BillShrink touts money saving features on cell phone plans, credit cards and gas

BillShrink is a free service to help consumers save money when making complex purchase decisions such as with credit cards and cell phone plans. The service is a media darling and has received numerous mentions in the business press and media including Forbes, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and The Wall Street Journal. They have a very effective public relations strategy. This review is based on reading over three dozen of these news articles, watching several TV spots, and using the service.

BillShrink has a slick, easy-to-use interface. The site currently offers three services – cell phone plans, credit cards and gas prices.

With credit cards you provide answers to about 6 questions. This allows the system to determine the best credit card for your usage habits. If you pay your credit card off each month the interest rate is of less importance than rewards, for example. Other considerations are credit score, how much you spend and what type of items you purchase. Based on your answers to these questions, the system will recommend a credit card and tell you how much money you can save by making the switch. According to BillShrink, the average user saves $1,000 on their credit card. With over $1 trillion dollars of credit card debt in the United States, the potential for savings is significant.

BillShrink says 85% of people pay more than they need to for their cell phone. Using the cell phone tool, you answer about 6 questions such as monthly minutes used and data and text preferences. For more accurate results, you can upload your recent cell phone bills. The best cell phone plan for you is calculated using a ‘ShrinkScore’ which includes savings and signal strength in your specified area. The available cell phone plans are ranked by ShrinkScore. These results can be further refined by the user according to categories such as service provider, plan type and phone compatibility.

The most recent service released is gas prices. While there are tools which help you find the best gas prices, BillShrink goes a step further and helps calculate the best gas station based on the type of car you drive and the roads you drive. The distance to the gas station incurs a cost, and the least expensive gas station may not be the one with the lowest prices when the total cost of obtaining the gas is considered. Like the other services, you can modify the results based on your preferences such as station operating hours and amenities.

BillShrink makes money by referring customers to cell phone plans, credit cards and other services. This provides a potential conflict of interest. The company may have a financial interest in showing a plan which optimizes their own revenue instead of customer savings. While there is no evidence this bias has influenced results, users must be wary of the potential.

BillShrink launched in April 2008 and has been gradually rolling out new features. They have received 9 million dollars in venture capital. BillShrink has augmented their service with a popular money saving blog.

BillShrink is up against Lending Club and Mint for a 2009 Webby in the financial services category.