As consumers, we have ample choices of products and services. We encounter this every time we go to the grocery store and don’t even realize it. Just walk down the bread isle, you will probably see about twenty different brands, offering several different choices within each brand. Deciding on whole grain white verses wheat or sourdough is undoubtedly not a big deal for any of us. However, when it comes to deciding on major consumer items, such as insurance, a mortgage, or credit cards, more thoughtful deliberation and consideration are necessary. But where do you start? How do you know what the best option is? ValuePenguin may have your answer.
Brian Quinn, co-founder of ValuePenguin, describes the website as “a personal finance website focused on providing in-depth research and tools. Our goal is to break down financial decisions in a way that will help the average consumer make more informed choices.”
One such consumer tool accessible on the site is for credit cards and a comparison of the rewards that each offer. While carrying large amounts of credit card debt is not recommended, credit card usage is necessary at times, so having a credit card that will give you rewards when you do use it just makes sense. This website clearly explains, as well as charts, the reward value of each card, taking into consideration the overall rewards rate, annual fees (if the card has one), where and how rewards can be used, and any bonuses offered, making very easy for consumers to compare and choose which rewards card is right for them.
According to Quinn, ValuePenguin reviews card details once a week and these changes are reflected as soon the details are updated, so consumers can rest assured that the comparisons are current. This website can also be considered an unbiased source, as ValuePenguin has a business relationship with less than 15% of the cards included in the comparison tool. Because each card offers different benefits there is not always a direct comparison. In order to compare benefits, ValuePenguin uses the following process to calculate net rewards: Each card’s value is based upon an analysis of the dollar value of rewards and bonuses a card provides minus any annual fees that a consumer would incur from having the card. To get a dollar value of rewards (points and miles) each card is analyzed to come up with an estimate for what rewards would be worth, once converted. For some cards, it is as simple as using them at a penny each on statement credits, while for cards, where rewards could be used for “award travel” or “award nights,” sample itineraries are used to compare the cost of a flight/room paid in cash to the amount of points/miles used in a reward booking. These estimates are used to infer a range of average values for rewards with each card.
There are several other consumer segments that ValuePenguin has built a number of tools and conducted research on a variety of topics, including a health insurance public pricing tools to help people shop for ObamaCare plans, the cost of auto insurance in different states, and a mortgage rate comparison by state.