Are you lumbered with a prepayment meter, having to pay more than you should for your energy use? This is how you can get back on to a normal credit meter.
What is a prepayment meter?
Prepayment meters are normally installed by suppliers should there be any concern that you will be unable to meet your mortgage payments for any reason.
As opposed to waiting for a regular bill, with a prepayment meter you have to pay for energy to heat your home, prior to using the energy.
Say you have previously got into arrears or debt with your energy supplier or it is not convinced you are going to be able to meet monthly payments then it is highly likely to install a prepayment meter in your property.
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Overall, prepayment meters are used by lower income families, such as, those who are on benefits, lone parents or those who do not have a bank account.
There are other customers who use this kind of payment system as they consider it helps with budgeting.
How to get your prepayment meter removed
It can prove incredibly difficult to have a prepayment meter changed once one has been installed. You will need to prove that you will be able to maintain payments on a normal credit meter prior to any change.
Should you have just moved into a property and found out that you already have a prepayment meter in the property through no fault of your own and you would like to swap to a standard credit meter, then you need to speak to your supplier.
You will normally be charged for the installation of a new meter.
Nonetheless, you will make savings on the cheaper tariff so you ought to soon pay for the installation. If you want to get rid of your prepayment meter you will first need to contact your energy supplier.
Should you be able to fulfil the energy supplier’s criteria you can then save money by swapping to a credit meter and pay by direct debit. However, you need to ensure that this payment method is the appropriate one you or you will be back to your start position.
How do I get my prepayment meter removed?
Here are the terms and conditions of the “big six” energy suppliers for getting your prepayment meter replaced by credit meter:
Scottish Power will remove your prepayment meter and change your payment method if:
- you have been on the prepaid meter system with the supplier for a year
- you have paid all outstanding monies owed
- you are willing to pay by an alternative, agreed payment method, usually direct debit.
You may be asked for a cash deposit prior to changing your payment method. This amount will be fully refunded, plus any interest and minus tax, upon you meeting all payments over the course of a year.
You may also be required to meet the cost of removing the prepayment meter.
E.ON states that should you have lived at the property for more than three months and the meter has not been fitted to recover a debt. It will exchange your prepayment meter should you be agreeable to pay by direct debit. You may need to contribute to the cost of changing the meter.
Should your move into the property have been recent then EON will exchange your prepayment meter upon your satisfying its credit vetting procedures. You could be charged about £50 for this.
E.ON will not get rid of your meter if it has been fitted to recover a debt, unless it an acceptable alternative payment method is agreed.
Npower will get rid of the prepayment meter provided that:
- Npower has supplied your energy for more than one year.
- The meter was installed for recovering a debt and that debt has been fully repaid.
- If you have had your meter for less than a year, Npower can charge you for its removal.
- Prior to agreeing to a meter change Npower can check your credit history and could require you to join a payment plan designed to help with your budgeting.
- Should you have moved into a property that already has a prepayment meter installed and you wish to swap over to a credit meter, Npower will consider your payment history prior to deciding whether or not you can do so.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
Should you have moved into a new property which has a pay-as-you-go meter, SSE expects you to keep that meter.
Should you want the pay-as-you-go meter removed and were a SSE customer at your previous home with a credit meter, then the supplier will consider your payment history prior to deciding whether or not to swap you over.
Switching your meter will cost you £52.
British Gas will take away your prepayment meter and replace it with a credit meter for nothing if:
- you have paid any outstanding debt or
- you are a new customer moving into a home where there is a prepayment meter already fitted
Moreover, you might need to pay a security deposit subject to being credit vetted.
EDF usually expects you to keep your prepayment meter for a minimum period of 12 months and to pay off any outstanding debts.
Should you have paid off your debt and a prepayment meter is not suitable for you any more, it is willing to discuss other payment alternatives with you.
It does not normally charge for taking away the prepayment meter.