The factors that influence the selection of a healthcare provider once the decision to seek care has been made can be summarized using a triad of cost, location and reputation. The goal of this study was to identify which of these factors is the primary consideration when women in urban Bo, Sierra Leone, select a healthcare provider for themselves or their children. We interviewed 1091 mothers during a household census of two neighbourhoods of Bo in April 2010. Reputation was the top consideration for about half of the women, cost was the second most common priority, and the location of the healthcare facility was the primary consideration for less than 7% of the participants. The majority of women said they would select a new provider if cost was not a barrier. Socioeconomic characteristics were not significant predictors of whether cost, location or reputation was selected as the highest-ranked consideration. This evidence for the importance of reputation in healthcare decision-making even in low-resource areas highlights the need for health systems to address issues of quality and responsiveness, and not just cost, in order to increase access to and utilization of health services.