SP logo light
Support CentrePay as You Go

Help with Pay As You Go (Traditional)

Help with Pay As You Go (Traditional)

Information for customers with a traditional Pay As You Go (Prepayment) meter

Pay As You Go (also known as Prepayment) simply means paying for your energy as you use it. This payment method can make it easier to budget for your energy needs alongside other household bills.

Topping Up

How do I top up?

You can take your key or card to any Post Office, PayPoint or Payzone outlet to top up your meter with credit.

  • Then, simply buy enough credit (i.e. top up) to keep your meter topped up and to cover any debt recovery rates set on your meter.

  • Please keep the receipt as proof of purchase to confirm your transaction has been successful.

  • You can top up from as little as £1 for gas and electricity up to a maximum of £99 per transaction per fuel if you are topping up at a Payzone or Post Office. If you are using a Pay Point, the maximum top is £75 per transaction.

  • Once you've topped up, simply insert your key or card into the meter and the credit will transfer over. You'll need to top up again when your credit starts to run low.

  • Electricity meters can hold up to £255 of credit. If you attempt to top up the meter when the credit exceeds this amount, this will initially be refused. Please run down the credit on the meter until this is below £255 before topping up

What happens if I don't top up?

  • Your meter has £10 emergency credit built in. This is to help keep your energy supply on until you are able to top up or this credit runs out. Once you run out of emergency credit, your supply may be temporarily disconnected until you top up your meter.
  • Emergency credit has to be repaid - To return the meter to normal after using emergency credit, you must repay any amount of emergency credit used plus standing charges and any payments you are making towards a debt (if applicable). It's important to also top up enough credit to cover the cost of the energy you will use.
  • If you run out of credit during periods when it may be difficult to top up, your electricity meter's friendly non-disconnect period, which is a safety function to ensure your energy supply won't turn off, will be activated. This lasts from 6pm - 11am Monday to Saturday and all-day Sunday and bank holidays, providing there was credit at the start of the period. Again, you'll need to pay any credit you use over this period the next time you top up.
  • Please note gas pay as you go meters do not have the friendly non-disconnect function and once you run out of credit, the supply will turn off.

My Meter isn't working

There's an error on my meter

Check to see if there is an error message on your meter. If you have an online account  please login and select the option 'Key Card Help' for instructions on what to do. If you do not have an online account, the below guide provides information on what action to take if you experience an issue with your electricity or gas meter

Electricity Meter Errors

Gas Meter Errors

I need a replacement key or card

I've topped up my gas but it didn't work

If you haven't made regular top ups throughout summer, you'll have built up daily standing charges, which are applied to your meter even when you're not using energy. Similarly, if you have an agreed debt recovery rate and haven't made regular top ups, you'll have built up debt.

To start using energy again, you'll need to top up enough to clear any debt on your meter, plus the amount of credit you'd like to add. Up to 70% of any top-up may be taken to clear any debt you owe on your meter.

If you're struggling to afford top ups

We understand this is a challenging time for all our customers and if you're struggling to afford your energy, we want to help as much as possible. In the first instance, please click here for details about organisations that may be able to assist you with budgeting for your energy and other household bills.

Help with meter readings and bills

We send you an annual statement to show your energy use for the year. This is for your information and shows your current account balance. Each time that you top up we obtain information from the meter, including a reading, so by topping up regularly it will ensure your annual statement is accurate.

Why do I need to provide a final meter reading?

We need a final meter reading to accurately measure the amount of energy you've used, which allows us to arrive at a correct account balance and then issue your final bill.

Why does my final balance show a debt?

There are a number of reasons why your final account balance may show a debt:

  • The final balance could be based on estimated readings (if this is the case, please contact us to provide your correct final readings).
  • There could be missing payments that haven't registered on your account. This can happen if you have used a different key to top up your meter and when we receive details of the payment, initially we may have issues allocating this to your account. If you believe this may have occurred, please contact us with the missing payment information (value, date of payment).
  • If you had any debt transferred onto your meter you may not have completed the repayment plan before leaving the property, in which case the balance will now be due for payment. There may have been a period, where although no energy consumed, standing charges will have accrued that have not been paid.

Why does my meter show a debt? I have received my prepayment statement and this shows I have an outstanding balance?

If you have a debt on your meter or have received a statement showing an outstanding balance, this may have be due to some of the following reasons

If you have a debt on your meter or have received a statement showing an outstanding balance, this may have be due to some of the following reasons

  • If you had a prepayment meter installed to help repay a debt, then you may not have completed the repayment plan yet and some outstanding balance remains.
  • You may have used some credit advances to remain on supply and this is still to be re-paid
  • Emergency Credit may have been used in the past and this needs to be re-paid
  • There has been a missed payment of the daily standing charge or the Debt Recovery Rate (DRR)

I am paying back a debt, how is this collected from my meter?

If you are paying back a debt through your meter, a DRR will have been set on your meter.

To view the DRR on your electricity meter,  please insert your key into the meter and press the blue button until you reach screen S. This will display the current debt on the meter and pressing the button again to screen T will confirm the DRR that the debt is being re-paid at.


The weekly DRR is divided by 7 days and an equal amount collected each day of the week, provided there is enough credit on the meter.

To view the DRR on your gas meter please insert your card into the meter, which will then beep once before displaying the amount of credit on the card.

Please remove the card and press the red button A on the meter until this beeps again. Once this beeps you can then press button A again and scroll through the different screens. Screen 27 shows the debt set on the meter and screen 24 shows the DRR set to repay this.

The DRR is recovered on a weekly basis from Wednesday to Wednesday. The meter will collect 70% of each top up you make during this period until the maximum DRR for the week is paid.

The below video provides information about your Pay As You Go bill

I have moved into a property that has a prepayment meter, but I have no supply?

The supply may be temporarily disconnected due to no top-up being made to the meter. If you have already notified us of your home move, and have your new electricity key or gas card, you simply need to top up your meter at a Post Office, Pay Point or Payzone.

If you have not yet notified us of your home move, please  contact us on 0345 270 0700, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm to complete a home move request. We will supply you with your key/card, and you can top up and restore your supply. You will remain off supply until you have notified us of your home move.

I am moving home - how long will it take to get an electricity key / gas card for a traditional prepayment meter?

You first need to complete a home move request and let us know your move-in date. This is best done within a week of your move. Once we have set up your account, we can arrange for you to pick up a key/card on the same day from a Post Office, Pay Point or Payzone. Alternatively, we can post the key/card to you, which should arrive within three working days of your account being set up.

If the previous tenant has left their electricity key inside the prepayment meter, you can use this to buy credit. However, it is also important that you still contact us to setup your account as this will ensure your meter is reset and you are not paying any debt that has been set on this.

Pre-payment meter off-supply

If you are off-supply, there are a few things to check before notifying us of a meter fault.  Firstly, please make sure you have enough credit in your meter and top up if you need to.  For help with this please see information shown above in this page. Should you still need support, please first chat to us on our live webchat at scottishpower.co.uk/livechat. If your issue remains unresolved, please call us on 0345 270 0700 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). If you are off supply and need help outside of our normal opening hours please call us on 0345 058 0005 (lines open 5pm-8pm Monday to Friday & 9am-4pm Saturday).

Last updated: 16 November 2023

Was this information helpful?

Need more help?