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Most consumers can dispose of paper credit card statements after 60 days.
Business owners should hold onto work-related credit card statements for tax purposes.
Going paperless can help save you from the hassle of keeping credit card statements.
Whether you receive a paper statement each month or have elected to go paperless, reviewing your monthly credit card statement is an important part of maintaining your overall financial health. But once you’ve reviewed your credit card statement, confirmed all the charges are accurate and paid your monthly bill, what’s next? How long should you keep credit card statements? Can you dispose of that pile taking up space on your counter?
In the vast majority of cases, you don’t need to keep credit card statements for very long. Sixty days is the rule of thumb for most cardholders, and you may not even need them that long. Provided you can still access the electronic statement online, you can typically dispose of paper statements immediately after reviewing them.
That guidance comes in part from the Fair Credit Billing Act, a federal law that gives consumers 60 days to dispute unfair, deceptive or fraudulent charges on any credit card statement. Hanging onto statements for this period gives you the opportunity to revisit any charges that need disputing at a later date.
» MORE: How to prevent credit card fraud
When to hold onto credit card statements longer
While 60 days is a safe general rule for most credit cardholders, there are a few situations where it’s a good idea to hold onto statements for longer. Unsurprisingly, those scenarios apply to anything that may impact taxes or a disputed charge.
Here are a few specific times you might need to retain statements past 60 days:
You’re a business owner and use your credit card for business expenses. Since these can be written off for tax purposes, it’s a good idea to hang onto business-related credit card statements for at least a year, or up to three years if you’re at high risk of an audit.
You make charitable donations by credit card. These expenses can also qualify as a tax deduction, which means they are also susceptible to auditing. However, this only applies if you plan to itemize your tax deductions rather than taking the standard deduction.
You’ve filed a dispute with your issuer. While the Fair Credit Billing Act requires consumers to report fraudulent charges within 60 days, the processing of such a dispute could take much longer. If you’ve disputed any charge on your credit card bill, it’s a good idea to hang onto the statement until after the issue is resolved.
In any of these cases, though, a digital PDF of your statements is usually sufficient for record-keeping purposes, not to mention a great way to reduce mounting paper clutter.
How to dispose of paper credit card statements
When you’re ready to get rid of your credit card statements, security is an important consideration. Simply tossing statements into the recycling bin leaves you vulnerable to identity theft, as account numbers and other sensitive information might be accessible to anyone who may come across your trash.
Ideally, you should shred important documents like credit card statements before recycling them, by either using a home shredder or taking documents to a shredding service. If that option isn’t available, you can instead black out sensitive information on your credit card statements before tearing them up to discard.
Go paperless to simplify keeping credit card statements
Would you rather avoid the mounting pile of paper credit card statements, along with the arduous shredding process? Most credit card issuers offer cardholders the option to go paperless, effectively ending any future paper statements coming to you in the mail. (In fact, some credit cards may even charge you a nominal fee if you insist on receiving paper statements.)
Instead, you can access PDF copies of your credit card statements through your issuer’s online portal. Often, you can also set up email notifications so that you know when a new credit card statement is available.
Not only does going paperless save trees and reduce clutter, but it also completely does away with the question of how long to keep credit card statements. That’s because many major credit card issuers make statement PDFs accessible online for at least 12 months after the statement date, and sometimes much longer.
If you want to go paperless but are concerned about long-term access to credit card statements, check with your issuer about how long it makes digital statements available online.