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A pre-pay meter

Pre-payment meters


What is a prepayment meter?

With a pre-payment meter you have to pay for your electricity or gas before you use it.

How do I pay for my gas or electricity?

Your gas or electricity company will issue you with a token and give you a list of places where you can top it up with money. Newsagents and post offices often provide this service.

Do I have to have a pre-payment meter for my gas or electricity?

If you are behind with your gas or electricity bills, your energy supplier may fit a pre-payment 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 pre-payment meter installed.

Can I ask to have a pre-payment meter installed to pay for my gas or electricity?

Yes. However, you may have to wait until one is available for your home.

Are pre-payment meters a good idea?

A pre-payment meter may be offered to you instead of having your electricity or gas cut off.

Pre-payment meters can:

• Help you gradually pay off any money you owe and pay for your electricity and standing charges at the same time
• Help you manage your money if you are on a low income

What are the drawbacks of a pre-payment meter?

Pre-payment meters have some drawbacks, including:

• 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

Historically pre-payment meters have meant that the cost of gas or electricity has been more expensive compared to using a credit meter. However in recent years utility companies have bowed to pressure from campaign groups to ensure the cost is comparable to the cost of paying for your gas or electricity through a monthly or quarterly payment. The National Housing Federation article explains more.

Someone's given me some tokens for my meter, can I use them?

No. Only use tokens provided by your supplier or from a retailer recommended by your supplier. If you use someone else's token you could pay more for your gas or electricity than you need to. 

For the same reason, never buy tokens from car boot sales or markets.

I'm worried about how to pay for my gas and electricity

Visit our 'Affordable warmth' page for more advice and information.

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