“Our missions is to bring clarity to all of life’s financial decisions. Things that seemed opaque are much easier now. On the financial industry side, we are having an effect too. We are getting a lot more coverage to the two or three best players in every industry in term of product features, and that is ultimately a good thing. I have noticed over time that no matter what financial products you look at — from term life insurance to cash-back credit cards — there often are two, three or four that are top of the market offerings out there. Making that very clear has brought a lot of share to those products.”
So how does Nerdwallet make money?
As it explains on the site under Advertiser Disclosure “Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Here’s a list of our partners.”
As you can see, the site covers a large number of competing providers, especially in credit cards. Nerdwallet explains the cards’ incentive programs which can range from generous travel rewards to cash back to no-fee cards. The explanations are clear so consumers can choose the offer that is most attractive to their spending patterns.
Nerdwallet analysts become subject matter experts through their experience rating banking accounts, credit cards, mortgages or online brokers. They talk to the banks and other financial institutions to get their side of the story. Sometimes in a new field where analysts have no personal experience, like factored lending (upfront cash at a reduced value for your unpaid invoices or receivables), they may initially misunderstand the product. When providers complain, the analysts meet with the providers to learn more about how their product works and what’s important for consumers.
Chen and other staff also spend considerable time in living rooms across the country learning about personal finances from real people.
“Living rooms are one of the most fundamental parts of product development,” said Chen. “You see quite a disparity across the country.”
He describes the country as a barbell with haves on one side and have-nots who struggle month to month, on the other.