Two of the newest suppliers on the market offer a twist on the traditional way of paying for your energy, allowing you to bag cheap rates through monthly membership fees. But are they any good?
In the past 10 months Outfox the Market and Pure Planet have launched, and charge a monthly membership fee rather than a daily standing charge, which is what you pay to have a gas and electricity supply.
This twist of paying a monthly membership began in April 2017, with Pure Planet offering access to cheap rates through a flat £10/fuel monthly membership fee.
This was followed by Outfox the Market, which launched in September last year, with a monthly membership fee of between £6.99 and £13.99 a month depending on your electricity usage.
Both are among the cheapest deals on the market, but to see if either is good for you, do a full market comparison with our free Cheap Energy Club, which will factor in the monthly membership fees into the total price given for these suppliers. It's worth noting, however, we've only limited feedback on their customer service, as both suppliers are new.
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How do the deals stack up?
For a typical user, Outfox the Market is the cheapest energy deal currently available, costing £807/year including the monthly fee – about £10 less than the next cheapest on the market – an 18-month fix also from Outfox the Market.
While the fee of £8.99/mth for a typical-use customer may initially sound high, Outfox the Market only charges this for electricity, so there are essentially no standing charges for gas – one of the reasons its rates work out so cheap.
Pure Planet costs slightly more, though it's still among the top 10 cheapest deals, at £858/yr including the fee, based on typical use.
Both are massively cheaper than the big six standard variable tariff. With Outfox the Market, a typical user would pay £325/yr less, with Pure Planet it would be £274/yr less.
Average annual cost – dual fuel (i)
|Cheapest – Outfox the Market||Zapp Tariff||£807|
|Next cheapest – Outfox the Market||Whack Tariff||£816|
|Pure Planet||100% Green||£858|
|Average big six standard tariff||-||£1,132|
|(i) This table is based on typical usage figures from regulator Ofgem.|
How do they work?
The two companies work slightly differently, but essentially both charge a monthly fee instead of the daily standing charge common in most energy tariffs. In practice, it's not much different from paying a daily standing charge as this is typically totted up over the length of your billing period.
One benefit is that you know what you're paying for your standing charge upfront – when it's given as a daily rate, which can sometimes be as high as 39p/day per fuel, it may not be as clear.
With Outfox the Market, however, you pay a different monthly membership fee depending on your electricity usage. The fee is based only on your electricity use, even though it covers gas and electricity if you've dual fuel – so even if you've electricity-only you'll pay the same fee. The tariff is split into four usage bands, based on kilowatt hours (kWh):
- Low user. If you use less than 2,400 kWh the monthly membership fee is £6.99/mth.
- Medium user. If you use between 2,400 and 3,499 kWh it's £8.99/mth.
- High user. If you use between 3,500 and 4,599 kWh it's £10.99/mth.
- Very high user. If you use more than 4,600 it's £13.99/mth.
If your usage increases, and you move up a band during the year, you may be charged extra when Outfox the Market assesses your usage at the end of your first year.
For Pure Planet, you simply pay £10/fuel a month – so a flat £20 charge for dual fuel every month, regardless of how much you use.
Both deals are online-only and you'll have to pay by monthly direct debit. Both also offer 100% renewable electricity, and Pure Planet also say its gas is 100% carbon offset (ie, the firm works to reduces its carbon dioxide emissions to compensate for the gas used by customers).
What about customer service?
As they are new providers, we have very little feedback Outfox the Market or Pure Planet. Outfox the Market received just six votes in our latest poll, while Pure Planet got 31 votes.
This is a general problem with small suppliers as we often have little or no feedback and so have no way of telling you how good their customer service is, but we do know that in the past others have struggled when they have had an influx of customers.
Outfox the Market, however, has told us it's currently limiting switches to 400 a day to make sure it can handle its customers' concerns – though this is no guarantee of good service.