Finding ways to save money on my bills is something I try to do as often as possible. Usually, this just involves looking at comparison websites every few weeks and hopping from one “cheapest” deal to the next. It works out pretty well for the most part but it’s
The other alternative is to put the heating on less, use less water, and cancel some much-loved TV subscriptions in the name of saving a bit of cash each month. That’s not something I enjoy doing as I’ve never been super thrifty.
Recently, I came across a pretty nifty new way to save money on utility bills such as electricity, gas, telephone, internet, TV, and council tax. The great thing about it is the fact that it doesn’t involve deal hopping or removing my favourite TV channels and can all be set up from an app on your phone. All you need is a valid email address to sign up and it’s completely free to do so.
The ZIPZERO mobile app does work similarly to
My only worry was the fact that my utility bills are already set up to automatically leave my bank account each month. There didn’t seem to be much point in scanning receipts if I was going to be charged the full amount by my bank every month anyway. However, after a bit of research, I realised that this wouldn’t be an issue and ZIPZERO was well worth using.
Standing Orders and Direct Debits
Before we look at why ZIPZERO makes so much sense, we first need to understand the differences between standing orders and direct debits when it comes to bills.
A standing order is something that you set up with your bank through an app, internet banking or in branch. It’s used to move money to other accounts or to pay specific people regularly. For example, if you rent a property, you would set up a standing order to pay your rent total on a specific date each month. These payments can be cancelled by you at any time.
A direct debit works slightly differently. Instead of being set up at your end, a direct debit is set up by a company after you provide them with your account number and sort code. These kinds of transactions are used for things such as utility bills. For example, you would send over your bank details to your electricity supplier, and they would set up a direct debit that automatically collects payments from your account on specific dates.
Direct debits often come with a fixed agreement so you’re unable to cancel them at your end and must rely on the company to do so. An example of this is a council tax bill that will be paid in instalments over a fixed period.
Direct Debits and ZIPZERO
As mentioned earlier, my main concern about ZIPZERO was that it would interfere with the direct debits of my utility bills. I was worried that sending money via ZIPZERO would mess things up with the fixed agreement and it would be more hassle than it is worth.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
The great thing about having utility bills set up as direct debits is that the money is sent to a specific account that is expecting a certain amount of cash to arrive each payment cycle. What this means is that you can send extra money in a separate transaction to your direct debit and it will realise that you have already made a payment. The direct debit will then automatically be changed so you’re not overcharged for that payment period.
For example, if you had a direct debit set up to pay £50 per month for electricity, you could send £10 to that electricity account and you would then only be charged £40 when your direct debit was taken from your bank account.
With this in mind, ZIPZERO payments don’t take any extra work at all. Once a ZIPZERO payment has been made, your direct debit for that utility bill will be automatically altered so you only pay whatever remaining balance the ZIPZERO payment didn’t cover. If your direct debit is £50 and you pay a ZIPZERO payment of £50 to that utility bill then you won’t be charged by your direct debit for that month.
Ultimately, this makes ZIPZERO a no-brainer for anyone looking to save money on their utility bills. The fact that you simply scan receipts from shopping trips you were already going to make means you’re saving money with pretty much zero extra work. It only takes a few seconds to take a photograph of the receipt on your phone and to upload it to the app.
The thing I enjoy most about ZIPZERO is the fact that every member of your household who is over the age of 18 can open their own account. If there are two of you living together, that means you have the potential to both reach the £50 limit each month and wipe out £100 of utility bills. The only thing to remember is that each of you has to scan their own receipts.
Even if you’re unable to hit the maximum amount, savings are savings and it is extra cash in your bank account at the end of the month that you wouldn’t have had. For me, that means guilt-free subscriptions to the sports channels each month, but you can do whatever you want with your money.