Phillips: BillShrink offers help on credit card choices

Phillips: BillShrink offers help on credit card choices

November 7th, 2009 by Ellen Phillips in Business Ellen Phillips

Now that ghosties and goulies have disappeared for another year, it's time for holiday gift-buying. When in doubt about paying with plastic - or just the best plastic - BillShrink's credit card solutions help consumers make the right choice.

Yes, we know it's important to pay off purchases as each statement is due to avoid finance charges; but believe it or not, our credit reports actually score better when we owe money than if we carry zero balances. So unless you've been either very responsible or have money to burn (unlike most of us), BillShrink can help us find the best card for the best partnership of finance rates and fees. I realize all these columns touting BillShrink's free services make me sound overly enthusiastic. I am! When first encountering the company and, later, upon interviewing some of its top dogs, I told readers to expect one of my periodic soap boxes. And so it continues. ...

When you input the card you currently use as your primary, BillShrink compares recommended cards against your existing one by analyzing all those on the market and comparing them against one's usage profile. Once all this info is complied, the program determines the one card that provides the best for personalized introductory rates, regular interest rates, service fees, penalty rates and so forth. As a result, consumers can see exactly how much it will cost us to carry anyspecific card and, therefore, save money by choosing theone that costs the least.

For users who pay off their bill each month, the company helps them find a card not only with the most favorable reward programs but also the one that provides the greatest personal value, based upon how much and how often we charge items. To do this, BillShrink analyzes all the cards on the market to determine the best dollar value/rewards program. By reviewing the main aspects of an individual's profile, such as spending categories and reward redemption preferences, the program allows a consumer to see how the cards compare and then select the one that pays the best rewards.

Each credit card is ranked and recommended according to how its attributes match up with your personal usage profile. The key elements of the card are displayed in the base result pane. Additional card details are accessible by clicking the "How this is calculated" link on the bottom edge of each recommendation. Moreover, each card also has a comprehensive details page that includes detailed information on rates, fees, rewards parameters, features/benefits and user reviews.

BillShrink reviews 200 plus of the most popular credit cards offered by most of the major credit card issuers.While it continually adds more cards to the system, it limits its recommendations to cards available in the system at that point in time. The company occasionally does exclude certain cards/issuers from its system because of industry compliance requirements. (Note: cards from CapitalOne are not included in the analysis at this time.)

OK, so you've got the best card for your individual usage. However, we all know the credit card market changes quickly and interest rates can fluctuate daily. While new cards make a frequent appearance (and sometimes with Grab-Me-Quick promotions), BillShrink's aim is to keep consumers updated on these changes in the event they do affect card recommendations and the company's ability to save usmoney. When a user enrolls in its monitoring service, BillShrink's program automatically tracks thisindividual's set of suggested cards (varying monthly) and e-mails proposals for new cards. Nothing is easier!

Editor's Note: Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business. E-mail her at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com