Like any savvy consumer, you automatically comparison-shop — whether you’re buying something as big as a car or as small as a pack of gum.
You’re trained to do it. You wouldn’t book a flight or a hotel room without hopping online to Kayak or Travelocity to find the best price, right?
So why not do the same thing when it comes to financial stuff? Why not comparison shop for your loans, credit cards or insurance? After all, these are much bigger (and more expensive) decisions than a flight.
We get it. You’re not in the habit. And maybe doing this kind of sounds like… a pain?
But it’s way easier than you think. Sites such as LendingTree make it easy to comparison shop for financial products and services the way you do for… well, most everything else.
LendingTree is like your personalized financial search engine. Its online marketplace lets you compare competitors’ prices side-by-side for just about anything — credit cards, auto loans, auto and homeowners insurance, mortgages, refinancing, personal loans, business loans, home-equity loans, student-loan refinancing — you name it, this site’s got it.
Comparison Shopping Can Save You Serious Money
The average American wastes money by not shopping around. Here are some ways you could be saving:
1. How to Pick a Credit Card
Don’t just pick a credit card based on which credit card company is sending you junk mail. Let LendingTree find the right one for you. Once you answer a few questions about yourself, it’ll show you simple profiles of credit cards you’ll likely qualify for.
Not all credit cards are equal. With some, you run the risk of piling up debt with a high interest rate. With others, you can save money by earning free flights and hotel rooms, points toward food and entertainment, or even cash.
Compare card interest rates, fees and rewards. Your options might include:
- Balance transfer cards.
- Cards with no late fees.
- Cards with 0% interest for 12, 15 or 18 months.
- Cards that pay varying amounts of cash back.
If you get a card that charges you no interest for 12 months, for example, and you transfer a $2,000 balance from a card that’s charging you 20% APR, then you’ll save yourself $400 in interest over a year.
As always, your interest rate will mostly depend on your individual credit history. Before you apply, check your credit score with the LendingTree app to make sure it’s in good shape.
Through LendingTree’s online platform, you’ll be able to easily see what kinds of cards are available to you, and which ones appeal to you the most.
2. Get the Best Deal on a Car Loan
When you buy a car, the dealership will offer to finance it for you. The salesperson will assure you it’s the same kind of car loan you’d get from a bank. Heck, maybe they’ll throw in some special incentives — today only! Just sign here, now!
Don’t do it. Nod your head politely and ask for their best terms. Then shop around, because it’s not uncommon for dealerships to mark up interest rates on loans or to add unnecessary fees. You can often find a better deal somewhere else.
LendingTree will help you shop for loans for cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, RVs and even boats. It’ll ask you what kind of vehicle you’re buying, how much it costs, and what kind of down payment you’re making.
Let’s say you get a $20,000, five-year car loan. By the time you’re finished paying it off, the difference between a loan at 4% interest or 6% interest would add up to more than $1,000.
It’s never too late. Most people have no idea how easy it is to refinance a car loan. LendingTree can help you with that, too.
3. Shop Around for Insurance — the Easy Way
Most people don’t bother to comparison-shop for insurance. How do we know this? Because survey after survey tells us so.
It’s never been easier, though. Online insurance companies are challenging the industry’s traditional way of doing things.
LendingTree can help you shop for homeowners, auto, health or life insurance. It can show you the pros and cons, and plan specifics of carriers so you can find the best option for you.
Seriously, if you comparison-shop for things like gasoline or clothes or phones, you can do the same when it comes to consumer finance — it’s easier now than it’s ever been before.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.