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Pre-pay electricity meters: the real cost

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Pound coinsHaving a pre-pay electricity meter means that instead of your energy company billing you for electricity you have already used, you’ll have a card or key that you can take to the shops to top-up with money to pay for your electricity in advance.

This system is often used by anyone who has had trouble paying their energy bills and, in certain circumstances, can help you to manage how much you’re spending on electricity in a much more effective way than being billed by your energy company for the electricity you’ve already used. However, pre-pay meters are usually more expensive than meters the electricity company bills you for – sometimes known as ‘billed’ meters.

Why are they more expensive?

There’s simply less competition when it comes to pre-pay meters. If you have the standard ‘billed’ meter where you’re billed after you’ve used the electricity, there are more online deals and discounts for paying by direct debit. This can mean electricity prices are significantly lower for ‘billed’ meter users than for those with pre-pay meters.

Can I ditch my pre-pay meter and switch to a ‘billed’ meter?

It has recently become much easier to switch from a pre-pay meter to a ‘billed’ meter, with a number of energy firms now letting you do this for free. By taking advantage of this and switching to a ‘billed’ meter you should pay less for your electricity.

Even if you’re not with a supplier that lets you change to a ‘billed’ meter for free, you could switch your pre-pay meter to a supplier who offers this deal and then switch your meter with them afterwards.

What’s the catch?

If you still owe money to your electricity supplier from before your pre-pay meter was installed, then you may not be able to switch back to a ‘billed’ meter just yet. You could also need to undergo a credit check, so the electricity supplier can be confident you’ll be able to keep up with any bills they send you.

Do I need to stick with the same supplier after my meter has changed?

No – in fact, quite the opposite. A simple online comparison will let you know what deals are out there and the savings you could make by switching supplier or tariff. In fact, VeriSmart Heating can help you do just that! 

Even if you can’t switch from your pre-pay meter to a ‘billed’ meter just yet, there are still comparisons you can do between different providers to make sure your tariff is the cheapest possible.

Pre-pay meters are notoriously expensive compared to ‘billed’ meters and if you can, it’s a good idea to switch. Ditching the pre-pay meter isn’t for everyone, though – pre-pay meters can provide some people with a valuable way to manage their electricity costs.

However, if you want electricity at the cheapest possible price, there’s no question that ‘billed’ meters are the way to go. Whether you’re on a pre-pay meter or a ‘billed’ meter, it’s all the same electricity that powers your TV and kettle – so why pay more than you have to for the same steaming cuppa?

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