Finance comparison sites — hiding in plain sight.

When banks and tech vendors talk about marketing, they rarely mention comparison sites. Which is odd when you look at the numbers.

Credit Karma claims 85 million members in the U.S. and Canada and almost half of all millennials. NerdWallet has three million members and 100 million visitors a year. There are many others, including MagnifyMoney and Bankrate. The sites, which rate bank accounts, credit cards and other financial products, generally promise unbiased reviews and collect a commission if a consumer signs up for a banking product through the site.

The comparison sites can rank high in search results. Jack Simpson at Econsultancy said, “NerdWallet has an incredible 22.3% share of all organic search traffic for personal finance keywords.” Bank of America has a 6.1% share

Tim Chen, founder and CEO of NerdWallet, said comparison shopping has become the norm, especially among millennials.  

“Millennials are just used to comparing things. Even college professors. That's the one that really strikes me as an older millennial. Yeah, people don't really take college courses anymore without reading the ratings on their professors and figuring out which ones are good and which ones to avoid. Kind of mind-blowing.”

The sites have different coverage and some different results, but it takes only a few minutes to check a product, such as a credit card, across several of them.

At MagnifyMoney, Nick Clements writes, “When you visit our product pages, you will see names that you haven’t seen before. Not surprisingly, some of the best deals come from small, new and innovative companies that can’t match the marketing budgets of big banks…Banking is too expensive and too complicated. We want to make it easier and more rewarding.”

This article was published as part of Weekly Briefing No. 157