What does the plan type mean?
We examine each plan and assign it a category to help you understand just how the pricing works for that plan. There are 'Fixed Rate', 'Bill Credit', 'Tiered Rate / Flat Rate', and 'Pre-paid' plans available on our site.
A 'Fixed Rate' plan generally has the most predictable per-kilowatt-hour rate of all the plan types. Your bill will go up and down with your usage, but the average rate you pay per kilowatt-hour will generally stay in a fairly narrow range.
We find that Fixed Rate plans are generally the better choice for most consumers, as there are typically fewer rate suprises over time. If you are unsure of your usage patterns, it's probably best to choose a Fixed Rate plan.
'Bill Credit' plans typically will apply a credit on your bill if your usage falls in certain ranges. You'll need to read the EFL carefully to understand the ranges. Usually a Bill Credit plan will have a lower advertised average rate than a comparable Fixed Rate plan from the same provider, but only when your energy usage falls within a specified range. Depending on your usage, your bill may be higher or lower compared to a 'Fixed Rate' plan.
If you aren't sure of your monthly usage, and if you're not interested in tracking your usage over the month, a Bill Credit plan is probably not going to save you any real money over a 'Fixed Rate' plan. A Bill Credit plan will almost always have a more volatile average rate from month to month compared to a similar 'Fixed Rate' plan.
Tiered Rate (Flat Rate)
Tiered Rate plans generally have a single dollar price no matter how much electricity you use, UP TO A POINT!. Once you go over that usage cap, you will pay more. Some Tiered Rate plans have a per-kilowatt-hour charge for usage over the cap, others will add another fixed dollar amount to your bill for more usage up to a second cap.
Like a Bill Credit plan, you should carefully read the EFL and understand where your normal usage patterns will fall compared to the usage caps for that plan. Tiered Rate plans can have the most volatile average rates from month to month, it all depends on your usage and the caps.
For some customers who are credit-challenged, or those who need to manage their cash flow carefully, a pre-paid plan can be a good option. With a pre-paid plan, you never have to pass a credit check or pay a deposit. You simply pay a nominal amount on your account to start your service, usually somewhere between $20 and $80. As you use electricity each day, the cost for that electricity is deducted from your account. When your account falls below a certain threshold, the provider will notify you that you need to load more money into your account.
It's like a prepaid Visa or Mastercard - you pay before you use it, instead of after. You do need to monitor your current account balance, because if the account falls to zero, they will likely turn off your electricity until you can put more money on your account. Most of the time, a pre-paid plan will have slightly higher per-kilowatt-hour rates that a Fixed Rate plan, but you never have to worry about Early Termination Fees.