Repaying debt on your electricity top up (prepay) meter

The information on this page is for traditional top up (prepay) meters. If you’re on our Smart Pay As You Go plan, find out about paying back debt on your smart top up meter.

If you have outstanding debt, you'll repay it automatically when you top up your meter.

So if your last top up didn’t last as long as you expected, or there was less money on the meter than you’d added, check to see if some of the money was taken automatically to repay debt.

Your meter can show how much credit or debt is on your meter

To see the total amount of credit or debt on your meter:

  1. Check the key is in the meter. If it’s not, insert it.
  2. Use the blue A button to cycle through the screens. If you have electricity supply, screen A will show how much credit is on the meter. If you don't have electricity supply, Screen A will show how much debt you need to repay. To turn the power back on, you'll need to top up this amount plus at least £1. This will restore supply and repay any emergency credit used, making the emergency credit available again.
  3. Screen S will show any electricity debt on the meter.

How debt builds up on your meter

Your meter can have 3 different kinds of debt:

Emergency credit and standing charge debt

Your top up meter allows you to borrow up to £5 in case of emergencies. It makes sure your home has power until you’re able to top up. Find out how to activate emergency credit.

While you’re using emergency credit, Bulb will:

  • use the emergency credit to pay for the electricity you’re using
  • stop taking payments for your daily standing charge – these payments will build up as debt on the meter

The next time you top up after using emergency credit, your top up will go towards repaying the emergency credit and any standing charge debt, until the debt's paid in full.

So if you don’t top up with enough to pay back your emergency credit in full, you’ll need to top up again to build up enough credit to get your electricity back on. 

Friendly credit

If you run out of emergency credit between 8pm and 8am, you’ll get ‘friendly credit’ automatically. This is to make sure that your supply stays on overnight, and gives you time to top up in the morning. 

If you've used friendly credit, you'll pay this off when you top up in the same way as your emergency credit and standing charge debt. So you'll need to top up with enough money to pay off your friendly credit in full.

'Electricity debt' from a previous supplier, Bulb account or credit loan

This includes:

  • debt that’s been transferred to your Bulb account from a previous supplier 
  • debt from a pay-monthly Bulb account
  • debt from credit that’s been loaned to you if you’ve run out of electricity but can’t afford to top up (known as ‘discretionary credit’)

This does not include standing charge debt. 

To see if there’s electricity debt on your meter:

  1. Check the key is in the meter. If it’s not, insert it.
  2. Use the blue A button to cycle through the screens. Screen S shows the debt on your meter. Screen T shows the weekly repayment amount, if you’ve agreed a weekly repayment plan with Bulb

You need to keep your meter topped up even if you’re away from home

Even if you’re away from home for a few weeks, you still need to keep your meter topped up. This is to cover things that use energy all the time, like your fridge or freezer, and the daily standing charge

Get in touch if you’re struggling to repay debt

We can help set up a payment plan, or recommend other organisations you can talk to.

If you'd like to set up a payment plan, have a think about how much & how often you can pay, and how long you want to repay the debt over, then get in touch and someone from our team will discuss the best solution with you.

Was this article helpful?