COVID-19 Update - Despite the current coronavirus restrictions you can still switch your energy supplier.
If you’re struggling to pay expensive gas bills, then prepay gas could be for you. Here’s all you need to know about prepay gas, including who offers it, how it works, how to top up, and what it costs.
Prepay gas is an alternative to being billed, and could meet your needs better, for example, to help you stay within budget.
You pay-as-you-go (PAYG) for the gas you need and as it’s used, the cost comes off the balance on your prepayment gas meter.
The main reason for switching is usually to help with budgeting and avoid expensive or estimated gas bills that can be difficult to manage.
Prepay gas is not as common as prepay electricity, but it’s still available from these suppliers:
If you want to switch to prepay gas, you may have to request to have a prepayment gas meter installed, as for most suppliers, it isn’t the standard payment method.
Unlike other methods of paying for gas where payment is usually made bi-monthly or monthly, a PAYG meter requires topping up before energy is used. This means that you cannot use more energy than you can afford.
This could be helpful if you find it difficult to monitor and stay in control of your gas usage.
Generally, if you request a prepay gas meter, your supplier will arrange for Gas Networks Ireland to install it, and will provide you with some initial bonus credit.
You’ll also get a Gas Card which you can top-up with your chosen amount each time, much like topping up a mobile phone. You can then slot the card into the meter and transfer your credit across.
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.
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.
If you’ve run out of emergency credit and still haven’t topped up, you’re guaranteed not to be cut off at certain times of the day and on certain days.
Friendly credit allows you to still use gas in the evenings, overnight, at the weekend and on some public holidays. The exact times and public holidays can be found on each supplier’s website.
You’ll build up a debt by using friendly credit and will need to top up as soon as possible. Your top up must cover all your debt as well as the new credit amount you need.
There aren’t as many top up options available with prepay gas as there are for prepay electricity.
With each supplier, you can visit a local shop or garage displaying the Payzone sign. Electric Ireland and Bord Gáis Energy also let you top up in outlets displaying the PostPoint sign, and in An Post outlets.
It’s more important to ensure you have enough credit at all times as you can’t top up online.
In general, prepaid tariffs are more expensive than standard gas tariffs.
However, many people feel the benefits of PAYG tariffs make switching worthwhile, despite the higher unit rates. It puts you in control of your spending and abolishes estimated bills.
With prepay gas, you’ll only ever pay for what you use.
As well as the gas 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 and monitor your usage on a daily basis.
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.
The table below shows the average cost of each supplier’s prepay gas plan for one year.
According to the CRU, the average gas customer uses 11,000 kW/h gas per year.
|Bord Gáis Energy||Prepay Gas||€791||Compare now|
|Electric Ireland||Pay As You Go||€831||Compare now|
|Flogas||Pay As You Go||€1023||Compare now|
If you’re not sold on prepay gas and are interested in comparing bill pay options too, you stand to make much bigger savings.
At the moment, the average gas customer can save up to €224 by switching from a typical standard plan to the cheapest deal on the market.
Our guide can help you to compare gas prices, find the cheapest plan, and reduce your gas bills.
It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving