Sneak Peek Of BillShrink.com's New Credit Card Comparison Tool

Billshrink.com is going to bring a never-before-seen level of transparency to consumers looking for the best credit card offer. Think of it as a turbocharged dashboard for navigating the credit card market. The site launched earlier this year as wireless plan comparison service, but with personal debt at record highs and personal savings rates at record lows, the credit card vector is potentially even more important and useful tool. I sat down with CEO Peter Pham yesterday as he showed me the actual website in action.

Using simple and attractive slider bars, you input your current credit card balance and credit risk. BillShrink then you shows what cards on the market will save you the most money. You can narrow the results by saying which bank you want a card with, what kinds of rewards programs you might be interested in, what goods or services you would most use the card for, and what extra card benefits you’re interested in receiving. There’s even an option to say about how many times a year you might miss a payment.

Ok, that sounds pretty obvious for a site like this, but here’s the real game-changer: the terms and conditions for each card are broken out one by one. In one section, BillShrink translates the entire credit card contract from lawyers-speak into two paragraphs, in plain English.

Most cards have introductory offers, like 0% balance transfers or a higher level of rewards. So a series of bar graphs by each card shows you how much money you save changes over the next three years.If you decide that you want to switch your credit card to one of the ones show, you just click a button next to the card. The site will make money by sending credit card companies these referrals, and remain free for consumers to use.

After you create your credit card profile, BillShrink sends you an email if any of the terms and conditions of your card change (they will). If your card becomes no longer the best value for you, BillShrink suggests what card out on the market is better. The site will also tell you when you’re coming towards the end of any of your introductory offer periods, so you know if you’ll want to change your usage patterns or switch to another card.

I asked Pham whether when they launched the wireless comparison component, if there was any negative pushback from the providers. I could envision the carriers getting upset about not being able to capitalize on customer confusion as much.

The two wireless companies BillShrink spoke with, Pham said, were excited about the service. Sprint was one of the companies. See, the service essentially filters, educates, and primes the customer for service. For the cellphone or credit card company, it reduces the costs of servicing customers who sign up because a bauble or freebie was dangled in front of them, but don’t arrive informed about the particulars of the plan. Those customers end up frustrated and increase churn. But deliver a highly informed and ready customer, and you’ve got a win-win-win situation.

When we first wrote about BillShrink, readers said they found the service’s coverage maps to be inaccurate. Those coverage maps are drawn from the maps on the carrier’s websites, extracted down to the pixel, and then overlaid onto GoogleMaps. The inaccuracies are because the cellphone companies purposely don’t provide accurate and granular coverage data. The company is looking into buying 3rd party data to beef up their maps, but I wondered whether there was chance of a similar slippage between BillShrink and reality with credit cards. This doesn’t seem very likely, as carriers can fudge a coverage map, but credit card companies can’t fudge credit card offer’s terms without opening themselves up to serious legal repercussions.

BillShrink’s credit card comparison service is scheduled to launch at the end of July will 100 cards in its database. Their goal is to get that up to 200, and then 400 within a year’s time.

Pham sees it as a “thumb in the eye” to the credit card industry. “The information is out there, consumers are going to get to it eventually,” he said.

Next industry on the hitlist? Auto insurance, with cable perhaps not too far behind.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. freejazz38 says:

    or, you could just not be stupid enough to carry a balance :-O

  2. Frank_Trapasso says:

    Wireless comparison? Was a paragraph removed that introduced this?

  3. egosub2 says:

    Peak? Did it reach its zenith while no one was looking?

  4. grandzu says:

    so does it compare cell phone plans or credit cards?
    no time to read, give me the gist of it.

  5. egosub2 says:

    @egosub2: And then I read the actual story. With 28 other stories in the last 24 hours, you’d think you could take a moment to edit the thing.

  6. egosub2 says:

    @grandzu: No time to read the headine? Which says it’s a “Credit Card Comparison Tool?”

  7. aaronhoffman says:

    I’ve been seeing “peak” mis-used instead of “peek” so often lately. I don’t get it. It’s like it suddenly went in style.

  8. SkokieGuy says:

    Wow, shall we discuss a website that doesn’t exist yet?

    1. 200 credit cards initially
    Since every credit card company packages offers many different ways and designs them based on the potential cardmember’s demographics, I would say that 200 cards could easily offer several thousand different ‘offers’. How can the site intelligently offer valid comparison offers unless I grant it permission to access my personal data and credit report (and share that date with CC issuers)? If they do – ick! If they don’t meaningless offers.

    2. Legalese explained in ‘plain English’
    Sounds great, but since the site can’t possible offer legal advise, this is only one possible interpretation that certainly will contain a disclaimer. If a site visitor makes a card decision based on these explanations and gets burned, who’s responsible? Likely no one.

    3. Email of terms changes
    Sounds great on its face, but since many terms changes are based on customer-specific behaviour, how can the site possible be effective in this regard?

    Being able to imput offers we receive, and compare does certainly have usefullness, similar to how all the free mortgage amortization calculators and such.

    I will likely visit the site, but I think the hype is way overblown.

  9. jharrell says:

    @aaronhoffman: Seeing how no link was provided to “peek” at the site maybe a “peak” or zenith is correct?

  10. jlmatthe says:

    Hmm. If this works as well as they say I will definitely be zipping to this site the moment it goes up.

    My fiancee is buried deep in CC debt and I would like to get that under control before we tie the knot.

    @BenPopken: Did you get to see this CC Comaparison Tool in action and did it do what they propose it will do?!

  11. ShortBus says:

    Legalese explained in ‘plain English’

    I hate it when people complain about legalese–I’m not even a lawyer. Legal documents can be very nuanced and glossing over that can get you in trouble. I am a computer guy and people also complain when I use technical terms when I speaking of, you know, technical things.

    People might as well bitch when a poet uses “scarlet” or “crimson” or “vermilion” when the *perfectly good* word “red” exists.

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    @SkokieGuy: I’ll tell you what… if it’s as good as what their current site offers (Cell phone comparisons), I’m down with it.

  13. Ben Popken says:

    @jlmatthe: Yes, I saw the site actually in action.

  14. thegrumpyadmin says:

    If the Credit Card site is anything like the Cell Phone site, I’ll remain suspicious. They don’t list Cricket Communications as a wireless provider. My wife has used it for years, one low monthly fee, and I can’t really remember the last time there was a dropped call. And if it was dropped, we’ll never know if it was her phone or my Verizon phone. No counting minutes either.

    There are probably other cellular companies I am unaware of that BillShrink doesn’t list as well. Before anyone tells me that Cricket isn’t nationwide, please remember that BillShrink does ask for your zip code. So they must be looking at what is available in my city.

    Sorry to rant, but when I see a site offering to save me money and I am paying less than their lowest option I have to wonder if I’ll look at the “best credit card offer” and laugh when I realize that the one already in my wallet is better and has been for years?

    Then again, is there really a “good” credit card……

    -thegrumpyadmin.com

  15. jacksbrokenego says:

    this sounds like a great idea, and even better if the plan is to move to auto-insurance. most of the comments so far just sound like naysayers – why slam something that someone is building to help inform consumers – this is a consumer advocate website?

    i’ve never seen so much outright whining over an unreleased product that is in most folks best interest. and seriously, complaining that the article is too long? someone call the wahmbulance.

  16. drjayphd says:

    @jacksbrokenego: This is Consumerist we’re talking about. Whining is our all-time best-seller. ;)

    @freejazz38: Not sure if I should admire the dedication to post that the nanosecond the post went live, or just roll my eyes.

    Fine, eye-rolling it is.

  17. planet2334 says:

    It’s great to get help with credit cards, the public needs that badly. I do work at an insurance agency part time, and as nice as the auto insurance idea sounds, it’s probably not realistic at all because nearly everyone lies about their driving record if they really have high rates. It would have to charge the DMV to get the real accurate information in order to quote customers, as well as their credit score. The quotes change after their license number and credit scores are run.

    But great about the credit card service! The higher prices rise with a country riddled in debt, the more financial education help, the better!

  18. coren says:

    @aaronhoffman: It’s the preceding sneak that does it. The inclination to spell two rhyming words in the same manner is a strong one for some.

    Also, what, exactly, is supposed to be next after the auto insurance industry>?

  19. mike says:

    @ShortBus:

    I hate it when people complain about legalese–I’m not even a lawyer. Legal documents can be very nuanced and glossing over that can get you in trouble.

    No one is exempt from reading legal documents. But when you’re comparing terms and conditions, it helps to have it broken down without the legal fluff like “contingent in the lower 48 states, except in Hawaii and where prohibited, with exclusion to, but not limited to, warrenty terms and conditions.”

    Bullet-by-bullet points makes understanding terms that much easier. I’ve actually seen a software company that has NO legalize and offers a plain-english license policy. Granted, it is a bible software company but I love the idea.

    It’s similar to Creative Commons. They have a complete legal document, but you get the jist with “Share-alike, BY”.

    But onto my comment: How is this site making money? If the site makes money by referrals, I think there might be a conflict of interest. If it’s by ads, I don’t see a problem.

  20. The Jerk says:

    Wow it’s early, I was wondering who Bill Shrink was and why he was so special.

  21. StanDaMan says:

    Ah, yes…..another credit card item and once again the sanctimonious “well *I* don’t have any credit cards and *YOU’RE* stupid if you do” crowd is compelled to chime in.

    Amount of patience I have with people who haven’t lived long enough or aren’t smart enough to realize that value of using credit to your advantage = zero

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    Err, a head’s up.
    They have NO contact info on their site, no address, nothing.
    I’m unsure of how much personal info they collect, but that’s a red flag…

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great idea if well-executed. But they need to revamp their site to make the company more transparent.

  24. avniassa says:

    I’ve been using [www.creditcards.com] and it’s been really helpful so far.