Coronavirus: information and updates

Prepayment energy meters

To use a prepayment meter, you need to add credit onto your card or key. You can do this by ringing your supplier or going to your local:

Decide if a prepayment meter is for you (Citizens Advice)

How to read a prepayment meter

You put the card or key into the front of your meter. The display window on the front of the meter could show:

  • units of energy consumed
  • any fixed charge the energy supplier charges
  • the rate per unit of fuel
  • the amount of credit inserted
  • current credit
  • any outstanding debt
  • any debt repayments
  • emergency credit

Making your prepayment meter accessible

If you cannot access your prepayment meter, your supplier can help. This could include:

  • moving the meter to an accessible height
  • switching it to a smart meter

You might have to pay for the meter to be moved. This will depend on your supplier. If you did switch to a smart meter, it should be free.

A smart meter will allow you to top up your credit online. This can be helpful if you are unable to reach your meter or cannot place the card or key in.

If you do not have access to the internet, your supplier can give you a swipe card which will automatically top up your meter when you make a payment.

Emergency credit

When the energy meter runs out of credit, the gas or electricity supply stops.

Your supplier can give you emergency credit. The amount will depend on your supplier. Emergency credit will allow you to still use gas or electricity.

If you use all of your emergency credit and still need gas or electricity, call your supplier.

When you use emergency credit, it is added to your account. You will have to pay for the credit that you used. You can do this by either paying:

  • the full amount next time you add credit
  • a small amount each time you add credit until the full amount has been paid.

For example, you might have used £5 of emergency credit but chosen to pay it back in small amounts. Your supplier would take £1 of credit each time you make a payment.

This means that a £10 payment would give you £9 of energy and £1 would be taken off your emergency credit debt.

If you cannot pay the credit back, contact your supplier and ask how they can help.

Using emergency credit on Pay As You Go meters (SSE)

Debt on your pre-payment meter

If you’re struggling to repay the debt on your meter, you should contact your supplier. They can work with you to agree an affordable amount to repay.

Depending on your situation, you could apply for debt relief to help you clear some of your debt balance.

Getting financial help from your energy supplier

Moving from a prepayment to a credit meter (Citizens Advice)

Switching to a credit meter

You can move from a prepayment meter to a credit meter. This could save you money and give you a wider choice of tariffs.

Switching energy tariff or supplier

Moving to a credit meter is easier if you already have a smart meter. The switching process will depend on your supplier.

Moving from a prepayment to a credit meter (Citizens Advice)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 21/12/2020

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