Electricity, broadband, and phone plans are three utilities that love to keep us on our toes. Every other week a new deal arises, a new free benefit is thrown into the mix, or an existing plan is quietly changed – dropping up or down a few dollars.
And for that reason, customers are keen to avoid locking themselves in for long-term deals and contracts. What is a good deal at the time of signing up can become outdated within a few weeks. Of course, this is hypothetical, and many companies throw in a heap of extra benefits on fixed-term contracts that you don’t get offered if you want to keep your plan open.
So remember, open term isn’t always better.
But, if you are keen to keep your options open and have the freedom to shop around, we’ve gone through what’s on offer from electricity providers here in NZ. And, thankfully, there’s plenty of choice, as nearly all providers have no-contract power plans! Or at least one no-contract power plan.
However, while some providers embrace no contracts, others begrudgingly offer such plans on the condition you give up the benefits and rates of its fixed-term plans, which might not make for the best deal.
Below we break down your options, to help you find the best no-contract power plan for you.
Contract or no contract: what’s the deal?
When signing up for power (or broadband or phone plans) you will commonly have the choice to sign up for a plan on a:
- Fixed-term contract – commonly for 12 or 24 months. You agree to stay on the plan for a fixed period of time, but have to pay a break fee if you choose to end the agreement early
- Open-term contract – or a no-contract plan. This type of plan allows you to leave or change plans at any time without cost
On paper, no-contract power plans look better. After all, why lock yourself in for a year if you don’t have to? But it’s important to note that, usually, fixed-term and open-term plans have very different benefits and costs.
As you’ll see below, many providers offer signing-on benefits, free credits, and added discounts, but only if you sign up for a 12- or 24-month term. If you choose to keep your plan open, that’s fine, but you’ll miss out on some, or all, of these benefits.
Which is better?
There’s no one set answer for this, and there’s plenty to consider:
What break fees are involved?
How high are the break fees and how does this impact your decision? If the break fees are high, you need to be certain about your choice of plan, as changing your mind could cost you dearly.
But if the break fees aren’t too daunting, and you think you will most likely stay on for the fixed term, you might want to run the risk. Furthermore, you may find that a fixed-term plan provides better long-term value, even in the event you break the contract a few months early.
Keep in mind that some plans require you to pay back any signing-on bonuses, or pay the equivalent value of any rewards earned for breaking a contract early.
For example, if you earned a few hundred dollars upon sign-up, you might have to pay that back on top of the break fees. Read the fine print carefully, or you could be stuck with a very large final bill!
How do the deals compare?
Fixed-term contracts often rely on bonus credits and rewards. Gimmicks aside, you may find the cheapest rate is on a no-contract plan.
Do you shop around?
As mentioned above, electricity is a fast-moving industry with new deals and rates arriving regularly on the market. And no-contract power plans give you the option to shop around and change providers as better deals arrive.
But to make the most of your freedom, you need to regularly review your power plan and provider. If you tend to set and forget these things, you’ll miss out on deals as they arise.
→Related article: Simple Guide to Finding the Cheapest Power Deals
Compare electricity providers with Canstar Blue
Ultimately, finding affordable power involves shopping around. And to help you find the best value electricity retailer, Canstar Blue rates NZ power companies for customer satisfaction and value for money, see the table below for some of the results, or you can click on the button below for the full results of our survey.
Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction. The table below is an abridged version of our full results, available here.
^ By clicking on a brand or 'details' button, you will leave Canstar Blue and be taken to either a product provider website or a Canstar Blue NZ brand page. You agree that Canstar Blue NZ’s terms and conditions apply (without limitation) to your use of this service,to any referral to a product provider from our website, and any transaction that follows. Canstar Blue may receive a fee for referring you to a product provider. See How we are funded for further details.
Canstar Blue NZ Research finalised in April 2021, published in June 2021.
See Our Ratings Methodology
No-contract power plans: what’s available?
Below we have listed which providers offer no-contract power, as well as some information about their offerings. To get a quote for your property, visit individual retailer websites.
Powershop is proudly contract free. So you won’t have to worry about being locked in. Powershop offers flexible payment options, smart online tools and $150 free credit (spread over your first year) when you sign on. It also guarantees you’ll save on your first year of power!
Powershop has just one plan available, with two rates: one for peak hours and one for off-peak. Off-peak power comes with a cheaper rate to encourage more power use during these hours.
Powershop is also a hit among its customers, and is our Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers Award winner!
Electric Kiwi offers no-contract power, with plenty of perks thrown in. You get a free hour of power every day, guaranteed savings in the first year, and the option to add broadband. You can opt for one of several plans:
- Kiwi plan
- Loyal Kiwi Plan
- Stay Ahead $200
The Kiwi plan and Loyal Kiwi plan both have fixed rates, regardless of time of day. MoveMaster charges a bit more during the day in exchange for extra cheap rates during off-peak hours, which is ideal for customers who are able to switch most of their power use to early mornings or late at night. For EV owners, it could be a great way to charge for cheap!
Electric Kiwi’s Stay Ahead plan is a prepaid plan that automatically tops up your account by $200 every time the balance hits $0. As a bonus, every time your account is replenished, Electric Kiwi adds an extra $20 free credit.
→Related article: Electric Kiwi’s New MoveMaster Plan: Is It Right for You?
Flick proudly states it has no fixed-term contracts or exit fees on any of its plans. So no matter what plan you choose, you can call it quits at any time. Flick offers two no-contract power plans:
- Flat – a fixed rate for power no matter the day or time
- Off Peak – cheaper rates during off-peak hours in exchange for higher rates at peak times. The more usage you shift the more you save
Frank energy offers power plans that offer transparent, great rates. So don’t expect any sign-on bonuses or gimmicks. Simply choose whether you’re a low user or a standard user, and you’ll be offered fixed-rate power with no contracts.
If you have an electricity account with Frank, you can add gas or LPG as part of your plan.
Nova energy provides electricity, broadband and gas, all with no contracts and no break fees. Opt for energy only, or choose the multi-saver combo and add gas and/or broadband for special pricing and added savings.
Do note that the TV bundle plan is on a 24-month term contract.
Pulse energy offers electricity, broadband and gas, allowing you to bundle or buy separately. It states that it doesn’t offer benefits like prompt payment discounts, as it has already factored these into the low upfront price.
Pulse energy offers no-contract power, however, it requires you to give 30 days’ notice. If you want to close your account sooner, there is a $172.50 charge.
Meridian offers a wide range of power plans catered for different needs. Of these plans, there is one no-contract option, the Stay Flexi plan. Do note that this plan doesn’t come with the $200 welcome credit offered on fixed-terms plans.
Genesis’ Energy Plus plan is available on a fixed 12-month contract, or a no-contract flexible option. However many of the benefits are exclusively available on the fixed-term option, such as a free signing-on credit and a 3% discount on power.
Regardless of your choice, you do have access to Genesis Power Shouts. Power Shouts are free power credits that Genesis gifts you to use whenever you choose.
Mercury energy offers a no-contract option on its plans (alongside fixed one- and two-year contracts). However the no-contract plans come with higher power charges and lack benefits such as signing-on credits.
Contact has a selection of fixed and open-term plans. You also have the option to bundle broadband and/or gas for further discounts. Contact’s open-term (no-contract) plans include:
- Basic (option to add broadband)
- Simplicity bundle (electricity and gas and the option to add broadband)
- Bach (for holiday homes, comes with no daily charge)
Well known for its broadband, Slingshot also offers optional power with its broadband plans. Slingshot power is offered on a no-contract term, but is only available when bundled with broadband, which has a minimum six-month term. If you do choose to bundle, you’ll get a 10% discount on both your broadband and your power bills.
About the author of this page
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.