Unfortunately, many credit card users don’t have a real appreciation for—or interest in—their credit card statement, and may even throw it in the recycling bin unopened. Yet, understanding your statement can play a crucial role in managing credit card debt and ensuring you’re not the victim of fraud.
Here we break down the basics of credit card statements and which details to look out for when you review it each month.
What is a credit card statement?
Simply put, a credit card statement is a record of all your transactions for your statement period. Transactions can include everything from purchases to returns to recurring payments.
Aside from your transactions, a credit card statement also has important additional information, including:
- Statement period and date. The period of transactions covered by the statement (usually approximately a month) and your card provider’s date issued the statement.
- Account information. Your credit card account number, as well as information about your previous statement and recent payments.
- Payment due date and minimum payment due. The date by which your credit card issuer must receive payment and the minimum amount that you have to pay.
- Credit limit and credit available. Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can charge to the card at any given time, and the credit available shows how much of your limit remains.
- New balance. Your new amount owing, which will also contain any fees and previous unpaid balances, if applicable. If you pay the full credit card balance by the due date, you will not be charged any interest.
- Interest rates. Annual interest rates you pay on purchases and cash advances. The statement will also show you how much interest you’ve been charged if you have not paid off your balance in full.
- Payment estimate. This calculation shows how long it would take a card holder to pay off their balance if they only make the monthly minimum payments. Federally regulated credit card providers are legally required to provide this information to help credit card holders understand the downside of making minimum payments only.
- Rewards or cash back summary. If you have a rewards or cash back credit card, there will also be information about the points or other benefits you have earned to date.
» MORE: How to calculate credit card interest
Credit card statement delivery
Your credit card statement is issued once a month. You can choose to receive a paper credit card statement by mail or an e-statement via email.
It may be possible to request a change in your statement issue date — say, if you want to coordinate the dates with other debt payments — but the decision is up to your credit card provider. Still, it never hurts to ask.
» MORE: When is the best time to pay your credit card bill?
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What to look for on a credit card statement
While it doesn’t make for scintillating reading, reviewing your credit card statements will help you stay on top of your money flow and catch any fraudulent charges. Here are some key things to look out for:
- Unfamiliar charges. Phone your credit card issuer immediately if there is a charge you don’t recognize as it could mean someone has access to your credit card information and is using it fraudulently.
- Your new balance. Make sure your payments are up-to-date and that your credit card balance is not ballooning over time.
- Important notices. On occasion, a credit card provider will include information about new promotions or upcoming changes to your credit card agreement, including the interest rate charged.
- Fees and credit available. Check that you haven’t been mistakenly charged any fees and that you are not at risk of going over your available credit.
» MORE: How to initiate a chargeback
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