A prepayment meter works like a ‘pay-as-you-go’ tariff for gas or electricity. You need to pay for energy before you can use it.
That means putting money directly into your meter, using an electric or gas meter key, tokens or, in some cases, topping up online.
The main benefit of prepayment meters is that you won’t spend more than you have. It used to be slightly more expensive to pay for your energy through prepayment, but the price cap is now the same as for households who pay by Direct Debit, saving prepayment customers £45 a year.
Prepayment meters are not suitable for everyone, particularly if you’re vulnerable. Your supplier should also not force you onto a pre-payment meter if you are having problems paying your bill.
Your supplier can’t make you move to prepayment if it wouldn’t be safe or practical and is required to follow the rulesOpens in a new window set by Ofgem, the energy regulator.
Your supplier can force-fit a prepayment meter by warrant or by remotely switching your smart meter, but only after they have taken all reasonable steps to agree payment with you. It should be a last resort to disconnect your supply.
Find out more about being moved onto a prepayment meterOpens in a new window at Citizen’s Advice.