Robinhood, Gamestop highlight problems with 'free' private jet finder services

By Doug Gollan, January 29, 2021

Websites that offer “free” analysis and recommendations of which private jet providers you should use need to make money somewhere. “Free” platforms like Robinhood that make the user the product may be expensive at the end of the day

What does finding the right private jet solution have to do with Robinhood, Gamestop, or for that matter, platforms like Facebook or A Place For Mom? Surprising a lot, and it’s proof free can be costly.

Figuring out the best private aviation solution for your needs can be time-consuming and confusing. There are many claims, and the devil is in the details at the end of the day. There are a growing number of websites that want to help you out, including this one.

In the case of Private Jet Card Comparisons, we charge $250 per year for access. You get our JET CARD DECIDER service. By providing us with some insights about your needs – it takes less than five minutes – we can let you know if a jet card works for you, or other better solutions. We also spotlight specific providers and programs that are the best fit. If you prefer to do it on your own, you have unlimited use of the QUICK COMPARE JET CARD COMPARISONS spreadsheet with easy-to-use filters. It covers more than 50 providers. You can compare programs by over 65 variables. You can also use our exclusive QUICK COMPARE FLIGHT PRICING for specific routes against your charter quotes. Of course, there is a lot of free content on this side of the site.

Simultaneously, “free” private jet solutions websites claim to offer similar services to identify the best solutions for your needs.

This week’s stocky market frenzy around “free” trading platform Robinhood and its decision to shut down its customers from buying GameStop stock left them with two options. Hold or sell. Either way, they found out quickly that free can cost a lot of money.

When you become the product

While it’s unclear exactly why Robinhood had to stop its customers from buying Gamestop, it became clear how it provides traders a free service.

According to the website Vice, Robinhood sells information about its users’ trades before those shares were bought.

The article was titled “Robinhood’s customers are hedge funds like Citadel, its users are the product,” It reports, the company supports its “free” model by “selling user’s trades to other large firms before they are actually executed. Those firms make money by effectively seeing what the retail investors on Robinhood are going to do before they actually do it and acting accordingly. Those firms are basically buying information that then informs their own trades.”

The Financial Times notes, “Citadel Securities pays tens of millions of dollars for this order flow but makes money by automatically taking the other side of the order, then returning to the market to flip the trade. It pockets the difference between the price to buy and sell, known as the spread.”

Biased advice?

Needless to say, there has been much reporting about how Facebook uses data. And then there are lead generation websites like A Place For Mom.

In the case of private aviation, there are a growing number of these “free” sites that promise to help you figure out the best private aviation solutions for your needs.

There’s no problem with lead generation sites, so long as they properly and prominently disclose how they will use your data and how they make their money – before you provide it. But how do they make their money? Does that impact the options they are providing you? And are the recommendations they are providing the best for your needs?

The two common ways lead generation sites to make money are selling your contact information to “partner” private jet companies. Those companies then add you to their email and telemarketing lists. In other cases, they receive lead generation fees if you end up buying.

In either case, there is a clear incentive to monetize you to a provider compensating the site. There is also little incentive to keep the data they provide you for free updated or even accurate. After all, after you give them information about your flying needs and contact information, the imperative is to sell the product – you – to their customers – the private aviation providers.

Most of all – the providers you are guided to – while perhaps being good companies – may not be the best fit for your needs. That could mean booking and cancelation terms that don’t fit your needs – or perhaps, not including where you want to fly in their service area. It might also mean minimums that don’t fit or peak day policies that can unnecessarily cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

About Private Jet Card Comparisons

At any rate, we are often asked about how we work. The answer is simple. We charge $250 for 12 months of access to our database of jet card providers. Last year we did over 60 updates. This year, including our annual top-to-bottom update, we’ve done 15 more updates just in January.

We don’t sell your contact information to third parties. We don’t accept lead generation fees from private jet companies – or any third party.

We want to provide you the broadest number of options. There’s no cost for private jet providers to participate, however, they have to provide the detailed information for our database.

With JET CARD DECIDER 2.0, we can advise you if a jet card is a good fit for you versus other options – and specifically which providers and programs are the best fit – based on your input. We also provide both phone and email support to answer any questions you have as you go through the buying process. Our only goal is to help you identify the right solution and providers – and hopefully, you will refer your friends.

To add a bit more value and encourage you to renew even when you aren’t in the market for private aviation solutions, we recently launched PRIVATE JET CARD COMPARISONS REWARDS. Again, you get perks, upgrades, credits, and discounts. And again, we don’t receive any compensation when you use these offers.

We’re always happy to answer your questions.

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