- AT&T, Venmo, and Cash App have the longest fine print.
- Fine print has an average word count of 10,835.
- It takes an average of 54 minutes to read fine print.
- TripAdvisor, Twitch, and TaskRabbit have the most difficult fine print.
- Booking.com was the only company whose fine print is “fairly easy” to read.
Companies with the longest fine print
Whether you’re downloading a new app, buying stuff, or signing up for something, there’s almost always some fine print included. The words asking for your agreement typically come across as a bunch of complicated rules and explanations that seem daunting to interpret, especially when they appear neverending.
After analyzing the fine print for 100 major companies, we found that the companies with the longest fine print are AT&T, Venmo, and Cash App. These companies have fine print that would take the average adult American, reading at 200 words per minute, between two hours thirty-nine minutes and four hours forty-three minutes to read.
To put that number into perspective, from the 100 companies we looked at, we found the average reading time for fine print to be 54 minutes and the average word count to be 10,385. In comparison, the fine print for AT&T, Venmo, and Cash App, have word counts between 30,000 and 56,000.
On the other end of the spectrum, Allstate, Alibaba, and Delta Airlines are the companies with the shortest fine print, with reading times under 10 minutes.
Companies whose fine print is most difficult to read
Not only can fine print be long to read, but the words themselves can also be complex. To find out just how difficult, we ran each company’s fine print through a formula that determined the difficulty of the text.
Using the Flesch Reading Ease Formula, each company’s text was provided a score on a scale of 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating easier readability. To assign the score, the formula takes into account the sentence length and word length. Along with a score, the formula provides a label from a scale of very easy to very difficult.
The companies with the most difficult fine print are TripAdvisor, Twitch, and TaskRabbit. These three companies have fine print that is labeled by the formula as very difficult.
On the flip side, Booking.com was the only company whose fine print is “fairly easy” to read. The travel booking site got a reading ease score of 62.48. Fine print for TransferWise and Google Pay also ranked in the top three easiest to read.
Fine print by category
To gain a better understanding of fine print across companies, we categorized each company and then looked at their category averages. We divided our companies into ten different categories: consumer service, dating, finance, health/fitness, music/TV streaming, phone/insurance, shopping, social media, tech/miscellaneous, and travel. For each category, we looked at the average reading time and the average word count.
On average, companies in the dating category have the longest fine print, with an average word count of 15,420 and an average reading time of 1 hour and 17 min. On the other end, companies in the health/fitness category have the shortest fine print, with an average word count of 6,501 and an average reading time of 32 minutes.
Within each category, we also determined the company in that category that had the longest fine print and the one that had the most difficult fine print. TaskRabbit, Grindr, Venmno, myfitnesspal, HBO Max, AT&T, Target, Snapchat, Indeed, and Airbnb have the longest fine print of their categories. For reading difficulty, TaskRabbit, Grindr, Robinhood, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Spotify, Verizon, eBay, Twitch, Indeed, and TripAdvisor have the most confusing fine print of their categories.
Although they are often long and difficult to read, you should always review a company’s fine print before you use their service or product. The words typically reveal how a company handles your personal data, what permissions you’re granting, and the terms that govern your relationship with them.
Ignoring this text can have significant consequences from data breaches, privacy infringements, and missed updates that can impact your security. For more tips on how to keep your data safe or to find customized data recovery services, check out Secure Data Recovery.
On August 23, 2023, we analyzed the fine print for 100 major companies. Using the word count, we calculated how long it would take someone to read the text based on the average reading rate of an adult, 200 words per minute. Then, we used the Flesch Reading Ease Formula to calculate the reading difficulty for each company's fine print. The formula provides a score on a scale of 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating easier readability. To assign the score, it takes into account the sentence length and word length. The formula scores text using the following scale:
- 90–100: Very Easy
- 70–89: Easy
- 60–69: Fairly Easy
- 50–-59: Standard
- 30–49: Difficult
- 0–29: Very Difficult
To be fair we only looked at words in the fine print that would pertain to a typical customer and not a business customer. While we have taken measures to ensure the accuracy of these word counts, there may be slight variations in the actual word count.