Here are the financial companies that have provided the best products and service this year.
The votes are in and have been counted, our judges have had their say, so now it’s time to reveal the winners of the lovemoney Money Champions 2014.
This year, we did things slightly differently than in the past with our annual awards. As well as collating thousands of your votes via both lovemoney and AOL.co.uk, we also convened a panel of industry experts to offer their judgment on who they think offered exceptional financial products and services this year.
The judges were presented with shortlists based on the public votes, although in many cases the winner was clear already and it was just a matter of the judges rubberstamping it.
So, without further ado, here’s who won what.
Best current account provider
Honourable mentions: First Direct, Santander
Banks and building societies have considerably stepped up their game recently, mainly as a response to the launch of the seven-day account switching service.
And it was a close category, just edged by Nationwide, which has a more consistent current account offering, with good interest rates, decent overdrafts, and a very good customer service score. For example, its FlexDirect offers a whopping 5% interest on balances up to £2,500 for the first 12 months, while the FlexAccount includes free European multi-trip travel insurance.
As always, First Direct scored exceptionally highly for both its online/mobile banking and customer service but not so well for the actual account itself. And Santander also scored highly across all criteria, but not as highly as Nationwide.
Best credit card provider
Honourable mentions: American Express, John Lewis, Nationwide
This is another very competitive area at the moment. And Santander, which has just improved its offering again by revamping the 123 card and launching a new 15-month 0% balance transfer card with no fee, takes the crown.
Its mix of cashback, 0% purchase and now balance transfer cards means it arguably has the best range of any credit card provider, just ahead of American Express and Nationwide plus the perennial favourite the John Lewis Partnership card.
Best savings account provider
Winner: First Direct
The fact that even the winner scored fairly low marks in this category shows the disappointment savers are feeling in the current world of low savings interest rates. But First Direct has taken the title this year, mainly probable due to its 6% regular saver, although that is only open to 1st account holders.
Best Cash ISA provider
Winner: Coventry Building Society
As with savings, the scores were fairly low across the board, but Coventry has absolutely stood out from the crowd here for some time. Not only has it offered market-leading ISAs but it has also rewarded savers who’ve been with the building society for a while with exclusive rates.
Best personal loan provider
Honourable mention: Sainsbury’s Bank
As with current accounts and credit cards, competition in the personal loan market has been fierce with a number of providers battling to offer the lowest rate.
However, Santander wins by virtue of scoring highly in every department, from interest rate to flexibility to customer service.
Best mortgage provider
A very comfortable win for Nationwide, which has offered a range of excellent mortgage options and rewarded current borrowers with exclusive rates. It also scored very highly for customer service too, which can be a very important element of arranging a mortgage.
Best car insurer
Aviva was the clear winner based on survey results, achieving strong scores across price, policy and customer service.
Best investment platform
Winner: Interactive Investor
Honourable mention: Hargreaves Lansdown
A new category for this year, and a very close one at that, with no platform really sweeping the board when it came to the three criteria we asked you to vote on: ease of use, price, and customer service.
You were generally not impressed by the prices many platforms charged, which is where Interactive Investor stood out, though it also scored well for the other two. Hargreaves Lansdown scored well for ease of use and customer service but not so well for price, and we think that is a key consideration for investors.
Thank you for all your votes. We'll be announcing the winner of the iPad Mini in the new year.
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