Which payment method should I choose?
Most suppliers offer a range of different payment methods, allowing customers to find one that works for them. If you are not sure which way to pay then take a look at our list below- we hope it will help.
Monthly Direct Debit
Monthly direct debit will usually be the cheapest way to pay for your energy bills, as most suppliers offer a discount for doing it this way. This is an agreed, set amount that will be taken out of your bank account on the same day of every month. As you use less energy in summer, you should build up a credit balance which will cover your extra energy usage in the winter. If you choose this payment method it is important to keep an eye on your bills, as you may end up with a debt if your winter usage is substantially more than your summer usage.
The exception to this is if you have a smart meter. These new types of meter relay information daily to your supplier so they always know what you are using, and only charge you for that amount. See our Smart meters guide for more information.
Variable Monthly Direct Debit
With a variable direct debit, you only pay for what you use each month, so the amount taken from your bank will be different with each payment. This method of paying your bills requires you to submit monthly meter readings online or by telephone so can be more time consuming, and could also be hard in the winter months when your bill will be higher than at other times in the year.
Quarterly Direct Debit
Quarterly direct debit payment means that you will receive a bill every three months, and the amount will be taken straight out of your bank. The amount you have to pay will be much higher as it covers a longer period, which means that your winter bill could be a shock! Making sure that you provide regular meter readings will make sure that you are only paying for what you use though, which will stop debt building up, or too much money being taken out. Some energy suppliers will still offer a discount for quarterly direct debit customers although it may not be as big as the monthly discount.
Quarterly Cash or Cheque
Paying on receipt of your bill can be a good option for people who live in shared houses, such as friends or students. It allows the bill to be divided between those responsible, without any one person having to take the burden of the money coming out of their account. You will not receive any discounts for paying this way however, so you may want to look at the 'Prompt Pay' section below.
This is where you pay by cash or cheque on receipt of bill, but receive a discount for paying within a set amount of days. For example, if you pay your bill within 14 days of the date on the bill, you may receive 6% off. The discount amount and the prompt pay period will vary from supplier to supplier, so check with your current provider to see what yours is.
Prepayment meters are usually the most expensive way of paying for your gas and electricity. For some people though, this may be the best option, particularly if you struggle to keep on top of your bills. If you have this type of meter, you will not pay in a regular way, as you will top up your meter as and when required. You will almost certainly not receive any discount as a prepayment customer.
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