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Not a search engine
The first interesting thing about Google Advisor is that unlike Google itself, it’s not a search engine. It is designed to let you compare financial products based on certain criteria. At the time of this writing (August, 2012), you could use Google Advisor to compare credit card offers, certificates of deposit and checking and savings accounts.
How Google Advisor work
This tool is very easy to use. For example, let’s say that you’re interested in finding a good certificate of deposit. You go to the site, choose certificates of deposit and then choose between short term (up to 12 months) and long term CDs (up to five years). If you click on short term, Advisor opens 18 pages (yes, 18 pages) of information on CDs from various financial institutions, including APY, term length, minimum to open and interest earned. You can filter these 18 pages down to something more manageable by the amount you wish to invest, the maximum term, account type, your zip code, and name of bank.
No more mortgage rates
When Google first announced Advisor, the program included information on mortgages. It has now dropped this and won’t say why. It just disappeared one day. The Google forum quickly filled up with pleas from people to bring it back but Google has been very quiet about why it dropped this part of Advisor and whether or not it will ever bring it back. One clue might be the fact that mortgages had “sponsored results.” In other words, when you searched for information on mortgages, your results would be based on which companies had paid Google to be displayed and this may have created a problem with other advertisers or with mortgage providers in general.
Still a useful tool
Google Advisor is still a useful tool even minus the mortgage information. It can be especially helpful in choosing a credit card. You can choose to browse its 10 Pages of information about credit cards including the intro balance transfer APR, ongoing balance transfer APR, balance transfer fee, annual fee and reward type. You can put check marks next to four cards that interest you and the program will show you a side-by-side comparison. Or you can filter your results by card type (balance transfer, purchase APR, rewards), reward type, card purpose, network, your credit history and if you want to see only cards with no annual fee, no annual fee for the first year or charge cards.
A foot in the door
The experts in this kind of thing believe that Google really wants to break into the financial arena as this could ultimately yield billions of dollars in referral fees and advertising. In March of last year, Google bought the website www.BeatThatQuote.com for $61 million. Any time Google spends $61 million on a site like this, you can bet it has a serious interest in personal finances.
What lies ahead?
It’s not possible to know at this time where Google will go next in the financial area. For that matter, Google Advisor itself could disappear at any time. While Google has had many successes is also has had some failures and Google Advisor could turn out to be one of them. In the meantime, if you’re interested in finding a better credit card, a higher-paying CD or a new checking account, why not go to Google Advisor and give it a try?
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