Consumers should make a new year's resolution to overhaul their finances if they want make sure they are receiving the best deal, from savings accounts to car insurance, according to Which?
The consumer watchdog warns that Brits could be missing out on valuable savings by failing to shop around and compare different deals, and they could save as much as £1,000 by turning over a new financial leaf in 2010.
Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? Magazine, says: "If you make just one New Year's resolution this year, make it that you'll face your finances head on. Check what you're paying for goods and services, and shop around for the best deals."
Returns from savings accounts have plummeted in line with the base rate, and many consumers have not bothered to find a better rate after theirs has been slashed; analysis of the savings account market has led Which? to believe that any saver who is not earning at least three per cent on their balance should compare savings accounts and switch to a new one.
The same goes for ISAs, which have also been hit, and anyone earning less than 2.5 per cent is not getting the best deal available, Which? warns, along with current account customers who could get a much better deal by switching.
Insurance premiums, from car insurance to home insurance, varies greatly in price and there are a lot of savings to be made by shopping around. There are also benefits such as online discounts and other special offers which can help to keep premiums down. Staying with an existing provider could prove a waste of money, Which? explains, because insurers usually increase premiums at each renewal.
Expensive credit cards can be a drain on the finances, the watchdog suggests, with average rates of 17 per cent; credit card customers could reduce their rate to zero per cent by shopping around, cutting the cost of a £3,000 balance by up to £500 a year.
Which? has estimated that householders who have always had the same gas and electricity provider could save an average £263 a year by switching energy supplier in the current market, and could save even more by insulating their home.
Consumers could also be paying over the odds for their other utilities, Which? adds, such as broadband, TV and phone packages, with various deals available for those who are willing to shop around.
Mr Hocking added that consumers should not be content with second best when it comes to quality as well as price – "Don't settle for mediocre service," he said, "vote with your feet and take your business elsewhere if you're not happy."
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