Prepayment Meters: The Ultimate Insult For The Financially Vulnerable

Prepayment meters have always been a bug bear of mine, or should I say the cost of running them has.

You pay before you try, yet you’re charged more than someone paying in arrears – crazy!

I find it astounding that energy companies can get away with charging the most vulnerable of society more.

That’s not to say everyone who have prepayment meters are living on the breadline and struggling financially, some people choose them as they prefer not to have a bill.

However, it still begs the question, why should there be any need to charge more for something you’re paying for up front in advance?


Prepayment charges unfair on the financially vulnerable

How can energy companies get away this?

Someone who has fallen into arrears is transferred to a prepayment meter to ensure the energy company gets back what they’re owed – fair enough.

The debt is taken off their top ups bit-by-bit until the debt is repaid in full.

But, why does their energy have to be charged at a higher rate?

You’re now asking someone to pay more for something they was already struggling to keep up with previously when it was cheaper.

Not only that, you want your money back that’s owed too, on top of the extra cost per kwh.


This is where the decision to heat or eat comes in.

I’ve worked in debt management for several years and at one point I managed a team trying to cut down our client’s household bills to give them a bit more budget to play around with.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times someone I was speaking to regularly went weeks without switching the gas on as the prepayment charges were crippling them.

These people ranged from single parent families right up to the elderly.

It just feels like the financially worse off are being penalised even further.

Who has the best rate for prepayment meters?

This will vary from area to area, but here in Altrincham IRESA Limited are coming out cheapest, followed by EDF Energy and OVO.

These are all 12 month fixed deals, meaning your energy cannot fluctuate in price if any price hikes hit.

It’s worth noting that only OVO out of those three, charge to leave the plan early.

However, with OVO you can top up by the app, online or at the shop.

With only a £42.92 (in my area) difference, you could factor in trips to the shop that all add up over the course of a year and you could still be better off, or pretty close.

Final word

Until one of the energy firms breaks ranks from tradition, I can’t see much changing.

The best experience I had with an energy firm was with OVO in all honesty (this blog is in no way a collaboration with OVO Energy).

It was their owner, Stephen Fitzpatrick, that called out the Big Six leaders as liars on price hikes due to their costs going up, or should I say the puppets they sent in their place.

I would like to think if anyone is going to step up and put an end to this nonsense it would be them, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Over to you guys!

Do you have, or have ever been on prepayment meters?

Related Articles:

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Energy Bills

10 Simple Tips To Cut Down On Energy Bills

Energy Firm Maths Error Could Mean You’ve Been Overcharged

10 Top Home Heating Tips: For Winter Is Coming

Why Brits Dread Seeing A Utility Bill

Thinking Thrifty

Thinking Thrifty

David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
Thinking Thrifty
Please follow and like us:

2 thoughts on “Prepayment Meters: The Ultimate Insult For The Financially Vulnerable

  1. Yep, we only just switched from OVO because they couldn’t move us onto a credit meter. Our house had a prepayment meter installed before we bought it. At least I knew what to do with it then – when I first moved up north the house we rented had a prepayment meter with a debt on it, and I’d never even heard of that kind of meter before, never mind knowing what to do to get the lights on that night! I did enjoy OVO’s smart prepayment meter in this house, as we never had to leave the house to top up.

    1. Yeah they can be a nightmare, and very expensive! OVO have been the best company to deal with in my experience, surprised they couldn’t fit you a billed meter. What reason did they give you for that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Finance Blogs

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Copyright © 2015 - 2017 Thinking Thrifty