01 FEB 2016 UPDATE: I’ve published a new post with the latest on my experience with NRG.
Want to save money and earn some frequent flyer miles in the process? You may want to check out electricity supplier options as some of them offer an enticing bonus for switching to them.
We just switched to a supplier named NRG Home. For making the switch, we get 10,000 United MileagePlus miles after two months of service. If I currently had a United MileagePlus credit card I would get another 2,500 miles but I recently canceled my United credit card.
The electricity rate we’ll get for the first three months of service is actually 10% less than we would get through our electricity distributor, so for the first three months we’ll save money in addition to getting the signup bonus.
I signed up for a similar program with another energy provider in the past and it turned out very well for us so I’m giving it a go again (this time with NRG).
What’s the Value?
I value American Airlines AAdvantage and United MileagePlus miles at about 1.6 cents apiece. That means the signup bonus of 10,000 miles is worth about $160. If you’re able to get the full 12,500 miles (if you have a United MileagePlus credit card) the value rises to $200.
You’ll also earn miles each month based on actual energy usage. For the deal I signed up for I’ll get 2 award miles for every $1 on the supply portion of my electric bill. Holders of a United MileagePlus credit card get 3 award miles for every $1 spent.
What’s the Catch?
The one downside to this offer, and other similar offers, is that after the introductory period – in this case, 3 months – the electricity supply rate becomes variable. That means the supplier – in this case, NRG Home – can raise the rate above the standard rate offered by the electricity distributor and other local suppliers.
What’s the Best Play Here?
The low-risk approach is to cancel (by switching to another provider) after you’ve received the bonus miles. That’s my plan. If NRG offered a fixed rate similar to the distributor’s rate, I would continue service with them beyond the intro period. Since it’s variable though I’m not planning to take any chances.
There is a chance that the bonus miles don’t post in a timely manner, forcing me to decide whether to keep service until they do (and risk higher rates) or switch to another provider before the variable pricing kicks in. Even if this happens I will have received lower-than-standard rates for three straight months so it won’t be horrible.
Who Can Get These Offers?
Various energy providers offer these types of deals in multiple states. It looks like NRG Home – the company I just switched to – does business in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Energy Plus is another company that offers similar programs.
Note that the fine print for most of these offers indicates they are available only to new customers.
What Type of Airline Miles Are Available?
The deal that was covered in the mailing I originally received from NRG Home was for American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. I called NRG though to ask if a similar deal was available for United miles as at the moment I’m more interested in increasing my MileagePlus balance than my AAdvantage account. The phone agent told me there was a United deal but that she didn’t have the URL for it.
I could have signed up over the phone but I prefer to do so online. I found the links online for United MileagePlus, American Airlines AAdvantage and Southwest Rapid Rewards bonus miles offers:
- Link to United MileagePlus bonus offer
- Link to American AAdvantage miles bonus offer
- Link to Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards bonus offer
Energy Plus appears to currently offer promotions with Delta, Southwest and Virgin America as well as other travel partners including Hilton and Wyndham.
When Should I Do This?
It’s best to time signing up for a program like this so that any changeover to variable pricing will occur when your energy consumption is relatively low. That minimizes any negative impact if you have issues switching away from the variable pricing.
By signing up in October, my account will probably reflect the NRG Home intro rate in November, December and January. Those can be high-energy-use months for me but since the intro rate is better than other rates I could get I’ll make out well in those months. February is also a high-energy-use month for me so if I have problems switching to another provider in a timely manner there is a chance I get hit with one bill which includes the non-introductory rate. That’s a chance I’m willing to take.
Who Should Take Advantage of These Offers?
I only recommend this type of offer to “meticulous” people. To ensure you don’t end up paying high energy rates you’ll need to at the very least monitor your bills and more than likely switch to another provider after you’ve received the signup bonus. If you typically forget to follow up in situations like this, you should probably skip these sorts of offers.
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Have you participated in an energy promotion? What was your experience? Share your comments below!