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From credit cards to home loans, compare online and save! | Updated: 5:18:53 PM, Monday September 12, 2011
By Andrew Burger From credit cards to home loans, compare online and save!

From interest rates to annual fees, rewards programs and penalties, a new breed of financial comparison sites put the consumer back in the driving seat.

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We all love money, but somehow there’s a distinct lack of romance in credit card fine print or home loan contracts. So for a long time we’ve been faced with a choice: either wade into the bank jargon to figure out the fees, conditions and tricks and piece together the best deal on the market – or give up and go for the jingliest ad campaign that morning.

Since the banks also love money, they have an incentive to keep the fine print deep and thick, precisely to discourage financial waders. And it works. Australians pay over $1billion every year just in penalty fees – that is, for failing to meet their banks’ terms and conditions.

These day, most of us are used to shopping around online to compare flights, fridges and everything in between, but the savings we make with such consumer smarts are often dwarfed by overpaying for basic bank services.

Thankfully, there’s a silver lining to this dark financial cloud. Because credit cards, home loans, savings accounts and the like are so difficult to compare, a market has sprung up to do it for us.

Enter the financial comparison website.

Where comparing hundreds of interest rates, annual fees, rewards programs and penalties to find the best credit card deal was simply impossible for the average Australian, comparison sites deliver that verdict in seconds – for free. The same goes for home loans, where a more competitive interest rate can save up to $2,500 a year, every year, over the duration of the average mortgage.

Independent finance comparison sites such as our compare dealsMozo, Infochoice and Canstar not only allow consumers to find the top offers, they reward banks for competing on price rather than on million-dollar marketing campaigns. So we’ve already seen bank wars on high interest accounts and term deposits, and the mortgage market is firing up.

The Big Four banks alone made over $20billion in profits last year. They can afford a little competition and when consumers have all the info, the best product wins.

Editors note: BigPond Money has launched a financial comparison service of its own. Our compare deals section brings banking transparency to a wide audience and is powered by Mozo’s extensive comparison database.  The numbers have been crunched and the fine-print code cracked to reveal who’s working hardest for your money.

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