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Bargain Hunter: Bargain of the week - Nationwide's net profit

ANYONE HOOKED to the Internet will know how expensive it can be.

It's not just the cost of all those phone calls trying to find those elusive train times for the once-in-a-lifetime journey from New York to San Francisco. It also means a monthly payment to one of the many service providers that access the Net.

Which is where the Nationwide comes in. The building society is launching itself as service provider in its own right. Unlike its rivals, who charge between pounds 8.99 (Tesco) and pounds 17.95 a month (Compuserve), the Nationwide's service will cost pounds 7.50 a month.

Its offer includes the usual come-ons, including a month's free trial, access to standard facilities, up to five e-mail addresses, local call charges and five megabytes of web space for customers to create their own web pages.

The catch? You have to be a Nationwide customer to sign up. But that's no hardship. Stick a few quid into one of its competitive savings accounts and get surfing as your money grows. Call 0800 7316860.