Problems getting to or topping up your prepayment meter

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you can’t get to or top up your prepayment meter, your supplier should work with you to come to a solution. They might be able to move your meter or install a smart meter in prepayment mode.

If you need to pay for your energy after you use it

It might not be safe and practical for you to be on prepayment if you:

  • are aged 75 or older and live alone

  • have children under 2 years old living in your home

  • are disabled or have a health condition

  • can’t afford to top up and live with children aged between 2 and 5 years old

If it isn’t safe and practical for you to be on prepayment, your supplier should move you to paying by credit, this means you pay for your energy after you use it.

If you have a smart meter your supplier can switch your meter to credit mode remotely. 

If you don’t have a smart meter, your supplier can replace your prepayment meter with a smart meter in credit mode.

Check how to switch from prepayment to payment by credit.

If you can’t get to your prepayment meter

Tell your supplier if:

  • you can’t reach your meter - for example, it’s above head height

  • you can't get to your meter - for example, it's in a shared cupboard that's locked and you don’t have a key

  • your meter is outside or in a separate building

Your supplier should try to move your meter to somewhere you can get to. You might have to pay to have your meter moved, check how to move your gas or electricity meter.

If you’re on the Priority Services Register and your prepayment meter needs moving, your energy supplier should move your meter for free. 

You can sign up to the Priority Services Register if you're either:

  • of State Pension age

  • disabled or have a long-term health condition

  • considered ‘vulnerable’ by your energy network

You could be classed as vulnerable if you're disabled or have a long-term health condition. Your energy network might also consider you vulnerable if you:

  • don't speak or read English well

  • have children under 5 years old or are pregnant

  • have no sense of smell or would struggle to smell gas

Check if you're eligible to sign up to the Priority Services Register.

If you can’t top up nearby

Tell your energy supplier if you have a prepayment meter and you can't easily get to a shop to add credit. Tell them if:

  • you live alone and have a health condition or disability

  • you’d have to travel a long way or for a long time

  • it would cost you a lot to get there

  • you’d find the journey difficult, for example, if you find it hard to walk long distances

Your supplier might agree to give you:

  • another way to top up your prepayment meter, for example by text message

  • a smart meter in prepayment mode that you can top up online

  • a credit meter that lets you pay bills monthly or quarterly

Using cash to top up your smart meter

Tell your supplier if you’re using prepayment mode on your smart meter and need to add credit by paying cash.

They should give you a way to top up your smart meter in a shop, for example they might give you a barcode, card or reference number to give to the shop.

The credit should be added to your meter immediately. Keep your receipt as proof in case there is a problem.

You can use cash to top up at a Post Office, Payzone, or any shop with a PayPoint logo.

Search your location to find your nearest Post Office or Payzone on the Payzone website.

Search your postcode to find your nearest PayPoint on the PayPoint website.

You have problems working your meter

Contact your supplier for help if:

  • you don’t know how to work your meter

  • you need a new meter key or card

  • your meter takes tokens - this means it’s out of date and should be replaced

Find out how to contact your supplier about a problem.

Further help

Complain to your supplier if you’ve contacted them and you don’t think their response was reasonable.

You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau