Using comparison websites

Comparing apples with apples

Comparison websites can be helpful when you're shopping around for insurance, credit cards, home loans, investments or bank accounts. Here we explain the limitations of comparison websites and things to keep in mind when you use them.

Using comparison websites

Here's how we suggest you use comparison websites.

  • Identify key features to compare - Before you start searching you should work out what you want and what features you are going to compare (e.g. fees, interest rates).
  • Shop around - Go direct to providers' websites and to comparison websites and compare the key features.
  • Make a short list - Identify the top results based on your search.
  • Get more detail - Compare the top one or two results by reading the relevant product disclosure statement or other detailed document outlining the features and fees.
  • Make an informed decision - Once you've made your decision contact the provider to see how to apply or invest. Ask lots of questions until you feel completely informed.

Limitations of comparison websites

When using any comparison website keep in mind that:

  • Comparison websites are businesses that make money in various ways, sometimes through sponsored or promoted links and commissions.
  • Most comparison sites only cover a portion of the market, not the whole market.
  • The search results may show sponsored links ahead of non-sponsored results that may offer a better deal.
  • Ratings and rankings on comparison sites are sometimes given without a clear explanation, so it's important to find out how the ratings work and compare with other sites.

When using insurance comparison websites be aware that:

  • Some comparison websites have a relationship to the issuer/provider being compared, and this may not be clearly explained.
  • Price is NOT the be-all and end-all. Price is only one feature. The most important thing is that you have the right type and level of cover.

Using comparison websites is a good way to see what is available to you. But you should check the details so you're comparing apples with apples.

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Last updated: 20 Jun 2017