Pre-payment meters are used to run the gas and electricity in your home. If you have a pre-pay meter, this works by paying money onto the meter as a ‘top up’, like you would with a mobile phone.
You may have a card or a coin to pay money onto your meter. This can usually be done at your local post office or shops, or where there is a designated ‘Pay-Point’.
There are different advantages and disadvantages to having a pre-payment meter. If you have a meter and are thinking of coming off or you’re thinking of having a pre-pay meter installed, you need to consider the following:
When a pre-payment meter works
- If you’re on a budget, having a pre-payment meter can help you. You will only use as much as you spend and it can help to avoid large bills.
- If you have gone into debt with your supplier, they may install a pre-payment meter to help you manage your deficit. This can help you to pay off a debt in small chunks rather than in one big payment.
Where a pre-payment meter doesn’t work
- Having a pre-payment meter can usually have a tariff that is higher than a standard tariff. You can end up paying more on your meter than you may need to.
- As you would usually need to top up your meter at a shop, you’re restricted to when you can add money to your meter. If you are low on gas and/or electricity and the shops are shut, you could be without until they re-open.
- A great way to get a cheaper deal for your gas and/or electricity is through comparison websites. But the best deals on the market aren’t usually available to those who have a pre-payment meter.
- If you have an old style meter, the price you have to pay for your gas and/or electricity will need to be changed manually by your supplier. This might mean that the price you pay may not be updated for a while, meaning that you could be paying more than you could.
- If you want to move away from a pre-payment meter to a standard meter, there is usually a charge.
- If you do decide to move away from a pre-payment meter to a standard meter, you will usually have to meet certain criteria. Some of these criteria could be having a current account and not having a deficit for 3 months.
If you have a pre-payment meter and you would like to find out more, speak to your supplier. Whether having a pre-payment meter will be beneficial to you or not will depend on your circumstances.
Although the best deals aren’t available if you’re on a pre-payment meter, you may still be able to find a cheaper deal if you switch suppliers. You can do this through comparison websites. Find out more about switching energy suppliers here.