Credit cards are scary.
Not just when you have a large balance on them, but even the process of choosing one can bring overwhelming confusion to the point where stuffing all your money under a mattress doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. With so many options and with financial institutions pushing their own products, it’s easy to just take what you’re offered and deal with.
But a new tool created by two Moncton entrepreneurs is hoping to change that.
Credit Card Genius is a free website that allows anyone to easily compare Canadian credit cards based on fees, perks, interest rate and various rewards.
Credit Card Genius is the brainchild of Stephen Weyman and his wife and co-founder Maria. Weyman has been running his other website, HowToSaveMoney.ca, since 2010 and has had a strong interest in credit cards, credit card rewards and credit card comparisons.
“I actually started doing credit card comparisons back in 2010, trying to compare as many cards in the market as I could. I started developing what would eventually become the credit card genius algorithm all the way back in 2010,” says Weyman.
“After How To Save Money has grown to become a personal finance website that’s relatively popular in Canada and I wanted to have more than just static blog posts and articles for people, so that’s where the idea came from … I wanted to have a dedicated web application that could compare credit cards in real time based on a person’s preferences.”
Credit Card Genius’ simple interface using three sliders allow users to indicate what credit card features are important to them. The website then shows what cards meet their criteria, along with information such a monthly fees, sign up bonuses and net annual rewards.
“It’s an advance credit card comparison tool that helps consumers choose their credits cards smarter and faster,” says Weyman. “We put a big emphasis on making simple and easy to use for people and we’ve done that with is we have a three-slider system that gets to the heart of what matters to people when it comes to their credit cards.”
Users can then click on a card to get a more detailed review. All cards are also given a “Genius” star rating out of five.
“We’ve developed what we call a “Genius rating” and what that does is takes more than 50 features of a credit card into account and produces a simple score out of five,” says Weyman. “So all the user ends up seeing is the score out of five and then the cards are ranked from five on down to zero and that one number encompasses all those 50 features which is much more than the typical ranking based on rewards that you would often see.”
Since its soft-launch in June, Weymans says Credit Card Genius features pretty much all of the credit cards available nationally and will continue to add any they may have missed. In the future, they plan to expand more regionally available cards, such as those available from credit unions. He says the goal is to help people make a clear, educated decision when it comes to choosing a credit card since many people don’t understand the different options out there.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that there is a right card for them. I think they just go with what they’re current bank offers them. That can be a bit scary too because just learning about credit cards and using them for the first time is a whole new world,” says Weyman. “You just go with what the bank offers you and you’re comfortable with that. A lot of people think you need to have your credit card with the institution you bank at, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Weyman says Credit Card Genius will remain free to users. In terms of monetizing the platform, he says they are looking into partnering with financial institutions to receive a commission on clients who find them through the site. But if that were to happen, he says all card ratings will remain unbiased and independent of financial institutions.
“We’re listing cards whether they give us any financial compensation or not and the rankings remain the same regardless of financial compensation,” says Weyman.
Though credit cards may seem like a scary source of potential debt to many, Weyman says they can also be a tool for people to help work towards their dreams and financial goals. Ultimately, he hopes Credit Card Genius helps people find the card that will do just that.
“I hope they end up with a credit card that gets them more of what they want. That they can actually achieve some of their dreams,” he says. “For those who want to see the world but really can’t afford that extra money, maybe they’ll figure out travel rewards because of it and be able to take a trip to Europe or Asia. Or they’ll save money and will be better off financially, really, that the ultimate goal.”