Banks offering a raw deal to offline consumersFour million UK savers could be missing out

26 September 2010

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Britons without internet access or who simply prefer not to bank online are missing out on the best rates for financial products, according to new research by Which?.

The investigation uncovered that an online saver could be £375 better off over the course of a year compared with a branch-only saver. It also found the average rate for instant-access savings accounts available in-branch to be just 0.56%, less than half of that available to online savers (1.14%). Fixed-rate savings accounts and cash Isas also offered a much better range of best-rate products for online savers.

With figures from the Department for Work and Pensions showing that four million people in the UK are digitally excluded, either because they can’t afford or don’t have internet access, it appears the banking industry is treating its offline customers unfairly.

Which? investigates best savings deals

For the two savers, Which? compared the difference in interest earned over a year for the following third best branch- and internet-based products: £30,000 in an easy-access savings account, £10,000 in a fixed-rate savings account, £10,000 in a cash Isa, and £1,000 in a current account. The online saver was found to be 37% better off than the branch-only saver over a year, meaning those without internet access or who prefer to manage their finances face-to-face are losing out on many of the best deals.

Travel insurance market no better

What’s more, the research found a whopping 355% difference between the best online and best branch-only deal for travel insurance. For example, a 65-year old would pay £38 for an annual worldwide policy with Best Buy insurer, yet the Best Buy on the high street - Co-operative Insurance’s Home Options policy - cost £173.

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, commented: 'Not everyone is comfortable or able to manage their finances online and these people are missing out on the best deals as a result. Banks should be more inclusive by offering terminals in branches where customers could access online deals, with some help from staff.'

Which? Best Rate savings accounts

Which? compares savings accounts based on stringent criteria in order to help you make the most of your money. We look at standard savings accounts as well as fixed rate savings accounts and cash Isas. 

For more information on savings accounts and how to choose the right one for you, read the Which? Savings accounts explained advice guide.

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