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.)