Energy Contacts: How they work in Australia

When you take out a plan with an energy retailer, there are actually several kinds of contacts you might run into, each with their own rules, quirks and terms.

Energy plan types in Australia compared Compare plan types
Standing offers vs Market offers: What's the difference? See difference

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The two main types of energy plans you may come across are:

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Plans with no contract term:
These are open-ended plans which continue until you or your provider decides to cancel them. These have no exit fee associated with them.

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Ongoing contract with a benefit period:
You have a benefit period (the benefit is usually discount or items like free movie tickets). Once the contract finishes you usually lose the benefit but the contract will continue.

Energy contracts: How do they compare

We've explained each contract in greater detail below to help make sure you know what you're getting into when shopping for an energy plan.

Plans with no contract term

Plans with no contract
  • Fees for leaving contact
  • What happens over time?
Plan continues unless it's cancelled.
  • Responsibility of provider
Notify you if prices change.
  • Price changes
Prices may change at any time.
  • Who's it best for?
You don't want to be locked into a plan.

Ongoing contracts with a benefit period

Ongoing contract with benefit period
  • Fees for leaving contact
  • What happens over time?
Retailers will either roll over your plan with a new benefit period (either with the same benefit or a new benefit) or they will continue the contract with no benefit.
  • Responsibility of provider
Must tell you your benefit is ending or if they are rolling over your plans with a new benefit at least 20 business days before it happens.
  • Price changes
Prices are fixed for the benefit period.
  • Who's it best for?
If you want to get prices locked in for a period of time and don't mind a contract that continues indefinitely.

Which contracts lock you in?

While the energy market used to have quite a few energy contracts with set periods and exit fees, this is no longer the case. Finder's latest search of energy plans on the government's comprehensive plan database, Energy Made Easy(1), returned zero plans with exit fees in NSW.

It's still worth double-checking when you sign up, but on the whole you don't need to worry about being locked into a contract.

Standing offers vs Market offers: What's the difference?

If you're comparing energy you may have come also across the following terms: Standing offers and Market offers. Our infographic below helps explain the difference.

Video: How to use tariffs and fees to compare energy

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