About Prepayment Meters

The advantages of prepayment meters:

  • A prepayment meter is a more manageable way of you paying your energy bills without having to worry about receiving unaffordable bills.
  • Prepayment means you are paying for your energy before you use it, so you are more aware of your energy spend and can avoid accumulating any up debt.
  • Prepayment meters allow you to see how much you are spending and your remaining balance. It gives you a better understanding of how much energy is costing you. It is also a great way of saving energy and money.
  • Prepayment meters have an ‘Emergency Credit’ facility which provides a set amount of extra credit if you are to run out of your prepaid credit. This will give you the time to top-up your meter before you lose supply.
  • Some types of prepayment meters will have a ‘Friendly Credit’ or ‘non-disconnect’ mode that operates at certain hours of the day and night. If you are to run out of credit at these inconvenient times, you will not lose your energy supply even if your Emergency Credit has not been activated or has run out.

The disadvantages of prepayment meters:

  • A prepayment tariff is typically more expensive in comparison to direct debit tariffs.
  • To ensure you have a constant energy supply with a prepayment meter you will need to purchase enough credit to cover your usage. It may be inconvenient if you need to top-up your meter frequently, meaning you will have to visit your local PayPoint regularly.
  • If your prepayment meter has run out of credit and energy supply is off you may have to access the meter directly to restore it, this could be positioned out of reach.
  • If you have run out of credit out of ‘Friendly Credit’ hours and used your ‘Emergency Credit’ or not activated it, you might lose supply. You could find that your supply is not restored until your meter had been topped-up and in positive credit.
  • A prepayment meter is limited to accepting the unique top-up key or card (or top-up card number) that has been provided to you for your particular meter. Using other customers’ keys or cards, or your old cards could result in a meter fault. This means a payment might not be allocated correctly, or you may not pay the correct prices for your meter resulting in debt you may be unable to pay back.
  • During the winter months, your energy consumption is bound to increase meaning your weekly top-ups will also increase. This could increase your daily or weekly budget; we recommend you spread out your payments over the year to build up credit during summer months that can be used during the winter.

Key and Card Meters

The advantages of a key and card meters:

  • Typically you can receive between £5 to £7 for ‘Emergency Credit’ per meter.
  • Some electricity key meters will offer a ‘Friendly Credit’ feature, typically from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am the next day, including Sundays. Gas card meters do not typically offer a ‘Friendly Credit’ feature.

The disadvantages of a key and card meters:

  • Key and card meters are typically higher in price in comparison to direct debits.
  • You may only be able to top-up your electricity key and/or gas card at a PayPoint outlet; we recommend you are always aware of opening and closing hours in cases where you may need to make an unplanned visit at short notice.
  • Topping-up using your electricity key and/or gas card is the only way to purchase energy with a key & card meter – if your keycard is not clean not kept in a safe location they may not work properly which can prevent you from being able to top-up.
  • There may be a fee to replace your key or card if it’s lost or damaged. There may also be times where you may not be able to collect your key or card on the same day.
  • If you are in the process of signing up with us and your existing top-up electricity key, gas card or meter develops a fault before your smart meters are installed, we may need to carry out an emergency install. An engineer may need to attend within 3 or 4 hours (depending on the time your fault is reported) and you would need to ensure access to your property for this time. You will need to make sure our engineer has clear and safe access to your meters and main electricity fuse, and there must be an adult over the age of 18 at the property for the duration of the visit.

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