CompareBanks’ Methodology: Defining ‘Best’ and Our Star-Ranking System

Our data-driven approach enables us to evaluate each product objectively.

Updated: April 2, 2024
Mark Tovey

Written By

Mark Tovey

 

At CompareBanks, our methodology for creating ‘Best Of' lists and reviews is grounded in comprehensive research and analysis. Our data-driven approach enables us to evaluate each product objectively, without bias from any commercial partnerships we might have.

CompareBanks makes its money through advertising and partnerships. This means we may make money if you sign up to a product through a link on our website. You will not have to pay us anything at all, so there are no catches or hidden extras involved.

Please be aware that the product details we present are accurate as of their publication date and might change over time.

Our reviews represent our honest opinions and should not be taken as financial advice. They are intended to help you make informed decisions but do not address individual financial circumstances.

In summary, CompareBanks' ‘Best Of' guides and our star-ranking system are designed to provide you with clear, unbiased insights into the financial products that could best suit your needs.

What is the ‘Best’?

‘Best' refers to our top picks from the products we've reviewed, not the entire market. It indicates our recommendations, not necessarily what is cheapest or most suitable for everyone. ‘Best' is about quality as per our analysis, not a universal assessment.

From the Horse’s Mouth

Our data is sourced directly from the institutions and verified for accuracy, ensuring our content is always current and reliable.

Star-Based Scoring

Each review segment concludes with a clear star rating, simplifying comparison and aiding consumers in making well-informed financial choices. This harmonised methodology across all product reviews ensures consistency, depth, and relevance, empowering users to navigate the financial landscape with confidence.

Methodology for Reviews Across Financial Products

Our review methodology across a range of financial sectors—banking, investing, credit cards, savings, insurance, pensions, loans, mortgages, pre-paid cards, and money transfer apps—is meticulously designed to deliver accurate, relevant, and actionable insights.

By focusing on essential criteria tailored to each product type, we ensure our analyses are comprehensive and catered to consumer needs.

Banking Reviews

We evaluate bank accounts based on criteria that ensure our insights reflect user priorities. For instance, when analysing student bank accounts, we emphasise factors like overdraft terms, crucial for students requiring flexible borrowing options, and incentives and bonuses that deliver extra value.

Similarly, for travel bank accounts, our focus shifts to critical aspects like foreign transaction fees and exchange rates to help minimise costs during travel.

Our assessments of savings accounts concentrate on interest rates and withdrawal terms, key determinants of the accounts' earning potential and liquidity. In evaluating basic bank accounts, we prioritise accessibility and usability, recognising the importance of these features for individuals seeking simple, efficient banking solutions.

Investing Reviews

Our investment platform reviews delve into specifics like fund performance for index funds or technological efficiency for forex brokers and regulatory status for crypto exchanges, ensuring we cover the unique aspects crucial for informed investment decisions.

We assess the breadth of available options, from stock trading apps to CFD brokers, focusing on usability, diversity, and fee structures. Our review process adapts to the unique facets of each investment avenue, be it stock trading apps' user interface convenience or CFD brokers' asset variety and leverage options.

Our examination of investment apps delves into ease of use, the spectrum of financial instruments, and the educational resources on offer, acknowledging the significant role these factors play in investor engagement and decision-making.

When assessing spread betting brokers, our focus shifts to areas like asset diversity, platform usability, and the clarity of fee structures, paramount for traders navigating these high-risk environments.

Credit Card Reviews

Our credit card analyses dissect critical factors such as interest rates, rewards, and credit building potential, ensuring users understand the financial impact and benefits of different cards.

Each review category, from 0% purchase cards to cards for fair credit, is tailored to reveal the product's specific value proposition.

For each credit card category, we examine:

  • Interest Rates and Fees: We compare APRs and associated costs to determine financial impact.
  • Credit Limit and Eligibility: We assess the range of credit limits and the card's accessibility based on its eligibility requirements.
  • Rewards and Benefits: We evaluate the rewards schemes and additional card benefits to gauge value for users.
  • User Experience: We consider ease of use, customer service quality, and account management features.
  • Credit Building: For cards aimed at improving credit scores, we analyse their effectiveness and supporting features.

Savings Product Reviews

When reviewing savings products, we compare interest rates, account features, and accessibility across various accounts, from instant access to fixed-rate ISAs. Our aim is to uncover products that offer optimal growth potential, user-friendly management, and solid financial protection.

Below is a list of the factors we use to rate savings products:

  • Interest Rates: We analyse interest rates to gauge their competitiveness and suitability for saving objectives.
  • Minimum Deposit: The minimum deposit requirements are assessed to ensure products are accessible to a broad range of savers.
  • Withdrawal Terms: Flexibility and restrictions on withdrawals are examined to match savers' liquidity needs.
  • Account Management: Ease of use and effectiveness of account management tools are evaluated to enhance user experiences.
  • Accessibility: We review the variety of account opening and management methods for their convenience and accessibility.
  • Fees: All relevant costs are scrutinised to assess their impact on the value of savings.
  • Financial Protection: The alignment with protection schemes like the FSCS is verified for customer reassurance.
  • Regulatory Compliance: We ensure all products adhere to regulatory standards, confirming their safety and reliability.

Insurance Reviews

Our insurance product reviews employ a rigorous methodology to evaluate a wide array of insurance types, including dog, private health for over 65s, life insurance for over 60s, short-term car, home renovation insurance, and over-50s home insurance. We meticulously examine criteria such as coverage options, premium determinants, eligibility requirements, claim processes, and exclusions to offer a well-rounded perspective on each product.

For instance, our dog insurance reviews focus on aspects like maximum vet fee coverage and policy flexibility, while our health insurance analysis for seniors assesses premium factors and range of coverage. Similarly, life insurance evaluations consider premium stability and policy options, car insurance reviews highlight eligibility and pricing, and our scrutiny of home insurance products delves into coverage breadth and policy customisation.

Pension Reviews

In our reviews of pension products, we aim to provide clear and concise evaluations of private pension providers, focusing on aspects crucial to retirement planning. Our analysis covers the scope of investment options available, reflecting the diversity and adaptability each provider offers to meet individual financial goals and risk appetites.

We also examine the provider's customer base, recognising that a broad and satisfied clientele can be indicative of reliability and quality service. Awards and recognitions are considered for their testament to a provider's industry standing, while fees and specialised offerings are scrutinised to gauge overall value.

Furthermore, our reviews look into customer service quality, investment performance, and the ease of pension management, ensuring that potential investors receive a comprehensive overview of each provider's strengths and offerings.

Loan Reviews

Our analysis of loan products is centred on providing comprehensive insights that assist our readers in navigating the market. We focus on an array of attributes that dictate the value and appeal of different loan types, catering to varied financial needs and circumstances.

This includes a range of loan reviews from personal unsecured loans to complex business financing solutions. In reviewing loans, we examine parameters such as loan amounts, which are pivotal in determining the scope of financing options available to borrowers, ensuring they align with their requirements, whether for small personal projects or significant business investments.

We consider the terms of loans, including the repayment period, which influences both the monthly payment amount and the total interest accrued over time. The distinction between secured and unsecured loans is highlighted, shedding light on the risks and benefits associated with each, alongside the impact of interest rates on the affordability of loans. Fees and charges, often overlooked, are thoroughly analysed to uncover any potential hidden costs that could affect the overall loan expense.

The loan application process and the speed at which funds are made available are dissected to evaluate the efficiency and user-friendliness of lenders. We also assess the flexibility of repayment options, which can significantly benefit borrowers by allowing them to tailor their repayment schedule to their financial situation, potentially enabling earlier debt clearance without incurring extra costs. Furthermore, our reviews delve into the implications for borrowers' credit scores, a factor crucial for maintaining financial health and accessibility to future credit.

Mortgage Reviews

We evaluate mortgages based on several key criteria that influence the cost, flexibility, and accessibility of these financial products. For instance, we look at the product fee, an essential factor as it represents the initial cost of obtaining the mortgage, impacting the total investment required. The loan to value (LTV) ratio is another pivotal metric, offering insight into the required down payment size and the loan's risk level from the lender's perspective. Interest rates are compared to determine how they will affect monthly repayments and the total interest paid over the loan's lifespan. We also consider the follow-on rate, crucial for understanding the mortgage's cost once any initial offer period concludes.

Additionally, our reviews assess the mortgage's features that enhance flexibility for borrowers, such as the overpayment allowance, which can significantly influence the ability to reduce interest costs over time. Early repayment charges are examined for their potential impact on borrowers' financial strategies, particularly for those who may wish to settle their mortgage early. Eligibility requirements are crucial in our analysis to ensure that borrowers are well-informed about their chances of approval based on their personal and financial circumstances.

Pre-Paid Card Reviews

Our reviews encompass a diverse array of pre-paid card types, including general-purpose reloadable cards, travel money cards, and business expense cards, each suited to different user needs and scenarios. (To see our methodology specifically for fuel cards, skip to the sub-section immediately below.)

We assess key factors such as the credit limits, which define how much money can be loaded and spent, crucial for budget management and financial control. The transparency of fees, including monthly charges and transaction costs, is thoroughly examined to ensure users can manage their finances without unexpected expenses. Accessibility and user features, like online management tools and mobile app support, are highlighted to demonstrate the ease with which cardholders can monitor and manage their funds.

Travel money pre-paid cards are judged in part on their foreign transaction efficiencies and currency management features, essential for international travellers. For business users, we explore pre-paid expense cards that facilitate streamlined expense management and reporting, aiding in corporate financial oversight.

Fuel Card Reviews

Our reviews of fuel cards aim to offer valuable perspectives on their benefits and suitability for different business needs, particularly for those in the transportation and logistics sectors and also for self-employed people.

In assessing fuel cards, we look at a variety of pivotal factors such as the extent of network coverage, which determines the convenience and accessibility for drivers needing fuel across diverse locations. We explore the spectrum of cards available, including those best suited for truckers, businesses, and companies requiring bulk diesel purchases, providing insights tailored to specific operational demands.

Key considerations in our reviews include the number of accepted fuel stations, which is critical for ensuring that drivers have ample options for refuelling, especially vital for those covering extensive distances. We also examine the features offered by online management portals, essential tools that allow businesses to monitor and control their fuel expenses effectively. Pricing transparency is a core focus, assessing how clearly costs are communicated to users to prevent any unforeseen expenses and aid in budget management.

Additionally, we evaluate the flexibility and variety of tariff options available, enabling businesses to select plans that align with their fuel usage patterns and financial strategies. The integration of fuel cards with broader business systems, such as accounting software, is considered for its role in streamlining financial management and operational efficiency.

Money Transfer App Reviews

In our review methodology for money transfer apps, we concentrate on pivotal aspects such as transfer speed, global reach, user interface, payment diversity, and fee transparency. This approach is designed to give a clear and concise overview of each app's capabilities and limitations, aiding users in selecting the most suitable service for their needs.