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Can Switching Your Energy to Prepayment Save You Money?

Prepayment

What’s in this guide?

Introduction

There are many ‘facts’ that you have heard or seen around the web about prepayment meters, some are true and some are false.

Like that, if you have a prepayment meter, you can’t switch suppliers.

Or, that you can’t switch if you are renting a property.

Luckily, neither of these statements are true.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the truth behind prepayment meters, including whether you can switch and more.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look.

What is a prepayment meter?

A prepayment meter is a special kind of meter that, unlike standard credit meters, means that you pay for your energy prior to using it.

You do this by using a smart card, key or token which can be topped up at your local corner shop, Post Office or app, the card can be slipped into your prepayment meter which then gives you the allocated power.

This might be for a few days, weeks or a month depending on how much you can top up.

However, it’s important to note that prepayment meters are far more expensive per unit of energy than a standard credit meter, so usually, a prepayment meter should be the very last resort.

With a prepayment meter, I can’t switch supplier

Some people think that if you have a prepayment meter, you can’t change energy supplier, but that is entirely untrue.

You can still switch when you’re on a prepayment meter; in fact, you could potentially be saving £100s by switching depending on your current tariff.

This is the information you typically need to switch:

  • Your details, such as your name and address
  • How much energy you usually use
  • Your current supplier and tariff name

The switching process is really simple, even though years ago it might have been a stressful experience. This is because your new supplier will take care of everything to do with the switch for you, which saves you time and potential hassle.

Let’s take a look at the next prepayment myth.

Switching prepayment plans won’t save me money

Another misconception about switching prepayment plans is that it won’t save you money.

This is far from the truth. Although it is true that prepayment plans will be more expensive than on a standard credit meter, you could save around £100 by switching from the most expensive tariff to the least costly.

It might not be a massive amount to save, but every little helps especially if you’re using a prepayment meter to pay off some debt.

Supplier

Plan name

Price

Bulb Vari-Fair BETA £1060
EDF Blue+Fixed Prepay September 2019 £1070
Boost Traditional PAYG £1131
Boost Smart PAYG energy (all Online) £1131
SSE Standard Pay As You Go £1135
British Gas Safeguard PAYG £1135
EON E.ON Energy Plan with Prepayment £1135
EDF Standard (Variable) Prepayment £1135
Npower Prepayment £1135
ScottishPower Standard. £1135

I can’t switch supplier with debt

You can change energy supplier when you have debt, but it usually depends on how much debt you have and which supplier you want to switch to.

For example, if you want to switch from ScottishPower to British Gas, you typically need to have under £500 of debt.

This is why it’s essential to try and reduce your debt down to £500 if it’s too high, as a goal before you can switch energy suppliers.

Some ways you can save money on your energy

The warm home discount

This is a payment of £140 to help people that may struggle with paying their energy bills, with energy suppliers that have over 250,000 customers are legally obliged to offer this discount.

It is a compulsory scheme for the broader energy companies; it is an annual credit they put in the account of people who are eligible. .

During the winter, some customers can benefit from the £140 discount, but you should also ensure that you are on the best energy deal for you and your home.

The winter fuel payment

Otherwise known as the winter fuel allowance is a payment that is annual, which you can get from the government between November and December if you are eligible.

It doesn’t affect any of the other benefits you might be receiving, and there may be some other schemes available to you too.

Cold weather payment

From the 1st of November to the 31st of March every year, you could get the cold weather payment for every week that the temperature is below 0 degrees in your area, which also doesn’t affect any other benefits you have.

The temperature has to be below 0 degrees for seven consecutive days, which is why you have to keep an eye on the weather.

You’ll then receive your cold weather payment after 14 days in the same account you get your benefits paid into.

I can’t switch supplier if I rent a property

You can change energy suppliers even if you are renting a property.

If you pay your supplier directly for your electricity and gas, you are entitled to switch energy supplier.

Take a look at your tenancy agreement too see if there’s a mention of a ‘preferred supplier’.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t switch to another energy supplier, but you should probably let your landlord or letting agent know.

Conclusion

Are you ready to compare or switch energy suppliers?

Did you know that you could be saving over £200 annually on your energy bills every year?

Take a look at the EnergySeek guides to find out more about your energy, or see reviews of the top 7 energy switching sites to compare gas & electricity.