Consumer Reports Product Testing Details

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crmagVox has an in-depth look at Consumer Reports, including their continued efforts at staying unbiased, rigorous testing methods, and their future financial outlook.

To ensure they’re getting the same thing you’d buy at a store, they buy all of these products anonymously, at full retail price. To maintain independence, they don’t run any ads in their print magazine or on their website and don’t even allow manufacturers to trumpet positive test results in their own ads elsewhere. For many of these products, Consumer Reports is literally the only group testing this thoroughly — and in some cases, they’ve noticed potentially dangerous defects and alerted manufacturers or regulators to issue recalls.

I have been a Consumer Reports subscriber on and off for years, and my parents also subscribed to it when I was a kid. I love their info when buying appliances, but when I’m not making any major purchases the unread issues tend to stack up in a big pile that whispers “I’m wasted money!”. Their constant reminders to renew just serve as reminders that I am not using what I’m paying for. So I cancel. Consumer Reports must have a very frugal client base, so I bet I’m not the only one that thinks like this.

Then I read stuff like this and I want to subscribe again. That’s my cycle. The print subscription is $29 a year. Adding an online access costs $20 a year, making it $49 a year. This is handy when I need car seat reviews or something specific. Getting the online access alone is $30 a year or $6.95 a month. A la carte is probably the best option for me, but as an American I love everything to be “unlimited”. 🙂

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

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  1. Wow that’s great they take the high ground, especially considering how much money they can make via advertising. I haven’t used Consumer Reports before (no big purchases necessitating it yet) but this makes me like them enough to consider it for next time.

  2. Jonathan, if you will forgive a little blatant self-promotion here, I routinely post deals on Consumer Reports for $19.95 per year. That’s good for new subscriptions, renewals and gift subscriptions, and it includes both print and digital access. (You can lock this price in for a renewal, even if you bought a subscription through a different site.) The next time I’m going to have a deal like that on will be Sunday morning (1/25/15), fyi. My apologies again for self-promoting on your site, but I felt physical pain when I read how much you paid for a CR subscription. Ouch,

  3. Our local library has the on-line version for free! You just log in with your library card number and you have free access to a whole slew of things from Consumer Reports to online foreign language classes. It’s such a great service. Not sure if your local library offers this or not, but it’s worth a look.

  4. First let me say that I have followed your column for years and appreciate all the great information — so thank you very much. Just a comment about the above statement, “Getting the online access alone is $30 a year or $6.95 a month.” — That would be $2.50 a month. I like the work of Consumer Reports and very happy that they continue their excellent work.

  5. While noble I think their biz model in the long run will not work in today’s Internet in which much info is free.

    • Let me add whenever I do use their service I found they have product reviews that are frequently no longer in existence. This applies especially to consumer electronics and appliances. So you have to still somewhat guess if the model you are getting is good based upon similar models they’ve reviewed.

  6. Depending on where you live, your local library may give you free access to the paid subscription offerings on Consumer Reports’ Online website.

    • This. Our local library offers a print subscription and access to the online database. Granted we are still “paying” via our property taxes that support the library…

  7. I’ve been a Consumer Reports subscriber for years. I use it for major purchases, sure, but if that’s the only time you check it, you’re missing out. It’s full of advice on how to be a smarter shopper for the small stuff too (groceries, health care items, household stuff). I tend to add the online piece a la carte, only when I have something specific to check.

  8. I also use Wondering your take on their website. I find it useful and it’s free.

  9. Alberto Morales says

    Where I live (Portland, Maine) all residents have free access to consumer reports online through the library system. I don’t think many people know this and I do believe it is true of other states. FYI

  10. Wow, it is more expensive for the online copy than the print. I guess they use some pricey servers. That is always a fine selling point. This magazine is one of few that makes me want to subscribe, but I always seem to never pull the trigger.

  11. We just sign up online for a month and review what we are looking to buy. It’s like $5.00.

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