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Compare prepayment energy deals

Run an energy comparison and save an average of £216*

*You could save an average of £216: Between 1 July and 31 December 2020, people who have switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity with Uswitch saved an average of £216.

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What is prepayment energy?

Prepayment energy – also known as pay as you go energy – is where you pay for your energy use in advance by topping up a specialist prepayment meter. Traditional energy plans and meters work by allowing you to pay for your energy in arrears after receiving a bill – whether through direct debit or regular one-off payments (either online or via the post). In contrast, prepayment energy requires you to keep a key, smartcard or token topped up with credit, which when plugged into the meter pays for the energy as you use it. Around four million households are on prepayment tariffs.

What is a prepayment meter? Why would I want a prepayment meter?

A prepayment energy meter is a type of meter that requires you to pay for energy before you use it. You can do this in the form of top-ups either online or in person. 

Prepayment meters are primarily used to avoid falling into energy debt. Energy is paid for in advance, so your supplier doesn’t have to worry about missed payments, while you only pay for the energy that you use. They’re also favoured by landlords in rented homes as it removes the risk of tenants not paying bills. Customers who have repeatedly missed payments may also be placed on a prepayment meter by their energy supplier to ensure they only use energy they pay for and to help pay off energy debt. With all this in mind, prepayment meters aren’t ideal for the standard home.

How do prepayment meters work?

When your key or card is plugged into your prepaid gas meter or prepaid electricity meter, you should see how much credit is left on your account. Most prepayment meters also offer a small amount of emergency credit – typically £5 – in case you’re unable to top up your meter before your current credit runs out. Note, this emergency credit is automatically deducted from the credit you add when you next top up, and if you exhaust this you’ll be left without power until you do top up.

Occasionally you may be asked to take a meter reading – for example, when you’re moving out. To do this, look for a button on the meter which, when pressed, will change display to provide you with the meter reading.

Find out more about prepayment meters with our in-depth guide.

How do I top up a prepayment meter?

All prepayment plans allow you to top up your card by cash or credit card by visiting a shop, newsagent, or post office that has either Payzone or PayPoint terminals depending on which payment providers your supplier supports.

Find your nearest Payzone stores here.

An increasing number of suppliers also allow you to top up your credit online via a smartphone app or through your web browser, meaning you don’t have to leave your home to do so.

Why should I compare prepayment energy deals?

You should compare prepayment energy deals for the simple reason of saving money. Finding new energy deals can be difficult – and doubly so if you’re on a prepayment meter – but armed with an energy comparison tool like Money.co.uk, you can make light work of finding the best prepayment deal for you.

Are all prepayment meter plans the same?

No, prices on prepayment meters can vary just like any other energy plan, which is why running a price comparison to find the cheapest energy supplier currently available in your region is so important. 

Which prepayment energy suppliers does Money.co.uk run electricity price comparisons for?

We cover a huge range of suppliers so you can find the very best deals. In addition to the big six energy suppliers, other providers who support prepayment tariffs include:

  • Octopus

  • Shell Energy

  • Boost Energy

What are the cheapest gas and electric prepayment meters?

The cheapest prepayment gas and electric supplier varies from region to region, so you should always search by postcode and run an energy price comparison to find the cheapest for you. 

To do so using Money.co.uk’s price comparison service, simply pop your postcode into the form at the top of this page and click ‘Compare energy deals’ to get started. Answer all the questions, making sure you select ‘Prepayment meter’ when asked how you pay for your energy, to see the cheapest prepayment meter tariffs currently available to you.

Prepayment energy FAQs

Find out more about other types of energy