In the years before Amazon reviews, Consumer Reports was the go-to source for all things product-related.
In the age of the internet, Consumer Reports has also created an online presence so people could use the website instead of the magazine.
However, this service comes at a cost.
Now, Consumer Reports charges $10 for a monthly subscription, $39 per year for the digital annual subscription, and $59 per year for all access.
Well, Consumer Reports offers more than just reviews.
Here are ten reasons a subscription is still worth your money.
Is Consumer Reports Worth It? (10 Reasons It Is)
1. No Advertising
One of the many flaws of other product reviews on the Internet is that they are sponsored content.
This means that companies pay writers to create good reviews about their products.
The reviews are therefore not genuine and do not reflect the writer’s real opinion on the product.
These reviews will not include any flaws and will result in people purchasing items under false pretenses.
One of the many benefits of Consumer Reports, on the other hand, is that the site does not advertise, nor does it allow sponsored content.
All product reviews include both pros and cons of the items and are completely honest.
When you buy a Consumer Reports subscription, you are also paying the company for the revenue it would have had to otherwise outsource via sponsored content or advertising.
In addition to the genuine reviews, you will receive an ad-free browsing experience.
2. All Products Are Tested
Every product featured in Consumer Reports is tested by a trained team of evaluators.
They do not simply research products and write about them (like many reviews on the internet today), nor do they sample the products in stores.
Consumer Reports purchases each product so that they can spend hours testing all of its features.
Not to mention, they go through the buyer’s experience as well, so they can inform consumers about the buying process, in addition to warranties, and special add-on offers that they can include with their purchase.
Consumer Reports is especially useful when you are in the market for an expensive item like a new mattress, television, or car.
When looking for these products, unbiased reviews of tried and tested products are simply priceless.
There is no doubt that your subscription will pay off in the long run, especially when making a big investment.
You will likely end up with one of the best products on the market that will last you far longer than other products.
A paid subscription under $60 per year could save you thousands.
3. Updates On Recalls And Maintenance
Another reason Consumer Reports is convenient is that the company consistently updates people on recent recalls and maintenance.
This is especially important when it comes to cars because recalls can be the difference between life and death.
In the online version of the website, you can add products that you own to your inventory, down to the make and model of each item.
When Consumer Reports receives word of a recall or required maintenance on a product that you own, the site will send you a notification.
It can be challenging to keep track of all your products, and especially to keep up with news from manufacturers.
Consumer Reports does this all for you.
The recalls range from vehicles to baby strollers.
This is a service that nearly no other organization provides, and it is vital to your safety.
When a $39-per-year subscription could save your life, the decision to purchase or retain a subscription is a no-brainer.
4. Learn The Best Time To Buy
Consumer Reports can also help you save money.
In their print and digital publications, the company can tell you the best time of year to buy certain products.
In the online version, you can create a free account and click on any appliance—from blood pressure monitors to treadmills and strollers—to find out which month of the year the item goes on sale or can be found at a low price.
This is useful if you are not in any rush to buy something and want to make an informed decision while saving money.
Though December is one of the most popular times of the year to purchase big-ticket items due to Black Friday deals and the holiday season, these sales might not be the best time to buy certain products.
For example, snow blowers typically go on sale in the summer months.
You will probably get a better deal in July than in December.
The Consumer Reports calendar of deals is extremely useful for strategizing the perfect time to make a big purchase.
As a paying subscriber to Consumer Reports, you can get customized “best time to buy“ information based on your product preferences.
5. Keep Your Product Details All In One Place
An added benefit of Consumer Reports is that it acts as a digital archive for all your products.
In the online version of the site, you can select which products you own and save the user manuals to your account.
This way, you do not have to keep track of thick user guides that take up space in your closet.
It is much more user-friendly to keep all your manuals in one place, and then search the guides based on a keyword.
Not only does Consumer Reports help you make an educated buying decision, but it also keeps you organized and aware after you have made the investment.
6. Smartphone App For Ratings On The Go
The Consumer Reports mobile app is a great feature that you can use when you are out and about.
You can download the app on any smartphone, and then you will be able to access ratings and recall information at the touch of a button.
The app is free for all digital and all-access subscribers.
When you are at a store and see a product you like, it is easy to open your Consumer Reports app, find the product and get detailed, data-driven information right then and there.
You will be able to see other recommended products based on your search.
If you are at a store that has multiple options, you can check out what the organization says about the other products.
Additionally, Consumer Reports will show the average price range for any given product.
This is helpful so you can see whether you are getting a good deal or not.
7. TV Screen Optimizer
Sometimes it can be difficult to get the best possible picture on your television.
The color might be slightly off, or the brightness might not work well with the lighting in your room.
Televisions have so many settings that it might be difficult to know where to start.
That is where the Consumer Reports TV screen optimizer comes in.
If you are a Consumer Reports member, this is a free feature.
The optimizer tells you about the best settings for thousands of models of TVs.
You can search by the make and model of your device, and Consumer Reports will tell you the best way to get the optimal picture quality.
Experts fine-tune each television in the lab until it looks its best.
Some features it includes are brightness, color and tint, contrast, sharpness, and high dynamic range capability.
It is simply too challenging to navigate this on your own, so a Consumer Reports membership will help you get the best quality product at optimal performance.
8. In-Depth Research
Consumer Reports hires a team of scientists and specialists from many fields to evaluate the products.
For laptops, they hire an Information Technology team.
For refrigerators, they hire maintenance professionals to evaluate each product and then give their honest opinions.
Of course, they also use the advice of average people, who make up most of the buyer market, to grade each product on its usability and overall experience.
Currently, Consumer Reports employs 140 scientists, researchers, and technicians.
They have 63 product testing labs and a 327-acre auto testing center.
Consumer Reports’s devotion and investment in their reviews are simply unmatched.
While some argue that reviews are easy to find, from users with verified purchases on Amazon and eBay, the expertise and quality testing that goes into the quality assurance process at Consumer Reports cannot be beaten.
9. User Reviews
One of the best parts of Consumer Reports is that it features real user reviews.
In addition to the valuable feedback provided by professional scientists and technicians, Consumer Reports also seeks feedback from average customers.
The company sends surveys to product owners in which they can answer questions about how long they have owned the item, what kinds of problems they have faced with it, whether it is still functional, and if they would recommend it to someone else.
Survey participants are also asked to describe their experience with the product.
Nearly three million people are asked to participate in customer surveys for Consumer Reports each year.
This allows the company to pool a large amount of data, that, when combined with scientific insight, generates a comprehensive product rating.
In addition to these personalized customer surveys, Consumer Reports also sends out national surveys to track American spending habits, attitudes, and behaviors.
They gather information from a diverse population to provide advice to potential buyers and tailor their magazine and digital content to the desires of American shoppers.
Reviews and input from real consumers like you and me make Consumer Reports data and insights even more valuable.
10. Comparisons To Similar Products
Another great feature of Consumer Reports is that it compares similar products on the market.
For example, if you are looking for a new blender, and are specifically interested in the Ninja brand, Consumer Reports will show you the specs of the Ninja in comparison to similar products like the NutriBullet.
You will be able to find all relevant information in the same place, such as the different settings you can use, the price of each product, the size of the blender, and of course, consumer satisfaction.
There will be reviews of each product so you can compare the pros and cons of each product and make an educated decision.
This is also useful for finding models you did not even know existed.
If you’re in the market for a blender with your eye on a Ninja, you can open Consumer Reports and find a similar product, or perhaps one that is even more highly rated, that you did not know about before.
Now that you know why Consumer Reports is worth it, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
1. How Can I Save Money On Consumer Reports?
If you want the benefits of Consumer Reports but are wary about paying a monthly or yearly fee, you can check your local library to see if it subscribes to the magazine.
That way, you can enjoy all the perks of Consumer Reports with nothing but your tax dollars.
Another option is to purchase the Consumer Reports monthly subscription.
You will be able to test it without committing to a full year’s subscription.
If you decide you no longer want to continue, be sure to cancel the subscription before it automatically renews the next month.
If you want to continue with Consumer Reports (which we know you will), you can choose to upgrade your membership to the yearly plan.
2. What Kind Of Subscription Should I Get?
If you are just in the market for one product, you can sign up for a monthly membership.
If you are often looking at high-price items, a yearly membership will serve you better.
In terms of the types of memberships you can get, you can choose to receive the Consumer Reports monthly magazine for $30 per year and you can add the digital-only version for $29 per year.
If you want both, you will pay $59 per year for all access (which is a small price to pay for the wealth of information you will receive).
Our personal recommendation, though, is to go digital.
The Consumer Reports digital platform is great because you can store all your product information in one place.
You can also save certain reviews and products to look back on later.
With the print version, you will have to cut out specific articles or pages, which can get messy or lost.
Not to mention, going digital is also better for the planet.
If you want a digital subscription only, it will cost $39 per year.
3. How Did Consumer Reports Start?
The organization began during a time when consumer rights were severely lacking.
Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing unbiased information about new products on the market.
Since it does not accept ad revenue, Consumer Reports was one of the first businesses to publicly declare the consequences of tobacco use.
In 1958, Congressman John Blatnik commended the organization for helping to expose the corruption in the tobacco industry, where they falsely claimed that filtered cigarettes decreased the toxic intake of tar and nicotine.
4. Who Are Consumer Reports’s Competitors?
Most of Consumer Reports’s competitors are just average consumers who post their reviews online.
Many people say that they trust Amazon and eBay reviews, especially when the purchases are “verified.”
However, Consumerist conducted a study that found a loophole in Amazon’s policy on product reviews, saying that customers can receive free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.
The majority of the reviews achieved through this deal were five-star reviews.
This completely undermines the purpose of an unbiased review that is supposed to be offered freely and without bias.
Another study found that Amazon customers were more likely to highly review premium brand products, probably due to an unconscious bias and consumer loyalty.
Consumer Reports, however, tests and reviews products without taking the brand into account.
Other websites, like The Wirecutter published by The New York Times, also offer reviews, but it is unclear whether they receive ad revenue, therefore undermining the ethos of the reviews.
Angie’s List, also known as Anji is another competitor, and the site states that they provide 100% unbiased reviews, yet 70% of the company’s profit comes from ad revenue.
Consumer Reports has been around for nearly 100 years and is a tried-and-true brand with only the customers’ interests in mind.
The company has always stood independently of corporate interests and ad revenue by offering real opinions on real products that have been thoroughly tested and researched.
In addition to consumer interests and advocacy, Consumer Reports also takes a stand on important issues such as food safety, climate change, data privacy, and financial fairness.
It also provides useful information about coronavirus safety, car safety, and sustainability.
Part of the Consumer Reports website features a variety of opportunities for the public to act.
People can sign petitions requesting companies to be more financially friendly, stop using dangerous chemicals in products, or even tell Congress to mitigate the power of Big Tech.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that offers unbiased, people- and data-driven insights on all the newest products on the market.
The quality of its information is simply unmatched, and for under $60 per year, it is well worth it.