Credit vs Prepay
Meters for electricity and gas measure the amount of electricity and gas used by the customer. There are different types of meters available and their suitability varies from customer to customer.
The two main types of meters are credit and prepay meters. There is an explanation of the difference between the two below.
Most electricity and gas customers have a credit meter.
Credit meters can be either digital or mechanical. The networks companies will attempt to read each meter four times a year and they will produce two additional planned estimates in a year. Where they cannot get access to the meter they will produce an estimated read.
The networks companies pass on these actual or estimated meter reads to suppliers who use them to bill customers for their usage.
There’s more information on the different types of meters and how to read your meter on our metering page.
Many customers have prepay meters. The main difference from a credit meter is that the prepay meter must be topped up before electricity is used and the customer does not receive bills. This is similar to a “pay as you go” mobile phone.
Prepay meters can help many customers to budget for their energy costs as the payment is made up front. Prepay meters reduce the possibility of a large unexpected bill being received by householders. However, for some prepay options there may be additional fixed charges. Customers should carefully review the charges when considering whether to switch to a prepay supplier.
Prepay meters may also be useful for customers who have accumulated debt. A percentage of the amount owed can be taken off each top-up made by the customer. For those customers in genuine financial hardship, there is no cost in having a prepay meter installed and there are no additional fixed charges. If you are experiencing difficulty paying your bills, you should contact your supplier to discuss the options available to you.
If customers do not keep the prepay meter adequately topped up they may self-disconnect. For this reason prepay meters may not be suitable for some vulnerable customers.