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Topping up a meter for someone else

A top-up (prepayment) meter is a way of paying for energy as you use it.

You usually top up a meter by following these steps:

  1. Add credit to a key (for electricity) or card (for gas) at a Paypoint or Payzone.
  2. Insert the key or card into the meter at home. This transfers the credit to the meter.

If someone is self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19), they might ask you to top up their key or card for them. 

Find out how to top up for someone by using:

Topping up using a key or card

Safely pick up the key or card

When you pick up someone's key or card so you can top up for them, ask them to:

  • wash their hands
  • remove the key or card from their meter
  • wipe down the key or card gently with disinfectant or a soapy cloth

When you arrive at the person’s home, stand 2 metres from the door and ask them to leave the key or card on the floor. Wait for them to go back inside before you pick it up.

Go to your nearest open Paypoint or Payzone

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You’ll find Paypoints or Payzones in local corner shops, newsagents, supermarkets and garages. Look out for the yellow or pink logo outside the shop, in the window or at the counter. Before you make the trip, call the shop to make sure it’s open at this time. 

Find your nearest:

Hand over the key or card at the counter and pay for the top-up

Once you’re in your local Paypoint or Payzone, walk to the counter and explain that you’d like to top up the key or card. Confirm how much you’d like to pay to top up.

For an electricity key, you can add up to £49 per transaction, up to a limit of £255 in total. There is no top-up limit on a gas card.

The cashier will top up the key or card, and after taking your payment, return the key or card to you with a receipt.

Check the receipt once you’ve topped up

If it shows ‘Credit failed’ or ‘Cancelled’, your top up hasn’t worked. Ask the cashier for help. Once you’ve successfully topped up, keep the receipt for reference. 

Safely hand back the key or card

Ring the bell, and leave the key or card on the floor by the door. Wait 2 metres from the door to check the person you’re topping up for has received it. Ask them to wipe the key or card before they add the credit to their meter and wash their hands again afterwards. 

Discretionary credit (using a TAG code or message)

In some circumstances, energy companies are able to provide ‘discretionary credit’. Some companies call this 'temporary credit'. This is like a loan to pay for gas or electricity. 

There’s a different process for topping up with discretionary credit, and the person you’re topping up for will need to give you some extra information before you go to the Paypoint or Payzone. 

The person you're topping up for will need to give you their 8-digit TAG code, so you can give it to the staff at the Paypoint or Payzone. The staff should know how to use the code, but just in case, we have a guide on how to top up with a TAG code.

The person you're topping up for must tell you the address of a specific Paypoint or Payzone where you’ll top up. You’ll only be able to collect the credit at that store. 

When you arrive at the Paypoint or Payzone, hand your gas card to the person behind the counter and explain there is a message to collect on the card. They should insert the card into their machine to read the message. They may ask you to top up a maximum of £1 to receive the credit.

Contact us if you need help

It’s important that people have energy in their homes. If you have any issues or you're worried that the person you’re topping up for might lose their energy supply, ask them to contact us

Read more advice for managing energy during the coronavirus outbreak.


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