Top tips for getting the most out of your money online

There is no question that money is going digital, with the pandemic speeding the switch away from cash. But how can you make your money go further in a digital world? Here are some ideas to help you stay safe and get the most out of your money online.

Internet usage has surged during the pandemic, from online food shopping to banking and much more. Among older age groups in particular, Age UK has found many who may not have used online services before are now doing so, with one in four (24%) pensioners using the internet more in 2020 than the year before. But like all things, there are pros and cons, especially when it comes to handling your finances online. While using the internet can be very easy and efficient, it also opens up risks to things like scammers and making inadvertent mistakes. Luckily, there are some steps we can all take to stay safe online, and to get the most out of the internet for our hard-earned money.

Take advantage of online tools

When it comes to taking out financial products such as loans or credit cards, the internet is your friend. Gone are the days of nervy conversations with credit card companies and accidental marks on your credit file. Instead, there is now a plethora of online tools that perform so-called ‘soft checks’ that will help you understand whether you are eligible for certain products based on your credit history. There are several to choose from, but in particular we like MoneySavingExpert’s as it is a trustworthy financial brand.

Keep an eye on your credit history

Speaking of credit histories, keeping yours in check is also vital. It is no secret that often, the big credit checking firms like Experian and Equifax make mistakes on individual’s’ credit files. It could be that your address is listed slightly wrong, or information such as the electoral register is missing. Unfortunately, this can have a significant impact on your credit history. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on it – while some services charge for you to see your history on a regular basis, others, such as ClearScore or CreditKarma, give you free monthly access to your report.

Use comparison sites

Price comparison sites sometimes have a mixed reputation but for the most part they are extremely useful ways to hunt down the best deals online. From mobile phone contracts to insurance, you can find the cheapest deals possible on these websites. The trick is to not necessarily buy the very cheapest product on offer though. The cheapest deals will often come with caveats, but if you read the small print and weigh up the benefits of new policies, comparison sites can make shopping around very efficient. We’d recommend looking on the comparison site, then comparing directly with the providers that get listed – sometimes even better deals can emerge, and then you have a comparative price to think about too. Good comparison sites we like include Moneysupermarket, uSwitch and GoCompare.

If in doubt, step away

Financial scams are a big problem with the internet these days. All it takes is for you to click the wrong link or reply to the wrong email and the losses could be devastating. Therefore, the safest way to navigate the internet can be to step away from the offer or deal you’ve just seen and then try the old-fashioned way by calling up a provider if you want to know more. If you’re contacted by someone who seems to be from a reputable company out of the blue, tell them you’d rather discuss what they want to speak about at a different time. If you are the one making contact rather than them, you can make sure you are in control of the conversation. The message more broadly is to always have your guard up. The internet has given us all access to an array of options and choice has never been greater, but unscrupulous people are a fact of life.