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British Gas to give up to £250 in free credit to some struggling prepayment customers – here's what we know

British Gas will give thousands of eligible prepayment meter customers up to £250 in free credit to help with continued high energy costs this winter. If you're a British Gas prepayment customer, look out for a letter from the firm offering you help.

The move comes as part of an expansion to the firm's energy support fund, which first launched in January 2023. See below for everything we know about the scheme.

For more info on how to get help with your energy bill, whether you're a British Gas customer or not, see our What to do if you're struggling to pay for energy guide.

British Gas hasn't shared the exact eligibility criteria for the £250 help

The supplier told us it will use the information it already holds about customers to determine who qualifies. It said anyone it has identified as being "vulnerable" would get the credit, along with those on "low incomes" – but refused to provide any more details on its criteria.

The majority of eligible customers will get £250, but some will get £100, depending on their level of income and vulnerability.

You CAN'T apply for the help – British Gas will write to you if you're eligible

There's no way to apply for the free credit – instead, British Gas says it will write to eligible customers directly. An initial round of letters will be sent to those who qualify by the end of this month, followed by a second round in January 2024.

Beware texts or emails inviting you to claim or apply for the free credit – they're likely to be scams. If you're unsure whether a message is genuine, don't click or follow any links. Instead, contact British Gas directly using the details on its website.

Unfortunately, you're unlikely to be eligible for the first batch of payments if you're a newly-joining customer. You may get the credit if you switch to British Gas before the next batch of payments are made in January, but British Gas said this isn't guaranteed.

How the credit will be paid

If you do qualify, how you get the free credit will depend on the type of meter you have:

  • If you're on smart prepayment, you'll get it automatically. Up to £250 credit will be added to your energy account remotely within 72 hours of you receiving your confirmation letter.

  • If you're a traditional (non-smart) prepayment meter, you'll need to redeem a voucher. You'll be sent a letter with a barcode which you'll need to redeem at a post office. The credit must be redeemed within 90 days, but British Gas has told us it can reissue it if you lose it.

British Gas has said that most of its eligible customers are single-fuel customers, but those who have both gas and electricity with the firm can choose which fuel account the credit should be allocated to. You'll need to contact British Gas on 0333 202 9802 to do this.

Check if you can get help through a separate British Gas energy support grant

British Gas's charity, the British Gas Energy Trust, also operates two similar non-repayable grant schemes. One scheme is open to all – regardless of which energy firm you're with – while the other is open to existing British Gas customers only.

The grants are only for those living in England, Scotland or Wales, and are designed to help people who have built debts of £250 or more on their energy account. Prepayment customers can also apply for the schemes and could receive a grant of up to £1,500.

If you're a British Gas prepayment customer and you're struggling to top up, but aren't in debt on your meter, you still can contact British Gas or the British Gas Energy Trust to enquire about other help available, such as fuel vouchers. For more details and how to apply, see our info on energy suppliers' hardship funds.

What other energy suppliers are doing to help customers this winter

Like last winter, several energy suppliers will be providing their customers with extra funding and support packages to help ease continued, excessively high energy costs this winter.

For example, E.on Next has announced it will offer those on low incomes up to 50% off their bills (alongside other help), while Ovo Energy will be giving away free energy-saving products as part of its winter Customer Support Package. EDF has announced it will cut bills for some customers eligible for the Warm Home Discount by £30 this winter.

We've asked other major energy suppliers what extra support they'll be offering customers this winter – for the latest updates and full info on the different support you can get, see our Energy bill help guide.

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