Is electricity good for us?

What you should consider with bonus tariffs for electricity and gas

Bonus tariffs only favorable in the first year

Tariffs with bonuses often enable particularly high savings when switching providers. However, this mostly results exclusively from the one-time bonus. That means: The total costs are only so low in the first year of delivery. High labor and / or basic prices result in a significantly higher bill in the second year. That is why you should plan in advance to switch to bonus tariffs after a year. Bonus tariffs with a term of two years, for which this termination is not even possible, should be examined particularly critically.

If you terminate the contract after a minimum term of 12 months, you may be denied the new customer bonus. The payment often requires a supply of electricity for 12 months. However, this is often not yet achieved after the initial contract term, as the contract is usually concluded before the start of delivery.

Background: The Delivery time is not the same as that Contract term!

The delivery time begins with the delivery and therefore generally much later than the contract period, which starts with the conclusion of the contract. This means: If you terminate a contract with a minimum contract term of 12 months at the end of the first year of the contract, you will normally not be able to achieve a minimum delivery time of 12 months - the bonus may be lost. A bonus that is not linked to the delivery time but to the contract period is more legally secure for you.

Tip: Before signing a contract, find out how the provider handles the payment of the new customer bonus if the contract is canceled after one year - and research on the Internet whether other electricity customers had problems with the payment of the bonus. Also important to know: Companies that had promised their customers bonus payments after 12 months have already gone bankrupt. This can make it very difficult for you to get the money - even if you have met the conditions for a bonus.

You can realistically assess whether a tariff is also cheap in the long term if you set the filters in tariff portals correctly: You should initially disregard bonuses. This enables you to compare the actual annual costs.

Some providers advertise with monthly prices that already include the bonus. The actual discounts that go from the account are higher, however, as they do not include the bonus. In some cases, they are just as high as discounts in the basic service, which is usually the most expensive tariff. The bill of the provider advertising is only correct again when you have received the bonus - often after 12 months - If you want to know what you actually have to pay each month, in case of doubt, ask your provider about the amount of the discount.

Many bonus tariffs have a long follow-up period of one year, which does not correspond to the consumer-friendly conditions recommended by us. Consider whether you want to accept this for the increased savings. In no case should you miss the termination.

A good way to reduce energy costs in the long term is to have an energy self-sufficient house. If you generate your own electricity, you are no longer dependent on such tariffs. To make your way to an energy self-sufficient house easier, the guide "Electricity and heat - ways to an energy self-sufficient house" provides you with comprehensive information.

Recalculate for bonus and bundle offers

In some energy supply contracts, bonuses are promised in addition to gas or electricity. This can be electrical devices, bicycles or smartphones. With these so-called bundled offers, precise recalculation is required: Often the offers are not financially worthwhile in the long term because the energy prices are too high. It can be cheaper to get a better gas or electricity contract and simply buy the premium you want individually.

In addition, with premium tariffs, it is often not transparent when you will receive the premium and whether it has to be returned or paid in the event of early termination.

It is particularly critical if, in addition to the energy supply contract, another contract with permanent obligations is entered into, for example for a so-called household protection letter or magazine subscriptions. These have their own contract terms and notice periods and can cause high costs. Also check here whether the separate conclusion of the contracts is not cheaper.

Check the conditions for the bonus payout carefully

Most providers only pay a bonus under certain conditions. However, not all of them are clear and understandable. A look at the general terms and conditions (GTC) of the tariff is therefore essential for bonus tariffs.

If the bonus conditions in the terms and conditions are unclear or not clearly understandable, the tariff is not advisable.

With the conditions for bonus payments you should not rely on the presentation in tariff portals. It is important how the tariff and bonus are advertised on the provider's website. What is decisive for your bonus claim is what is regulated in your contract or the general terms and conditions.

However, contractually agreed terms and conditions can also be ineffective. When in doubt about its effectiveness, seek legal advice. Take screenshots of the offer and save the current terms and conditions for your contract. In this way, you are prepared for possible later discussions about the payout.

If you conclude the contract directly via a tariff portal, you also take a screenshot of the information about the bonus there.

The following conditions for bonuses can often be found:

  1. Coupling to consumption
    It is common that the amount of the bonus is linked to consumption. This can apply to an "instant bonus" as well as to a bonus that you receive with the annual invoice. If their consumption is lower than forecast based on the last annual consumption, this leads to a lower bonus.

    In some cases, you can even lose an instant bonus that has already been paid out: If the payment was tied to a minimum consumption that was not reached, the bonus can be offset against the first annual invoice.
  2. Exclusion of a move within the first year of delivery
    A move within the first year of delivery can lead to providers excluding the payment of the bonus.
  3. Special definition of "new customers"
    Some providers only pay out a bonus for new customers if they have not been supplied by the same company in the last six months. Some providers also include a different sales brand for your company. However, corporate ties between companies are not always recognizable at first glance. A look at helps here
  4. Photovoltaic system operators do not receive a bonus
    In some terms and conditions, the bonus is excluded if the customer operates a photovoltaic system or heat pump, for example. If the exclusion of these customer groups is not made clear when the tariff is ordered, but "hidden" in the small print, this is ineffective. The OLG Düsseldorf decided in proceedings against 365 AG. The judgment is final.
  5. Percentage bonus does not apply to total costs
    Some providers advertise with a bonus of, for example, 15 percent. In the small print, they restrict the 15 percent only to a partial amount, for example the labor price. Sometimes the bonus is only granted on the net cost instead of the gross cost.
  6. Not effective: Exclusion of the bonus upon termination
    In some terms and conditions, the payment of the bonus is excluded if you terminate the contract before the end of the agreed term. In our opinion, however, an exclusion of the bonus in the event of justified cancellations is ineffective. If you cancel early - for example because the provider increases the prices - this must not affect the bonus. Otherwise it would be up to the supplier to bring down your bonus through targeted price increases.

    The same applies in the opposite case: the supplier cannot terminate the contract with you without a reason, just so that the initial term, which makes the bonus due, is not reached. For example, he may not cancel in the tenth month with a 12-month term for no reason.

Check bonus payout

You should check the annual financial statements to see whether bonuses have been paid at all and in the amount announced. Some providers apparently pay out the bonus more often only after a warning.

This content was created by the consumer centers North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate for the network of consumer centers in Germany.