Now in its 14th year, Money magazine’s annual Best of the Best awards has narrowed down Australia’s best financial products, services and investments for 2015.
With thousands of products from hundreds of different institutions, Money – with the assistance of our research partners – has identified over 110 gold-winning products.
Here’s a little taste of Money’s Best of the Best categories and winners for 2015:
Cheapest Car Insurance: Budget Direct
Money says: Last year’s winner in this category, Budget Direct, has taken gold again. Consecutive wins deserves congratulations, as it shows a commitment to being competitive.
Cheapest Home Loans: UBank (Bank); loans.com.au (Non-Bank)
Money says: An intensely competitive mortgage market is forcing down the cost of home loans, and as the winners in this category confirm it pays to look beyond your regular bank for a red-hot rate.
Best Innovative Banking Apps: CommBank, St George and Westpac
Money says: Aside from the basics of mobile banking, this app turns your mobile into a wallet. It allows you to withdraw cash from an ATM directly from your phone and there’s a “lock, block and limit” feature that puts security back in the palm of your hand.
Best innovative Banking Apps: St George
Money says: Check and track your account balances before making a purchase and get directions to the nearest St George Group ATM/branch – all from your wrist watch and without the need to pick up your smartphone.
Best Innovative Online Banking Service: Westpac
Money says: Gives you your complete banking picture on one website by enabling you to link non-Westpac bank accounts to the Westpac website. This external accounts functionality is available for 129 institutions across a variety of industries – not just banking. It’s a first for an Australian bank to offer.
Cheapest Home Loan Packages: Suncorp (Bank); Gateway Credit Union (Non-Bank)
Money says: Suncorp has streaked ahead this year, rising from third place in 2014 with its Home Package Plus. Gateway Credit Union also packs plenty of extras into its Premium Package.
Best Kids’ Savings Accounts: Suncorp (Bank); First Option Credit Union (Non-Bank)
Money says: Suncorp nabbed top spot among the banks. Its account comes with some flexibility, allowing one withdrawal a month. Interest is calculated daily and paid into the account monthly. First Option CU’s Kids’ Bonus Saver, picks up gold for the second year running.
Best Savings Accounts: Delphi Bank (Bank); Newcastle Permanent (Non-Bank)
Money says: In this low-rate environment, getting a good return on your savings is more important than ever. Of all our contenders, the non-bank winner, Newcastle Permanent Online Savings Account, has the best average two-year return. The same account came up trumps in this category last year too.
Best Rewards Credit Cards: ANZ(Bank); Coles (Non-Bank)
Money says: The clear front runner in this category is the non-bank Coles Rewards MasterCard linked to Coles’ flybuys scheme . This card may offer maximum benefit for consumers who regularly shop at participating Coles group outlets, which includes Kmart and Target.
Best Frequent Flyer Credit Cards: NAB (International); NAB (Domestic)
Money says: National Australia Bank has streaked ahead in this card category, nudging out American Express, which had dominated this award for several years.
Best-value Mobile Plans – High Usage: Jeenee Mobile
Money says: For $35 a month on its Large Sim Pack, you receive $650 worth of standard national calls, 3GB data and unlimited texts. A standard national call for two minutes, including flagfall, costs $2.15.
Best-value Broadband Bundled: Exetel
Money says: Exetel, offers a 100GB plan bundled with ExeChat Plus for $59.98 a month. With the ExeChat Plus option, local, national and Australian mobile calls are unlimited.
Lowest-Cost Balanced Super Funds: HOSTPLUS
Money says: HOSTPLUS keeps costs down by using low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs). In addition to an administration fee of $1.50 a week, there is a low annual investment management charge.
Cheapest Home and Contents Insurance: AAMI
Money says: This year’s winning policy provides flood cover for home and contents, and if an insured event damages your home to the extent you can no longer live in it, AAMI will pay for up to 12 months of temporary accommodation while repairs take place.
Cheapest Personal Loans: Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank (Bank); Newcastle Permanent (Non-bank)
Money says: Newcastle Permanent’s unsecured personal loan is surprisingly flexible with zero monthly fees whilst Victoria’s Teachers Mutual punches above its weight in terms of features.