MSE News

PayPoint top-up for British Gas prepay customers to end – what you need to know

The way British Gas customers with prepayment meters top up is changing from 1 January, as they'll no longer be able to use PayPoint at their usual newsagent or supermarket.

British Gas announced today it has signed a new contract with Payzone's bill payment service – which is part of the Post Office – to serve its prepay customers, replacing its existing agreement with PayPoint.

PayPoint is one of the main ways of topping up prepayment meters for British Gas customers at the moment, with its terminals in 28,000 convenience retailers, including newsagents, supermarkets and garages. Customers can also make payments at 11,500 post office branches.

From 1 January 2020, British Gas customers will have to top up at either one of Payzone's 13,000 locations or the same post offices as now. Combined, that means British Gas customers have a network of 24,500 places where they can top up – 15,000 fewer than was offered when top-ups were available through PayPoint and the Post Office.

Check our Cheap Energy Club to see if you could switch and save, and see our Prepaid Gas and Electricity guide for more help on how to switch.

I'm a British Gas prepay customer – how is topping up changing?

If you're on prepayment, you've a number of options from 1 January:

  • Top up via Post Office and Payzone. British Gas customers will be able to top up at 11,500 local post office branches and 13,000 Payzone locations. This may mean longer journeys for some, as you likely won't be able to top up in the same shop you do now.

  • Top up online – if you can get smart prepayment meters installed. If you don't already have them, see if you're eligible to get Smart Pay As You Go meters with British Gas. These let you top up online, via a mobile app or over the phone. British Gas is now only installing the new versions of smart meters – known as 'SMETS 2' – which maintain all functionality when you switch, something the older version didn't do.

See if you can switch to a standard credit meter to save £100s/year

While prepay can be a good way to manage how much you spend on energy, it's generally the most expensive way to pay, so see if you can switch your meter, and if not, make sure you at least consider switching to the cheapest prepay tariff.

  • Switch to a standard credit meter. If you can, moving off prepayment and onto standard billed meters – where you pay for your energy via direct debit, or cash or cheque – is the best option to save, as standard billed meters offer much lower gas and electricity rates. Right now, the cheapest standard billed meter tariff is £358/year cheaper on typical use than British Gas's prepayment tariff. With British Gas you'll need to pass a credit check to change your meters, though others don't require this, so you could switch provider then change meter – providing you're not in debt to your energy firm. See Cheap Prepaid Gas & Electricity for more.

  • Switch your prepay tariff. British Gas only has one prepayment deal, and that is its standard tariff, costing a typical household £1,216/yr on average, just £1 less than the maximum allowed under the price cap. In comparison, Bulb offers the cheapest at £1,044/yr, plus you get £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback if you switch via our Cheap Energy Club, and according to the supplier you can top up at both PayPoint and Payzone locations.

'British Gas will be losing our custom after 20 years'

The changes have not gone down well with many customers, who have expressed their concerns to us.

Bill emailed: "This will hurt all older customers that are not near banks or post offices and like to top up their gas account regularly."

Louise said: "It's three miles to our nearest Payzone – British Gas will be losing our custom after 20 years."

Corinne told us: "I will have to use Payzone at a post office, which is not convenient for me."

What does British Gas say?

British Gas partnerships director Amanda Reynolds said: "We are pleased to announce a new long-term contract that will benefit our customers who choose to pay their bills or top up their prepayment meters over the counter. These customers will now be able to top up in Payzone locations – and still also be able to do so in their local post office – with over 24,000 locations in total."

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