It sometimes feels like it is hard to turn on the television without finding an advert for yet another comparison site.
These sites make their money by earning commission when you click through them to buy a product or service such as an insurance policy, flight or electronic item.
They can be useful for consumers, as it can otherwise be laborious to compare all of the different offers available from a string of different providers, but the sites are not always comprehensive.
In addition to this, it is possible to end up with a financial product or flight that does not match your need because the site has made assumptions about your circumstances that are incorrect.
Here are some of the best comparison sites available, and some of the ways in which you can use them to save the most money…
Websites to compare flights can help you to bag some bargains, but the extras can soon add up and you need to be very clear about what you want if you’re to snaffle the best prices.
Try Momondo which has the option to add the number of bags you are going to take before you compare, so that you can get the best possible flight price for you.
Kayak has a similar feature, and in both cases you can opt to only see flights on the same day or, usefully, to see flights on dates around the same time, to see if you can get a better deal by travelling a few days later or earlier.
Comparison sites don’t show you all the deals out there, such as package deals from TUI which may be cheaper to some popular holiday destinations (even if you don’t plan to stay in the hotel).
If you do use a comparison site, be careful to check the brand it directs you to to buy the flights, as if anything goes wrong, you will need to try to get a refund from that company.
You can check their customer service record using Trust Pilot. It is worth paying for any flights over £100 with a credit card, since this guarantees that if you cannot get a refund from a flight provider, the credit card company will also be liable to refund you.
There are many comparison sites available for financial products ranging from insurance to savings accounts.
Sites such as moneysupermarket, uswitch, comparethemarket and confused.com allow you to compare products including insurance, energy, broadband and savings.
There are some more specific sites available too. Raisin.co.uk, while strictly a marketplace rather than a comparison site, provides you with a large number of savings accounts with high rates which are not available on the high street.
Some major providers are not listed on comparison sites, including Direct Line, Admiral and NFU Mutual, so it is worth looking at these separately.
Always ensure you’ve read the small print of any financial product you buy to ensure that the product is suitable for your needs.
Customers need to be wary that they are getting the right product for them. The Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates comparison sites for financial products, has said that the sites do not always offer products that meet a customer’s demands and needs.
A good place to check whether the product you are buying, and the provider you are buying from, is good for your needs is Defaqto, which provides independent star ratings for different products. However, you should always check the small print yourself as well.
For travel outside of just flights, there are some other comparison sites to try.
Trivago compares deals from sites including Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda and Love Holidays to help you find your ideal hotel. Tripadvisor offers a similar service.
Another site to check is Holiday Pirates, which offers a selection of holiday deals from different providers, although it is not strictly a comparison site.
You can also find comparison sites for everyday shopping.
For groceries, try Trolley, which compares prices at 15 or more supermarkets and allows you to create lists to compare.
It doesn’t include stores such as Farmfoods and Lidl, but it does include Aldi.
For online shopping try Google Shopping, which allows you to search for specific products and see where they are stocked most cheaply.
Independent competitors Pricespy, Pricerunner and Kelkoo do this too.
This is a very good way to check whether a bargain price on one site, is actually as good a deal as it seems.
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