Loose Change: Surfing for savings

Internet loans and insurance providers this week sought to raise the stakes by saying they will better the deals offered by their offline competitors.

Internet loans and insurance providers this week sought to raise the stakes by saying they will better the deals offered by their offline competitors.

Screentrade, the UK's first internet insurance supermarket, pledged a guarantee to provide the cheapest car, home and travel insurance around, or it will refund the difference.

Users who click onto Screentrade can buy insurance from 22 insurance companies, including big names like Cornhill, AXA and Legal and General and they can choose from a range of 50 products.

Screentrade, which is part of the FTSE 100 software company Misys, displays the best quotes currently on offer on one page of information.

It offers links to the major providers but says its customers can search for and buy a product on its site in about five minutes, which is about the same amount of time as it would take to log on to many of the direct providers.

Customers can search and buy insurance on-line at www.screentrade.co.uk.

Discount loans are also part of the internet offensive available this week. Moneysupermarket, the site which brings together information on the best deals on personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, has launched a new personal loan with Northern Rock. The loan is charged at an APR of 8.7 per cent for amounts ranging between £5,000 and £25,000.

Northern Rock and Moneysupermarket say it is a market leader because it is not tied to payment protection insurance, which is compulsory in many other low interest loans and can hike up costs.

The deal compares to Smile, which is offering a loan on £5,000 over three years at an APR of 9.9 per cent, with compulsory payment protection insurance. Without the insurance the price of the loan rises to 12.9 per cent.

The deal is only available on the internet. To find out more click on to www.moneysupermarket.com.

Meanwhile Chelsea Football Club launched a new personal loan on its internet site. The football club has teamed up with Paragon, the centralised mortgage and personal loan provider, in a deal which is available exclusively through the internet.

The loans - from £1,000 to a maximum of £15,000 - start at 11.9 per cent APR and can be paid back over 10 years. The deal is available to Chelsea season ticket holders and members of the supporters club.

Applications should be made by visiting the club's site at www.chelseafc.co.uk.

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