Make Money Online with Instant Credit Cards

Shaun Carter of Holland, Michigan is just twenty years old, but he’s well on his way to becoming a dot com mogul. A critical step in his journey was ordering up a ReviewMe review for his credit card comparison website. What does this have to do with making money online? Well, is actually a lot more clever than you think.

Noble Intentions?

When John received the ReviewMe request and forwarded it my way, it almost sounded like a noble-minded website designed to help you choose the best credit card for you, weighing the different pros and cons associated with each card. Some people value low interest rates, while others may want the biggest spending limit they can possibly get their hands on. If you’re looking for sound credit card advice though, this is not the website for you.

Instead, what you get is basically a listing of a whole bunch of different credit cards, conveniently placed in categories like 0% balance transfer cards, student credit cards, and Chase credit cards. There are also links to getting a free credit report and stuff on home mortgages. What’s the kicker?


These are all affiliate links. Each and every one of them.

When you apply for the Starbucks Duetto Platinum Visa Card through, Shaun Carter gets a nice commission cheque in the mail for the referral. The ironic thing is that at age 20, Carter is barely old enough to get a credit card himself (depending where you are), let alone make money off of getting you to apply for one. But I’m not saying that you shouldn’t apply for a credit card through this guy.

When you click on a “Apply Now” button, you get redirected to the credit card’s official website anyways, so it’s no more or less secure to apply this way than through Chase, Starbucks, or American Express directly.

Building Buzz

In addition to ordering a ReviewMe from John, Carter went out and partook in some rather creative advertising.

Do you remember the Million Dollar Homepage? Well, someone took the same idea and created, wherein you buy advertising space 100 pixels at a time (10×10 square). For buying a single 100 pixel block, you earn the right to key the supercar. For buying four spots, you get to drill a hole. Damage increases from there.


How comes into the picture is that Shaun ordered a fairly large block on the SmashMyViper site that simply says “click me”. It’s bright, green, and right in the middle. Because of his efforts, Shaun’s credit card site was even mentioned in a recent Washington Times article. That’s pretty good value, especially since that article refers to his site as a credit card comparison service, rather than a money-making machine.

Even More Monetizing

While John has taken the route of promoting the credit card with the biggest referral bonus ($200 per approved Amex Blue for Business), Shaun gives priority to the cards that most people would actually be eligible for. They may not give out the biggest commissions, but he’s clearly going for volume here. Student cards, for example, are really easy to get. may look like a MFA (Made for Affiliates, not Made for Adsense) site, but it’s actually more than that. When you scroll down a little further, you’ll notice that it is also running a YPN skyscraper on the sidebar. There’s also a banner at the bottom. This way, he monetizes the traffic as well as the actual click-throughs on those credit card applications.

Running a Nation into Debt

We are not only a nation of debt (regardless of whether the “we” refers to Canada or the United States), we are a world of debt. People are taking out mortgages that they can’t afford and far too many people carry credit card balances for no real good reason, racking up that interest like there’s no tomorrow. We’re consumers, not savers, and a site like just eases the process. The flashing “Apply Now!” buttons catch your attention, as do the 0% balance transfers and high reward points. What the site lacks is a sense of legitimacy, because it just looks like one big advertisement (which it is).

Will this lack of legitimacy (the contact email is a Gmail account) hurt his business? It’s hard to say, but you have to admit that is a pretty clever design.

103 thoughts on “Make Money Online with Instant Credit Cards”

  1. InvestMe says:

    well credit cards goes a lot of headache if cash flows deter. its good for already established businessmen out there in the net :mrgreen:

    for neophyte show your carefullness!

    1. Dave says:

      I use my credit card when I can to pay for purchases. No fees as long as I pay it off before the statement date πŸ™‚

      1. blabWire says:

        I do this too. Builds credit, you get your 1% in, etc.


  2. UberDan says:

    Smart lad well on his to Dot Com Mogul status. Why would you want to do that to a Dodge Viper though 😯

    1. UberDan says:

      Just read the faq on his site. He’s smashing the viper to raise money and get out of debt for buying stuff like… the viper. Why not sell the Viper πŸ™„

      1. jake says:

        because everyones so attached to their cars nowdays. THIS WORLD SUCKS. BAM! BLAM BLAM BLAM.

        1. Thor Schrock says:

          I would like to have a nice car like John’s cars above…. But I will drive my Ford pickup until I can claim that I am a dot com mogul myself.

      2. Marc says:

        It’s just another gimmick plan. If it fails, people call you a moron for trying, if it succeeds, they call you a genius.

        1. this dude needs to promote his thing more if he is really going to smash his viper.

      3. Gath says:

        Ahh – he’s already in debt, selling the viper won’t get him out completely – but this might.

    2. Dave says:

      Yeah that little bit made me cry lol

      1. Aaron Cook says:

        I know, what a waste of some perfectly fine peanut butter and jelly! LOL, just kidding. πŸ˜›

  3. A shout-out from a Washington Times article — that would only create more traffic alright.

    1. shokthx says:

      Great backlink too.

    2. Dave says:

      Yeah, that would be worth a lot more than he paid!

    3. Aaron Cook says:

      Yeah, and being featured in Autoweek Magazine and on the TopGear website as well does one pretty good. I think SMV is a winner. And with the success of the site he might very well forget about opening a bar. πŸ˜€

  4. john when you start to talk about milliondollarhomepage and smashmyviper, it took my whole attention from your blog, especially this review. maybe you should get rid of them two. πŸ˜€

    1. UberDan says:

      This post isn’t by John he’s on holiday already 😎

      1. Hahaa nice. $300 for a review not written by John as long as it is written in Johnchow dot com. 😈

        1. Thor Schrock says:

          Is ReviewMe paying for it? that would be CHOICE!

    2. jake says:

      i know but if he didnt write about smashing viper and million dollar homepage then every would be bored.

  5. Pallab says:

    I think it may be better to put those links present in the footer somewhere in the main content area (sidebar?). The homepage is quite long and also people generally tend to ignore links present in the footer.
    If you got featured by Washington Times you should try and show it off a bit more prominently, as it would probably boost your credibility and help in making an impression.

    1. Simon says:


      “As featured in The Washington Times”

      Adds some of the legitiamcy issues talked about in the review

    2. Paperback publishers/authors do the same thing, don’t they. Reputable reviews make you want to pick up that book and buy it — it should work online, too.

  6. illusion says:

    Your blog has lost a lot of respect man, all these reviewme reviews are really getting annoying

    1. UberDan says:

      I prefer a ReviewMe to a Restaurant post πŸ™„

    2. Kumiko says:

      How are they annoying? You just skip it and go to the next ‘real’ post! πŸ™‚

      1. Hammer says:

        When it gets to the point that I need to weed through the garbage to find the ‘real’ posts, I’ll just stop visiting that blog.

        1. Dave says:

          Yet…you are still here.

      2. jake says:

        kuminko, its gotten to the point where every other post is a review me, i would like to visit a blog that has 100% content not 50%. john chow needs to do what shoemoney does, deny 75% of requests. that will increase value of his blog which will allow him to increase your review price, which will mean that the only review you do in the future are quality reviews.
        call me genius.

        1. Kumiko says:

          In my mind, charging $300 for a review and accepting all of them is money making genius…turning them down is stupidity! πŸ™‚


          1. Screen Rant says:

            Yeah, well… he may be gaining new visitors but losing old ones. I’ve come very close to removing his feed from my bloglines account more than once. The restaurant reviews are by far my LEAST favorite, especially when I have to scroll down past 5 pages of close ups of plates of food to get to the next post… which is usually a ReviewMe post.


          2. Simon says:

            These restaurant reviews just shoves it in your face…

            “…Here’s the fancy food I ate last night thanks to you visiting my blog and clinking my links…”

          3. blabWire says:

            I seriously disagree with this. I think the restaurant reviews are a personal touch to give John’s readers a little information on his personal blog. I think a blog’s readership should consider the blogger as a real person, instead of some fictional information whore.


          4. jake says:

            the restaurant reviews are an interesting touch but there are too many of them. its almost like john is running out of content to write about.
            kuminko first of all he only gets 50% of the review me price. thats only $150. if he were smart he would raise it to 500 so that only people that knew there site would do well would buy one. this would decrease the amount of reviews but not enough that john would lose money.

        2. Dave says:

          His traffic is going up, not down…so there is no real reason to do that.

      3. Gath says:

        That cuts the posts down to 2 a week πŸ™

    3. Pallab says:

      I agree. There are just too many ReviewMe reviews these days. The quality of content is going down.
      Even excluding reviewme reviews, I feel that a John is choosing quantity over quality of late.

      1. Matt Jones says:

        He has worked hard to make the blog popular. He deserves to make money from the review me reviews. Ultimatly this blog is here to make money so untill he actually stats losing readers faster than he is gaining them there is no reason for him to stop.

        Also, I would not say he has gone for quantity over quality, there are the same number of quality posts, but IN ADDITION there are lots of revieme reviews.

      2. Gath says:

        I don’t mind the Reviews when they are for products that I want – or when they are of cool ideas that I can learn from.

    4. You never really know what you can learn unless you stumble upon knowledge somehow. John’s simply promulgating the link love — and earning along the way, which is brilliant.

  7. HMTKSteve says:

    If he is making money via afilliate leads why is he doing CPC advertising?

    1. blabWire says:

      I wondered this as well. I think he is just trying to do as much as he possibly can to make money, no matter what it takes. Presumably he isn’t too concerned with appealing to tech-savvy viewers, given the somewhat misleading premise of the site.


    2. Marc says:

      Yeah, it sounds like a bad idea to me. I can understand wanting to diversify revenue and catch the ones who won’t sign up, but he’s really hurting himself with competing links more than he’s helping.

      1. Dave says:

        Have you been tracking John’s monthly recaps? Because we have….his viewership and traffic is going up not down. He’s not hurting himself at all.

        Sure people will grumble and complain, but they still visit.

        1. HMTKSteve says:

          The reason why you do not want to mix afilliate links with CPC links (Adsense/YPN) is that you don’t want the visitors to leave via a $0.10 CPC link to someone elses MFA site, you want them to leave via an afilliate link on your site!

  8. Robin Bal says:

    Cant really figure that out.


  9. Thor Schrock says:

    This just proves that a clever idea can go far online. While he is probably not getting rich on the deal, he is probably raking in some significant cash providing people with Affiliate links they actually want.

    1. Marc says:

      It doesn’t really prove anything… We have no idea how much he’s earning so there’s no evidence to draw conclusions from. While he might be turning over some money, he could just as easily be tanking hard. We just don’t know.

      1. Joshua says:

        How much money does he have to be losing to be tanking hard? I’m betting he wouldn’t have spent the money (on the ReviewMe and the SmashViper thing) if didn’t already have it.

        Actually, he probably used a credit card he got from his his site to pay!

  10. Piggy says:

    affliate marketing ftw!

  11. Amanda says:

    It is a cleaver idea although poor design he’s doing very well.

    1. jake says:

      the design stinks, it looks like another one of those ad sites.

    2. Michael Kwan says:

      Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “design” in the review. What I meant was more in terms of the concept or idea, rather than the physical layout of the page.

      1. Too late; the people have spoken LOL. Seriously…great review there, Michael. Holding the fort real well while John is away. 😎

        1. jake says:

          ok michael, i understand better now. anyway you write great reviews, even if i dont like them i think your writing sytyle is excellent.

    3. Matt Jones says:

      He must be doing well if he is nearly a dot com mogul!

  12. jake says:

    a 3 year old could make a better site.

    1. Marc says:

      Well that’s a little harsh. It’s not the best website I’ve seen, but it’s hardly that bad.

      1. jake says:

        your right its not that bad, but in case you didnt notice there is no actual content all he does is redirect you.

        1. Actually, some may even consider redirection quite helpful; “If you can’t find what you’re looking for, feel free to choose one of the options below.”

  13. Hammer says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but reviewing sites for pay seems to cheapen a good blog. How do your readers know when to believe you or assume you’re just saying nice things about a site or product because someone paid you.

    This site is starting to give me the same feeling I get when I see actors hocking products they claim they use and we all know they don’t.

    1. Marc says:

      “How do your readers know when to believe you or assume you’re just saying nice things about a site or product because someone paid you.”


      All his reviews are said to be reviews and lots of products have taken criticism despite being paid. Since the pay rate is always the same, there’s no reason to soften any review.

      Finally, If you read the blog, you know what John’s all about. None of the sponsored posts deviate from his central strategies. The writing is the same.

      1. Matt Jones says:

        I agree 100%. On lots of other sites I skip the sponsored posts, but not on… although I read them in more depth if he actualy wrote them… and if they are more closly related to making money online that about creditcards…

    2. Joshua says:

      John has talked plenty about stuff he get’s commission for selling, like Kontera, SEO Book, etc. in ‘normal’ blog posts that you likely enjoyed.

      The thing is that this blog is all about how to make money online, and that what you will learn, whether it be from surface articles on how to do this or that, or from observing his reviewme thing, or even from his food reviews…

      I believe it all relates to his money making plans…

      John is from Vancouver and he likely gets traffic from Vancouver related stuff sometimes.

      He’s reviewed some of the best restaurants in town, WITH great pictures…I’m sure that’s got to pique some interest when people stumble on him that way.

      The thing is, you might notice the big actors promoting the certain products you think they don’t use, but might not think twice when Jack Bauer (from the TV show 24) drives down the street in a Ford truck.

      It is literally everywhere, so choose wisely and learn from what you see!

    3. I feel John tells it as it is — so do all his guest bloggers. Otherwise, I don’t think John would let them hang around much. With InstantCredit, for example; if the talented Mr Kwan had not reviewed it, I wouldn’t even know it existed.

  14. Dave says:

    And we forgot to mention that a John Chow dot Com reader was one of the owners of (

    Also, Shaun didn’t just buy advertising on SMV, we produced a video for his damage where we covered the car in PB&J and feathers…and had it done by a couple cute girls:

    I see that some of you are complaining about some of these ReviewMe. Take it from a business perspective and generate ideas of your own. Like this one is more of a story how one John’s readers (I’ve seen Shaun post comments here before) came up with this concept, marketed it, and is more than likely making a good amount of money from it. If anything it should be inspirational. Some of you need to stop looking at things from a negative standpoint, and turn into something positive.

    As John has stated before, this blog is his misc. ramblings…if something is not of interest to you, skip it and move on to something that does. While you may not find it interesting, others do.

    1. blabWire says:

      I just checked out his blog, and it is really amazing how much Digg can change your traffic stats. I’m a pretty firm believer that the best thing to do when a new site gets Dugg is to sell it ASAP.


      1. Dave says:

        That’s not that great of an idea. I’m pretty sure a bunch of successive diggs is what catapulted John’s blog into the A-List. He made 8500 last month off of the blog and I bet this month will be $10 000.

        He could not have got the same value selling the blog right after the digg, not to mention his blog is next to worthless without him. πŸ™‚

        1. jake says:

          hmm, it depends on how many digg users come back.

    2. Dave says:

      People complain Dave (Nice name btw! heh heh) But they still come back and keep reading.

      So I doubt John cares.

      1. blabWire says:

        Exactly. I think part of the issue is that people see how much John is making from this blog, and they convince themselves that if they leave they are taking money out of John’s pocket. Then, they can’t get themselves to do it because “If he’s doing so well, he must know something”.

        It makes me laugh. If anything, big sites doing expensive ReviewMe’s causes smaller advertisers to try to find cheap reviews. That helps the smaller bloggers out.


    3. Shaun Carter says:

      Thanks for putting up a link of the video Dave, that was the best part of the whole SmashMyViper adventure!

  15. uncle sha says:

    cheesy looking site but good info & resources thou

    anyway i prefer cash but if it’s inevitable i’ll use my credit card

    i’ve seen too many of my friends getting into Debt Snowball with credit cards

    1. blabWire says:

      So what? Put up an affiliate marketing site, and pay it all off! 😈


      1. uncle sha says:

        really? whats the payout rate

        well i’m quite new at this …

        i went to your blog, nice one πŸ˜€

  16. Jason C. says:

    I agree with what some of the above posters said. This blog is becoming quite boring in the way there is simply too much crappy advertisement.

    Check out the sidebar..Why is there an ad regarding penis enhancement? And please, stop with the massive amounts of paid reviews. 99% of the visitors here won’t use your hidden affiliate links or use the products you are discussing. Even though you might get good reviews, they come from 0.01% visitors that actually use them.

    Although very few people will actually stop visiting the blog, it appears the only way for you to do something, is when the blog earnings start declining. I finally got my adblock, so goodbye ads!

    Secondly, I hope in the following two weeks won’t be filled with guest bloggers, because that only works once in a while. Problogger has being doing this from quite some time, and the articles (in my oppinion!) are quite crappy…

    Take care and have fun on toronto.

    1. uncle sha says:

      yeah, too much ads can be annoying, maybe blending it better will help

  17. Paul. says:

    I think he needs to spend a few hundred dollars and have the site redesigned with some better graphics and such. That will make it seem like less of a MFA site. It will also make it more attractive and memorable.

    1. blabWire says:

      It’s amazing how much a little time and effort can alter your results. If he just spent a few hours looking around online for HTML/CSS tutorials, he could improve his results.


  18. This is one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that realizations — he’s certainly doing pretty well for a 20-year-old.

    1. blabWire says:

      Agreed, but there is plenty of room for 100 sites just like it, although I won’t be building one. I could see adapting the idea, however.


    2. Hammer says:

      Twenty year old? LOL

  19. Ali says:

    “Shaun Carter of Holland, Michigan is just twenty years old, but he’s well on his way to becoming a dot com mogul. A critical step in his journey was ordering up a ReviewMe review for his credit card comparison website.”

    Ok….dude it’s just a review not the business decision of his life. ❗

    1. Mosley says:

      haha! i agree πŸ˜€

    2. Thomas says:

      i think the stuff the two kids on are doing is far more interesting than what the Kid does here.
      If i understood it right they both are running a bet, if one of them can get a PS3 sponsored only by Internet ads, the time set is 2 and a half months now…
      I just read about it 2 days ago and i think this could be very interestig…

  20. Evil John says:

    John Chow Sucks

    1. uncle sha says:

      trying to cash in on ‘john chow’ mania?

      i think the blog has the wrong picture, you’re putting up William Hung

  21. I think it’s pretty crappy that John doesn’t do the review me reviews.

    1. blabWire says:

      It is odd, although I doubt the advertisers care who does it, as long as the readers see it. I wonder if non-John posts get fewer views on here than the posts John makes himself.

      blabEditor (Go to my blog, I’m getting some Digg attention, and need some help!)

    2. Can we say the same thing about Darren Rowse of Problogger? He has a Guest Author system on too, but i don’t how his blog works. But it sucks though that some one else writes for Darren at this moment. 😈

      1. Gath says:

        Darren is OS at the moment, so I guess a guest blogger is better than nothing at all.

  22. I’m sorry to rain on someones thunder, but this site is very marginal. You can find much better lists on the finance forums and then you can get cash back through for signing up for the cards. Generally about $20-$50 per card in cash back for signing up through Cardoffers.

  23. Jorge Diaz says:

    I think the guy from saw these AD on smash my viper.

    And that way, he started these venture πŸ˜€

    1. Shaun Carter says:

      Actually it was the other way around… Ben @ joined SmashMyViper after he saw the success I was having with my advertising on the site:)

  24. Gath says:

    I’m not sure why Shaun would get a ReviewMe from – isn’t everyone here a possible direct competitor? (and certainly we aren’t about to go & get a credit card from the site after reading the review).

    I would have thought Shaun would be wanting to spend the $300 on getting traffic which is most likely to convert (ie Adwords etc).

    Unless this is all just branding for ‘Shaun Carter’?

    1. Shaun Carter says:

      Ironically so, this review paid for itself rather quickly.

  25. Jorge Diaz says: Was originaly a pixel advertising site, but then i changed for my current blog, you can see the site, in these post at, my blog.

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