I like tracking the clicks receive to check the conversion rates on offers. Only reason. If you wanna know how good your traffic source is, you need to check clicks received on links VS clicks on offers. That's why I've always used shorteners.
I've tried this and apart from a Phone Verification or a captcha verification, it's completely safe. I don't suggest the practice but it's definitely do-able. My campaigns always work as I've done prior research and testing of sources, niches and settings.
.COM or .XYZ, direct linking will get the link banned at some point and you'll have to buy new ones. I use .XYZs cuz they're cheaper.