Credit meter payment methods
Payment can be made on receipt of a quarterly bill – by posting a cheque, using a credit or debit card or paying directly into the supplier’s account at a bank, post office, PayPoint or using online banking. A service charge may be applied if you pay at the post office. You supplier may have an app through which you can pay. Using a credit card could be a very expensive way of obtaining credit because of the interest charged on balances. If you are in financial difficulty, consider the other budget options available.
Quarterly billing with cash is currently the most expensive way to pay for your gas and electricity. Switching to direct debit will save you money.
Direct debit is the cheapest way to pay for gas and electricity. Your estimated annual costs are spread over 12 monthly payments (or four quarterly payments), which are deducted direct from your bank account. Payments should be enough to cover your annual consumption. If the direct debit payments are set too low you will accumulate arrears. Suppliers are able to adjust the direct debit amount but must inform you when this is the case. Setting up an online account with your fuel supplier and paying by direct debit attracts a discount. This ’paperless billing’ process enables you to view your bills online and submit regular meter readings.
Standing order is similar to direct debit with monthly or quarterly payments deducted direct from your bank account. The main difference is that you have to instruct the bank of any changes to the debited amount. You are unlikely to be able to access the savings offered for direct debit associated tariffs if you pay this way.
Remember to take into consideration the extra costs of becoming overdrawn if you are considering standing orders or direct debits.
There is a range of budget schemes which allow you to pay for your fuel on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. This gives flexibility and helps you to budget, but is not the cheapest payment method. This is a useful way to pay if you do not have a bank account.
A flexible payment scheme enables you to pay any amount at any time, at a bank or by post. The amount paid is credited towards your next bill, which must then be settled each quarter. This is useful if you have a variable income.
PayPoint is a free national bill payment network aimed at households who prefer to pay utility bills in cash on a weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly basis. Locations of PayPoint outlets can be found at paypoint.com.