All you need to know about prepayment meters.

Prepayment meter blog image

There are a lot of different types of meter out there. From smart meters, to smart prepayment meters and of course standard prepayment meters (PPM). So, what’s the difference?

Take a gander at our simple guide to prepayment meters to find answers to your burning PPM questions.

What is a prepayment meter?

A prepayment meter (PPM) is a type of meter where you pay for your energy before you use it. Traditional prepayment accounts are linked to a key or card which can be topped up with credit, just like mobile phone pay-as-you-go SIM cards. You can top up at your local Payzone, PayPoint or Post Office outlet.

This means you can control exactly what you spend on your energy, and keep track of your budget with ease. We always suggest you keep an eye on your remaining credit balance so you never run out.

Are prepayment meters the same as pay-as-you-go?

Yes, they are, you may see prepayment meters called pay-as-you-go meters. However, these are different to smart pay-as-you-go meters.

What is a smart pay as you go meter?

A smart pay as you go (SPAYG) meter is very similar to a traditional prepayment meter but with the extra benefits of a smart meter.

That means you still need to top up before you use your energy. However, you’ll have access to an In Home Display (IHD) that tracks your usage and gives you alerts when your credit is running low.

Plus, you can top up online or using our app, as well as by visiting your local top up point. Helping to make managing your energy more convenient.

Learn more about smart pay as you go.

How to top up your prepayment meter?

You can top up at your local Payzone, PayPoint or Post Office store. Just look out for PayPoint or Payzone signs outside. If you see the sign, you can top up your key or card inside. Find your nearest top up point online on their websites.

Once there’s credit on your key or card, you just slot it into your meter and follow the instructions on screen to immediately access your energy.

What happens if I run out of credit?

Don’t worry, if you run out and can’t make it to a top up point you can access emergency credit, which you simply pay back next time you top up. You will need to pay back the full emergency credit used, plus any standing charges and debt repayments that accumulated, before you can add additional credit to your meter.

Emergency credit for most electricity meters has increased from £5 to £10 (we’ve sent you a letter or email telling you this). We’re still rolling out the increase - so if we haven’t been in touch yet, your emergency credit is still £5.

Emergency credit is £10 for gas if you have dual fuel meters. This credit can be accessed when you drop below £2 for gas or 50p for electricity. Simply pop your key or card into your meter and press the red A button for gas credit or the blue B button for electricity credit.

Top tips for using a prepayment meter.

  • You’ll need to top up regularly, even when you’re not using much energy. As you will still need to pay the daily standing charge, which covers the cost of supplying your property with energy. This is especially important if you have debt on your meter, as you will need to top up each week with a little more than you use to cover your agreed repayment plan.

  • It can be tempting to top up less during the summer, when your energy use is lower. However, we recommend continuing to build credit by maintaining a steady amount throughout the year. That way when winter comes, and your energy use increases, you have built up a nest egg to help you pay. Learn more about preparing for winter.

  • If you lose your prepayment key or card or it stops working we can replace it for you. You won’t lose any credit on the old card. Find out how to get a replacement prepayment key or card.

Can I switch from a prepayment meter to a credit meter?

Yes, as long as you're not paying back a debt through your meter and you pass a credit check, we can book an appointment with you within a reasonable time frame to swap your prepayment meter for a shiny new smart meter.

If you switch to a credit meter you'll pay for your energy monthly by Direct Debit or we'll send you a bill (which you’ll need to pay in 7 days).

If your circumstances mean that a prepayment meter is not safe or practical it's really important that you talk to us so we can help.

Struggling to pay.

If you are struggling to pay your bills we are here to support you.

From free debt advice from our partner StepChange, to grants from the E.ON Next Energy Fund that will help you pay your energy bills or replace essential appliances. Find out more about the support on offer and see if you are eligible for help with your energy bills.

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Published 24/09/2023