What is a prepayment meter?
With a prepayment meter you have to pay for your electricity or
gas before you use it.
There are different types of prepayment meter:
• Token meters
• Key meters
• Card meters
• Smart card meters
How do I pay for my gas or electricity?
Your gas or electricity company will give you a list of places
where you can 'top up' your token, key or card with money.
Newsagents and post offices often provide this service.
Do I have to have a prepayment meter for my gas or
If you are behind with your gas or electricity bills, your
energy supplier may fit a prepayment meter in your home instead of
cutting off your supply.
However, if you are keeping to a payment agreement to gradually
pay off your debts, you do not have to have a prepayment meter
Can I ask to have a prepayment meter installed to pay
for my gas or electricity?
Yes. However, you may have to wait until one is available for
Are prepayment meters a good idea?
A prepayment meter may be offered to you instead of having your
electricity or gas cut off.
Prepayment meters can:
• Help you gradually pay off any money you
owe and pay for your electricity and standing charges at the same
• Help you manage your money if you are on
a low income.
What are the drawbacks of a prepayment
Prepayment meters have some drawbacks, including:
• Electricity and gas usually costs more
when paid for in this way.
• You won't have any gas or electricity if
you do not keep your meter topped up with money.
• Places to top up your meter may not be
nearby and may cost you money to get there
• Some meters are not updated straight
away if the cost of gas or electricity goes up. This means you may
build up more debt without meaning to.
Even Government MInisters feel the extra people money pay for
having prepayment meters is unjust:
"The extra costs that people on pre-payment meters are now
having to meet seem totally disproportionate"
Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister
Find out more on the BBC News website.
Someone's given me some tokens for my meter, can I use
No. Only use tokens that you have bought from a place named by
your supplier. If you use someone else's tokens your next meter
reading will show that you have been using electricity you haven't
paid for and you will have to pay the difference.
For the same reason, never buy tokens from car boot sales or
I'm worried about how to pay for my gas and
Visit our 'Affordable warmth' page for more advice and