In credit? How to get money back from your utilities provider

5 min read
June 11, 2024

If you pay your energy or water bill by direct debit, you might end up ‘in credit’ with your supplier – meaning that they owe you money

Usually, the amount will be small – because of a slight difference between how your bill has been estimated and your actual energy use. But recently consumers have been raising the alarm about outrageous amounts of credit being taken and held by their utilities provider. 

Someone who contacted Martin Lewis via X, reported being in a staggering £2,300 of credit with their energy supplier. Being overcharged this much is clearly a breach of the agreement between the company and customer – specifically the energy provider’s responsibility to ensure that the bills they issue are as accurate as possible. 

So if you do end up in heaps of credit, how do you get your cash back from your utilities provider?

The reason behind credit

The amount you pay for energy or water per month is an estimate based on how much your supplier thinks you’ll use over the whole year. Obviously, an estimation is always just that – an estimation. There will be times when you are paying less than you use – and will receive a “back bill”. And other times you may be paying more than you are using. When this happens you’ll end up in credit. 

Especially if you pay by direct debit – where you will pay the same amount every month – it is common to end up in credit when your bill has been overestimated. Because you’ll end up paying a little too much each month this will eventually add up to a much larger sum. 

Your supplier should be keeping track of how much credit there is in your account – and intervene when it becomes clear that there is a significant amount of overpayments. 

However, we’ve seen some cases where companies are happy to keep collecting even when there is a significant amount of credit – and surely profiting off the interest accruing on their customers’ money. 

Can you reclaim it? 

To be clear, there is no justification for a supplier to hold onto large amounts of their customers’ cash. A small amount of credit is normal – and is often used to offset months where the amount of water or energy you use is higher. However, if they are holding onto a significant amount of money they will be earning interest on it and unfairly increasing their profits. 

In cases where a customer is in significant amounts of credit, the supplier should:

  • Make a refund of any money owed at the end of the year.
  • Pay the amount back by reducing future direct debit payments.

However, if they don’t take action, you might want to take action to claim back the credit yourself.

You can claim credit at any time. However, there are a few things to consider before you do so. 

First, remember that you should leave a little money in your account to go toward future bills. Especially with energy, you will be using less in the summer months – and any overpayments you make will go towards higher energy costs incurred during the winter. 

Second, a bit of credit in your account can act as a buffer that will help you pay your bills even if you lose your income or incur some unexpected costs that would make covering your energy costs more difficult.  

So before claiming back any money, think about:

  • Whether you’re likely to have higher bills in the months ahead. 
  • If you may struggle to pay your bills later on without having this credit on your account. 

How to claim back your credit 

To claim back credit you need to contact your supplier and tell them how much credit you’d like them to refund you. 

If the amount you’re owed is more than the amount you pay as a monthly direct debit, you might want to claim back the difference. For example, if your account is £80 in credit after paying for energy for the month of April and your next monthly bill is £50, you could ask for a £30 refund – as you’ll have enough money in your account to cover winter costs without owing money at the end of the year. 

If you are reclaiming credit you will almost certainly be asked to provide an accurate and up-to-date meter reading – to ensure that you definitely are overpaying. 

Your supplier may refuse to refund you – but they have to explain why and provide a good reason. Reasons may include: 

  • The amount of credit is too small to reclaim before the end of the year. 
  • They anticipate you needing this credit in your account to cover higher bills at another time of year. 

Make sure you take accurate meter readings 

Cases of huge credit amounts may not be hugely common but they demonstrate the importance of ensuring you have accurate meter readings. 

Your supplier should send someone to take a meter reading for you. However, if you have doubts about the accuracy of their meter reading you can check yourself and then compare it against your bills. 

If your meter reading is different from what they have on record, you can ask them to update your bill. 

Do you suspect that your energy meter is not giving accurate readings? Read our guide on how to deal with an energy meter problem.

If you’re not sure about the direct debit, MSE has a handy tool that will help you check whether it is calculated correctly. Check your direct debit now. 

How can you get additional support?

If you need more help, Citizens Advice have trained advisers who can give you help over the phone, online chat or by email. Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline here. 

And if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter you might be eligible for extra help and support. Check if you can get grants and benefits to help pay your energy bills.


If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at .

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