How Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services

car insurance

Personal Finance Insider is part of Insider’s Service Journalism department and is helmed by a team of experienced journalists whose mission is to help smart people make the best decisions with their money.

We understand that “best” is often subjective, so in addition to highlighting the benefits of a financial product or account, we outline the limitations, too. We spend hours comparing and contrasting the features and fine print of various products so you don’t have to.

Personal Finance Insider has affiliate partnerships with companies that provide financial products and services. However, the team is editorially independent. Learn more about exactly how these partnerships work and our editorial process below.

How our business partnerships work

No, Personal Finance Insider does not write sponsored content. Advertisers have no ability to demand coverage, to control what’s said, or to pay us for articles. We do not have to notify them when we’re writing about their products, they don’t see the post before it’s published, and they can’t make changes to the post after the fact.

We only make changes if there are factual inaccuracies, potentially misleading statements, or errors. Like all of Insider, Personal Finance Insider always strives to be accurate and clear for our readers.

So how do we get paid?

Personal Finance Insider uses affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing means when we mention a product or service with which we have a partnership, we link to that product or service using a special tracking link that lets our partner know the reader came from our site. If that reader decides to buy or apply for something from our partner, the partner pays Personal Finance Insider a small amount. Exact terms vary by partner. These partnerships do not add any extra cost for the reader.

We use affiliate marketing to support our business. The revenue we make from stories allows us to, among other things, hire more journalists.

In that way, affiliate marketing is similar to other types of advertising you may see on the web, such as display ads.

Affiliate marketing works only if we recommend products our readers like and use. Since we don’t get paid to write about brands, and we don’t get paid just for clicks we send them, this business model is closely tied to the mission of our team: helping readers make the best decisions.

How do we decide what to write?

Personal Finance Insider is editorially independent. That means our writers and editors have very little visibility into, and no control over, our business partnerships. It also means that our business team has no control over what our writers and editors choose to cover. Like the rest of Insider’s extensive newsroom, we write, approve, and assign stories according to what will bring the most value to our readers.

We ask ourselves:

  • Is it helpful?
  • Have our readers shown interest in this topic?
  • Does it highlight an undercovered perspective?
  • Is it an important story to tell?

Then, once our story is ready to go, we send it to the business team, which decides whether there are any partnerships that make sense for this story. Sometimes, there are, and sometimes, there aren’t. If there are partnerships that make sense and could be helpful to the reader — for instance, a link to a credit card we’re reviewing or a link to get car insurance quotes on a post about car insurance — the business team will add them in. Our business team has full control over which partnerships we have and how we use them.

Why do we have disclosures on our stories?

When you see a disclosure on a story, it means there are affiliate links. This does not indicate sponsored content, nor does it change the story.

We include disclosures because we’re dedicated to being transparent and clear with our readers about how we make money, and our partners are, too. In fact, we have an in-house team dedicated to ensuring we meet financial compliance regulations, so our readers are always getting the most up-to-date, accurate information.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion

Personal Finance Insider knows that money isn’t just about the number in your bank account. In the United States, access to financial products and services isn’t the same for everyone, and neither is the outcome. Wealth is more than math — it comes down to factors beyond our individual control, including but not limited to the unequal impacts of generational wealth, racism in hiring and lending practices, homophobia, flawed credit-scoring systems, and red-lining.

We’re committed to representing and serving as many people as we can, whether that’s interviewing experts from underrepresented groups within financial fields, providing resources to address specific financial situations, acknowledging the difference in how various communities can access wealth, or reviewing products and services created by and for specific communities.

As part of the Service Journalism division at Insider, members of our team sit on an internal DEI task force that actively works to make our internal environment and our coverage more equitable and inclusive. Personal Finance Insider operates with a set of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion standards that are regularly reviewed and updated.

These standards include:

  • Being mindful of how our sources and writers are represented in our writing.
  • Not making assumptions about anyone’s identity.
  • When evaluating products for reviews or guides, considering the brand’s ethics along with its products.
  • Equitable hiring and contracting practices that amplify voices from historically marginalized communities and ensure the best person for the job covers issues affecting their communities.

How we rate products

On many of our stories, you’ll notice an editor’s rating for a product. This rating is between zero and five stars, and we have different criteria to rate different products. Below, find more detail on our methodology for our editor’s ratings. Additionally, you’ll find a section in most of our product lists that addresses how we made our selection in more detail.

We try our best to include most widely available options in our research process, however we cannot guarantee that we have considered all products and services. If you think there’s a good product or service we haven’t covered, please let us know at money-tips@insider.com.

How we rate credit cards

  • Welcome bonus
  • Annual fee
  • Earning rewards
  • Using rewards
  • Benefits

How we rate investment products

  • Fees
  • Investment selection (including account type availability)
  • Platform navigability (including whether there’s mobile trading)
  • Customer service
  • Trustworthiness (using ratings from the Better Business Bureau where applicable)
  • Educational resources/research

How we rate checking accounts

  • Minimum deposit
  • Monthly fees
  • Overdraft protection options
  • ATM network/fees
  • Customer support

  • Mobile app
  • Ethics (whether there’s been a scandal in the last 3 years; whether the company is actively antiracist, antisexist)

How we rate money-market accounts

  • Interest rate

  • Access to your money 

  • Minimum deposit

  • Monthly fees

  • Customer support
  • Mobile app
  • Ethics (whether there’s been a scandal in the last 3 years; whether the company is actively antiracist, antisexist)
  • ATM network/fees

How we rate certificates of deposit

  • Interest rate
  • Minimum deposit
  • Early withdrawal penalties (not factored in for no-penalty CDs)
  • Variety of term options (only factored in for regular term CDs)
  • Customer support

  • Mobile app
  • Ethics (whether there’s been a scandal in the last 3 years; whether the company is actively antiracist, antisexist)

How we rate savings accounts

  • Interest rate

  • Minimum deposit
  • Monthly fees

  • Customer support

  • Mobile app
  • Ethics (whether there’s been a scandal in the last 3 years; whether the company is actively antiracist, antisexist)

How we rate car insurance

  • How a company handles common coverage scenarios (teen drivers, a driver with poor credit, a driver with an accident on their driving record, a driver with a DUI, and senior driver)
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Claims satisfaction

How we rate life insurance

  • Financial stability (AM Best/Fitch)
  • Customer satisfaction (JD Power)
  • Market share (S&P Global)
  • Sample premium quotes
  • Availability (nationwide versus regional)

How we rate home insurance

  • Financial stability (AM Best/Fitch)
  • Customer satisfaction (JD Power)
  • Market share (S&P Global)
  • Sample premium quotes
  • Availability (nationwide versus regional)

How we rate renters insurance

  • Financial stability (AM Best/Fitch)
  • Customer satisfaction (JD Power)
  • Market share (S&P Global)
  • Sample premium quotes
  • Availability (nationwide versus regional)

How we rate business checking accounts

  • Transaction limit

  • Minimum deposit
  • Monthly fees

  • ATM network/fees
  • Customer support
  • Mobile app
  • Ethics

How we rate student loans

  • Fixed/variable interest rate
  • Term lengths
  • Fees
  • Customer support
  • Mobile app
  • Ethics

How we rate mortgage lenders

  • Loan types
  • Affordability (whether it offers VA, FHA, or USDA loans; whether it accepts alternative forms of credit)
  • Customer satisfaction (JD Power when available; otherwise online customer reviews)
  • Trustworthiness

Meet our team

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