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How do you get a new key or card for an electric meter?

Prepayment meters need topping up regularly with a prepaid key or card. That’s why they’re often called electric key meters or gas key meters. But what happens if you lose your key/card, it stops working or you move to a new house? Here’s everything you need to know.

Prepayment meters need topping up regularly with a prepaid key or card. That’s why they’re often called electric key meters or gas key meters. But what happens if you lose your key/card, it stops working or you move to a new house? Here’s everything you need to know.

Written by
Dan Tremain
Energy and business energy expert
Last Updated
24 JANUARY 2024
4 min read
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My meter key/card isn’t working – what should I do?

Try not to panic – there could be a simple explanation. Reasons why your electric meter key or gas card might not be working include:

  • Failed transaction – after you’ve topped up with credit at a Post Office or PayPoint/Payzone location, check your receipt. If it says ‘cancelled’ or ‘failed’, your transaction wasn’t successful, so you’ll need to try again. If the machine at your usual top-up store isn’t working, try somewhere else.
  • Dirty or damaged key – your electric or gas meter key/card could have stopped working because it’s a bit on the grubby side. You can sort this out by taking the key or card out of the meter, blowing off any dust and wiping it with a clean, dry cloth or toothbrush. If it still doesn’t work once you’ve re-inserted it, contact your energy supplier so they can send you a replacement.
  • Error code – if your prepayment meter flashes up an error message when you insert your key or card, note down the code and let your provider know so they can help to solve the problem quickly. Similarly, if you see an error code when you try to top up your key or card at a PayPoint or Payzone location, contact your supplier.
  • Not enough credit – if you use the emergency credit on your meter, remember that you’ll need to buy enough credit to cover this the next time you top up, as your key/card won’t work until you’ve paid back what you owe.

I’ve lost my meter key/card – how do I get a new one?

There are a couple of ways to replace a lost electric key or lost gas card. The quickest is to get a replacement from a local PayPoint or Payzone location. Before you go, you’ll need to contact your energy supplier to let them know you want a new key. They’ll give you a reference number, which you can then take to the store. The shop assistant will be able to set up your new key so you can activate it when you get home.

If you prefer – and assuming you don’t need your new key in a hurry – your provider can post a new key or card to you that’s already programmed. It will usually take three to five days to arrive in the post.

Always try to take good care of your key/card because if you lose it more than once, it’s likely you’ll have to pay a fee for a replacement.

What happens to my electric key if I change supplier?

If you’re switching to another energy supplier, you’ll be sent a new key or card from your new provider. This should arrive before the date they’ve agreed to start supplying your energy from. You’ll still be able to top up during the switching process, and if you have any credit left on your meter, your old supplier should refund you. Don’t try to continue using a card or key from your previous provider after the agreed switch date.

You’re still allowed to switch If you owe money, as long as you’re no more than £500 in debt for gas or electricity to your supplier.

Can I use my old electric key if I move house?

No, don’t take an old meter key or card to your new home as it won’t be valid. It’s important you let your supplier know if you’re moving house so you only pay for the energy you’ve used.

If you move into a new property and find old keys or cards, destroy them. You’ll need to register with your new energy supplier as the new account holder to get a fresh key. If you don’t, you could end up paying the previous occupier’s debts. Before you buy credit on your new key or card, it will need to be activated. Just insert it into your meter for up to a minute and it will update your details.

Can I have a prepayment smart meter?

Yes. You can ask your supplier to upgrade your prepayment meter to a smart meter free of charge. A smart meter can help you track your energy usage in real time in pounds and pence.

Another benefit is that you can top up your account online or via an app, so you won’t need a key or card at all.

Frequently asked questions

I have a token that’s not working – what should I do?

If you have a token that’s not working, take it back to the shop where you bought it. They should give you a replacement. Keep your receipts, just in case.

Can I get my lost credit back?

Yes, if your key or card was lost, damaged or broken, let your supplier know. They should refund the credit back to your new key or card. You might need to show proof of buying the credit though, so make sure you keep your receipts.

What does a blank screen on my meter mean?

If the screen on your meter is blank and there’s no electricity, it’s most likely a power cut. Check with your neighbours to see if their power is off too or call 105, the national phone line for power cuts. If there isn’t a power cut, make a note of your meter serial number and contact your supplier to find out what the problem is.

Where can I top up my key/card?

You can top up your key/card at a Post Office, Payzone or any shop or supermarket with the PayPoint logo.

If you can’t find a Payzone or PayPoint near you, contact your supplier. They might be able to offer you another way to top up - for example, by text, online or via their app. If they don’t offer these features, they’re required to install a normal meter that lets you pay monthly or quarterly.

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