How to manage and afford a prepayment meter

prepayment meters

EDF Energy Quantum card and prepayment meter keys - Credit: lydia_shiningbrightly

During the current rise in energy costs, many households have had to turn to prepayment meters to satisfy their energy suppliers and meet costs.

According to Ofgem, 4.5 million households currently utilise a prepayment meter to pay energy bills, but from April, they have faced a yearly price rise of more than £700.

In an effort to help our readers cope with the surge in the cost of living The Hunts Post launched Your Money Matters - a campaign offering practical support and advice to manage your finances.

A prepayment meter, also known as a 'pay-as-you-go' meter, requires households to pay for energy before they use it via a key, token or smartcard.

To cope and deal with the rise, Citizens Advice has offered expert advice through its website for those struggling to top up a prepayment meter:

Get temporary credit

If you've run out of gas or electricity, your energy supplier should give you temporary credit if you can't top-up.

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Your supplier might automatically add the temporary credit to your meter, but if they don’t, ask for it as soon as possible.

You can check your supplier’s website to find out how to get temporary credit.

What if you've run out of temporary credit?

If you explain your situation to your supplier, they might give you extra temporary credit if they agree you're ‘vulnerable’.

For example, if you're struggling with living costs and already limiting the amount of gas and electricity you are using.

You’ll have to pay back any extra temporary credit you get, and you can agree on how to pay it back with your supplier.

Paying back money you owe to your supplier

If you owe money to your supplier, you’ll pay back a bit of the debt each time you top up your meter. For example, if you top up by £10, £5 of that might pay back your debt, leaving you with £5 of credit.

If it feels like you’re running out of credit too quickly, paying off debt could be the problem. Ask your supplier to let you pay it off in smaller amounts.

Your supplier has to consider how much you can afford, so tell them if anything has changed since you first agreed to your repayments. 

For example, tell them if the price of your energy has gone up or your income has gone down.

For more help, advice and information, visit