Paying back debt on a Pay As You Go meter
What are Pay As You Go meters and how do they work?
A Pay As You Go meter, also known as a prepay meter, allows you to pay for your energy in advance by topping up your meter with credit. It’s a great way of taking full control of the energy you use and the money you spend.
Can I pay my bill through my meter?
Yes. By switching to a Pay As You Go meter you pay for your energy in advance by topping up your meter with credit. You can also clear your outstanding balance as part of your top ups. We’ll discuss how much you can afford to pay weekly towards your outstanding balance and we’ll tell you when this will be paid in full.
If you have a non-Smart meter, our smart energy experts can install a Pay As You Go meter in your home for free. If you are eligible, we can install a Pay As You Go Smart meter.
If you already have a Smart meter, in most cases we can change the meter remotely from Credit to Pay As You Go.
If you're struggling to pay for your energy, you may be eligible for additional help if you’re entitled to things like Warm Home Discount or we can provide further advice on charities, budgeting and energy saving tips.
Is a Pay As You Go meter right for me?
Have a think about a Pay As You Go meter being the best option for you, if you are vulnerable or rely on medical equipment that requires a guaranteed supply you may need to consider a few things first.
If your meter runs out of credit will you be able to top up easily either online or in store?
Can you access the meter easily? You may need to manually add your top up to the meter, or input Smart vend codes on the Smart Energy Monitor or meter?
There’s plenty of benefits to having a Pay As You Go meter, including
Complete control of your energy spend – and you can top up as often as you like
No unexpected bills or debt
See exactly how much energy you have left, so you can stay on top of your spending
Pay back any outstanding balance easily at a rate that works for you
Convenient top ups at your local Payzone or most Post Offices – and online, in the app or over the phone if you have a smart meter
No more bills or meter readings
Annual statements so you can see exactly how much energy you’ve used, and an estimate of what you might spend next year
You won’t pay any more for your energy than if you were paying quarterly by cash or cheque
Find out whether a Pay As You Go meter is right for you in
Do I need my landlord’s permission to switch to a Pay As You Go meter?
If you’re a tenant and you’re directly responsible for paying your energy bill, then it’s up to you to decide how you pay. Your landlord or letting agent shouldn’t prevent you from switching to Pay As You Go and you don’t need their permission.
But if you install or remove a Pay As You Go meter, you may need to put the original meters back at the end of your tenancy. That’s because it counts as an alteration to the property.
Can the meter be switched back to credit?
We know Pay As You Go meters aren’t for everyone. But we’ll need to do a few extra checks before we switch you back to a credit meter.
You can switch to a credit meter if
You pass our internal and/or external credit checks
You’re debt-free with your energy suppliers
If you’re still paying off debt through a Pay As You Go meter, your balance has been less than £50 for 12 months
A Pay As You Go meter isn’t safe or practical for you
Is it more expensive to have a Pay As You Go meter?
Pay As You Go meters are only compatible with certain tariffs. So, if you’re already on one of these tariffs, then the price you currently pay won’t change.
If not, we’ll need to switch you to one of our compatible tariffs – but we’ll let you know of any price changes. The price of your energy can also vary depending on how you choose to pay. You can see all our Pay As You Go energy tariffs online here.
Where can I top up?
Top ups on a Gas card or Electricity Key can be made at any Payzone or Post Office outlet. If you are using the device for the first time, please insert the Gas card or Electricity Key into the meter for one minute before topping up. The outlet will provide a receipt confirming the amount purchased, you can then return to the meter and insert the device to credit the meter.
Smart Meters can also be topped up at an outlet too but the most convenient way is online or through our App Top up your Pay As You Go Smart meter.
How does my meter collect my debt?
Everyone’s circumstances are different, so we’ll work with you to decide how much will go towards your debt each time you top up.
We want to help you clear your debt as quickly as possible, but we’ll always take into account what you can afford to pay and your expected energy use when agreeing your repayments. And we’ll do this before we install your Pay As You Go meter.
It’s important to stay topped up, even when you plan to go on holiday or during the summer months when you use less energy, as the meter will take a daily standing charge as well as your agreed weekly debt amount with us. If you fall behind with your payments, we may need to increase your weekly payment amount to help you stay on track.
We won’t take any debt payments while you’re on Emergency Credit – but you’ll need to pay back any payments you’ve missed as soon as possible to stay on track.
Paying the standing charge
Your meter will add a daily standing charge throughout the year. During the summer months when you use less energy, your meter will still continue to add the standing charge, so it is important that you stay topped up. If you don’t, you could find that the standing charge has accrued. At your next top up, your payment will clear the standing charge first, before giving you any gas or electricity.
Gas Card meter
We’ll agree a weekly amount to take off your gas meter and pay towards your debt when you top up. The week goes from Wednesday morning to Tuesday night on a gas meter. Once you’ve paid the agreed amount that week, any extra top ups you make will stay on your meter until the next payment week.
It’s part of our agreement that you top up your meter every week – even if you aren’t using any gas.
If you don’t top up enough to pay us back, don’t worry, we won’t leave you without any gas or electricity. When you top up, we’ll take 90% to pay towards your debt and leave 10% for your gas. For example, if your agreed weekly amount is £10 and you top up £10, we’ll put £9 towards your debt and leave you £1 for gas. You’ll still owe us £1, which we’ll take next time you top up that week.
Electric Key meter
We’ll agree an amount that we’ll take off your electricity meter every week. Then we’ll take 1% of that weekly amount every 101 minutes.
So, if you’ve agreed to pay back £6 every week, the meter will take 6p every 101 minutes until you’ve reached £6 for that week. That’s less than 86p a day.
It’s part of our agreement that you top up your meter every week.
If you don’t top up enough to pay us back your meter will display the total of everything it couldn’t take on screen. When you next top up, it’ll take that amount first to pay towards your debt before it can be used for electricity.
We’ll agree an amount that we’ll take off your Smart meter every week. Gas and electricity Smart meters recover the debt balance in the same way by taking a small percent every hour which is automatically calculated by the meter.
So, if you’ve agreed to pay pack £10 every week, the meter will take 6p every hour until you’ve reached £10 for that week.
If you don’t top up enough to pay us back and you are off supply or in emergency credit both gas and electricity meters display an 'Owed' screen which includes emergency credit, friendly credit, standing charge and your agreed weekly amount. When you next top up, it’ll take that amount to pay the owed amount back.
What happens if I run out of credit?
We never want you to be left in the cold. So, if you can’t buy any more credit, the meter will give you £10 of Emergency Credit.
If it’s a weekend or bank holiday, as we don’t disconnect meters at these times, we have what’s known as Friendly Credit. Friendly Credit is only available on certain meters and times may vary depending where you live. You’ll find more information about Friendly Credit here Using Emergency Credit for Pay As You Go.
Check your meter before topping up for a debt balance and check if you have already accessed your Emergency Credit. You will need to top up enough to clear any build-up of debt showing plus enough to cover Emergency Credit used, standing charge and energy usage.
If you have used up the Emergency Credit on your meter and Friendly Credit is no longer available and are struggling to top-up your meter to stay on supply, you may be eligible for Additional Support Credit. This will help keep you on supply, but you’ll need to pay back any credit given. Call the Pay As You Go enquiries for more information.
If you are in a difficult or vulnerable situation, we offer Additional services for customers that need extra support please see our Priority Service Register.
If you have further questions or you’re ready to switch, speak with one of our friendly advisers.
Pay As You Go enquiries:
0330 100 0303
Our team members are available between 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.