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Payment Options – How and where to pay

How and where to pay the bill

There are a number of different ways you can pay your gas or electricity bill, and a number of different places you can do it.

Direct debit – paying gas and electricity bills monthly or quarterly by direct debit from a bank account.

Standing order – paying gas and electricity bills monthly or quarterly by standing order from a bank account but this needs to be arranged with the supplier first.

Debit or credit card – to pay gas and electricity bills over the phone.

Telephone or internet banking – paying gas and electricity bills this way means you need the sort code and account number of the supplier, plus the gas/ electricity account number. The information needed is on the back of gas and electricity bills.

By post – if paying gas and electricity bills by post make the cheque payable to the supplier as worded on the bill and write the gas / electricity account number on the back. Send the cheque to the address printed on the back of the gas and electricity bills.

Post Office – paying the gas and electricity bills at the Post Office, but there may be a charge for this service.

Bank or Building Society – paying the gas and electricity bills by cash or cheque at the bank or building society, but there may be a charge for this service. Cheques should be made payable to the supplier as named on the bill and the gas/ electricity account number should be written on the back.

Payment cards – the supplier issues the consumer with a payment card (sometimes referred to as an ‘Energycard’) that enables them to pay their energy bills at any PayPoint or Post Office. Payment cards differ between energy suppliers. Some enable consumers to make flexible payments throughout the year (even before receiving a bill); others are used to make set regular payments. Payment cards can be a good option for those are looking for a convenient way to make cash payments.

Prepayment meters – the supplier will have an arrangement for their customers to buy electricity or gas, using a key or card from one or more of the following:

  •  outlets with PayPoint – check the postcode finder on the PayPoint website to find the nearest one. Look for the yellow and mauve PayPoint signs.
  •  outlets with Payzone– look for the pink, blue and white Payzone signs.
  •  Post Offices

The consumer may not be able to top up the key or card at all outlets – if in doubt, contact the supplier for advice.

Consumers should only top up at official outlets and be aware of scams. See: www.top-upsafe.com

Third Party Deductions (TPD) – Fuel Direct 

An arrangement can be made, with the consumer’s permission, for a fuel debt and on-going consumption to be paid for from benefits.

This can be arranged between the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the supplier. To qualify the consumer must be on the necessary benefits and the arrears be greater than the Income Support rate for a single person aged 25 and above. It should also be in the consumer’s, or their family’s best interests for direct payments to be made. The debt recovery rate is set at fixed amount per week if the consumer has debts for both gas and electricity. Deductions are made before the consumer receives their benefit.

The qualifying benefits are:

  •  Income Support
  •  Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  •  Pension Credit
  •  Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  •  Universal Credit

When considering this option it is important to ascertain if the consumer has any other TPD arrangements set up.

Fuel Direct will usually end if the consumer comes off the qualifying benefit.

To apply for Fuel direct contact Jobcentre Plus or the individual’s pension centre if they receive Pension Credit

Payment Options  Advantage Drawback Appropriate for
 

Cash or cheque (quarterly or monthly)

Only have to think about bill when it arrives.

Always pay for fuel after it has been used.

Possibility of a prompt payment discount.

Can be an expensive way to pay because of ‘processing fees’.

Difficult to budget because of the large differences in winter and summer bills.

Possibility of a late payment fee.

Households with good budgeting skills.

Households whose income is stable.

Household whose income can easily accommodate fluctuating bills.

 

Direct Debit (fixed or variable, monthly or quarterly)

Discount is available.

Ease of budgeting.

With variable direct debit pay for the actual consumption if accurate readings provided.

Possible to take advantage of an online account which offers a discount.

Must have a bank account.

Consumption may exceed payment.

Effectively underpay in winter and overpay in summer with fixed direct debit.

Bank charges will be incurred if insufficient funds in the account.

Households with regular income.

Those who are paid monthly.

Those who prefer to budget monthly.

 

Standing Order

Consumer has control over the payment.

Ease of budgeting.

Consumption may exceed payment.

May not benefit from discount.

Households with regular income.

Those who are paid monthly.

Those who prefer to budget monthly.

 

Budget Scheme or Cash Plan

Payment made weekly, fortnightly or monthly with a payment card (some-times referred to as the ‘Energy Card’).

No bank account needed.

Easy to budget.

Can pay at PayPoint, Payzone or Post Office.

Can be used to repay debt.

No discount.

Possible travel costs and inconvenience.

Household which does not have

a bank account.

Those who prefer to deal in cash.

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