Energy

Your guide to Pay As You Go energy in Ireland

Here’s how pay as you go electricity and gas work in Ireland. We compare prepay energy prices, weigh up the pros and cons, and explain how to switch to stay on top of your bills.

Pay As You Go Electricity

Discover how it works, prices in Ireland and where to get it.

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Pay As You Go Gas

Find out who offers it, what it costs and how to top up.

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Pay As You Go Energy

The costs & benefits of prepaid energy. Is it right for you?

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Electricity

Pay As You Go Electricity

What is Pay As You Go electricity?

It’s electricity that’s paid for in advance. You’ll only pay for the energy you need, so there are no bills.

Unlike the standard payment method of bi-monthly or monthly bills to cover usage, a prepayment meter requires topping up before you can use energy.

Pay As you Go (PAYG) is also known as prepaid or prepay electricity.

How does prepay electricity work?

If you opt for a pay as you go plan, an installer from your chosen supplier will set up your service for free.

You may get a welcome credit, but after that, you’ll need to top up online, via an app or in-store in any Payzone outlet whenever your credit runs low.

When your credit runs out your electricity will stop working, but you’ll get a warning to top up again once you’re down to the last few euros.

If your supplier provides an app, you’ll be able to track and control your power usage.

Where can you get PAYG electricity in Ireland?

Some suppliers specialise in prepay electricity; others offer it alongside their billed tariffs. Many suppliers provide a PAYG option if you struggle to keep up with bills.

You can get prepay energy from these suppliers:

Switch and save up to €383 on your energy bills

It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving

Is prepay electricity more expensive?

PAYG electricity is often more expensive than billed electricity, but there are some benefits that may outweigh the price difference, such as the ability to monitor and control your energy use.

Bear in mind not all prepay electricity costs the same. Unit rates vary amongst suppliers so to find the best deal, you’ll need to compare the suppliers and plans available.

Who is the cheapest Pay As You Go electricity supplier?

Here’s a selection of the cheapest PAYG electricity tariffs available based on average household use.*

Supplier Plan Name Welcome credit Price  
Electric Ireland Smarter Pay As You Go €150 €2,160 Compare now
PrePay Power Classic Pay €50 €2,245 Compare now
Bord Gáis Energy Pay As You Go - €2,305 Compare now
Pinergy Pinergy Smart €100 €2,323 Compare now

* The national average electricity consumption is 4,200 kW/h according to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). Prices will vary if your household usage is higher or lower than the average.

What’s included in the price?

The price you pay for PAYG electricity covers the following charges:

  • Unit rate
  • Standing charge
  • Prepayment service charge
  • Government PSO Levy

Gas

Pay As You Go Gas

What is Pay As You Go gas?

It’s an alternative way to pay for the gas you use for cooking or heating your home.

Instead of paying for gas monthly or bi-monthly, you pay for the gas you need in advance. You’ll need to top up your gas meter with credit when it gets low to avoid the risk of losing supply.

How does prepay gas work?

If you request a prepay gas meter, your supplier will arrange for Gas Networks Ireland to install it and provide you with some starter credit.

You’ll get a Gas Card which you can top-up with credit in any Payzone outlet nationwide.

Once topped up, simply slot the card into the prepayment meter to see your balance displayed. Your credit balance will reduce as you use power.

How to top up your prepayment meter

You can top up your gas card at any Payzone outlet. The minimum top-up is €10.

Some suppliers like Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy also allow you to top up at An Post and PostPoint outlets.

When you first need to top up and transfer credit, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Insert your new gas card into the card slot in the meter and wait until it displays 0.00
  2. Remove the gas card and take it to a Payzone outlet to purchase credit
  3. Once topped up, insert your card into the meter and follow the instructions on-screen

Who offers Pay As You gas in Ireland?

Prepay gas is not as popular as PAYG electricity but many suppliers provide a PAYG option if you struggle to keep up with bills.

It’s an available option from these suppliers:

If you want to switch to prepay gas, you may need to have a prepayment gas meter installed because it isn’t the standard payment method for most suppliers.

If you don’t have an existing credit meter, a fee will apply to change to a gas prepayment meter. In some instances, a free installation will be offered to those in financial difficulty.

Switch and save up to €383 on your energy bills

It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving

Is prepay gas more expensive?

Prepaid gas can sometimes be more expensive than billed gas tariffs because they’re not discounted.

However, despite the price, many people feel the benefits of PAYG tariffs make switching worthwhile. It help you control your usage and eliminates the need for bills.

With prepay gas, you’ll only ever pay for what you use so you can budget and save energy when necessary.

Who is the cheapest Pay As You Go gas supplier?

Here’s the cost of each PAYG gas tariff available based on average household use.*

Supplier Plan Name Price  
Bord Gáis Energy Prepay Gas €1,865 Compare now
PrePayPower PrePayGas €1,885 Compare now
Electric Ireland Pay As You Go €1,971 Compare now
Flogas Pay As You Go €2,682 Compare now

* The national average gas consumption is 11,000 kW/h according to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). Prices will vary if your household usage is higher or lower than the average.

What’s included in the price?

The price you pay for PAYG gas covers the following charges:

  • Unit rate
  • Standing charge
  • Carbon Tax

Energy

Should you switch to prepay energy?

Many tenants have no choice but to pay for their energy on a PAYG basis, but it can also be an option worth considering if you are struggling to keep up with bills or want to take control of your spending.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of prepaid gas and electricity; here are the main ones:

Pros

  • Track and reduce energy usage
  • Plan your household budget
  • No energy bills or estimated bills
  • Easy, hassle-free top-up service
  • A mobile app for easy control
  • No disconnection worries

Cons

  • Can be more expensive
  • Funds are required to credit meters
  • Chance of power disruption
  • Advanced planning is needed
  • Fluctuating seasonal costs

What happens if you run out of credit?

If you’re running low on credit and can’t access a top-up facility, you can activate Emergency Credit. This isn’t free credit, it will simply be taken off the balance of your next top-up.

If you’ve used all your emergency credit before you’ve had a chance to top up, you won’t be cut off during Friendly Credit times.

However, like Emergency Credit, any Friendly Credit you use will be taken off your next top-up balance, so if you’ve used €12 emergency and friendly credit and top up with €40 you’ll be left with €28 credit. Your top-up must cover the debt in addition to the credit you need.

pay as you go energy

What is Friendly Credit?

If you’ve used all your emergency credit and are still not topped up, you will still have an electricity supply at certain times of the day and on certain days.

Friendly Credit is available:

  • In the evening
  • At the weekend
  • On a public holiday

Is it worth switching to PAYG energy?

The main reason for switching to prepay is to help with budgeting and avoid expensive or estimated gas bills that can be difficult to manage.

A PAYG meter can help you monitor and control what you spend on your energy so you only use what you can afford. Some suppliers provide a mobile app that makes top ups, energy tracking and planning really simple.

However, it’s not a good idea to switch to PAYG if running out of credit and having no gas or electricity would cause you a serious problem. For example, if you have:

  • babies or young children
  • a life-threatening health condition
  • a long-term disability
  • reliance on electrical medical equipment
  • impaired hearing or sight

Ultimately you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of your financial and household circumstances.

How to switch to a new PAYG supplier

Switching your energy supplier is straightforward and may save you money.

It’s good to have a rough idea of your typical energy usage to help you to find the cheapest and best-suited PAYG tariffs for your needs.

Once you’ve chosen a PAYG energy supplier you can apply to switch tariffs or call them to discuss your options.

Your existing supplier will be contacted by your new supplier to process your switch and will handle all aspects of the changeover.

Find out more about switching your supplier in our guide How to switch your gas and electricity in Ireland.

Other ways to save money on gas and electricity bills

If you’ve decided that prepay energy isn’t for you, there are more suppliers to choose from and greater savings to be made by switching to another supplier.

The average electricity customer can now save up to €181 by switching from a standard rate plan to the cheapest deal on the market.

The average gas customer can save up to €201 by switching from a typical standard plan to the cheapest deal on the market.

Our guide can help you compare gas and electricity prices to switch and save.

Pay As You Go Electricity & Gas FAQs

How do I buy credit to top up my prepay electric?

There are four possible ways you can top up your credit with each supplier:

  1. Local shops displaying a Payzone or PayPoint sign
  2. Via an app on your mobile (not all suppliers)
  3. Via your supplier website (not all suppliers)
  4. By phone; a minimum top up may apply (not all suppliers)

If you top up online, you should still keep your card or key in case you need to use it. It’s important to ensure you have enough credit and all available options should you run out of credit.

What is Emergency Credit?

If your credit has run low and you’re not able to top up straight away, you can access some Emergency Credit, usually €10, and pay it back later. This is intended for use until you’re able to top up.

When you next top up, you’ll need to replace the emergency credit in addition to the credit you need. For example, if the minimum top up is €10, you’ll need to top up at least €20.

How do I read my prepayment electric meter?

You may have to take a meter reading, for example if you’re moving house, or if you want to change from a prepayment meter to billed electricity. Or, you might just want to check your prepay energy rates and prices.

Find out how to read your prepayment meter in our guide: How do I read my electricity meter?

What happens if my emergency credit runs out?

If you’ve used all your emergency credit and still not topped up, you will still have an electricity supply at certain times of the day and on certain days.

Friendly Credit is available in the evening, at weekends, and on public holidays.

Any credit you use during these times will be taken off your next top up balance. Your top up must cover the debt and the credit you need.

What is a standing charge?

As well as the gas or electricity unit rate, you’ll also need to pay a service charge, which is a fixed cost in addition to top-up payments.

Some suppliers charge this daily on your prepay meter, so you can clearly see what you’re being charged.

If you’re charged a daily standing charge, you’ll need to keep some credit on your meter even if you’re not using any gas, for example in the summer months.

Switch and save up to €383 on your energy bills

It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving