Bankrate.com doesn't rate

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Includes: RATE, SHOP-OLD
by: David Jackson

A recent review of Bankrate.com finds that it "did not turn up the best deals". Here are more details, and a quick thought on impending competition:


The Electronic Investor column in in this week's Barron's (subscription required - it comes free with the WSJ online) reviewed Web sites that help investors find the best savings yields. Here's what it said about Bankrate.com:

"...the site's content hasn't increased as quickly as its
ad volume. It's often hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, and we
find ourselves clicking on ads involuntarily..."

"The site displays what it says are the best nationwide CD and MMA
rates and the best CD/savings rates by state... Bankrate.com did not
turn up the best deals, however. Case in point: EmigrantDirect
(www.emigrant-direct.com), the online presence of an old, estimable New
York City savings bank, has started to advertise that it's paying 3% on
what it dubs the AmericanDream Savings Account. That's a good
half-point higher than what had been the best rate for a money-market
account on Bankrate.com and roughly twice the national average for bank
money markets..."

"Even when we searched Bankrate.com by several metro areas, we couldn't
find the EmigrantDirect 3% rate. Ads on the site posted it, however. On
Bankrate.com, the highest MMA rate posted last week was Resource Bank's
2.51% on a $10,000 account."

The good news? The competition is currently lousy. Barron's found
that Money-Rates.com came up with broadly comparable results to
Bankrate.com, but it lacked bank ratings and useful editorial content. Bank-CD.com was error-prone and charged for access, and the broader financial sites like Yahoo! and CNN Money didn't do a good job of finding the best rates.

Quick comment: The competitive environment might heat up for Bankrate.com later this year. Ad rates for financial products are high, and that will likely draw competitors with better technology and marketing. Shopping.com stated during its IPO roadshow that it planned to offer comparison shopping of financial products in 2005. And it seems plausible that the other comparison shopping engines - Bizrate, Froogle, Nextag, PriceGrabber, and Yahoo! Shopping - will follow.

One year chart of RATE below.
Rate

Full disclosure: at the time of writing I own SHOP stock. As always, this is not a recommendation to buy SHOP.

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