Skip to main content

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 

Find out more about saving money on your Gas and Electricity.

From money saving tips to budget planners we have a host of tips and advice on how to manage your money