ALMOST six million Brits have a pre-payment meter installed in their home, but they are pricier than standard meter energy plans.
In fact, the cheapest pre-payment meter on the market is currently £27 more expensive per year than the cheapest credit meter – whenever you pay for energy after you’ve used it.
1 You can save money by switching tariffs and meters
With a prepayment meter, you use a top-up card or key to load more money onto your meter and it’s then taken from that balance every time you use energy.
The Sun asked comparison site uSwitch to compile data on the cheapest deals available for customers with an average consumption.
It showed that the cheapest credit meter for a dual-fuel customer is currently offered by Outfox the Market at £873 per year for a variable deal.
Meanwhile, the cheapest pre-payment meter is available at Nabuh Energy and costs £900 per year in a variable deal – a difference of just under £30.
Among the Big Six providers, the variable tariffs are close to each other in price with the cheapest pre-payment meter costing £1,241.88 per year at EDF, E.On, Npower and Scottish Power.
While British Gas and SSE are the cheapest at £1,241.58 and £1,240.90, respectively.
The cheapest credit meter among the biggest suppliers is currently offered by EDF at £935 in an exclusive deal with uSwitch.
In other words, you’re better off by switching from a pre-payment meter but also by moving away from the biggest suppliers.
Yet some customers may find themselves blocked from leaving as pre-payment meters often come with credit checks.
The Sun contacted all the Big Six providers and half of them – British Gas, E.On, and Npower – said they conduct one before a customer is allowed to leave.
Customers with EDF Energy, Scottish Power and SSE don’t have to pass a credit check, although you’re usually asked to clear any debts beforehand and Scottish Power said you may be required to give a deposit.
The three biggest challenger suppliers – Shell Energy, Ovo Energy and Bulb – also all told The Sun they conduct credit checks.
But even if you have a bad credit score and you’re prevented from switching, you could still save money by moving to a different pre-payment meter tariff.
It could also be worth improving your credit score to enable you to switch down the line – check out our tips of how to do so.
How to find a cheaper energy dealFIRSTLY, you’ll need to have a recent bill to hand. This will have all the details you need, including the name of your tariff and your recent spending on gas
Use a comparison website: Customers can use websites such as uSwitch.com or Energyhelpline.com to compare tariffs and find a cheaper deal. You could save up to £400 a year if you’ve never switched before.
There are other service you can turn to: MoneySavingExpert’s Cheap Energy Club will let you set up an email reminder that alerts you when cheaper deals become available.
Things to do before you switch: Compare prices and before you switch check to see if you can get cachback from a website like Quidco or TopCashback
A spokesperson for the Energyhelpline told The Sun: “Regardless of what kind of meter you have, you should always try to get the best deal possible.
“Many prepayment meter customers do have options to choose from – for instance, if the average prepayment user was to switch to the cheapest prepayment tariff available right now, they would save £202 over the course of a year.
“If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, there may be potential help out there. Several major suppliers offer energy grants to certain customers.”
Meanwhile, Rik Smith, energy expert of uSwitch, said: “Pre-payment energy tariffs are usually more expensive than credit meter deals, so we would always recommend switching to a credit meter if you are eligible and if it fits with your monthly budget.
“However, for the 5.9 million people in the UK who have a prepayment meter, this is not always an option.
“If a low credit score means you’re unable to get a credit meter, it is still worth checking to see if you could switch to a cheaper deal than the one you’re currently on.
“Prepayment plans don’t usually come with exit fees, so you can switch at any time if you find a better price – and the cheapest tariffs on the market are almost £200 less expensive than the cap on suppliers’ standard plans.
“If you owe your current supplier money, some energy companies will allow you to switch if you’re no more than £500 in debt to them, though your new supplier will probably require you to set up a repayment plan to make sure you’re gradually reducing any debt you have.”
ROAR-SOME Aldi is selling an inflatable dinosaur paddling pool – and it’s a bargain LICENCE SHAKE UP Fury as millions of over-75s to lose free TV licence after BBC axes perk DEBT HELL Mum, 42, pays off £16k debt in just two years – and reveals how you can do it too CHECK YOUR CHANGE 8 rare & valuable coins you may have in your wallet – with one worth £102 TRADING UP Ex-waitress who dropped out of school makes £100k a year on the stock market FEELING LUCKY Your paper could be worth £50,000!
Households are owed £886 by energy, water and broadband firms, a charity has warned.
Yet energy bills will fall after firms were told to make less money – thanks to The Sun.
Earlier this month, Martin Lewis revealed how switching to green energy could save you £300 a year.
Ofgem video explains how the energy safeguard tariff or price cap works
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Money team? Email us at email@example.com