Methodology

This page is intended as both an external resource for our readers as well as an internal resource for our content team to refer to.

Our Commitment to Objectivity

First and foremost, our content must be objective, and any subjective statements must be qualified as such.

Here are some guidelines to follow in order to create truly objective financial content:

Review Articles

1. Reviews must be accurate and factual.  The factor ratings and review stars we award a particular company, product, or service must be consistent with these methodology guidelines.

2. Reviews must not exist merely to entice the user to click on our affiliate link.

3. The tone of a review should reflect the quality of the company, product, or service being reviewed.  If for example after objectively reviewing an insurance product you determine its quality to be sub-par, don’t say, “If you need car insurance in a bind, ABC Insurance Company can help.”  This tone is positive and is not consistent with your review.  However, a positive — but not salesy — tone is acceptable if you objectively determine the quality of a company, product, or service to be excellent.

4. If you are reviewing a low-quality company, product, or service, present quality alternatives to the reader that he or she may find more beneficial.  These alternatives may or may not be Money Done Right partners.

5. There should be a “pros” and “cons” summary boxes near the end of each review article.  Nothing in these boxes should be new but should rather be a mere summary of information already stated in the piece.

6. Keep in mind that a company’s, product’s, or services’ website is essentially a sales page.  Also take into patterns you see in user reviews on third-party review websites, but keep in mind that user reviews are easily faked or exaggerated.  However, if you see a consistent pattern of, say, genuine-appearing user reviews stating that the company has repeatedly refused to honor its refund policy, this should be mentioned in the article, and the relevant factor rating should be adjusted accordingly.

“Best” Articles

1. In articles where we are claiming that certain companies, products, or services are the “best” of their type — for example, the Best Cash Back Cards — we should make clear that in most areas of personal finance “best” is subjective and the “best” company, product, or service for the reader may not be the “best” one for you as the writer.  We should also give categories of avatars for which a certain company, product, or service is the “best.”  See for example our list of the Best Cash Back Cards.  In this list, we include the Capital One QuicksilverOne, even though it offers only 1.5% cash back and comes with a $39 annual fee.  The Citi Double Cash gives 2% cash back and no annual fee.  The Citi Double Cash is clearly a “better” card when it comes to rewards and cost, but it’s not accessible to those with anything less than good or excellent credit.  So to offer something to readers with average, fair, or limited credit, we included the Capital One QuicksilverOne because we believe that it is objectively the best cash back credit card for those in this demographic, and we label it as such.

2. Even if we don’t have an affiliate relationship with a particular company, product, or service, you should not shy away from including it in “best” articles.  For example, we include both the PayPal Cashback Mastercard and the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature in our list of the best 2% cash back cards even though we do not have an affiliate relationship with these issuers.

In General

1. Go into detail and be extremely helpful to the average reader.  Provide a substantial, complete, and comprehensive description of the topic.  Provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious and beyond anything that any other site has created about the topic.

2. Our content must answer all of the average reader’s questions pertaining to the subject matter.  Ideally, answers to questions will be worked into the main body of your piece, but any other questions you weren’t able to answer in the main body of the piece should be included in an “FAQ” section at the very end.

3. Use headers, especially H2s and H3s, liberally.  Each H2 should have at least H3s underneath it.  Remember, not every reader will read every single word in a given piece.  Give “skimmers” like this an organized, logical header structure so that they can easily understand the flow of the piece without having to read every single word.

4. Remember, personal finance is inherently mathematical.  You must use accurate, mathematical examples to explain and reinforce key concepts.

5. Source facts, statistics, or other data points to authoritative websites, not other blogs.

Rating Factors by Type

In each of our review articles, we assign the product, service, or company being reviewed six factors on which it is rated on a 0 – 10 scale.

Personal Loans

In the personal loans category are both direct lenders and loan lead generation sites.

Below are our rating factors for personal loans.

Where to File Form 4868
Factor
How to Determine Rating
APRHow does this lender's rates compare to other lender's? If a lead generation site, how do the rates offered by this site's lender network compare to others? For example, a payday loan lender or site generating leads for payday loan lenders would rate low in this category, while a lender or site offering personal loans would tend to rate higher.
FeesThis would include all fees other than interest charged to the borrower: origination fees, application fees, late fees, etc. A lender that has no fees would rate a 10; a lender that charges exorbitant fees would rate a 0.
TransparencyHow apparent is it who is really behind this company? Is this company straightforward about its fee structure and payment terms, or does it employ bait-and-switch tactics? Is the company's name and contact information available on the website?
FlexibilityHow flexible is the lender when it comes to payment terms? How do they work with those in financial distress? Are there deferment options available?
Funding SpeedHow quickly could a customer reasonably expect to receive funding after being approved?
AccessibilityKeeping in mind the lender's target demographic, how easy is it to apply and be approved? Are there geographical limitations? Do borrowers need an SSN or certain credit score?
 

Money-Making Apps

In the money-making apps category are any apps that allow people to make extra cash for using the app.

Side hustles — money-making activities that one could theoretically spend eight or more hours per day doing — are not considered money-making apps, even if there is an app involved, such as is the case with driving for Uber or Lyft.

Money-Making Apps
Factor
How to Determine Rating
LegitimacyBased on user reviews, does this app actually pay users as promised?
Earnings PotentialObviously this will depend on how much a user uses the app, but how much could the average user expect to earn over time using this app? No one should download an app expecting to earn a full-time income, so the potential to realistically earn a few hundred dollars a month would be enough to merit a 10/10. The potential to only make a few pennies per month would be 0/10.
Time RequiredHow much time is actually required to be in the app to earn money? An app that simply runs in the background while users earn would be a 10/10, while an app that requires the user to be in the app constantly would be a 0/10.
FeesDoes this app come with a fee? A completely fee app would score a 10/10.
Ease of UseIs this app easy to use? Or does it have a confusing design or interface? Is it simple and easy to understand? Read user reviews in the app store and see what people are saying.
Customer SupportWhat kind of support options are available to app users? Is there an in-app support function? Is there a phone number on the website people can call? Also read reviews of the app within the app store and online to see if customers are getting their questions answered or if they're complaining about a lack of support.