Price comparison websites have been accused of offering inconsistent results, leaving many people confused about what the best deal is for them.
Consumer watchdog, Which?, says using a single comparison website is not enough to ensure you get the full picture of the market. It checked the three largest price comparison websites (moneysupermarket.com, gocompare.com and confused.com) for various different insurance and credit products, and found in the majority of case the cheapest quote differed between sites.
For example, the cheapest home contents insurance varied from £51 on Gocompare.com to £71 on Confused.com, while the cheapest standard-rate credit card varied from 6.8% APR on moneysupermarket.com to 12.9% APR on gocompare.com.
It found that making true comparisons between products is also leaving consumers perplexed, as different websites ask different questions and show different product features.
And Which? reports that in some cases consumers could get a cheaper quote by contacting the insurer directly.
Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? Money, says the three main comparison websites don’t offer people enough information to allow them to make an informed choice.
He adds: “You need to use two or three comparison sites and check directly with providers to get the best quote, and remember that cheapest isn’t always best – it’s a false economy if you don’t get enough cover for your needs or have to pay a huge excess if you claim.”
Earlier this year the Financial Services Authority launched an investigation into insurance price comparison websites amid fears that they leave people more confused. It found that not all websites provide users with clear information.
Price comparison websites have defended their services in light of the Which? report.
Carlton Hood, chief executive of confused.com, queries the accuracy of the research, and adds: “Which? seems to have overlooked the benefits which price comparison sites have brought to a traditionally complex market.”
Stuart Glendinning, managing director of moneysupermarket.com, agrees. "This is not a comprehensive report from Which? on price comparison sites,” he says.
Moneywise offers users a free Compare and Buy service for insurance products, savings, ISAs, credit cards and loans. We aim to offer you a selection of the best deals on the market, with enough information provided to enable you to make an informed choice.