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How other financial blogs lead you astray! Plus a Great Bridge Group update

BUT NOT THIS ONE, OBVIOUSLY: In the course of writing this blog we read a lot of other websites and we got to wondering: how much money do financial and travel bloggers get paid for driving credit card applications? We’re not going to name names, but some of them are pretty aggressive in pushing credit cards. What prompted our curiosity was the ongoing kerfuffle over at Flyertalk right now over the ethical purity of various bloggers, though some FT posters would employ the term “credit card shill” in place of “blogger”.

Somebody there mentioned a thread from The Cranky Flier where said blogger was about to get booted from a credit card affiliate network on account of not driving enough volume. A commenter asked how much he got paid, and TCF didn’t get into specifics but did say, “I can tell you that some cards are double digits while others are triple digits but that’s about all I’m comfortable saying.”

We then came upon an intriguing article from The Financial Brand which had some more specifics that backed up TCF’s account:

Through [credit card affiliate] FlexOffers.com, BofA promises to fork over $120 per credit card approval. Discover pays $115. Perkstreet Financial only $50 per opened account. 

But wait, that article has a lot more!Taking money from advertisers is perfectly fine–many in the newspaper industry notably forgot that they are in the business of taking money from advertisers and instead decided they are in the business of “journalism”, whatever that means–but it seems that some cross the line and descend into all out shilling on behalf of advertisers in direct opposition to the interests of their readers:

Take a look at the following affiliate reviews of Ally, each extolling the fantabulous virtues of the bank’s checking and savings products:

“Why I am switching? Ally is everything my current online checking account is not. Ally has taken all those things I hate and made them disappear with their Ally Interest Checking account. I feel like I got the real pony from the commercial, not the toy one.” (complete review at Suburban Dollar)

“I’ve chosen Ally as a new savings account for our family. I just set up my account this week and it was easy!”(read complete review at One Money Design)

“I usually tell people to go with a local credit union for no fees, and an online savings account linked up for higher interest on savings. Online checking accounts started getting popular with ING Direct’s Electric Orange Checking, but currently I find the best all-in value proposition at the Ally Bank Interest Checking account.”(complete review at My Money Blog)

Click on the links to read the complete reviews. You’ll quickly recognize a pattern; all the reviews take the same narrative path:
I. Intro
II. Is Ally Safe?
III. Account Features
IV. Account Opening Process
V. Customer Service
VI. Conclusion

Now, Ally is actually not a bad bank, so nobody’s really getting screwed here. But… is it really asking a lot to say something like “We’re on Ally’s payroll so take this with a grain of salt?”

The answer: Yes, it apparently is asking too much, and the lesson, as always, is to be slightly cynical and always consume everything you read with the proverbial grain of salt. (Except for what you read here because it’s awesome and we’re perfect, at least until the Ally advertising pipeline opens up.)

GREAT BRIDGE SPEAKS: We received an email from Great Bridge Group–the company that pays you for your credit card transactions, as we reported previously–and it seems that changes are coming. The key line from the letter:

In the coming months, you’ll see some alterations to our messaging and payout plans but as a thank you for being a beta user, your 1% dividend rate and $75 cap are yours for life!

Translation: “We’re reducing our payout, but don’t worry… you’re cool, man, you’re cool.” We’re not surprised to see a reduction in benefits, and we’re hoping this reduction will let them stay in business longer, or at least long enough to cut our first $75 check. A perusal of the website reveals that the quarterly cap is now $60. Lesson learned: fortune favors the bold! Unless GBG goes bust before March, in which case the lesson learned is that early adopters get burned. Stay tuned!

A LITTLE LATE FOR CHRISTMAS, BUT: North Korea, aka “Best Korea”, is now in the video game business! Get on it, early adopters!

1 comment… add one

  • One of the reasons that all of the blogs follow that same formula is because that’s what people are searching for on google. They are just following the traffic, although I completely agree they should be disclosing when they earn affiliate commission.

    Reply

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