The different ways you could pay your utility bills and save some cash

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Keeping up with multiple bill and repayment dates can be tricky but it's an essential skill to master. We've highlighted the key cash-saving opportunities and shared some guidance on how to stay on top of your payments.

Paying your bills in full, and on time, has a really positive impact on your credit score. It shows you're in control and managing your money well. Missing payments can seriously damage your score which damages your chances of getting affordable borrowing in the future.

Utility bills

Fixed monthly direct debit

Your utility supplier will estimate how much you'll spend over a 12 month period and divide this into monthly installments to be paid by direct debit.

The best thing about choosing this option is that you don't need to worry about missing a bill payment. The money will leave your account on the specified date and you'll still receive a regular bill for your own records. This regularity also makes it easier for you to budget because there's no fluctuation in what you owe, and when.

Utility suppliers may also offer a discount or rewards to their direct debit customers because the risk of you missing a payment is lower.

Variable monthly direct debit

Set up a direct debit for the exact amount you owe rather than relying on your supplier's 12-month estimation.

The issue here is that sometimes a supplier will estimate that you've used more energy than you have and, therefore, charge you more than you truly owe. To avoid this you'll need to submit monthly meter readings to provide your energy supplier with the exact usage. You'll also need to budget for the higher spend in the colder months as you'll probably spend more on heating and electricity.

Quarterly direct debit

This option means setting up a direct debit for the previous three months' energy usage. Without forking out for monthly payments, you can prepare to save up for the quarterly bill.

Some suppliers will still offer a discount for these customers but you're likely to make a bigger saving by opting for the monthly direct debit.

Rather than paying regular, smaller amounts – you'll need to ensure you can afford to part with significantly larger lump-sums. This can be especially painful in the colder months, so you'll need to factor this into your budget.

Pay when you get a bill

You'll receive a bill every three months that you can pay via direct debit, bank transfer, card or cheque. The good thing with this option is that no money is deducted from your bank account without your approval, and some providers offer incentives and rewards for speedy payments.

However, if you're paying by cash or cheque then you'll need to allow enough time for the transaction or delivery to take place so that you don't get charged any late repayment fees. For people paying via cheque, you'll also need to factor in enough time for the bank to process your transaction.

Payment cards

These are issued by your energy supplier for customers who would prefer not to have money deducted from their account via a direct debit.

No money is directly taken out of your account which can leave you feeling more in control of your payments. You can choose a plan and supplier that allows you to make payments when they're most affordable for you; weekly, monthly or fortnightly.

The drawback? This method doesn't allow for online payments so you'll need to make a trip to the Post Office or PayPoint.

Prepay

A prepayment meter means you pay in advance for your energy. You load funds onto a key fob or card in specified retail outlets, which you then insert into the domestic meter. You simply repeat as and when you run out. Some suppliers have apps for customers with prepayment meters, this means you can track your usage and top-up from your phone and ditch the fob/card.

This can be a good option for lower income households who have a patchy credit history since some suppliers won't agree to quarterly or monthly payments if customers have a history of missing payments. However, this is generally the most expensive method of paying for energy.


What next?


- Check your current payment method: Assess how you're currently paying your bills so you can compare against the potential savings you can make by changing your payment method.
  • Switching providers: This may sounds like a big step but it could save you money in the long run.

Our articles cover a wide range of mainstream financial products and employee benefits. Terms and conditions may vary depending on your provider. Please ensure you check the specific terms and conditions of any financial products and employee benefits available to you from your employer.