UAE residents are becoming increasingly aware of the many advantages of ‘comparing before committing’. This is a clearly visible trend based on the latest findings by Souqalmal.com, the UAE’s #1 financial comparison website.

An analysis of the number of visits on Souqalmal.com revealed that more people are now making use of product information and comparison tools on the website when making important financial decisions, be it for doing research before choosing a financial product or applying for it online.

Personal loans are the most sought after personal finance product online, closely followed by credit cards, accounts, and car and health insurance.

Personal loans most visited product category

Personal loans became the most sought after product on Souqalmal.com, making up one third of all visits on the website in 2015. The number of visits also grew by a massive 125 percent since 2014. As per the latest banking statistics from the UAE Central bank, total loans to UAE residents have grown by about 5 percent year-on-year.

Non-salary transfer loans were more popular than their mandatory salary transfer counterparts. This could be due to borrowers who already have debt at other banks, therefore they can’t transfer their salary to the bank they want to take a personal loan from. There are also those employees who are paid their salaries via cash or cheque, which makes it difficult for them to prove a salary transfer to the lending bank.

Such customers, therefore, have to resort to non-salary transfer loans, which are offered at much higher interest rates, due to banks considering such applicants as high-risk borrowers.

[Related: 80% of personal loans are for salaries of AED 10,000 or lower]

Credit cards take the second spot, with a steep rise in visits

Visits on the credit card pages on Souqalmal.com increased by 241 percent in 2015, making credit cards the second most-visited product on the website. Credit cards made up a big chunk of overall visits on the website, constituting 22 percent of total visits in 2015.

According to UAE Central Bank, credit card point-of-sale transactions have been growing by over 24 percent year-on-year since 2010. This is a clear indication that more people are now using credit cards as a mode of payment in the UAE.

Within credit cards, cashback is the most popular loyalty reward based on the number of visits for each card category on Souqalmal.com. Cinema rewards and air miles also follow closely. While the former offers cardholders ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ movie tickets, discounts on popcorn, beverages and such, air miles-linked credit cards allow users to convert their card spend into flight tickets. Of all credit cards cards listed on Souqalmal.com, 32 percent offer cashback, 46 percent offer miles and 27 percent offer movie rewards.

[Related: 67% of credit cards are for salaries under AED 10,000]

Savings accounts and fixed deposits increasing in popularity

UAE residents are also looking to maximize returns on their savings. With money lying idle in current accounts and not earning any returns, more and more people are looking towards savings accounts and fixed deposits to earn interest or profit on their savings.

On average fixed deposits, when taking into consideration varying tenures, earn about 1 percent in interest/profit per annum, savings accounts can earn an average return of about 0.60% annually.

The accounts product category, made up an overall 14 percent share of all visits on the website in 2015. The number of visits had almost doubled since 2014.

Insurance page visits five times higher in 2015

Visits on the insurance pages at Souqalmal.com formed 13 percent of total visits on the website. Insurance page visits also registered the highest increase across all product categories in 2015, growing five-fold in one year.

Among various types of insurance products, car insurance and health insurance together made up over 80 percent of the visits. The increase in health insurance visits can be ascribed to the mandatory health insurance requirement under the new law introduced by Dubai Health Authority last year.

Mortgage category visits stabilize in 2015

Mortgages, when compared to other product categories on the site, witnessed the lowest increase in visits in 2015. This lull in popularity could be because of the UAE real estate market continuing to stabilize in 2015.

In late 2013, mortgage lending regulations were tightened by the UAE Central Bank to curb speculation in the market. With such regulations having a direct impact on potential mortgage borrowers, this could be a reason why mortgages emerged as the least popular product in 2015.

All product categories combined, Souqalmal.com registered a significant increase of 175 percent in overall visits on the website in 2015, as compared to the previous year. This goes to show that more people are now making use of product comparison when looking for and researching about various personal finance products in the UAE.

You can browse through over 294 accounts, 245 credit cards, 90 personal loans, 48 health insurance plans and 18 car insurance policies in the UAE.