Pre Pay or Bill Pay tariffs…what are the options?

Don’t know where to start when it comes to comparing energy deals? Well, first you need to know what type of meter you have in your home…this determines the type of tariff you can choose.

There are two main types of meter – Credit (Bill Pay) Meters and Prepay (Keypad) Meters.

All energy suppliers in Northern Ireland offer tariffs for both Credit and Prepay so your choice of supplier is not restricted by the type of meter in your home. And you can switch no matter what type of meter you have. So, it’s really about finding the right tariff or deal that suits your lifestyle and energy use.

In our latest blog we explain the difference between Credit and Prepay, what you need to consider and the deals available for each type of meter.


Prepay (Keypad) Meters

 ‘With Prepayment tariffs (PAYG) you pay for your energy before you use it’

Prepay tariffs are popular in Northern Ireland. Payment usually takes the form of ‘topping-up’ a card at a shop, post office, paypoint or payzone outlet. A ‘top-up’ can also be purchased by phone from your supplier, or increasingly on-line or via an App.

The main difference from a credit meter is that a prepay meter must be topped up before electricity is used (similar to a “pay as you go” mobile phone). Paying upfront means no unexpected bills – it can also help track and monitor your energy use. And some suppliers offer a discount or lower tariff for PAYG customers or provide additional rewards such as cash-backs.

There is a risk you could run out of credit at an inconvenient time for example in the evening or weekend. However, suppliers provide ‘emergency credit’ so you will continue to be supplied with energy (e.g. £2 credit) allowing time for you to buy a top-up. The emergency credit is then repaid when you next top up (e.g. if you use up the emergency credit of £2 and then top up £10 you will have £8 credit remaining on your meter).


Credit tariffs (Bill Pay)

‘Credit meters measure how much energy you use, and your supplier will bill on that information’

A credit meter is what you’ll have if you pay for your energy after you use it – and it’s the type of meter many of us will be familiar with. If you have a credit meter you will most likely be billed monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly for the energy that you have used.

A meter reader (from NIE Networks) will also visit your home to read your meter to ensure your bills are accurate and reflect your energy use (If they cannot get access they may produce an estimated read). Increasingly suppliers will ask for meter readings or provide a facility to provide these online or via an App – this helps ensure your bill is correct and your payments cover your energy use over the year.


What electricity deals are available: Pre-Pay and Credit?

We have highlighted the best PrePay and Credit deals available from each of the five electricity suppliers in Northern Ireland (Budget Energy, Click Energy, Electric Ireland, Power NI and SSE Airtricity).


What gas deals are available – PrePay and Credit?

 Only customers in the Greater Belfast area, which is operated by Phoenix Natural Gas, can currently switch their gas supplier – they can choose between Firmus Energy and SSE Airtricity Gas.



Can I change my meter?

 The answer is Yes…you can change to a prepay meter from a credit meter, or from credit to prepay.

To arrange a change of meter, speak to your current supplier, or your new supplier if you are switching. They will schedule an appointment with NIE Networks (or Gas Network company) to change over the meter. This should usually be free but some suppliers may charge a fee, so confirm if there is any charge with your supplier first.


Finding the best deal…

At ‘Power to Switch’ we compare all tariffs, deals and offers across all electricity and gas suppliers to make sure you find the best deal. Switching is quick, hassle-free and means you keep more money in your pocket. So switch energy suppliers and start saving.


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