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Moving from prepayment to a credit meter

This advice applies to England

If you have an old-style prepayment meter, you can ask your energy supplier to replace it with:

  • an old-style credit meter - this type of meter doesn't let you prepay for your energy
  • a smart meter - this type of meter has a prepayment setting your supplier can turn on or off

Your supplier usually won’t replace your meter or change your smart meter setting if you’re in debt to them.

You can find out who your gas or electricity supplier is if you don’t already know.

You won't have to pay to have an old-style credit meter or a smart meter installed. If your supplier wants to charge you, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

If it isn’t safe or practical for you to be on prepayment

Even if you're in debt, you can ask your supplier to move you off prepayment if it's not practical or safe for you.

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

  • your meter is difficult for you to get to, read or top up - for example, because you’re disabled or you have a long term illness or health condition

  • you need a continuous supply of electricity, for example if you use medical equipment like a stairlift or dialysis machine

Your supplier will look at your circumstances, including:

  • if they can help you top up in a different way

  • if someone else can help you top up

  • how close you live to a top up point

  • where your prepayment meter is

  • how severe your circumstances are

Your supplier shouldn’t charge you to replace your prepayment meter if it’s not safe or practical for you to use it. They also shouldn’t ask you for a deposit, as this would count as a charge.

If you don’t want to switch to an old-style credit meter or smart meter, your supplier might be able to move your prepayment meter to make it easier to get to. You should ask your supplier about this.

You should ask to be put on your supplier's priority services register. This will give you extra help with your energy supply.

If you’ve finished paying off debt

If you don’t want to be on prepayment anymore, your supplier must remove your old-style prepayment meter and give you an old-style credit meter or smart meter instead. 

If you’d prefer to stay on prepayment, your supplier must reset your meter so you're not paying too much.

When you might need a credit check or deposit

Before your supplier installs an old-style credit meter or turns off your smart meter's prepayment setting, you might have to have a credit check or pay a deposit. If you’d rather not have a credit check you can ask to pay a deposit instead.

If your supplier asks for a deposit, it should be for a reasonable amount. They should work out what’s reasonable by looking at how much energy households like yours use over 3 months. This is usually between £150 and £300, though it could be more.

If it's much more, complain to your supplier, asking to know how they decided the amount. 

Check your final credit before you move off prepayment

Before your supplier installs your new meter or turns off your smart meter's prepayment setting, make a note of how much credit you have left. Your supplier will transfer your credit to your new account, so it will go towards your first bill.

If you owe money to your supplier because you've used some emergency credit, write this down instead. They’ll add what you owe to your first bill.

You should also take a final meter reading.

It’s a good idea to take a photo of the meter, so you have proof of what it says.

If you rent your home

You don’t need your landlord's permission to change your meter.

Your landlord can make you change your meter back when you move out. If you refuse to change it back they could keep some of your deposit.

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