If you're on a prepayment energy tariff, which means you have to top up your energy supply on a pay-as-you-go basis, you might think you can't switch, or that the prepayment price cap will keep your costs down. This isn’t necessarily the case - you should always compare prepayment energy deals to find out if you can save.
There are a number of myths about switching with a prepayment tariff or meter that can prevent customers taking the initiative and saving money. We’ll debunk some of those myths now - you’ll see that it’s an easy task to switch your energy deal even if you’re on a prepayment plan.
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Myth: You can't switch supplier with a prepayment meter
Fact: Most suppliers offer at least one prepayment plan for customers in order to appeal to as wide a range of people as possible.
There are many reasons why you might want to switch your energy deal, and being on a prepayment meter shouldn’t prevent you from doing that. It may be difficult for you to switch from a prepayment meter to a standard meter if you’re renting, as the decision has to be made by the landlord, but you should be able to switch to a different prepayment tariff easily enough.
Myth: The prepayment meter price cap will save you money
Fact: You can save more by switching to a better deal.
The energy price cap, which covers standard variable tariffs and prepayment tariffs, is touted as being good for customers because the amount they can be charged by energy suppliers is limited to the cap level. This isn’t the case, though.
You can actually save more money by making sure you take the initiative and switch to a better deal than the one you’re currently paying for. Whether you stick with a prepayment deal or try and make the move to a fixed deal, there’s often a better deal than the one you’re on.
Myth: You can't switch supplier with prepayment meter debt
Fact: With most suppliers, you can switch with up to £500 debt per fuel.
The Debt Assignment Protocol was brought in by Ofgem to ensure it's easier for prepayment customers to switch plans or suppliers, and many suppliers agree to it. It means that those suppliers should accept prepayment customers with debt as long as the debt does not exceed £500 per fuel.
The debt to the old supplier is paid off by the new supplier, which will incorporate the debt into your energy rates when you start receiving energy from it.
Myth: You can't switch your supplier or plan if you rent
Fact: Even as a renter, it's your right to switch.
If you are directly responsible for paying your energy bill, you are allowed to switch your supplier and plan.
Any clauses in contracts which specify a preferred supplier for the property cannot be used to stop you as a renter from switching and saving on your bills. You may need to get permission from the landlord or managing agent to do so, but there is nothing to legally prevent you from switching.
Myth: You can’t remove your prepayment meter and switch to a credit tariff
Fact: You can, but it might not be a simple task.
If you own a property that has a prepayment meter, you can do what you like. However, if you rent, you’ll need your landlord’s permission to remove the meter. Once you’ve got confirmation that you’re allowed to remove it, though, you may be subject to a charge from the supplier you end up switching to if you want them to take the meter away.
If you stay with the same supplier but switch to a non-prepayment tariff, you might be able to negotiate the free removal of the prepayment meter, so it’s always worth asking what they can do to sweeten the deal.
How to switch your prepayment tariff
1. Enter your postcode: gas and electricity prices are set regionally, and some suppliers only serve certain areas. This will narrow down which plans and suppliers are available to you.
2. Enter your energy details, selecting "prepayment" as the meter type: for the most accurate comparison results, you'll also need to enter your household's level of gas and electricity consumption. You can find the amount of energy you use or the price you’re spending on your most recent energy bill, or you can estimate your consumption by entering the number of bedrooms in your property (though this is a less accurate method).
3. Review your comparison results and pick a new plan.
4. Once you have confirmed your switch, we’ll inform both your old and new supplier of your switch: your new supplier will then contact you within 10-14 days to let you know when you'll start receiving energy from them.
Cheapest prepayment energy plans from Uswitch
Based on average bill sizes for a medium energy user on a dual fuel prepayment plan, and averaged across all regions. This information is updated hourly with energy plans which are available to switch to through Uswitch. To appear in this table, plans must be available in at least 7 of the 14 regions.