What Is This Charge on My Credit Card?
Key points about: charges on your credit card
Regularly review your credit card statement to identify any unknown or suspicious charges.
If you suspect a fraudulent charge, report it to your credit card company as soon as possible to avoid liability.
Fraudulent charges can impact your credit score if they go unnoticed and unresolved.
Surprised by a charge you don’t recognize on your credit card statement? Not sure what the item is, or is the retailer name unfamiliar? Did you actually purchase it, or could it be credit card fraud? If you’re questioning a credit card transaction, it may warrant further investigation.
Reviewing your credit card statement
Your credit card statement provides a detailed summary of how you use your credit card throughout a billing cycle. Reviewing your credit card statement every month is a good way to identify any unknown charges.
When reviewing your statement, pay close attention to the section labeled “transactions.” This is a list of all the payments and credits you’ve accumulated within a billing cycle. Each transaction typically includes a transaction date (when you made the purchase), a post date (the date funds were added to your balance), the merchant’s name, and how much the item costs.
How to find who charged your credit card
As you look through your transactions, you might not recognize a retailer or service provider’s name. It’s possible the merchant is using an abbreviated name or using the name of their parent company.
For instance, you might go for dinner at a restaurant owned by a corporation with a different name. When you look at your statement, you might see the parent corporation name instead of the restaurant name.
In other cases, you might see the name of a payment processing company instead of the retailer where you made your purchase.
What are pending charges?
In addition to unfamiliar merchant names, you might also notice a pending charge on your credit card statement. A pending charge is a charge made with your card that has yet to be posted to your credit card account balance. You can think of a pending charge as a hold. You hold on to a certain amount of credit on your credit card until the transaction goes through.
While a charge is pending, it will still affect your available balance. Since you are essentially holding that money until the payment goes through, the amount is removed from your available funds.
One example is when a hotel requires a pre-authorization payment to ensure your credit card is active and capable of covering any charges. You can expect to see a pending charge until you pay your final hotel bill.
What if there’s an unknown charge?
If you find an unknown charge in your list of transactions, there are a few things you can do to determine if it’s an authorized charge that you forgot about, or if it’s actually an unauthorized charge that requires further action.
- Review your receipts. Review all your receipts from the date associated with the unknown transaction to see if you can find the purchase.
- Search the merchant name. Go online and try searching the merchant name exactly how it’s recorded in your statement to see if you can identify who they are. This can help if the merchant name is abbreviated or if they are using the name of their parent company.
- Check with any authorized users. If you share your credit card with a joint account holder or an authorized user, check with them to see if they recognize the charge before taking any additional steps.
- Talk to the merchant directly. Contact the merchant associated with the unknown charge and see if you can work together to resolve the issue.
If you still can’t figure out what the charge is for after you’ve taken these steps, it might be credit card fraud.
Report a fraudulent charge
If you suspect a fraudulent charge, it’s important to act quickly. Start by contacting your credit card issuer as soon as possible using the customer service number on the back of your card. Tell the customer service representative that you suspect fraud.
After you make the credit card company aware of the unknown charge, they will typically conduct an investigation of your claim.
If your credit card is lost or stolen, the Fair Credit Billing Act provides protection to limit what you may have to pay.
Did you know?
If someone uses your credit card and you report it after the fact, you may have to pay some or all of the charges to a maximum of $50. With Discover, you get $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee. You’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover Card.1
How fraudulent charges can impact your credit score
While federal laws are in place to protect consumers to a certain extent, fraudulent charges can impact your financial health if they go unresolved.
For instance, if you have a credit card that you only use for emergencies and you rarely check your statements, there is a chance a fraudulent charge could go unnoticed for months. Having a credit card charge or multiple charges you are unaware of can impact your credit score by increasing your credit utilization ratio (amount of credit you are using divided by the amount of available credit).
Your credit score can also suffer from late or missed credit card payments if you are unaware of the charges being made. Failure to make an on-time payment could result in a late fee or other penalties on your credit card account.
Review your credit card statements regularly and take immediate action if you see a charge that doesn’t look right.
If you find a credit card charge that you don’t think you made, it’s important to follow up. In some cases, it might just be a matter of not recognizing the merchant’s name. However, there is a chance that the charge is fraudulent. Acting quickly and reporting the unauthorized transaction to your credit card company can help you to avoid liability and prevent additional fraudulent charges.
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