Every year over 6 million households take the opportunity to switch energy suppliers. There are a variety of ways to find and switch to the best deal however. In this review, we look at how two of the most popular options compare, the Martin Lewis Cheap Energy Club and traditional energy comparison sites.
This comparison market has produced some big names in the UK. Watch your favourite shows and during the adverts you are likely to see at least one. The likes of CompareTheMarket, GoCompare, Uswitch immediately spring to mind.
Alongside these more ‘traditional’ comparison sites, others have sprung up which claim to make the switching process even easier. Among these is the Cheap Energy Club, which is managed by Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert.
So how do they compare and what separates them when it comes to services offered?
What is the Cheap Energy Club?
For those that don’t know, Martin Lewis is the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. He holds a regular spot on ITV and offers consumer advice across a number of sectors. Over time he has become a trusted household name when it comes to saving money.
In Martin Lewis’ battle to get more people to switch energy provider, MoneySavingExpert created the Cheap Energy Club to help find the latest energy deals.
This is not so much a club and more of a tool, much like a standard comparison site, that lets you put in your current energy usage along with your existing supplier and it will tell you how much money (if any) switching providers could save you.
What does Cheap Energy Club offer?
The Cheap Energy Club offers three levels of service:
At the lowest of these levels is “DIY Comparison“. With this offering you will enter your details and see a comparison of applicable deals from across the whole UK market.
Pick Me a Tariff
The next level up is “Pick Me a Tariff“. Again, the whole market will be compared for you but this time the top tariff for you will be selected, based on your priorities.
You are given a set number of points which you can use to prioritise how important the following areas are to you:
- Customer service
- Green energy
- Fixed rate tariff
- Well-known supplier
- No early exit fee
Sometimes it can seem like there is not much between tariffs which can make choosing the right deal difficult. By having this service filter through the deals for you, all you are left with is one offer. You can then either reject the deal or sign up to it.
Pick Me a Tariff Every Year
Next and last on the level up list is “Pick Me a Tariff Every Year” which is the same as MSE Autoswitch. Again, based on your details and priorities, the top tariff for you will be selected. However, this time the service will also sign you up for this deal. When that deal expires and a better deal is found, the service will send you a notification to let you know that you are being automatically switched to a cheaper deal. You will need to authenticate the switch but that will be your only involvement in the process for as long as you are signed up to the service. You will also be eligible for the cash back benefit every time you switch.
“Traditional” energy comparison sites
In the unlikely event that you are totally unaware of how one of these services works:
First you will enter your details into the website of your chosen service. You are then able to either choose the deal for you straight away or look deeper into each offer before deciding between them.
These services will often entice you in with offers such as money back, free gifts or money off.
What are the main differences between them?
Whole market search
The first notable difference is the MSE pledge to compare the whole of the UK market. Not all comparison sites will do this. In fact, you will struggle to find another that does. Even if other sites do, you will often need to toggle on of the filters to see all results across the whole market.
This is because as a business the comparison sites need to be paid. The consumer does not pay to make the comparisons, which leaves the energy suppliers as the main source of income. Therefore, the comparison sites are keen to only show the suppliers that will pay them commission for a switch. This can mean that a consumer is not always seeing the best deal available.
Not just on price
As mentioned above, by being able to prioritise what is important to you about an energy supplier, Cheap Energy Club will select the supplier it thinks is right for you that isn’t just based on price. This is a big difference to comparison sites where although they will provide you with data other than price, the price is generally the main factor.
Only see suppliers with good reviews
Another difference between the two is that once you input your details and start a search, a box will pop up to ask if you would like to only see suppliers with a ‘good’ rating or to also include suppliers with lower ratings or no feedback.
This is something you don’t get on comparison websites and it often even isn’t an option you can filter by.
MSE Top Picks
Similar to above, but by default energy suppliers are ranked by cheapest first. This is usual practice even with traditional comparison sites. However Cheap Energy Club has a tab with ‘MSE Top Picks’. These are a selection of tariffs which they think are the best fit for you (and not necessarily the cheapest energy deals). They also tell the type of people they would and wouldn’t be good for.
For certain suppliers that MSE has a relationship with, you can get £12.50 cashback per fuel. You can choose to see prices including or excluding this cashback when looking. Sometimes for a dual fuel switch having £25 cashback can make a big difference. For any cashback however, this can take 3-6 months for you to receive it.
Sometimes comparison sites do offer various incentives but don’t often offer cashback on a range of different providers.
Some ‘auto-switching’ services have started to appear but not many amongst the ‘traditional’ comparison sites. Whether or not this kind of service is for you will depend on how you like to manage your services and bills.
By leaving this entirely in the hands of MSE, you will never have to take time to search for deals again. You can be confident that you will be on as cheap a tariff as you can be as long as your requirements are simple.
If you have complex needs or a non-standard meter, this service will not work for you. You may also miss out on any incentives being offered that you could have been interested in. Sometimes a benefit such as free boiler care, or the offer of a free smart thermostat may be worth paying a little more for.
Which one should I use?
If you already have all your information saved in one of the comparison sites, then you may find them easier to use. For most people however, Cheap Energy Club offers a better way to see an overview of the energy market.
You can instantly see the cheapest suppliers, even if they don’t have a cashback relationship with MSE, if you always want the cheapest deal.
If you are more concerned about customer service then getting the best deal, you can make sure your selection only includes suppliers that are rated as ‘good’.
The added bonus is if you don’t want to search and switch each year, you can opt for their auto switching service which will do it all for you.