Editorial Guideline & Methodology

The Smart Investor’s editorial team writes on behalf of YOU – the reader. Our goal is to give you the best advice to help you make smart personal finance decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers.

We offer in-depth analysis of how products work in the real world, how to use them effectively, and who they’re best for. While we compile (and frequently update) shortlists of this year’s top picks, we don’t provide a complete listing of every financial product available — just the products we believe are truly the best.

Though we work diligently to ensure all information is up-to-date, financial information changes often and is presented without warranty. As such, the information in our reviews may differ from an issuer’s site. Please consult the issuer’s site for the most current terms and conditions.

The Smart Investor contributors and editors follow a strict set of guidelines

  • We do not allow advertising to influence our ratings
  • Editorial decisions come only from independent review and analysis, not from any form of advertising compensation. This also applies to star ratings and all of our evaluations.
  • We publish only facts and information that we genuinely believe.
  • Editorial staff may contact issuers with questions regarding products during writing to ensure articles are factually correct, but this is the extent of contact, and editorial staff never deals with business relationships between Credit Card Insider and advertisers.
  • Content is not edited or altered to promote an advertiser over a non-advertiser.
  • Be as transparent as possible by revealing all personal affiliations and business relationships
  • We look for real data and information about products and services whether the company is an advertiser or non-advertiser. We use this to help with our content and to make sure that we provide the best possible information and updates. This does not affect the ordering of cards, and is intended to provide a better experience to readers by helping them understand requirements before they apply and avoid applications for products that are not a good fit for certain contexts.
  • We do not allow our staff to accept any form of gifts from sources, clients or potential sources.

We never allow reviews to be influenced by the advertisers on our site or any other means. All of this information is only based on facts and figures provided and available through our research. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise. 

Credit Cards

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.

Mortgage Loans

The Smart Investor’s selection of mortgage lenders for inclusion here was made based on our evaluation of the products and services that lenders offer to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. We also look at types of loans and what specific products are available. Finally, we look at the ability to get information online and to carry out online processes as well as customer service, rate information and even complaints that have been filed

Student/Personal Loans

When it comes to choosing a student loan or talking about these types of loans we make sure that we evaluate all of the different products and services that are available. We also make sure that we’re offering what’s best for you.

The key areas we evaluated include the loan types and loan products offered, fees, and APR.

Cutting fees is now table stakes in the personal and student loans market. In addition, the most valuable loan products tend to offer a deep bench of options that meet a wide array of customer needs. These include a diverse range of loan amounts and terms, as well as loan structures. We also make sure that you’re going to save money by cutting down on the APR that goes along with the loans offered.

Investing Products (Online Brokers)

When it comes to working with investors, we want to make sure that you’re getting unbiased reviews and we want to make sure that you can get a good idea of what to expect from online brokers. We also want to make sure that whether you’re new to investing or you’ve been at it for a while you can get what you want. Here are the main things we focus:

  • Investment Options – What type of options are available and what sort of variety? Are you able to work in ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures and more?
  • Technology – What does the system allow you to do when it comes to software and applications? Can you get data exportation, email updates and even currency support?
  • Fees – What are the costs associated with the service
  • Account Options – What types of products and features are actually available and how can you get the best variety? Where can you get good banking services like loans, checking and more? Can you do all of it in one location or are you going to have to go with different options and locations?
  • Customer Service – Do you get 24/7 responses and support? Are you going to have an easy time getting in touch with a real person for help?
  • Banking products – We look at things like savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts and CDs related to things like fees and APY. We also make sure that we’re looking at the best APY without having to worry about qualifications and expensive features. We don’t want to have a difficult usability rating or difficult to use mobile apps, ATMs or restrictions. We want to get it as easy for you as possible.