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Is Clickbank a Scam?

clickbank scamIf you’ve heard of affiliate marketing, chances are you’ve probably heard of Clickbank. It’s one of the largest and most popular platforms that connects product sellers and affiliate marketers, and there are countless resources and membership programs that are ready to teach you how to make the best of Clickbank as both an affiliate and vendor.

But beneath the glowing exterior of Clickbank, is it really the best place to buy from or promote products? Depending on the source, it seems to go either way; some say it’s an amazing place and yet others say it’s horrible. If you’re wondering if Clickbank is a scam, we’ll dive into the details within this review.

The main question we’ll consider here is can you TRUST Clickbank as an affiliate marketer, product seller or even as a potential customer of any product sold through the marketplace?

History, what is Clickbank?

Clickbank is a market platform for vendors (product creators) to sell their digital products. Such products could range from ebooks, downloadable resources/programs or online membership sites. On the flip side, it’s also a place that widely attracts affiliate marketers to help these creators sell their products, essentially giving them a source of free publicity and advertising in exchange for a commission fee on every sale.

Keep in mind the company has been running since 1998, so they have established a very popular reputation within the online marketing industry and have gained the trust of thousands of sellers and affiliates. However in more recent years, Clickbank has taken a slight turn for the worse.

Clickbank’s bad reputation – why?

It’s important we differentiate within this review between Clickbank and products sold through Clickbank.

There’s nothing inherentely wrong with the Clickbank marketplace as it stands. They handle the digital screening process of their vendor products better than most other similar platforms and do a pretty good job of honoring refund requests. I’ve bought many products through the marketplace and I’ve always gotten my money back with no problem when I wanted to return something I wasn’t fully satisfied with.

A major problem lies within the products Clickbank chooses to sell rather than the company as a whole (although not to say the company is perfect either). They have so many horrible, borderline scam type products within their marketplace that it can be really hard to know which ones you can trust. And because of the nature of a lot of products sold there, many people will demand refunds on inferior products.

Affiliate marketers – why should (or shouldn’t) you use Clickbank?

Promoting Clickbank products is an extremely popular option for both new and experienced affiliates. There are so many programs out there that are designed around teaching you how to promote via Clickbank, as well as 1,000’s of digital products to promote within the marketplace around a wide range of topics and interests.

The biggest reason why so many people decide to promote Clickbank products is the huge commission payouts, as it’s not uncommon for affiliates to earn 50% – 75%+ commission per sale. Because the products sold there are mostly digital guides, books, videos or tutorials, the sellers have very low associated costs with the reselling of such materials and therefore are able to price their products fairly low and still make a profit after giving the 50%-75% commissions to affiliates plus the costs of any fees taken by Clickbank.

Things to consider as an affiliate…

There are certain regulations and rules in place for affiliates that may make it hard (and impossible) for many people to get paid their commissions.

From Clickbank’s “accountant help” page, here are some of the rules put in place:

  1. You must make a minimum of 5 sales with 2 different forms of payment before they will pay you commissions
  2. If you don’t make sales for 90 days, your account will be charged $1/day, $5/day after 180 days and $50/day after 1 year of inactivity. (The money is taken out of your affiliate earnings, though. They don’t bill you such fees if you have an account with $0 balance).

It does feel a little like they’re stealing money, particularly from those new to online marketing that don’t have a reliable amount of monthly sales. I myself have made affiliate sales and never saw a single cent of any of my commissions, as they took them away from me with these dormant fees. (Although I must note that I never seriously promoted any Clickbank product, I only made a few sales from putting links for products I was reviewing, but not endorsing).

For those who seriously promote and consistently make sales with Clickbank, the problem most likely wouldn’t affect you (well, unless your business suddenly went dry and you stopped making sales and your account went dormant)…

According to Clickbank its done to prevent fraud, so whether you agree with it or not, its something to just be aware of before you start promoting with them.

Clickbank products – the good vs. the bad

While Clickbank is pretty good about screening their products for potential scams, there’s still a pretty large variety of low quality information products available to promote. They frequently allow products to continue being sold even after the refund rate is relatively high. Also, you can be kicked out of their affiliate program for having too many chargeback sales, you want to make sure you only promote quality merchandise.

Some important advice for starting out as an affiliate with Clickbank would be to do proper RESEARCH into any product you decide to promote.

Not all Clickbank products are created equal. You can find some decent things in their marketplace, but you have to hunt. It’s sort of like finding that perfect shirt in the racks at Goodwill – it’s unorganized and most of the stuff is bad, but if you give it enough time and effort you’ll find something great.

Be extra careful sorting through products within the “make money online” and “health and fitness” niches. Everyone is looking for both of these things, and there are many people willing to take advantage of that and unfortunately many times, not in a good way.

clickbank scam products

Notice 3 of the top products within the “e-business and e-marketing” categories are all paid survey programs, which are all pretty much known to be scams.

The “money back guarantee” – is it for real?

Something that is important for the customers of Clickbank products is having the ability to feel safe purchasing any product knowing you can always get your money back if it ends up being not what you were expecting.

Clickbank prides themselves in honoring every refund request. Like I stated previously, personally I’ve never had an issue with a Clickbank refund. Their support is prompt with responding to requests as well as courteous and friendly.

clickbank refundBut keep in mind Clickbank doesn’t have a site wide refund policy, and that will be something that varies by the individual vendor. Some offer 30, 60 or 90 day money back guarantees, while others may not offer the ability to return the product at all. That is something you must be very aware of before you purchase the product. You can read the full explanation of Clickbank’s return policy here.

If you want to return the product after the acceptable return date, then it no longer becomes an issue involving CB and you’d have to contact the seller directly. That may or may not work out either, depending on the seller and what they’re willing to do.

Why all the complaints?

consumer affairs clickbankThere’s been many complaints filed with the BBB and posted on Consumer Affairs in regards to non-honored refunds, so all I can say is be very careful with paying attention to the exact policy for the particular product, and make sure you ask for a refund as quickly as possible within the allotted refund window.

I think a lot of the confusion and complaints come from people who don’t pay attention to the individual seller’s return policy or they don’t know how to request a refund with Clickbank. I’ve had countless people come to me asking how to get their money back with products they bought with Clickbank, even though that should be information made clear to them when they purchased the product.

To request a refund with Clickbank, the easiest way would probably be to contact their online order support, here. If you prefer handling things over the phone, there’s also a support number to call.

Final thoughts – is Clickbank a scam?

While I wouldn’t call Clickbank a scam, there’s definitely some things you should be aware of before you sign up as an affiliate or purchase products through their platform. Be informed of the products you choose to promote and make sure they meet your quality standards, and always check the refund rate beforehand.

Also just be aware of the fact Clickbank could steal your commissions if you don’t meet their sale requirements, so that money you may see in your account may never make it into your hands at all.

As a customer, always check the refund policy before you purchase the product and make sure you ask for a refund within the time limit or they will have no obligation to honor the request.

While Clickbank can definitely be a good place for online marketers to start if they select the right products, it’s not necessarily the best option for everyone especially considering digital information products don’t exactly make sense with all niches. There’s a whole other world of affiliate marketing programs out there, so don’t limit yourself to Clickbank!

42 thoughts on “Is Clickbank a Scam?

  1. Rec Esma says:

    Hi Wendy, I have just started my affiliate link business two weeks ago, although I’m still on the process of developing my website and at the same time scouting some products from amazon and clickbank as my sources. Actually, I check some clickbank products and its really impressive when it comes to commission, but now, I have a double thought of endorsing them after I read comments from the customers here. May be from now on, I have to be careful to choose the reliable one and not.

    Well, it my first time to hear clickbank after I started this kind of affiliate links business because I need to learn more and hear some opinions from other people who already have started this business and strategies in order to broaden my knowledge,

    Thanks Wendy! and I’m very glad that I landed your website for your very informative insight, I can highly recommend you to all my friends who have the same interest.

    Rec

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      The biggest issue with Clickbank is actually finding quality products to promote – there is a lot of crap and useless products within their marketplace that people sell just to make a buck. However, if you do find some products within your niche that you feel comfortable promoting, then I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. You can try a mix of different affiliate venues and see which ones work best for you. And thank you for recommending me!

      Reply
  2. Joe Martin says:

    Hi Wendy,

    I’m brand new to affiliate marketing (already joined WA) and I’m curious… If the one thing that affiliate network programs have is the headaches involved with dealing with them, is it possibly a better idea to deal with individual vendor’s affiliate programs? I’m not even sure such a beast exists. Just thought I’d ask.

    Very informative article! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Hmm.. honestly I don’t know because every affiliate program I’ve ever joined has been through an affiliate network of some type. But now that I think about it, I guess you could consider a network like Amazon because that is pretty much its own affiliate entity. Not to say that others don’t exist, but they usually are within a network. I have never really had a particularly hard time dealing with affiliate programs in general. Clickbank has its issues but if you are promoting digital products it is one of the better options.

      Reply
  3. maria says:

    Well, interpreting the refund policy can be tricky. By phone, CB says they will refund within the 60-day period for customer dissatisfaction, but on the order page for the product, it states in print that refunds will be issued for returns.

    What about an invisible product that cannot be returned such as a spiritual service which promises manifested results before the 60-day time frame? How would Clickbank handle that type of refund request?

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      You’d need to check the refund policy of the specific product. With most products on Clickbank you aren’t physically returning it anyway since it’s often times some type of digital download, you just simply get your money back if you aren’t satisfied. I would think even with a spiritual service it would be similar, they’d offer refunds if you don’t like the program/product.

      Reply
  4. Jema says:

    I’ve had multiple bad experiences with clickbank. Shortly after my affiliate account started to really pick up steam in 2016, I hit login issues and assumed their site was having problems. However the next time I was unable to login, I finally contacted customer support. They told me my account had been flagged for removal. Upon review, they found their automated system had failed and my account was a victim.

    After two months of missed opportunities and who knows how many people being directed to a broken link, finally I was back in the game.

    A month later, I logged in to see that Clickbank had been charging me a $1 dormant account fee “per pay period” – which, lucky for them, happens to be every single week. When I tried to contact customer support and pressed “2” for affiliate accounts (in the middle of the day, in the middle of the work week), I got “Affiliate Support is not currently available.” AKA – “please spend 30 minutes gathering data to write us an email instead of five minutes talking to a live person.”

    I’m being charged a fee for not having sales during the time that they erroneously removed my account. And I can’t even talk to a real person about it. I can’t even weasel my way in for another department. I pushed every number for every option, and each one has the same woman’s voice saying, “I’m sorry, ____ support is not currently available”

    I’m not advocating against using clickbank, just hoping to spread the word to potential users that it can be as much a nightmare as paypal has a reputation for being (inexplicably frozen assets, unreachable and unsympathetic customer service, etc.)

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Wow thank you for sharing that experience with everyone. I am sorry you had to go through that!

      Reply
    • Fitzgerald says:

      Hi! I was about to create an account with CB but decided to google first…and thanks for this….ill never join them!

      Reply
  5. Jose Brienza says:

    Psalms . [1] verse 1

    Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. … [5] Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
    Psalms – Bible, King James Version

    Wendy you are a very well come, to comment on those irresponsible practices who are tanning the reputation of our nation, we must do what is right and fear to all, we should treat other es well because they are trusting us with they money and we are to get to then what we say is a working product of good test avoiding by our actions to pollute other people eternal DNA!
    The DNA is what keep us forming wile becoming a physical body, if that is so! it will go all along
    with us to to eternity: Because there it was formed by God!
    it abide in our eternal soul,
    see here what ,money is ?
    wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it Ecclesiastes 7:12 KJV:
    biblehub.com/kjv/ecclesiastes/7-12.htm
    King James Version
    .(Wendy you have the above treati keep usiing it to make a better internet and world!
    may the Lord keep you!
    .so your a devise can make people on the web to re-think they position , how we act, and win illegal, it can become a long time defeat, considering from here to eternity destination of our immortal being,
    ,keep policing the web which benefit the entire planet,, we need clean language, respectful toward all people, you excellent English and clear perception are or will work for the good of human kind! congratulations jrb.i will be praying for you!

    Reply
  6. Ben says:

    this site is absolute scam dont ever expect your getting your refund after purchased all Biased ” ClickBank.com ” an absolute scam no refunds guaranteed so be careful when they say you can get a refund, dont ever mess with these people.

    Reply
  7. ericka luke says:

    I don’t even know they had a sale requirement

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Yeah unfortunately most affiliate programs have some type of sale or minimum earning requirement before you can get paid.

      Reply
  8. Julius says:

    Hello Wendy, You seem like a knowledgeable person. It looks like you really know what you’re talking about and I respect that!

    As a blogger myself, I can definitely tell that Clickbank is not a scam. I like that the commission percentage is so high. In my opinion, it’s better to promote products from Clickbank rather than from Amazon.

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      I think it isn’t necessarily fair to say one is better than the other, because Amazon and Clickbank are completely different programs. There are reasons and advantages to use Amazon, as well as Clickbank, but it really just depends on your business model. Not all niches are compatible with Clickbank, and the same could be said for Amazon.

      Amazon may have low commissions, but the conversion rate is extremely high if done correctly.

      Reply
  9. Sim says:

    Hi Wendy. I’ve used Clickbank a lot in the past and am still promoting a couple of products.

    So far so good. I find it better than other affiliate networks like JVZoo. Less scammy, althought you need to be careful.

    There are so many products, it’s true that some of them aren’t recommendable, but I think they are doing a great job at weeding those out.

    As you said, in the MMO niche it’s kind of hard finding good quality products. Still, doable.

    Thank you

    Reply
  10. Ilyssa says:

    Thank you for the review. I suppose it is good I have not made an commissions through clickbank as they would have been “taken” due to inactivity! I am so glad to learn that, it was not something I had known prior to reading this. Like others, I have not found products to promote through clickbank for my niche, so I have not used it much. Thank you for the thorough review.

    Reply
  11. Tim says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for the well thought out post on Click Bank. I just started building my site and not quite ready to place affiliate marking on my website.

    You clearly state the Good,Bad and Ugly about using Click Bank. There is a lot to think about before starting with a click bank product.

    You now are my favorites! Your site is a great tool to use as I progress down the internet pathway to success. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Thanks again for a stimulating post. You are #1 in my book:).

    Cheers,

    Tim

    Reply
  12. Joe says:

    Nice review Wendy. I have been researching CB myself and until reading your post was unaware of these “dormant fees”. I also found that their marketplace had a lot of useless products. Good job on clarifying the features of CB and pointing out where it is lacking. As you’ve pointed out, it isn’t a scam, but I don’t believe it has great value.

    Reply
  13. Matt's Mom says:

    I personally do not use ClickBank and I am a blogger. I just didn’t find any products with them that seemed to fit my business model. You did a great job with this article, and after reading, I know that I will probably never use Clickbank and it kind of makes me wonder about other affiliate websites as well. It’s tough too when you are first starting out. Seems it takes a very long time to get the traffic and get an income. Shame on them for the fees!

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Yeah that is the same for me, I have never really used Clickbank at all because my websites either didn’t fit in with Clickbank’s products at all… or I just couldn’t find any I felt comfortable promoting. There are OK products out there but it is hard to find them, especially in this niche (“make money online”).

      Reply
  14. Sylvia says:

    Wonderful article and I enjoyed everything second of reading.

    I too once have signed up with CB, but when I was aware of their “Commission Fraud” ( I like to call it) I pulled back.

    I might be still not that knowledgeable about affiliate marketing, but even reading their requirements pulled me off of it in an instance.

    Will check out more on your site, your information is really great.

    Sylvia

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Yeah, unfortunately I have noticed with a lot of affiliate programs (not just CB) they have rules in place that make it harder when you are just starting out. This is why it’s important to have a traffic source BEFORE you sign up with many affiliate programs. That way you generally don’t have to worry about not making enough sales.

      Everybody wants to immediately sign up with affiliate programs and place links and banners on their site because that is technically how you “make money”, but without anyone visiting your site it doesn’t matter and often times it ends up backfiring if you get kicked out a program for not making enough sales, or in the case of Clickbank, getting deducting commission funds.

      Reply
  15. Chris Towers says:

    I have had a lot of experience with Clickbank and I can safely say it is not a scam at all!

    There are a few rules like you mention and a certain level of income needs to be reached before you can take your earnings, but not a scam at all!

    The only thing I do not like about Clickbank is there are a lot of products on there which do not really amount to much when it comes to promoting them. There is a lot of waste in my opinion.

    Saying that, there are a lot of good offers too, and if you can locate these you can make some good money from this Affiliate Network!

    Thanks

    Chris

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Thanks for the insight Chris… yeah CB is sure full of bad products lol. You need to sift through it to find something useful

      Reply
  16. Chris says:

    Hi Wendy,
    Great article you have here. I joined CB a few weeks ago and made only 1 sale so far. I wasn’t aware that I needed to make continuous sale within a given time.
    My issue from the beginning is that $100 was too high. Guess I can’t complain since they stated that specifically and I still joined.
    But anyway, you touched on the important points in your article.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Thanks Chris! Most affiliate programs have some minimum sale requirement, so it isn’t exclusive to just Clickbank. Although I don’t know many that will withdraw funds from your account, a lot of others will just shut it down entirely and you’ll have to re-apply.

      Reply
  17. Michel says:

    I have made some good commissions through Clickbank and have never had a request for a return issued. The only thing I don’t like about them is the policy where they take your commissions back little by little if you don’t make a sale for more than three months, but I have only lost $4 so far and have had two cheques from them.

    Just make sure to sell only the good products and you shouldn’t have a problem.

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Thanks for contributing and sharing your experience with Clickbank Michel! I can see your point that as long as you are selling something good and making sales it probably wouldn’t be an issue… but a lot of those who may just be starting out might struggle to bring enough traffic in for the sales to be consistent. I guess this is a good reason why you should wait til you have some good sources of traffic before you start with affiliate programs!

      Reply
  18. Nicki V says:

    I have heard of Click Bank from numerous different sources, but when I was looking for a program to sign up with, I wasn’t sure which one to choose, so I didn’t sign up with CB as I originally was going to.
    I’m not with Shareasale, and they seem to be pretty good.
    I was thinking of joining another site for more vendors to market, but I’m really glad that I read your post and I will be steering clear of them. Not saying that they are for sure a scam, but I’m not going to take my chances!
    Thanks for sharing. Great info!

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Well you don’t have to rule it out entirely… if you are in a niche where you promote digital products, Clickbank isn’t necessarily a bad option. It really just depends. It’s always good to do our research beforehand, Shareasale is a good network too!

      Reply
  19. Travis Smithers says:

    As you have mentioned, I have heard good and bad about Clickbank.

    I have never considered them a scam, but now that you point out there pay structure, I can certainly see why there would be complaints from a lot of new site owners.

    Getting started with a new site just to find out Clickbank will nickel and dime you to death will deter a lot of people. Until you start to get good traffic for some purchases, Clickbank is not a great way to start to make any money.

    You would need lots of traffic with good conversions to make any money with them from what you mentioned.

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Reply
  20. Chris says:

    Will be looking for an affiliate soon and defiantly thought of using click bank so am glad to have read your post here.
    Wanted to go with these instead of the likes of Amazon due to the much higher commission they pay out and after reading this, with the good and the bad shown, still think I might but will tread with a bit more trepidation!
    Thanks for the review!

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Yeah just be careful with it, that’s all! Amazon is still really great for other reasons, it just depends on your niche. Not all niches are suited for selling digital products through Clickbank.

      Reply
  21. KidsWorldSoccerDad says:

    Hi Wendy,
    Very good review on ClickBank. Over the years, I’ve bought a few products, in a few different categories, from ClickBank affiliates. Some of the products were really good but, as you said, there are bad ones out there. Fortunately, I hadn’t purchased a product through ClickBank that was so bad that I wanted to request a refund but there were a couple that I wouldn’t have purchased had I known better.
    Recently, I’ve added a ClickBank-based affiliate product to my website. As most people who have a website, I don’t want an affiliate product to leave a bad impression of my website so I spent a lot of time researching the product to see if the product was up to a satisfactory level of quality for the website. My experience with ClickBank, so far, has been. Thanks for pointing out the payment concerns… What does ClickBank consider to be “2 different forms of payment”?

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Yeah, anybody promoting a Clickbank product (or well, ANY product for that matter) should do thorough research to make sure it is up to par and something they feel comfortable recommending. I think 2 different forms of payment just means at least 2 different credit cards, debit cards, or paypal accounts (or a combination of any). Basically so they know the products were purchased by more than one person.

      Reply
  22. Joe says:

    As someone who uses click bank for my own personal affiliate marketing, I really enjoyed your post about click bank. Your review was very unbiased and very thorough. I loved that you added the good versus the bad and also showed what you are getting when you sign up for click bank. It will make me double check my purchases from click bank from now on!

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Thanks Joe!

      Reply
  23. JeffWA says:

    Wendy,
    Your review was so analytical about Clickbank that it should be required reading for anyone who gets involved with that company.

    I’ve always wished to see a well-written review of this company and, thankfully you really provided me with some much needed education.

    I have been given guidance previously in what to look for in promoting a product sponsored by one of Clickbank’s vendors. I was told that you especially have to pay attention to a vendor’s product “gravity” rating. This statistic provides much needed insight on exactly successful affiliates have been in actually selling the particular product of that vendor within a recent time period.

    I promote one product put out by a vendor who does seem very legit within my online business. However it definitely is not the main product that I promote for this business. I’ve always wondered why I’ve never made a lot of money and the fact that you brought up how Clickbank can take away any earnings from sales based on their “regulations” is an outright scam. It now makes me think twice about further promoting this product in my business at all.

    The issue about refunds I really have less of a problem with. In fact the vendor whose product that I promote makes it crystal clear during his presentation exactly how long any refunds would be honored by him coming from dissatisfied customers. It would be up to the potentially dissatisfied customer to know this from the beginning. I truly don’t feel sorry for a person making any major purchases anywhere and who fails to understand all aspects of a buying the product – including the length of time regarding a refund. It would behoove that person to know all of the facts of a sale before signing his/her name on the dotted line.

    Thank you Wendy for this incredibly well written review. I’ve heard the last several years ago that things were not quite “kosher” with Clickbank. Your review proves it!

    Jeff

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Thanks Jeff! Yeah, I don’t like the fact they take fees from your earnings either, but if you can start making a lot more sales of the product through Clickbank it wouldn’t be an issue. It is only when you don’t reach the payout limit and the money sits in your account with inactivity that they will start taking out fees. There is definitely a downside to using Clickbank but overall they are a good marketplace and there’s lots of people making money promoting products.

      You’re right, the customer needs to be fully aware of the refund policy and how that works before they purchase something, otherwise they can’t really complain. A lot of complaints stem from the fact that people are completely unaware of how Clickbank operates.

      Reply
  24. Keoni says:

    I agree, the system or company itself is not a scam, but the products and services within it may be questionable. It’s just like saying ebay is a scam or something. I think the only thing people can do is research the product or company, before you start marketing for them.

    Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Yeah totally agree!

      Reply

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