What is emergency credit?

Just in case you ever run out of credit and can’t get to a top-up point quickly, your meters each have £5 of extra credit built in.

Every electricity and gas prepayment meter includes £5 of ‘emergency credit’ – because we know there are times when you just can’t get to a PayPoint or Payzone. If you’re ill in bed, for example, or if you’ve got a small child and can’t leave them.

So if you run out of credit and can’t get to a top-up point, you can access your emergency credit to tide you over.

The next time you top up, you’ll have to pay back the emergency credit you’ve used. So when you’re topping up your electricity key or gas card, remember to include enough money to cover the emergency credit, as well as enough to keep your meters in credit for a while.

How do I get my emergency credit?

You can only access your emergency credit if your key or card is in the meter and your credit has fallen to less than £1 in your electricity meter or £2 in your gas meter. 

You might need to remove the key or card and re-insert it to activate the emergency credit. 

For your gas meter, you should insert your card and press the red ‘A’ button to accept the offer of emergency credit. 

You can find full details of how to activate your emergency credit here.

What happens to my standing charge when I’m using my emergency credit?

While you’re using emergency credit, we don’t take your daily standing charge from your meter, so it builds up as debt. When you next top up, we’ll take enough to pay off your emergency credit and the standing charge debt you’ve built up. 

You won’t be able to use your emergency credit again until you’ve paid off your standing charge debt. 

What happens if I use up all my emergency credit?

If you use up all your emergency credit in either your gas or electricity meter, it will shut off your gas or electricity so you’re ‘off supply’. 

If that happens, you need to get to a top-up point and add credit as soon as possible. Make sure you buy enough credit to:

  • Repay all the emergency credit you’ve used.
  • Repay the standing charge debt you’ve built up while you’ve been in emergency credit or off supply.
  • Pay for the gas or electricity you’ll need until you can top up again. 
  • Cover any existing debt repayments that you usually pay from your meter.

Screen B on your electricity meter will tell you how much this all adds up to, including your standing charge and emergency credit.

You may notice that your meter balance goes below £0 and the word ‘owed’ appears beside your balance. That’s because your meter is effectively lending you any emergency credit you use, and any standing charges that aren’t paid while you’re out of credit. The amount owed will continue to grow until you top up enough to pay it off.  

Here’s an example of why this might happen:

  • If you didn’t use your gas heating all summer, you might not have needed to top up your gas meter during that time, so you wouldn’t have added anything to the credit in your meter. 
  • However, you’d still need to pay standing charges over the summer, so these would build up as a debt balance in your meter.  

Why can’t I access my emergency credit?

If nothing happens when you try to activate your emergency credit, you may have used it already and not paid it all back yet. 

Before you can draw on your emergency credit again, you need to pay off your previous emergency credit, plus any standing charge debt that built up while you were using your emergency credit or off supply. Once you’ve paid off these debts, your emergency credit will be available again.

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