I was recently approached by the American Express Affiliate Program to promote their OPEN business cards on Maximizing Money.
It’s been a few months since American Express unceremoniously kicked me out of their affiliate program, so it was a bit redeeming to have them request that I promote their affiliate card offers again.
However, I was reluctant to accept their invitation due to my past experiences with them, and I ultimately decided to decline their offer to promote the American Express Affiliate Program on this website.
Here are a few reasons why I rejected the American Express Affiliate Program.
1. Only Affiliate Card Offers Can Be Promoted.
One of the major downfalls of the American Express Affiliate Program is that they require their publishers to only promote American Express card offers that are part of the affiliate program.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the offers that are available through their affiliate program were actually the best offers out there.
For instance, there is a Business Gold Rewards Card Bonus available right now for 50,000 Membership Rewards points, but their affiliate offer is only for 25,000 points, so if you want to remain compliant with American Express, you are only supposed to promote the 25,000-point offer, and not the 50,000-point offer, which is obviously the better deal for new card members.
So if I was to join their affiliate program and promote the 50,000-point offer instead of the 25,000-point offer (like I’m doing right now), then I would be considered non-compliant, and they would request that I remove the offer or be kicked out of their affiliate program.
I’m not sure why in the world American Express would undercut their affiliate publishers by providing better deals outside of their affiliate program, but they do so on a regular basis, and I don’t want to participate in a program that doesn’t provide me and my readers with the best possible promotions and goes so far as to prevent me from promoting them on my own without using their affiliate links.
There are also great cards like the Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card that are not available through their affiliate program, so publishers are not allowed to promote them, as you can only promote cards that are specifically available via their affiliate program.
2. Affiliates Can Only Provide Limited Details.
American Express limits the amount of information that publishers can provide to their readers.
They provide official bullet points and content for each of their cards, and if you stray too far from those bullet points or provide additional information that is not approved, then you are considered non-compliant, and they will ask you to remove or update your information.
Even when I would write completely accurate reviews about their cards (or card-related offers) with information taken directly from their website, they would consider me non-compliant if I published information that was not officially approved by them.
This includes seemingly mundane but factual details about their cards as well as promotional offers that are related to their card products.
For example, I like to write about American Express Card Referral Bonuses, but the American Express Affiliate Program does not allow this and has asked me to remove this page previously.
In addition, you are required to use specific language to describe card details that is approved by their legal department.
I don’t mind that they provide me with accurate information to base my reviews on, but I can’t deal with being limited from providing further details that I find worthy of posting.
3. Their Disclaimers are Overwhelming.
Another issue I had with the American Express Affiliate Program is the amount of disclaimers that they require you to use.
I don’t mind posting a disclaimer that lets readers know I’m using affiliate links in an article, but American Express has multiple requirements for their disclaimers that must be posted on any page where American Express card offers are present.
It gets to the point where a post can get overrun with disclaimers, as they require them to be above-the-fold and prominently displayed.
Just to get into the program, I would have had to insert the disclaimers, provide mock-ups of any pages with American Express cards, submit additional mock-ups containing any requested changes, and then hope to get approval from AMEX’s legal team.
Luckily, American Express is one of the few programs besides Discover that actually requires you to post disclaimers, but you can imagine what a website might look like if all of the card issuers required you to post disclaimers, as any page that included multiple card offers would be full of various disclaimers for each card issuer.
My response to my invitation to join the American Express Affiliate Program was that I would gladly promote their offers via my sidebars using banners and text links, but that I would only do so on the basis that I would be able to promote any card offers that I like and provide any information that I like, so long as it is accurate.
American Express did not respond to my rejection, so I guess they won’t relinquish their control any time soon.
In the mean time, I will continue to promote American Express card offers as I see fit, without using their affiliate links.
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might go so far as to think that the only reason American Express invited me to rejoin their affiliate program is to gain control over the types of their card offers that I promote on this website, as I’m already promoting their products (with or without affiliate links), so what else do they possibly have to gain by having me join their affiliate program.
They probably don’t want to give me money for doing something that I’m already doing for free, so other than gaining control over American Express offers on my website, what else do they really have to gain, as they certainly didn’t care about my earning affiliate income when they kicked me out of their program in the first place.
All is well either way, and I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with promoting the best available offers out there that I can find, plus I’m happy that I won’t have to deal with any more compliance emails threatening to shut down my American Express affiliate links.
Disclaimer (Not By American Express’ Request)
Please note that there are a number of sites out there that seemingly participate in the American Express Affiliate Program, but don’t follow these rules exactly.
I have no idea if they have special arrangements with American Express or how they are able to circumvent these rules, but this article is solely based on my own experiences with the American Express Affiliate Program and the requirements they had for my site alone.