MSE News

British Gas to drop minimum top-up for prepayment energy customers back to £1

British Gas will be reversing its decision to increase the minimum top-up for prepayment customers from £1 to £5 after a customer backlash. 

In December, the big six firm announced that the minimum prepayment top-up would increase from £1 to £5 from 1 January. This was part of the energy giant's change to using Payzone's bill payment service – which is part of the Post Office – for its customers to top up, instead of PayPoint.

But now, British Gas has said it has "listened closely to feedback" and will work with Payzone and Post Office to ensure this amount will move back to £1 from early March – though it expects some customers will be able to top up by £1 earlier than this as the changes are implemented.

Check out Cheap Prepaid Gas & Electricity to see how you could switch and save. 

Can you save on 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 on to standard billed or 'credit' meters – where you pay for your energy via direct debit, 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 £425/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 energy debt. 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 has only 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 regulator's current price cap.

    In comparison, Bulb offers the cheapest at £1,019/yr, including £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback if you switch via our Cheap Energy Club. Bulb tells us you can top up its keys and cards at PayPoint and Payzone locations.

What does British Gas say?

Sarwjit Sambhi, consumer chief executive at British Gas's parent company Centrica, said: "Our customers are always at the heart of the decisions we make and so we've listened closely to feedback after making this change. The aim of this move was to keep our costs down in order to offer our customers the best value, but I am happy to change this decision whilst we continue to look at ways that we can help our most vulnerable customers."

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