How Does NerdWallet Make Money?

NerdWallet is an online platform providing tools and tips on all matters related to personal finance. The company gained traction as a simple web application comparing credit cards. NerdWallet makes money via affiliate commissions determined according to the affiliate agreements.

Origin story

NerdWallet is a personal finance company founded in 2009 by Jacob Gibson and Tim Chen with an initial investment of just $800.

NerdWallet began as a simple web application comparing credit cards. Jobless after the GFC, credit analyst Chen got the idea for NerdWallet after being asked for advice on the credit cards with the lowest foreign transaction fees.

Traffic to the site grew quickly in the following years, allowing the company to expand through capital raisings and the acquisition of retirement planning firm AboutLife.

With Chen sitting on the board of the National Foundation for Credit Counselling, the company maintains a focus on educating consumers about financial literacy. In addition to credit card reviews, NerdWallet now compares banking, investment, loan, and insurance products.

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NerdWallet vision, mission and value proposition

NerdWallet primary value proposition is to offer “trustworthy financial guidance to consumers and SMBs.”

Its mission can be summarized as “to provide clarity for all of life’s financial decisions.”

While its vision is “a world where everyone makes financial decisions with confidence.”

How does mission, vision and value proposition find applicaiton within NerdWallet’s business model? Let’s see.

How does NerdWallet work? Inside NerdWallet platform

A quick glance at NerdWallet platform from mobile (Image Credit: NerdWallet).

The platform is built around the mission to enable consumers and SMBs to make well-informed financial decisions with confidence.

Starting from the assumption that consumers want someone who is independent, objective, and that they can trust to provide this sort of financial advice.

The tech platform, in reality, is the tip of the iceberg concerning the editorial content (NerdWallet counts 100+ person editorial team who also joined from publications like Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal) to cover the various verticals (like credit score, debt management, and retirement spending and many others).

The platform consists of three main moments:

The user/customer journey within NerdWallet consists of three key moments: learn, shop and manage (Image Credit: NerdWallet).

Therefore, the tech platform itself is comprised of three main parts:

  • Content management which “leverages structured data components to showcase our financial guidance to consumers at scale.”
  • Partner access managing “over 400 financial services partners across eight verticals.”
  • Recommendation engine leveraging machine learning to match consumers to financial products and partners that meet their unique needs (e.g. credit card products, our approval odds model determines a consumer’s likelihood of getting approved).

NerdWallet platform’s network effects

NerdWallet claimed network effects: starting from a massive top-of-funnel reach (made of organic traffic campaigns driven by content, branding and marketing campaigns), and as more consumers join the platform, more data is aggregated, thus generating more refined recommendation for users. And with more engagement and trust through the platform (Image Credit: NerdWallet).

More precisely, as more consumers use the platform, the transaction database grows, with more layered recommendations and higher engagement and success rates.

Thus, increasing repeat users’ rates.

As more consumers join and as more data is aggregated and analyzed with the help of machine learning, the platform itself also becomes more valuable to financial service partners.

NerdWallet branding strategy: “Turn to the Nerds”

NerdWallet’s marketing strategy’s top-of-the-funnel is diversified across brand marketing, organic, and performance marketing.

While its bottom of the funnel is skewed toward customer relationship management and communications.

Brand campaigns include campaigns like “Turn to the Nerds:”

NerdWallet revenue generation


NerdWallet makes money via affiliate commissions first and foremost.

In this scenario, a business owning a financial product or service pays NerdWallet to send them new customers.

The exact commission is based on the particular arrangement between NerdWallet and the company it is affiliated with.

The product itself also has a major bearing on the commission.

For example, a new bank account sign-up fee would be next to nothing.

However, the commission for a new mortgage or life insurance account is likely to be a few hundred dollars.


In addition to receiving affiliate income, NerdWallet receives money from some financial institutions in exchange for a review of their services on the company website.

Collecting revenue from endorsements is somewhat of a grey area for consumers, but NerdWallet maintains that such endorsements do not affect their recommendations or advice in any way.

Content strategy

The NerdWallet website is free to use, but the company banks on the fact that approximately 5% of readers will then go on to make a purchase.

This percentage gives Gibson and Chen clarity on the sort of readership they need to attract to hit revenue targets. Indeed, one of the primary reasons for the success of NerdWallet is its prolific content strategy.

During the early years, the company committed to publishing 500 high-quality articles per month.

Over time, this has increased to 1000 articles per month, creating a vast resource backed by authoritative backlinks from related websites.

This focus on organic search traffic is a key component of the NerdWallet revenue generation strategy. It allows them to expand their reach and increase credibility while keeping costs low.

Key takeaways:

  • NerdWallet is an online personal finance comparison website. It was started with just $800 by Tim Chen and Jacob Gibson with the simple goal of reviewing credit card deals.
  • NerdWallet makes nearly all of its money through affiliate marketing. The exact commission depends on the advertised product and the arrangement between NerdWallet and the affiliated company.
  • Approximately 5% of all NerdWallet readers purchase to earn the company affiliate revenue. As a result, the company has a prolific content creation strategy to build authority and increase its reader base with minimal expense.

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