What to be aware of when using rating websites to make purchases

Umming and ahhing over what brand to buy? A five-star rating score may sound like a great way to decide, but who is doing the rating, and what do those stars actually mean?

Making a purchase can be intimidating – especially when there’s hundreds of dollars at stake.

Do you go for cheap and cheerful, knowing that if it breaks it won’t cost you a bomb? Or do you invest a little more in something that will last?

To navigate these muddy waters, many people fall back on comparison rating websites, which purport to show an impartial and balanced overview of available products.

These sites may be useful in a limited capacity, but they shouldn’t replace good old-fashioned research.

But first, what is a comparison website?

A comparison or ratings website is a site which collects a range of different products and compares them based on a range of factors.

If you’re buying a phone, for example, it will compare the specs and performance, its camera, battery life, and speaker – to name just a few.

These comparison websites exist for a whole range of different products – from fridges and TVs, to cars, financial products and credit cards.

So what’s the problem?

The most important thing to remember when using a comparison website is that it’s also a business. And the purpose of a business is to make money.

It is therefore unlikely to be providing completely impartial advice because someone is paying it to push readers in a certain direction.

Some of these websites, for example, will be paid to promote or boost certain products.

These particular products may receive the highest ranking, even if they aren’t the cheapest or best. Other sites may be in a close relationship with a service provider, or even be a subsidiary business of that provider.

Many of these comparison sites also fail to cover the whole market, so by relying on them you may miss out on seeing another product which better suits your needs.

Are there any advantages?

Despite these issues, there are ways in which you can use these sites to help support your own research.

For one, they can help you to see the range of products available, which can help you develop your own shortlist to research.

They can also help you understand the features you should be comparing when you look at different products.

Still not sure?

With so many products available it can be easy to get carried away. So when in doubt, go with the option that allows you to stick within your budget.

And remember that while there are websites out there that will give you biased advice, we certainly won’t!

So be sure to pay us a visit if you’re ever umming and ahhing over your finance options.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.