How to cut ALL your household bills
Think loyalty pays? Think again. We take a look at how you can break free from unfair bills and save some cash.
October 5, 2018
Have you ever noticed that most firms are happy to entice new customers with flashy new deals but much less willing to offer anything to treat their existing customer base? You only have to turn on the TV or the radio to find adverts from companies offering all sorts of discounts and freebies to potential newbies – companies you’re actually already paying each month! It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last month, Citizens Advice announced it had lodged a super complaint with the Competitions and Markets Authority after finding that customers who stay with the same provider are paying £4.1bn extra in “loyalty penalties” compared to new customers.
The charity says mobile, broadband, home insurance, mortgage and savings customers who stay with their provider will pay an extra £877 a year.
Shocking stuff, eh?
Since loyalty, clearly, doesn’t pay, we take a look at how you can take back control and cut your household bills.
Reduce your broadband bills
Threaten to leave
It’s the oldest trick in the book but, believe us, it works. If you’re approaching the end of your contract or you’re not currently tied into one and you’re not happy with what you’re paying, contact your provider and tell them you want to leave. You’ll be surprised at how quick they are to offer you something else.
Speak to the right people
Broadband (and mobile) providers have a team of people whose sole purpose is to try and keep hold of customers who are at risk of leaving. These people have the power to offer you things. Deals, discounts, extras. If you want to improve the deal you’re getting, these are the people you need to speak to. They’re usually called the retention team. Do not agree to any deal offered to you by the call handler you originally speak to. For the biggest results, you need the retention team.
Learn to haggle
It’s interesting that so few people feel able to haggle over things like broadband. Often, if a better deal than is currently available is offered consumers will see it as a victory and accept. But what if there’s more that the company could offer? Stay confident and calm and ask if there is more that could be done. Tell them a price you’re willing to pay (within reason of course) and say you can’t go above it. You’ll be surprised at the discretion these teams can use.
Know what you need
It’s not all about getting a discount, of course. You can also reduce what you’re paying by changing your package and often people will find they’re paying for stuff they don’t really need. Decide what it is you want from your broadband and try and tailor your package to meet this.
Reduce your home insurance premiums
Read your policy
Under rules introduced in 2016 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) insurers must include the previous year’s premiums on renewal quotes so you can see how much your premiums have gone up by before you decide to renew. Insurers have to do this but many will probably be banking on the fact consumers won’t check. Prove them wrong! Check for any hikes and don’t stick around if you don’t like what you see.
Increase your excess
Paying a higher excess will reduce your home insurance premiums – however, bear in mind, you will have to pay more in the event of a claim.
Paying annually may not be possible for some but if you can afford to do it you’re likely to save a healthy amount as most insurers will charge more for monthly payments.
Improve your security
Insurance premiums are based on, amongst other things, risk. That’s why, if you live in an area with higher crime figures, you’re going to pay more than someone who lives in a safer area. You can reduce that risk by improving the security in your home. Consider fitting a fire alarm, ensure locks are secure and install security lighting – but check with your insurer that your proposed changes will impact price before you fork out. For example, a fire alarm you fit yourself, rather than through a company, often doesn’t bring the premiums down.
Reduce your mortgage repayments
Don’t forget to remortgage
According to figures from mortgage broker Trussle, homeowners who stay on their lender’s SVR when their mortgage deal expires will pay, on average, £2,536 a year extra in interest payments, compared to the lender’s best two-year-fix. Keep track of when your mortgage deal is ending and speak to a whole of market mortgage broker in good time to find the best deal for you.
Overpay if possible
By paying off more of your mortgage now, you will be in a better position to get a good deal when you come to remortgage – particularly as interest rates have now started creeping up. Check with your lender, first, to make sure overpayments are allowed and that there won’t be penalties for doing so.
Reduce your utility bills
It may sound like a hassle but switching your energy provider is always worth it. Industry watchdog Ofgem says that 57% of standard households are currently on their energy suppliers’ standard variable tariffs and are overpaying by £300 a year as a result.
See how much you can save with our free energy switching service
Pay by direct debit
You’ll usually get a discount if you choose to pay by direct debit. According to MoneySavingExpert founder and all-round financial wiz Martin Lewis paying by direct debit is about 7% cheaper than any other way of paying.
Make sure you give meter readings
If you’re not giving your supplier meter readings regularly they’re basically billing you on an estimate – which means you could be paying far more than you need to. Or worse – could end up with a hefty bill that you owe them after a year.