APR rates could mislead customers

Relying solely on advertised APR rates to choose the best deal on a loan could mislead borrowers into picking the most expensive product on the market rather than the cheapest, warns online financial data comparison site Moneynet.co.uk.

Richard Brown, chief executive of Moneynet, says: “Consumers are led to believe that the cheapest loan is the one with the lowest APR. But this is far from the truth borrowers should be aware that a loan package does not always do what it says on the tin.”

The reason for this is that the APR simply reflects the cost of the credit without taking into account the cost of other add-ons such as payment protection insurance and early repayment penalties and its these extras that earn the loan provider their commission.

Brown adds: “This enables them to advertise what looks like a competitive rate to attract customers. Then once the applicant is convinced they have found a great deal the commission-hungry provider will make every attempt to sell them PPI, thus increasing their margin via the back door.”

Moneynet say borrowers should look beyond the APR and ensure they get all the facts before buying.

Brown says: “No-one likes reading the small print but not bothering can mean a loan ends up costing a huge amount more than expected.”

Payment protection insurance can be a lifesaver for those unfortunate enough to need it but can also be a very expensive white elephant if it doesnt pay out. Consumers must understand exactly what they are covered for and the terms of the cover if they are to avoid paying for something which is of no benefit.

Early repayment penalties can also be a sting in the tail. Its natural to only consider the present when applying for a loan the money is needed now but should it be possible in the future to pay the loan off early there will be no saving to be made if the small print demands a penalty.

Brown adds: “These ploys are not confined to a few small-time lenders. Hiding behind the friendly faces of many of the high street institutions is the grim reality of commission-greedy providers lining their own pockets.”