I always get this mixed up. My energy company says my account is 'in credit'. Does that mean I owe them money, or they owe me money?

I thought it meant they owe me money but if that's case I don't understand why the website says 'pay now'.

(My bank's website uses negative numbers for debt which I find much clearer.)

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    Well, not sure what sse thinks they mean, but probably you're right. They owe you. It's just their website isn't smart enough to hide the pay button. Or, maybe you'll just send them money b/c you love them :) – Andy Wiesendanger Sep 15 '15 at 19:59
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    A quick call to the energy company would answer this question for you. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Sep 16 '15 at 0:35
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    "A quick call" ha! dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2509018/… – Colonel Panic Sep 16 '15 at 9:32
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    What does the detailed bill say? What did the previous bill say? – mhoran_psprep Sep 16 '15 at 11:35
  • @ColonelPanic :) "Quick" is relative. This question has been posted for 17 hours with no resolution yet. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Sep 16 '15 at 12:29

Fortunately, this can be solved by simply going to the website.

Unfortunately, the website is not very well designed, so it took a while to find it!

However, looking at the section about entering your own meter reading in, it is clear that this is indeed a "credit", meaning "they owe you money".

Image of online bill

Notice how the costs break down. They estimated an energy usage (cost equivalent) of £104.09, which resulted in a "bill" of £29.77 (credit). Then the customer entered a meter reading, which resulted in an actual energy usage (cost equivalent) of £142.45. Since it was £38.36 higher, it went from a credit to a debit of £8.59.

Were £29.77 (Credit) to mean money was owed to SSE, they would owe a bit over £68 instead given the higher energy charges.

You can see this help page to inquire about getting a refund, or simply allow this to carry over to your next bill. Or - consider doing a self-entered meter reading, if one hasn't been done recently, to make sure that any actual excessive usage comes out of your credit (rather than being a shock at one time).


A credit on your account generally means that they owe you money. There could be several reasons for this:

  • You overpaid for some reason.
  • The energy company mischarged you for something, and are correcting their error.
  • You might have been getting billed for estimated usage, and when the actual usage was determined, there could be a correction in your favor.

The pay button is generally always visible, even if you have a credit on your account. This gives you the option of prepaying your bill, if you choose, and also allows you to pay your bill if there is a database problem and the website is showing you the wrong total.

However, individual companies design their websites in different ways and use different terminology. I recommend a quick call to the energy company. They can tell you if you owe anything.

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    If that was the case then why is it showing a credit for electricity and a smaller credit for gas. If the previous bill was overpaid there would be details of this overpayment on the bill. I am afraid you are wrong! – user9722 Sep 16 '15 at 2:19
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    @GeorgeRenous We don't know what details were on the bill. But it is possible that you are correct. There is no way for us to know until the OP calls the energy company, or someone with experience with the SSE website chimes in. – Ben Miller - Remember Monica Sep 16 '15 at 3:31
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    The third option is very common in UK utilities billing. Most customers will experience this at one time or another. – Tom W Mar 1 '17 at 13:28

It can mean either. When A owes B money, then A is in debit with B and B is in credit with A.

What the (Credit) means in this case depends on whether it is meant from the perspective of the utilities company or meant from the perspective of the customer. When the UI is user-friendly, it should describe the situation from the customer perspective which would mean you have credit with the company, but in that case the button "Pay now" would be really confusing (should be something like "Request refund now").

A case of bad UI design.

You should use the provided "contact us" link to ask a customer representative for a clarification.

  • Can someone explain me what's wrong about my answer? – Philipp Sep 16 '15 at 16:08
  • I didn't downvote, but given the downvotes on Ben's similar answer, sounds like just some people disagree (and are using downvote to show that, as is their right). Your answer isn't really better than Ben's, hence you didn't get the upvotes he did. – Joe Sep 16 '15 at 19:09

In credit means you have over paid. I tried with my account. After clearing my bill to 0.0 I paid an extra £10 just to confirm the that money appeared as £10 in credit on the energy website.


Dictionary clarifies http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/be-in-credit

Definition of be in credit:
(Of an account) have money in it:
"your statement shows your account to be in credit"

And http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/be-in-debit?q=in+debit

Definition of be in debit:
(Of an account) show a net balance of money owed to others:
"the account is only 120 francs in debit"

The word 'debit' contains the letters 'debt' if it helps remember.

I agree the website is confusing.

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