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.