What’s in this guide?
Switching a prepayment meter to a standard credit meter allows you to have some of the best prices in the market.
Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, has extensively considered the future of prepayment customers for the future as part of the smart meter rollout which is expected to be completed in 2020.
The current system for this payment method will transition to smart meters, as the government wants every household to have one in the next few years.
However, prepayment will still be available with a smart meter so if you are using one to pay off a debt or it is a preferable that is still possible.
If you are considering a switch to a credit meter now or in the future, this guide will let you know how you can do that and the benefits.
What is a prepayment meter?
While with a credit meter you pay for your energy after you have used it, a prepayment meter as the name suggests means that you pay for your energy before you use it.
This can range from paying for a week in advance or a month depending on your preferences, and if you are using a prepayment meter to pay off debt, an agreed upon amount will be removed to help pay that debt off.
To do this, you can usually purchase a card or a key fob from your local Paypoint, Payzone or Post Office®, which you would then insert into your prepayment meter.
Prepayment meters are sometimes for low-income households that might fail to pass a credit check.
Unfortunately, prepayment meters are often actually more expensive when it comes to the cost of your energy per unit, and the cheapest prepayment tariff is far more costly than the cheapest fixed rate tariff.
A top up of £10 would only last four days, assuming that you use the average of around £2.44 a day.
This is why forced prepayment tariffs are meant to be a last resort, as they are far more expensive than the fixed or variable rate tariffs from the same company.
Being on a prepayment meter costs you more than being on a fixed rate tariff.
Also, forgetting to top up you will most likely have your power shut off.
Some suppliers offer ‘emergency credit’ in case you forget, which gives you a period that is usually around four to six hours to provide you with enough time to pay for more energy, however after that you will no longer have power.
Cheapest Prepayment Deals
|EDF||Blue+Fixed Prepay September 2019||£1070|
|Boost||Smart PAYG energy (all Online)||£1083|
|SSE||Standard Pay As You Go||£1087|
|British Gas||Safeguard PAYG||£1135|
|EON||E.ON Energy Plan with Prepayment||£1135|
|EDF||Standard (Variable) Prepayment||£1135|
Cheapest Fixed Tariff Deals
Average Annual Bill*
|First Utility||First Fixed March 2020 v2||£573|
|Powershop||Top Shopper June 2018 Issue 1||£847|
|Ebico||Ebico Prime Fixed||£910|
|Better Energy||Better Energy Fixed (all online)|
|Engie||ENGIE Fixed June 19 v8||£924|
|iSupply||iFix 18-Month Sep19||£927|
|Robin Hood Energy||Robin Hood Energy Nottingham V8 (Paperless Billing)||£928|
|Leccy||LECCY One Year Fixed V4||£932|
|White Rose Energy||White Rose Energy Flat Capped v5 (Paperless Billing)||£935|
|One Select||OneSelect Secure July 1 Year Fixed 2018||£937|
Prepayment Meter Pros
✔Pay off your debt easily
✔Better for low-income households
✔Ideal if you can’t pass a credit check
Prepayment Meter Cons
✗ You will lose power if you don’t keep up with payments
✗ The cost of your energy will be higher
✗ You may have to take time out of your day to top up
Standard Credit Meter Pros
✔ Pay for energy after you have used it
✔ Cheaper rates than prepayment tariffs
✔ Your supply is constant
Standard Credit Meter Cons
✗ You may have to pay to switch meters
✗ Monthly bills can fluctuate
✗ Will estimate your bill
How to Switch
Not everyone can switch. Having a positive credit score will account for a lot when switching.
Your supplier will likely do a hard credit check before they make their decision so you should have a look at your current score and perhaps how you can improve it if you’re worried about meeting the requirements.
Luckily, the big six won’t charge you for switching out your meter providing that you are out of debt.
If the smaller suppliers charge you a small fee, you can rest assured that you will save money in the long run, so it shouldn’t put you off going with an independent company.
Thanks to the smart meter initiative, the current prepayment meters will be phased out by 2020 and replaced with smart meters, which will make it easier for you to top up and switch.
You should contact your current supplier and see if they are installing smart meters in your area or could put you on a waiting list.
The Big Six
For an idea of what you can expect from the big six energy companies, see the points below. This will tell you if you can get a meter switch for free and any requirements you may need to meet.
- You will have a credit check
- British Gas will take away your credit meter for free
- They will also take away your meter for free when you move home with a prepayment meter already installed
- For 28 days you have been an EDF customer
- Get a credit meter for free
- EDF Energy will refuse if you are in a lot of debt
- E.ON will exchange your prepayment meter only if you aren’t in significant debt
- You hav lived in your property for over three months
- Incur a fee
- You must have been a Scottish Power customer for 12 months
- Pay by a cash deposit.
- They will refund this you make all of your payments
- Incur a fee
- Pass a credit check.
- Make sure that you can pay by direct debit
- Pay £52 per meter
- It will take SSE 10 days to change meters
- You would get your meter for free if you moved into a property that has already acquired a prepayment meter
- Subject to a credit check
- If you have been a customer of nPower for under 12 months, you may be charged for a new meter and removal
Do you want to switch from a prepayment meter to a standard credit meter?