Unbiased Review: Reliant Energy vs. TXU Energy in Texas

Unbiased Review: Reliant Energy vs. TXU Energy in Texas

Explore an unbiased comparison between Reliant vs. TXU Energy for Texas residents.

Thad Warren By Thad Warren
Fact Checked
Kendra Aquino By Kendra Aquino

When it comes to choosing an energy provider in Texas, you have many options. Among the biggest names are TXU Energy and Reliant Energy.

So which one is better?

This is a hard question to answer. Rates and plans change daily. Energy is a commodity, and the actual reliability of a service is the responsibility of your utility.

To make an unbiased comparison we are going to apply a set of criteria to each company equally and share with you the results.

Here are the criteria:

Review Criteria

Winner of each criterion in parentheses ()

  • Customer Service (TXU): This can be hard to judge depending on the scenario, so for this review, we will see how quickly we can get a real human support person on the phone. This should serve as a gauge of how quickly you could expect to be helped regardless of your issue.
  • Early Termination Fees (Tie): We will compare the early termination fees for various plans from both providers. No one wants to be stuck in a contract they don't want to be in.
  • Other Fees (Reliant): Some providers hide fees in the form of monthly charges, etc. We'll analyze various plans for each provider and see if they do the same.
  • Renewable Options (Neither): We'll see which provider has more renewable options to choose from. This includes renewable energy plans, solar buyback plans, etc.

Our Honest Opinion

As an electricity provider, the comparison between Reliant and TXU is a draw. Depending on the day, one company or the other might have slightly lower rates. But, both companies use gimmicks and tricks that don't have the consumer's best interest in mind.

Most of their electricity plans have stipulations about the time of use, bill credits, and if they don't have these things their pricing is not competitive.

We believe there are likely better fixed-rate plans from providers that will give you a lower electricity bill with the same reliable electricity service.

To summarize our grading criteria: 

  • Customer Service (TXU): We were able to get a live agent on the phone about 30 seconds faster than Reliant. Additionally, their service agent appeared to be a U.S. based native english speaker.
  • Early Termination Fees (Tie): Both companies have relatively standard early termination fees. Nothing great, nothing outrageous compared to others in the industry. 
  • Other Fees (Reliant): Hidden in the terms of service both electricity providers had some fees for late payments etc. But, TXU fees seemed to nickel and dime customers. The fee for making a payment over the phone was a deal breaker for us. 
  • Renewable Options (Neither): Both have renewable plans, but they are full of gimmicks and tricky terms. There are lower costs, less confusing renewable plans. If this is important to you - avoid these two companies. 

Customer Service Winner: TXU

We called the support telephone numbers for Reliant Energy and TXU Energy during normal business hours. Thursday around 3:30pm central time to be exact. Here are the results:

Reliant Energy: 2 minutes 15 seconds

TXU Energy: 1 minute 47 seconds

One other thing to note is that the support for TXU Energy appeared to be based in the United States, or at least a native-speaking English speaker. On the other hand, the Reliant Energy support agent appeared to be overseas. Both had options for Spanish-speaking support.

Both companies are large, so it is likely they could both have support operations both in the United States and overseas that cover overflow calls or after-hours calls.

Additionally, Reliant Energy's chat support was able to connect us to an agent in about 12 seconds whereas TXU's chat service was unavailable, which seems odd for 3:30pm Texas time on a business day.

Early Termination Fees Winner: Tie

For this comparison, we viewed each plan listed for residential customers on each provider's website in the Oncor service area. Spot-checking showed that early termination fees do not seem to vary by utility service area.

Reliant Energy:

$150 - $395. Reliant Energy termination fees are correlated to the length of the contract. The longer the contract, the higher the fee. 12-month plans have a $150 fee, 24-month plans have a $295 fee, and 36-month plans have a $395 fee. One difference was the Reliant Apartment 12-month plan which had an early termination fee of $10 per month remaining on your contract.

TXU Energy:

$150 - $295. Like Reliant, TXU Energy's early termination fees seem to be correlated to the plan length. 12-month plans had a $150 early termination fee while 24-month plans had a $295 early termination fee.

TXU vs Reliant when it comes to early termination fees is a tie. They follow similar fee structures.

Other Fees Winner: Reliant

Tucked deep in the long lawyer-written terms of service providers will hide fees. For each of the plans we reviewed for early termination fees, we also reviewed hidden fees. Here's what we found for each provider.

Reliant Energy:

  • Late payments (5% of bill): If you do not pay your bill by the due date, we may charge you a Late Payment Penalty of 5% on the amount for the previous month’s pastdue electric service.*
  • Payment failures ($25): We will charge $25 for each payment transaction that is returned unpaid or not processed including 1) returned checks, 2) returned electronic fund transfers, and 3) rejected credit card transactions.*
  • Disconnections ($20-$30): We may also charge a $20 Disconnect Notice Fee each time we send you a disconnection notice and a $30 Disconnect Recovery charge if you fail to pay the past due amount before the expiration date of any disconnection notice issued by Reliant.*
  • Usage Charge ($9.95/month): This fee appears in several plans offered and is dependent on usage. In the plans we analyzed the threshold was less than 800 kWh. So if you had that plan and used less than 800 kWh you would be charged an additional $9.95.
  • Base Charge ($5 - $6.95/month): Two plans we reviewed (Reliant Apartment 12 Plan and Reliant Get More, Save More 36 plan) we found base charges. There are monthly fees tacked on to your monthly bill.

* Details copied from plan terms of service.

TXU Energy:

  • Agent Assist Fee ($3.95): We may charge up to a $3.95 fee when you use a TXU Energy customer care representative to help you make a payment by credit card, debit card or electronic check. To avoid this fee, you can use our automated phone service, pay online through TXU Energy MyAccount, send your payment in the mail, or pay at an authorized payment location.
  • Late Payment Penalty (5% of bill): For late payments or past due or delinquent balances, we may charge a one-time penalty of 5% of the past due balance.
  • Insufficient Funds Fee ($30): We may charge a fee up to $30 for each payment that is not processed due to insufficient funds or other type of bank return or payment rejection.
  • Document Processing Fee ($2): We may charge a $2 fee for each request for additional bill copies, payment reference letters or summary billing. To avoid this fee, you may be able to access your usage and billing history on our website.
  • Disconnect Notice Fee ($20): We may charge you a Disconnect Notice Fee of up to $20 each time we send you a disconnection notice.
  • Disconnect Recovery Charge ($30): If you receive a disconnection notice we may also charge you a Disconnect Recovery Charge of up to $30 if you do not make payment before the date your service is subject to disconnection. This charge would be in addition to any TDU charges related to disconnections/reconnections.
  • Serial Payment Fee ($.95): If you make more than five payments in a month, we may charge up to $4.95 for the sixth payment in the month and for each successive payment in that same month
  • Base Charge ($4.95 - $9.95): Virtually all TXU plans offered have a base fee associated with them.

Renewable Options Winner: Neither

Both electricity companies offer 100% renewable plans, but there are some nuances. In either case, there are far better options for renewable energy plans if that is what you are looking for.

Reliant Energy:

Reliant Energy offers three 100% renewable energy plans at the time of this post. All three have their own unique terms and conditions. We typically do not recommend plans that offer rate structures based on time of use or bill credits are usually not ideal.

These plans may change or change names.

Reliant Flextra Credits 12 plan - Bill credits that work similarly to a mail-in rebate:

  • Monthly bill credits must be utilized in a separate billing period during your term. Customers may apply credits through their online account, via the Reliant app, or by contacting Reliant’s customer care team. Only one credit can be applied to any outstanding bill amount. Customers on AutoPay must redeem a bill credit up to 24 hours before the bill due date. Credits may not be combined in any individual month. Any unredeemed bill credits will automatically be applied during the last available bills of a customer’s term. Unused bill credits will not transfer if you switch away from the Flextra Credits plan and are not redeemable for cash.

Reliant Truly Free Nights 100% Solar 12 plan

  • Time of use plan that has a rate structure that favors nighttime use.
  • Nighttime Charge applies to usage from 8:00pm to 6:00am every day.
  • Daytime Energy Charge 25.4855¢ per kWh.
  • Nighttime Energy Charge* $0.00 per kWh.

Reliant Truly Free Weekends 100% Solar 12 plan

  • Time of use plan that favors using more energy on the weekends.
  • There is no charge applied to usage from 8:00pm Friday to 12:00am Monday.
  • Weekday Energy Charge 20.3997¢ per kWh.
  • Weekend Energy Charge $0.00 per kWh.

TXU Energy:

TXU has several plans that use power from renewable sources. The downside is that they have complex bill credit or time-of-use plans. In our opinion, these plans are not ideal for most people.

Furthermore, TXU also uses plan names to make users think they may be supporting renewable energy, when in reality the plan's renewable content is less than the statewide average.

TXU Energy Free EV Miles

  • Free EV Charging Hours: From 7:00pm through 12:59pm every day.
  • Uses telematics data which you authorize TXU Energy to access when you connect your vehicle to their telematics platform.
  • Multiple electric vehicles are supported on this plan as long as the vehicles are registered and authorized to the plan holder’s Service Address through TXU Energy’s telematics platform.

TXU Energy Free Nights & Solar Days 12 or 14

  • Nights Discount: You will receive a 100% discount on all Energy Charges and TDU Delivery Charges per kWh during ‘Nights’ hours.
  • Solar Days: From 5:00am through 7:59pm each day.
  • Nights: From 8:00pm through 4:59am each day.

TXU Energy Solar Saver

  • On the surface, you would expect this plan to be 100% renewable. However, according to the EFL, the plan is only sourced from 25% renewable content.
  • It's unclear how this supports Texas Solar Farms as it is advertised.