anybodies complaining. if you expect him to change because of YOUR whining how does that make him any better? sheesh reading ignorant comments pisses me off.

  35. FM. You write the best, and most original blog on the internet about our “game.” I come specifically to your blog to click though your links to sign up for new cards.
    Your decision makes you looks even classier than you already do.
    Keep up the good work!

  36. You are a better blogger than I. I would have no problems pimping for cash right in my post. In fact, if anyone wants to send me money I’ll provide a link in my comments! (that was a joke)

  37. You don’t need to cut out referral links because of a couple of trolls. I’ve made a bunch of money off your advice and certainly don’t mind throwing you a bone now and then.

    @Mike, your obsession with Mommypoints is disturbing.

  38. FM: Never bothered me in the slightest, but obviously your call.

    HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER, like #21 and #44 said, you are doing your readers a disservice if you don’t at least let us know when an opportunity exists. If you mention a program that gets us both something but I don’t know that there’s a link to it somewhere, we both lose out.

    You don’t have to have arrows, circles and gold stars, but please alert the reader to opportunities.


  39. I am ok with affiliate/referral links. I think you should definitely be awarded for all the hard work in your posts. Your posts give us immense knowledge and I really thank you for that!

  40. Once again an innovative approach. Please be sure to point out on a reg. basis, where the links can be found. I personally made it a policy long ago to not go through affiliate links on bloggers pages, unless recent postings have warranted the reward. I will say though, for the first year or two of doing this, I had never considered the payout to the blogger, thus some rather unscrupulous bloggers received payouts due to my naive nature. I appreciate frank conversations such as this that may enlighten readers to the fact their actions can encourage the endless “self” promoting of some bloggers.

  41. As usual, you continue to be a cut above the rest of the travel hacking blog community. Thank you for what you do.

  42. Good logic, sound reasoning. A few of the bloggers here are nothing more than graffiti artists, i.e. Delta Points, loads up page with ridiculous amounts of Card referrals and does not allow negative feedback of any type while seldom providing any genuine news for Delta flyers. I like your approach and will proactively use your referral links.

  43. Awesome stuff FM. I never used any blogger’s affil links before. It takes just a few minutes to find the best offers in FT, but from now on I will use your links if I find they are at par with the best free links. Just because honest should be rewarded.

    To the obvious other bloggers posting shill shit, go away please. Go back to the holes you have crawled out of. FM is not saying he is completely abandoning the links. He just has them in a corner which takes 2 clicks to find and is not going to pimp out to anyone.

    It is funny to read the “capitalism” shill posts.

    @Jonathon, post #46 -> Brilliant.

  44. Classy move. Unnecessary as far as I’m concerned, but hey its your blog.

    As you can see from some of the stupid comments above (say James for example) people are gonna bitch no matter what you do.

    The vast majority of us appreciate you for the things you do and can’t blame you for trying to make a living. Ignore the stupid haters. Its an internet thing you can’t avoid.

  45. I don’t see the problem with using links for products that you genuinely recommend. If it’s a good product that you use, it shouldnt’ be an issue.

  46. I love you FM. To me it doesn’t even matter how many links a blogger has. In fact, if I’m not in the market for a CC, I don’t even see the links. I know a lot of people have problem with the links, but I frankly don’t care. You have great content here and a lot of followers. Keep up the good work.

  47. I agree with everyone else. Your content is refreshing and you don’t make credit card posts, which is why I use your affiliate links when I sign up for cards. As for referral links, I don’t have a problem with them. And you clearly state you get a referral. If the reader wants to click your referral or go directly to the site, it’s their decision. It’s your site; put back the referral links if you want (just don’t start with the credit card links).

  48. I think it is a mistake to let one naysayer dictate how you run your blog. Affiliate and referral links are how you make your living. I use your links because of your content and the money/points you have helped me earn over the last year, not because HT has scared you into hiding them.

  49. None of any of the bloggers’ links bother me a bit, but it’s your blog, so get rid of the links if that’s what you want to do. My only interest in this is the great information you provide. And I want you to have as much time as you need to run your experiments and give us all of this wonderfully lucrative information that you generously provide for free. (And you show little concern for popularization ending the deals for you, although you’ll still have to deal with those mad at you for “killing deals” with this generosity.) So of course you should do whatever you want on your blog, but I hope that your decision to give up this revenue doesn’t mean you have to spend more time earning a living and less time selflessly helping all of us.

  50. Jonathan – I don’t expect him to decide based on what I think or what anybody else thinks. It is because I value the work that he does that I would prefer that this is lucrative enough to keep him interested. My point is that most people with average intelligence can tell if someone is writing from an influenced position. In fact most of the bloggers I read are quick to point out when they do and don’t receive compensation. To assume that we (the readers) cannot research and make decisions on our own is condescending and insulting.

  51. I’m sorry I don’t have time to answer individual comments today. I’m in D.C. with a bunch of frequent flyer related things going on, including Frequent Traveler University. I’ll be presenting this weekend and need time to finish my Powerpoint! Anyway, thank you all so much for your kind words about my blog! Please understand a few things:
    1) The decision was my own. Ever since I stopped listing credit card links I’ve been happier for it. I can concentrate more on content. I expect the same result here (but on a smaller scale).
    2) I will still make money. When relevant, I’ll include a link to the new Signup Links page (found under the Resources menu). I believe that people will be willing to make an extra click or two if they want to give me credit for a signup. We’ll see!
    3) Of course I’ll continue to point out good signup deals for readers! When it comes up, I’ll simply link to the Signups page. The new Signup Links page already has a number of deals listed where you can earn cash back (or points or whatever) for yourself. Please take a look…

  52. I gave you a refferal for TCB when I signed up and used the info on your blog to get amex giftcards. I feel it is only fair as your blog informed me of the TCB deal.
    I like the fact that you don’t “pimp” offers and will let us know if a better link is out there. If you make money off of links it’s no skin off my back, and I feel good about giving you a refferal since your not constantly promoting cards and have useful content.

  53. I’m not that concerned about you adding referral links especially since you do all that work for us with these experiments. You always post a that it is a referral so I have no problem with it.

  54. Same here…this is your blog ,I don’t see any problem with referral links for products that you review and recommend ….I think the majority of your loyal readers don’t care …really

  55. Smart move Gregg.
    The key to any product is differentiation. This move just adds to yours. I do think you are walking away from new reader easy clicks but I’m sure you’ve found that your blog’s value builds frequent and loyal readership. This group of people (me and most of the commentators) will go out of our way to use your referral links in recognition of what you do for us.

  56. Yup it is in-your-face differentiation, something that is not sitting well with shills who keep on asking “why are you doing this?”. If it is a honest supporter of FM, they would 110% support FM for doing this. He didn’t say he is getting rid of referral or affils, just that he finds them annoying and created a separate section for it.

    I’d rather have that, than someone posting 30-40 CC signups and then “disclosing” that he will earn commission and is appreciative of anyone using it to sign up. Those kind of mine fields need to go away but a lot of bloggers will suddenly find this very disturbing since FM towers over them.

    If you care for FM then support this and use his links to sign up and stop posting crap that he needs to pimp and tell him how to make a living. Now THAT is condescending and insulting. Leave that to shilling bloggers posting here.

  57. So…why aren’t other BA bloggers imitate your approach?

    I also agree with dhammer53. If not once a week, once a month post the obligatory post “If you like what you read here and want to keep me going focusing only on improving the content please consider signing up through my links featured in this (click) page”.

    Good luck at DC and say hello to them addicts from me:-)

  58. Hands down! The best blogger with excellent and fresh information & tricks to capitalize on miles and points. Kudos to you.
    FM, as you have said several times that you are very very much interested in raking miles and points I agree with the style of content and posts from you. But the best karma for all these miles and points is one’s knowledge to make best use of them. I really wish you can some award booking tips or guidelines.
    That said, given an opportunity I use your links half the time and those of others whom I read for understanding the award booking on any alliance/airline.
    I am proud and happy that I used your Ink Bold link.
    Hope you rock the FTU floor in DC. Miss all the fella junkies. 🙂

  59. Makes no sense to me. All bloggers are putting time and effort into content they publish and being read for free are entitled to make money out of their work. Nothing should be for free.

  60. Hey FM,

    I recently got the CSP for my wife through your link, I went to check the sign up terms and conditions and didn’t see the CSP card there any more:

    1. Did Chase pull your cards before you decided to drop referral posts?

    2. Do you remember the signup terms?

    3. Hope you still get paid out by them for this one, the app took a week or so to approve.


  61. I don’t begrudge you at all for having a link or referral in your blogs……..ultimately I have to have enough brains to decide whether I think the offer is going to get better or is the best I can get……… have to make money if you are going to continue to find great deals for us so making it harder for you to fund the operation seems illogical………

  62. As a personal finance blogger, I understand the hard work it takes to put posts together. I don’t fault bloggers from trying to get paid for their hard work. I don’t mind if you include affiliate or referral links.

  63. FrequentMiler wrote, “The ongoing struggle I have is in trying to avoid having the money-earning aspect of the blog influence my writing.”

    You’re a liar, FM. Dont think for a minute that everyone believes this nonsense. What struggle? There’s no struggle. You are no different than any other blogger trying to make a quick buck. How do I know that? Read further.

    Tell us why you waited a week to mention in your blog when the Ink Bold card reduced its spend requirements from $10K to $5K for 50K bonus points late last year? Explain why you waited to announce the new spend requirements only AFTER your affiliate links were updated to reflect the new offer. Why didn’t you notify your precious followers about the new offer that was available via the Chase website. Your readers don’t deserve to know when a great deal was available? Your readers would love to hear your explanation, if you even have one.

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