MSE News

Minimum top-up for most British Gas prepay customers to rise to £5

The minimum amount British Gas customers with prepayment meters can top up is set to increase from £1 to £5 from 1 January, adding further woes to people already struggling. This comes as part of the energy giant's change to using Payzone terminals for its customers to top up.

Last month, British Gas announced its prepay customers would need to top up at Payzone terminals instead of PayPoint terminals from Wednesday 1 January, meaning there will be 15,000 fewer terminals for customers to top up at.

As part of the changes, the minimum amount customers can top up is also changing. Currently, British Gas customers can top up their key or card with a minimum of £1 using PayPoint, meaning people struggling can put just a few quid in the meter to tide them over until their next payday. But with Payzone, the minimum will be £5 a time.

What's more, all other ways to top up are set at a minimum of £5 as well, including at post offices, or through the British Gas app, website and over the phone for those with smart meters.

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, including whether you could change to a credit meter.

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

From Wednesday 1 January, there will be two main ways to top up:

  • Top up in person at post offices or Payzone terminals. British Gas customers will be able to top up at 11,500 local post offices and 13,000 Payzone locations. At both, the minimum top up is £5.

  • Top up online, if you have (or can get) smart prepayment meters installed. These let you top up online, via a mobile app or over the phone, though you still need to top up a minimum of £5. If you don't already have them, see if you're eligible to get Smart Pay As You Go meters from British Gas.

Can you save on your prepay energy costs?

While prepay can be a good way to manage how much you spend, the amount you pay per unit of electricity or gas is generally a lot more expensive than paying through a credit meter. See if you can save:

  • Switch to a standard credit meter. If you can, moving off prepayment and onto standard billed or 'credit' meters – where you pay for your energy via direct debit, or cash or cheque – is the best option to save, as you can get much lower gas and electricity tariffs on these meters.

    Right now, the cheapest standard billed meter tariff is £376/year cheaper on typical use than the British Gas 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 – provided you're not currently in debt to your energy firm. See Cheap Prepaid Gas & Electricity for more on how to do this.

  • Switch your prepay tariff. If you can't get – or don't want – credit meters, see if you can switch to a cheaper 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 and £25 dual-fuel cashback from Bulb if you switch via our Cheap Energy Club. Bulb tells us you can top up its keys and cards at both PayPoint and Payzone locations.

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