Using American Express to pay your gas and electricity utility bills with Bulb

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Gas and electricity is a substantial monthly outlay for most people, but it is rare that you find a way of putting the cost of gas and electricity onto an American Express card.

This is unfortunate, as it would make a major dint into the spend you need to trigger a sign-up bonus or your annual British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher.

I came across something interesting over the weekend, however.

We have used Bulb for a couple of years for our gas and electricity.

You have probably heard of them.  Founded in 2015, it has now has 1.6 million customers.

What is interesting about Bulb is that it only has one tariff.  There are no special deals, limited offers etc.  There are no fixed rate tariffs.  They don’t rip off established customers (ie mainly the elderly who don’t realise they are on uncompetitive tariffs) to subsidise loss-leading deals.  There is only one price, and everyone pays it.  The price is linked to wholesale energy pricing, meaning that you benefit if prices drop and lose out if prices rise.

The reason I use it is simplicity. Since we signed up, I have literally not spent 30 seconds thinking about my gas and electricity costs.  I know that Bulb is close to the cheapest (it will always be undercut by someone, somewhere with a limited time deal if you are willing to shop around every few months) and I can get on with my life.  That’s fine by me.

If you are concerned about your environmental impact,  100% of Bulb’s electricity is renewable and their gas supply is 100% carbon neutral.

Using American Express with Bulb

Bulb prefers that you pay by monthly direct debit to keep costs down, although there are other payment options available such as on receipt of a bill.  Most customers are billed online although paper copies are available on request.

However, you CAN top up your online account at any time.

This can be done using an American Express card.

On your ‘Payments & Statements’ page on their website, you will see:

If you click the ‘Top up’ box, you get taken to the payments processor Stripe:

…. and you can see American Express as a payment option.  It works fine – I’ve tried it.

Doing a top-up does NOT mean that your next Direct Debit payment is not taken.  As with all energy companies, Bulb tries to charge you a flat monthly figure throughout the year even though your usage is higher in Winter.  This means you build up a balance during the Summer and it unwinds during the Winter.  Making a top up payment simply increases this balance.

(EDIT: comments below suggest that the solution is to reduce your direct debit to the £5 minimum. I could not go this low but it may be possible if I top up more and create a bigger buffer – I will investigate.)

When you input your next meter reading, however, it uses your usage and the balance of your account to work out what your future direct debit payments will be.

Your money should be safe if you do a top up.   Whilst a lot of small energy companies have gone bust in recent years, Ofgem has a system in place to ensure whoever takes over your account honours outstanding credit balances.  If this failed – which seems unlikely – you would still have protection via your payment card.

PS.  Bulb has a £50 refer a friend sign-up bonus if you sign up for electricity and gas or £25 for one fuel.  My refer a friend link is here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. LAUREN hurley says:

    Great tip, thank you!

  2. The Savage Squirrel says:

    Was going to sign up to this to pay my annual HfP subscription, but my existing supplier (Orbit) offers the same feature and my current tarrif is significantly lower. Sorry Rob!

  3. slightly OT
    BT will send you a payment card which you can use at the Coop to pay with Amex. I pay most of the monthly bill leaving a few pounds to be paid by DD as I need a number of DDs for when I switch accounts (if that ever comes back).
    I get our carbon free, always available electricity from EDF i.e. nuclear.

  4. Crafty says:

    Small correction to article, should say “dent in” not “dint into”.

  5. Keensta says:

    I pay 100% of my Octopus Energy bill using an Amex CC every month – just lower or cancel the DD.

    Here’s a link to share £100 if anyone is interested:

    https://share.octopus.energy/jolly-gale-171

    Highly rated on TrustPilot and recommended by Which and me!

    • Andrew L says:

      I pay £5 a month to OVO and £95 using my IHG Rewards credit card. I’m currently £800 in credit which OVO kindly pay me 5% interest on each month! 😊

      • And OVO are also very obliging about refunding to your bank account if requested!

    • @mkcol says:

      I’ve been doing the same with Octopus for at least 18 months too.

      Just lowered the DD to £1 & pay the rest with my AMEX.

  6. Peter Taysum says:

    The direct debit seems to be set up to only reduce by 10%. I kept doing it to go from £100 now to around £13 and paid on BAPP AmEx.

    Thanks

  7. I use Octopus and have no direct debit set up. I pay by American Express whenever I feel like it. I once went for a year without a meter reading and then owed around £1000, which I paid in one hit. Octopus seems fine with this.

  8. Amlati says:

    Genuine comment as I want to know if I’m missing something here…

    Assuming average utility bills at £1000 per annum (appreciate likely at higher end of spectrum) – if you use AMEX to pay this, you will gain about 1500 points (assuming you have premium account paying 1.5 points per £ – less if you’re only getting 1 point per £).

    Assuming you transferred this to AVIOS, at the rate of 1p per point, it would have a ‘value’ of about £15.

    For this, you need to log into your account every month in order to top up. I appreciate it probably doesn’t take long but let’s say it takes about 10 mins on average (including remembering to do it, logging on, entering your details if you haven’t saved them etc). For the year that would take about 120 mins = 2 hours. If it can be done in 5 mins then that’s an hour.

    So unless someone is earning £15/hr or less, then really the time taken to make the payment offsets any benefit – doesn’t it? Even more so if the tariff you’re on costs £15 more for the year?

    I appreciate some may be looking to increase spend to reach certain thresholds (including 241 voucher), but is there something else I’m missing here??

    As I said, genuine comment – I’m looking to see if I’m missing something that everyone else is seeing (very possible) or if we’re placing different values on our time.

    Many thanks if anyone can help me understand better.

    • For £1000 per year, I’d agree. That said, my Mum has a one-bed bungalow in Yorkshire and her bill is still £55 per month so I’m not sure what £1000 gets you these days.

    • Terry Semmence says:

      Yes quite agree

  9. Voldemort says:

    For anyone who does this, you can reduce your direct debit amount and it will let you reduce it gradually. Just keep going back in and reducing the amount.

  10. Paresh Pankhania says:

    Hi All, Outfox the Market also take Amex

  11. Vin Gupta says:

    Hi Rob, thanks for the great tip! I have now switched to Bulb energy, so I look forward to racking up the AMEX Points. I wanted to say a thank you, as I’ve followed your blog since 2016 and you’ve inspired me to travel more and travel better! I honestly never thought that 5* hotels and business class travel was something that I would ever be able to afford, so it’s been a wonderful experience. I was happy travelling in economy and assumed that it would always be that way. I’m sure you hear this all the time, but thanks!

    I haven’t been to one of your Xmas parties or summer parties, but I look forward to attend at some point. I’ve got a feeling, that you’re something of a celeb at these parties! You have also inspired me to set up my own blog, https://soulfultravelguy.com/. I would love it if you could take a look and let me know what you think! I did a review of the Conrad Maldives at https://soulfultravelguy.com/article/conrad-maldives-review. I’m really proud of the review, and I never would have been able to go there without your inspiration

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