As an expat, you’ll probably be used to shopping around online for virtually everything. Flights, currencies, entertainment, insurance, and everyday items all feature heavily on the most widely-used comparison sites, with each one claiming to show you the best value deals.
Buying goods and services directly from the provider, we are told, is more expensive and denies the consumer the opportunity to see if competitors are selling their services for less.
But do comparison sites really offer the best deals across all industries and sectors? Read on to find out.
Flight Comparison Sites: A Mixed Bag
One of the most commonly-used types of comparison site is flight comparison platforms such as Kayak and Skyscanner.
Their popularity largely stems from the notoriously artificial pricing methods used by different airlines, so travellers often know that they can get the same flight for two very different prices depending on the vendor.
While these typically have been proven to save costs, the sites themselves are not exactly objective providers of pricing data. This is best demonstrated by CheapFlightsFinder, which is a comparison site of comparison sites. Here you can all of the prices advertised as the “cheapest” option across the major comparison sites. It will often show that these sites all offer completely different rates on the same flight, and allow you to choose the cheapest.
Online Casino Comparison Sites: A Safe Bet
One positive example from the price comparison industry concerns online casinos. The surging popularity of online slots in recent years has encouraged the growth of an entire industry dedicated to finding online gamblers the best deals.
All online casinos offer free real-money gaming in an attempt to attract new customers, but some sites feature much better deals than others.
Anyone hoping to get the best deal on free spins offers, for instance, is much more likely to save money if they choose a well-known price comparison site, as these sites are more “objective” in that they simply show all of the platforms that offer free games and provide details about the deals on offer.
Although a little more niche than flights or insurance, online casino comparison sites are a good example of what you should look for in any comparison site: transparency, simplicity, and a focus on the customer above all else.
Insurance Comparison Sites: Hidden Fees
Insurance comparison sites such as Money Supermarket are among the most widely-used services in the UK. While their pricing data is largely accurate, this doesn’t mean that using such a site will actually get you a better deal on insurance.
All of the major price comparison sites factor hefty commission fees into their service, which can range from anything between 5-30%.
This is why car insurance from Admiral, for example, costs less when you buy directly from them than it does from any of the major price comparison sites. If you’re trying to squeeze every single penny when searching for insurance, price comparison sites may not be for you.
No one likes to feel like they’ve been ripped off. While price comparison sites offer a remedy to this, it’s clear that some industries need to improve their behaviour on this front. Always shop around before buying anything, but do so with the knowledge that some websites do not do exactly what they say on the tin.