Shot Down By The Amazon Affiliate Program

by derek on May 8, 2008 · 39 comments

When sharing the latest recap on blogging for money, I mentioned that there appeared to be an issue with the earnings from the Amazon affiliate program as there had been four products ordered yet there were no commissions credited to my account.

As you might remember, I recently decided to purchase a Macbook through Amazon, as well as a few of my wife’s birthday gifts.

Being an Amazon affiliate, naturally I logged into my account and created affiliate links for the products that I was going to order so that I could use them on this blog – as well as when making my actual purchase in order to take advantage of the commission.

When it came time to compile my earnings for the month, I checked my Amazon account and noticed that the items were being reported as purchases yet there was no income. It has been quite some time since there was any activity on my Amazon affiliate account so my first thought was that maybe it took awhile to update the earnings statement.

Being the curious sort, I figured that I would shoot off an email to the Amazon support while I waited.

And here is a snippet of their response (emphasis added):

I am sorry if there was any misunderstanding of our personal orders policy. Associates do not receive payment for referral fees on any personal orders placed. This is because the Associates Program places certain restrictions on the types of orders that may be placed through an Associate’s web site.

We operate a referral program, rather than a discount program. Our goal is to have our members refer new customers to us, and we then pay you for this effort, rather than simply offer discounts for shopping at


In the time that I have been an affiliate with Amazon, I thought there were one or two times when I had ordered a book and had been credited with an affiliate commission. Given the statement above, it would appear that those commissions were incorrectly applied to my account.

Have you ever ordered on Amazon using your own affiliate links?

While I assumed that was rather common practice, as I know many other affiliate programs allow you to receive credit for your own purchases, maybe I am in the minority here.

However, since it appears that Amazon does not allow an affiliate to purchase products using their own affiliate link, I might have to place an open query to all of you in the community to provide me with your own affiliate link when I am looking to purchase a product.

After all, if I cannot save myself a little money using my own affiliate account, I might as well help a few of you make money by using your affiliate links.

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Nathan May 8, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Hey Derek,

Amazon used to credit me for my own purchases, but they haven’t for several years now. As you say, bummer!

Stephen May 8, 2008 at 10:42 pm

I tried pulling that trick with John Chow during the $25.00 RevieMe payouts and were denied as well. We ordered reviews off eachother using our own affiliate codes to get discounts. No dice :lol:

Stephen’s last blog post..Foxconn 9600GT-512NOC Video Card Review

Michael Kwan May 9, 2008 at 12:57 am

I remember that. It didn’t work out. :(

Michael Kwan’s last blog post..My Six Word Memoir

fahrrad May 8, 2008 at 11:49 pm

I was purchased a Macbook through Amazon.I get this commission.

fahrrad’s last blog post..Aufbau des Fahrrads

Kelvin Kao May 9, 2008 at 12:29 am

I’ve always been under the impression that using your own affiliate link to buy things is forbidden by the policy, and I even think there’s even a possibility of being banned, like those website owners that click on their own AdSense ads. I’ve wondered how they will track it though… If you use different accounts for purchasing and affiliate program, there’s no way that they are going to know that you are indeed the same person, right? I’ve considered going to other blogger’s affiliate link and then buy things (might as well give them some commmission, right? but that’s just a thought, I’ve never remembered to actually do so) I think you don’t need to buy the same product that the affiliate link leads to in order to give them commission.

Kelvin Kao’s last blog post..The Most Amazing Worms in the World!

Ling May 9, 2008 at 1:06 am

Sympatize with you, but looking at it from Amazon’s point of view, it kinda makes sense. Giving referral credit for affiliates’ own puchases would invite all kinds of crazy schemes cooked up by affiliates.

Ling’s last blog post..Holidates – Travel Therapy For New Couples

Cesar May 9, 2008 at 2:26 am

Well, that’s news for me since I never bought from Amazon but I am also affiliate. So I think I will not try to buy from affiliate link if I want to buy somtething from Amazon.

Cesar’s last blog post..Océ ColorWave 600 – The new environmentally friendly and cheaper printer

Home Recording Studio May 9, 2008 at 4:33 am

Your offer to buy through some one with affiliate links makes sense. It still does not make sense as to why this policy exists at all. If you can get a commission on someone else’s purchase, why not on your own?

Lawrence October 31, 2010 at 6:33 am

Well, if you think about it, Amazon has to protect themselves, if anyone can join as an affiliate and get “discounts” through their affiliate link, then they will run out of business.
I was about to do that from my own blog, thinking whether its okay. Until I digged up this old article, that I decided not to. Thanks Derek!

Airsoft Guns May 9, 2008 at 4:45 am

I suppose I can understand this policy. Amazon summed it up with the line, “We run a referral program, not a discount program.” However, it seems that the business is rich enough that they can provide their affiliates with some perks. If I was them, I would certainly allow it.

Camping Tents May 9, 2008 at 6:13 am

Well yes I have used my own affiliate link before with no issues. I suppose if it’s mixed in with other purchases then it goes unoticed. Sometimes though its good to use your affiliate links to check tracking and service.

Oh well, I think affiliates should be allowed the personal discount, kind of like an employee benefit.

Camping Tents’s last blog post..Primus Camp Stoves

vinyl lettering May 9, 2008 at 7:26 am

I’m glad I read your post, I was thinking of doing the same thing….when I order my new macbook I’ll have someone else do it from my affiliate link, and then just pay them for the computer, that way I can still get the commission…better yet, I may check CJ to see if there are other affiliates for the macbook that have a larger payout.

utah transport May 9, 2008 at 10:34 am

hmm.. great to know! i am an amazon user and wondered how it worked. thanks for letting me know!!

Sherman May 9, 2008 at 11:42 am

I think its bogus personally. I use an Amazon store to line up items that I purchase for my business. I can buy the products anywhere but use Amazon because I get affiliate credit. As soon as they stop giving me the percentage I stop referring my sales there.

Of course, in order to do this, I have to use two separate accounts AND clear out my cache between setting up the items in the store and purchasing them. It’s a bit of a pain but 4-6% on a few hundred dollars is worth the time.

Futon-Matt May 9, 2008 at 12:50 pm

I don’t even do anything with amazon, so no, I’ve never been in that situation.

Furniture Store May 11, 2008 at 3:58 am

Pity about that you did not get the benefits that you hoped for. Its sweet of you to offer to help your readers make money by using their affiliate links.

iphone guy May 11, 2008 at 4:13 am

This policy is an obvious one. If you could do this then everyone would sign up to Amazon Affiliates just to get a few quid back.


iphone guy’s last blog post..See how fast you can type

Daisy May 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I dropped the Amazon program a long time ago. The 1 day cookie is not fair and the comission is low. Amazon is pretty stingy.

Steve Elliott May 12, 2008 at 4:14 pm

How much are we talking about Derek (on a MacBook)?

derek May 12, 2008 at 7:00 pm

For just the laptop alone it would have been a little over $50 in commission. Add in the other items that I bought and it would have been closer to $75.

sandals May 13, 2008 at 10:42 am

Just like they say, they want new customers. I guess that old tricks to get some money die of slowly. One needs to constantly search new ways to save/earn money online.

sandals’s last blog post..Chaco Sandals

Asia'h Epperson May 13, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Good to read your experience, guess, the next time will buy thru my friend to cut back on the commission.

Nicole Price May 14, 2008 at 8:27 am

Well their opinion is perfectly reasonable. There is of course a huge difference between a referral program and a discount program.

Nicole Price’s last blog post..The Six Word Memoir

Barbara Ling May 28, 2008 at 8:53 am

I think this must be a new policy – I thought I had heard a few years ago the affiliate commissions did go thru.

If this has been a recent change, methinks it’s one of many to come….


Barbara Ling’s last blog post..21 Days to a more profitable blog – Day 9! Add Amazon to your Wordpress blog sidebar

Make Money Online Now With Affiliate Programs August 11, 2008 at 11:20 pm

Hey sorry to hear what happened with If you ever need someone’s affiliate link in the future let me know. I even have discount codes for some products tht you can use.

Make Money Online Now With Affiliate Programs Blog August 11, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Great read here. Check out my blog for great ideas HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE and get your full commissions.

Codrut Turcanu I Amazon Associate Program October 10, 2008 at 1:29 am

Here’s the thing:

Each vendor has their own TOS and they say the could update the policy and affiliate terms at anytime with no prior warning, or something like this.

So they are free to increase/decrease our commissions, do not allow “self-referral buying”, etc.

Did you know about this?

TAT February 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm

As a big company, Amazon might change their policy without telling us.
If we read the TnC, there’s nothing we can do about this.

TATs last blog post..5 things you should know about “Get More Buyers”

Michael Schlimmer August 31, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I’ve never been a huge fan of amazon.

Chris Jones September 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

I’ve just started as an Amazon affiliate and always wondered if you could use your own links for buying products – I guess this answers my query. I’ve got doubts about the whole scheme as a whole really after the latest commission reductions.

Mark October 31, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I have looked at many sites and not come across such a site as yours that tells everyone everything they need to know. I have added you to my bookmarks, can anyone else suggest other related topics that I can search for to find out more information?
.-= Mark´s last blog .. =-.

Rich November 1, 2009 at 8:39 am

I used to be an amazon affiliate but there commissions are so low it wasn’t worth my time. Although obviously there conversion rates are the best in the biz your earning can be poor.
.-= Rich@Reverse Directory Phone Numbers´s last blog ..Reverse Directory Phone Numbers =-.

Paul Cherry February 22, 2010 at 7:21 am

Hey, I was about to join the Amazon affiliate program to do exactly this (buy through my own tracker). Since I will be new and the sale will stand out like a sore thumb and thus be canceled, I thought I would click-thru on your tracker and give you some money. I am about to buy a $700 IP camera. Good luck with the commission, your informative post deserves the $$$.

.-= Paul Cherry hopes you will read… Christian Bowman Nude During The Recession =-.

derek February 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Paul, thanks for the feedback and for buying through my affiliate link to Amazon. :)

Vinyl Lettering July 29, 2010 at 11:43 pm

I have been canceled by Amazon. I was selling 5,000 books per month and accidentally let my feedback drop below 80% and they canceled me with no chance of ever letting me come back. I guess it was sort of my fault.

Ryan November 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

I always wondered if people did this. I assumed it wasn’t okay with amazon and I never tried to buy products through my own affiliate links. But glad i found out this way instead of getting banned myself :)

Rob January 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Interestingly, I manufacture and sell a product, and have the product listed on Amazon. At first I had regularly links to the product pages on Amazon, but then realized that, if I became an Amazon Associate purely to get back some of the fees Amazon takes for purchases, but I realized that I started getting credits for purchases other than my product. That was an unexpected bonus!

Now it seems one of my wife’s purchases on her account has been credited to my Associate account, so clearly it’s easy to mistakenly buy products after clicking an associate link (even though it’s against Amazon’s Terms Of Service).
And while against the TOS, I can’t help thinking that any amazon associate could send emails to all their close friends and family, asking them to click a link before buying anything big at Amazon. Looking at my reports, looks 5% is an average referral fee, so that could add up real fast when people buy electronics and such on Amazon. I’m not sure if I’ll do it (I don’t want fooling around against their TOS to get me in trouble with Amazon, since I find them valuable for my business), I’m just saying…

Dessi June 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I would like to know Why if I have an associates account and a personal account that is linked do I have to have an Amazon Business account too?
What is the difference I get all sorts of answers but Goodness knows what I want to know they don’t answer me . I am required to give my account details. Yes I have the same problem as described above. As long as anything is ordered to your address and credit cards as payment with similar names as the account you will not get anything. Even $500 worth of educational books ordered by someone else through my website was not credited though the person stay in another country but the last name is similar to mine :(

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