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Pre pay meter at flat, not sure what to do

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I am moving into a council flat (already have it, not moved in yet whilst paint is being done) and have been told that it has a pre pay meter, standard (not economy7).


I have been told I can change the meter but because it is my first home apart from living with my parents, I'm a little clueless with how all of this works.


Currently the gas and electricity is switched off because I am not living there yet, and then will move in with my partner probably the end of next month.


I have been trying to look for quotes for gas and electricity but it has been difficult because I do not know how much I will use since I have always lived with my family and there's a few of us so the bill most likely will be higher.


The council told me to call nationalgrid to find out who the previous gas and electricty supplier was for the flat (I'm on the top floor/2nd floor) who told me that the previous gas and electricity supplier was British Gas and told me to call British Gas so I can make an account for when I decided which supplier I wanted to go with. So I called and made an account but didn't sign up to gas and electricity but they should be sending cards for the meters and they said they will be replacing the electricity meter because it's old.


Once I get the cards should I not insert them because I don't want to go with British gas or haven't decided if I want to stick to pre pay? The reason I am asking is because I have read some horror stories on here about pre pay meters and the last thing I want is to be surpised by costs.


Aside from that, I have been told by he council I can change the meter so I was thinking if pre pay isn't good then I will switch to a normal meter. However, as mentioned, I don't have any past bills to compare to so it's difficult to get a quote. The only thing I have is that the flat used to be on British Gas. I have looked online for quotes and have seen that Scottish Power are the cheapest for direct debit payments on a normal meter (I live in the West Midlands) and I rang them about their price on a normal meter and they informed me I won't be able to go onto their normal meter straight away as it takes 4-6 weeks to change from a prey pay meter to a normal meter.


What should I do? I suppose I'd have to sign up with Scottish Power for prepay then straight away inform them on wanting to change to a normal meter if I decide to take that route.


Please advise. Sorry for the long post.

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if you want gas and electricity you will have to use the cards being sent to you for the time being, even if you decide to go with someone else; it takes a few weeks to change energy supplier, and until that change takes place you are contracted to the current supplier.


Prepayment can be a really good way of budgeting, most suppliers charge the same amount for using prepayment as they do for paying on a quarterly bill; by keeping prepayment for a bit you will get a feeling of how much the energy costs and therefore know what to set a direct debit at if you do want to change to a credit meter. I'm on prepayment and I find it really useful to help me keep control of things.


You can still shop around for better deals even on prepayment, for example some providers will offer an incentive for changing to them, and others offer loyalty card points for Tesco clubcard or nectar etc


Hope this helps

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Thanks for your reply. Informative and I'm new to this so it's appreciated.

I will not be using much gas or electricity at the beginning as I'm doing the decorating (with no time off work, that won't be a quick process). By the way, I've received the cards and the new meter for the electricity has been fitted. I have a few more questions:


1. Will the credit run out if I hardly use gas or electricity? Meaning, does being on pre pay incur a cost even without usage?

2. If I don't top up and in that time the emergency credit is used, the next time I top up, will the meter automatically deduct the emergency credit used?


Also, before I joined this forum I googled pre pay meters and I came across many threads mostly on this forum. Many people mentioning they owe a lot of money to their suppliers and as mentioned in the first post, a lot of horror stories regarding meters. I was wondering how it's possible that things like that can happen with pre pay meters?


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generally as well when you have a prepayment meter, most companies wont change you to a credit meter til you have been a customer for 6mths.

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When you read the threads about people having large debts on pre-pay meters it is usually because they have got into debt they can't reverse or haven't worked with the energy company to resolve debt issues and then have had pre-payment meters fitted and then loaded with the debt. This debt is then taken at a certain amount per week until cleared. If the meter installation is forced by application of a warrant then the costs related to that are also added to the debt.


From what I understand from reading on here (and I'm not a pre-pay meter customer) if you dip into the emergency credit then, the next time you will have the amount of emergency credit removed before the money is credited to your meter for use.


As someone new to living alone and not being sure what your electricity and gas usage will be you may find that, for the first few months after you move in at least, having pre-pay meters will not just give you an idea about how much electricity/gas you use but what would be a reasonable monthly DD payment if you do decide to switch to quarterly meters without leaving you in the position of discovering you have a large debt built up by paying for less than you are actually using. Remember there will be a difference between summer and winter usage as well.


Some suggestions -


Check that there is currently no debt being collected from the meters - other members will be able to tell you how to check if there is a debt lodged on the meter and the repayment rate. You want to make sure this is removed before you start paying money onto the meter as you don't want to be saddled with paying off someone elses debt.


Check with BG whether they have a standing charge for the meters and how it is calculated and charged to the account - this will help you decide whether to stick with them or to go with another provider. Also check whether they have a charge for dipping into the emergency credit so you're not caught out that way.


Even though you won't be using much gas or electric while you're getting the flat ready and doing decorating etc it may still be a good idea to top the meters up regularly (having made sure you won't be paying off someone else's debts) so that when you do move in you've got into a habit of topping up the meters on a regular basis, and also so you have a cushion of credit in case there comes another unexpected bill for something else along the way (whether connected to the property or not).


Good luck in your new home - I was in the same position as you 6 years ago when I moved into my own place for the first time and know where you're coming from.



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