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13 Nov 2017

How to avoid paying an exit fee when you switch energy tariffs

Cheapest fee-free gas and electricity deals revealed

Compare gas and electricity suppliers and you'll find that many charge an exit fee if you want to switch. But you don't always have to pay an exit fee - we can tell you how to avoid it.

Our research found that up to one in ten energy customers who haven't switched energy supplier say they can't do so because they have a fixed contract. These contracts often charge a termination fee to leave before the end of the deal.

But choose and act carefully, and you can avoid paying an exit fee altogether. We've found that several of the cheapest gas and electricity deals from small companies have no exit fees. Plus, towards the end of your fixed tariff, suppliers can't charge you a fee if you want to leave.

Below, we reveal the cheapest energy deals with no exit fees.

To find the best energy deal for you straight away, use Which? Switch to compare gas and electricity prices. Or you can phone us on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.

Five things you should know about exit fees

If you're signed up to a fixed-term tariff and want to get out of it before the end of the contract, you'll often have to pay. But don't let you put this off; check how much you could save by switching, and subtract the exit fee to see if you'd still be better off.

  • Exit fees vary from £5 to £30 per fuel. So you could face a £60 fee to switch for a dual-fuel deal.
  • Some suppliers may waive the exit fee if you switch to another of its tariffs. Ask your supplier if it will do this to keep you as a customer.
  • If you're moving home, you should be able to avoid exit fees - as long as you keep your tariff and only change the address.
  • Your supplier cannot charge you an exit fee in the last 49 days of your tariff; read on to find out more about this.
  • Not all fixed tariffs have exit fees attached. This leaves you free to pick a cheap deal and switch again if you spot a better one elsewhere.

Cheapest gas and electricity tariffs with no exit fee

We scoured the market to find the cheapest energy deals without exit fees attached; perfect if you want the flexibility to switch again. Here we've listed the top three gas and electricity tariffs, which are available to all energy customers in England, Scotland and Wales.

We've also calculated how much these tariffs would save the average household in a year, compared with Npower's standard tariff (the priciest Big Six variable deal) and British Gas's standard tariff (the cheapest Big Six variable deal).

  1. Usio Energy SupplySmart Home after 7pm 0.2 - Paperless (£837). £329 cheaper than Npower. £264 cheaper than British Gas. Usio Energy's 'Green' and 'Lifestyle variable' tariffs are up to £5 pricier than this.
  2. BulbVari-Fair - Paperless (£856). £311 cheaper than Npower. £247 cheaper than British Gas.
  3. Iresa Flex5 12 month Fixed Direct Debit - Paperless (£860). £306 cheaper than Npower. £241 cheaper than British Gas.

If you live in north Wales, north-west England or Yorkshire, there's a cheaper tariff from Eversmart Energy (£796). Breeze Energy is also selling a dual-fuel tariff (£834) but it's not available to those who live in north Scotland.

Happy to be tied in for a year to save even more? Check the top five cheapest energy deals to see you much you could save.

When can't your energy supplier charge you an exit fee?

When you're in the last 42-49 days of a fixed energy tariff, you do not have to pay a fee to switch. In this time, your energy supplier should send you a letter telling you that your gas and electricity tariff is expiring.

It will set out the cheapest deal for you and what will happen if you don't sign up to a new tariff. Usually this will mean that you will roll automatically onto its standard variable tariff (often pricier).

Remember that the cheapest deal your supplier tells you about is its cheapest tariff; you might save more on your bills by choosing a tariff with another supplier.

If you are on a standard variable energy tariff (an out-of-contract tariff), it has no end date and no exit fees. So you can move to a new energy deal any time.

Find out how to get the best energy deal.

Our energy pricing research

Our data is from Energylinx. Prices are based on a dual-fuel tariff available in all regions for a medium user (using the Ofgem averages of 3,100kWh electricity and 12,000kWh gas per year), paying by monthly direct debit, with paperless bills, and are averaged across all regions. Exact prices can vary according to region, usage and payment method. Prices are rounded to the nearest whole pound.
The prices given above are correct on 6 November 2017.

*Survey of 4,773 members of the general public who haven't switched energy supplier, October 2016.