Breaking Bad Credit Habits: #2: Ignoring Your Credit Card Statement
It arrives every month on the same day by snail mail or by email, but if you’re like many people, you may have a bad habit of not reading your credit card statement.
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If so, it’s time to lose that habit — the information you’re skipping could have a big impact on your finances and your future credit decisions.
Your Credit Card Statement Contains Important Information
While credit card statements differ from company to company, they all contain the same basic information, and it’s important information you need to know. The details include:
- the opening and closing dates of the statement, or the time frame the statement covers
- an account summary of the statement period’s transactions, such as payments, credits, purchases, interest charged, fees charged, balance transfers and cash advances
- your credit card spending limit and the amount available to you as of the statement date
- the new balance amount owed, the minimum payment required and the due date for the minimum required payment
- a chronological listing of transactions for this statement period
- the Annual Percentage Rate that applies to each type of transactions (like purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances)
- your current credit score, provided by many major issuers
Why Ignoring Your Credit Card Statement Is a Bad Idea
Ignoring your credit card statement is a bad habit to fall into, because you could miss important details that impact your current and future financial situation.
Here are four ways you could miss out:
1. Not knowing your statement period starting and ending dates makes it difficult to budget your credit card payments on time to avoid late charges and interest payments, especially if you’ve recently made a large purchase with your card.
2. Ignoring your credit card transactions is especially dangerous because you could miss errors, fraudulent transactions or fees/charges you were unaware of.
3. Not opening your credit card statement could also mean you don’t know when your credit card balance approaches or exceeds your credit limit, which could result in your credit card getting declined the next time you try to use it, or your being assessed an over-limit fee.
4. When you don’t review your credit card statement, you also run the risk of missing any changes to your account that could cost (or save) you money, such as changes in rates or terms. You may also miss out on any time-limited special offers included with your statement.
Make Reading Your Credit Statement a Monthly Habit
To make sure you aren’t missing errors, signs of fraudulent activity or even special offers that could save you money, get in the habit of reading your credit card statement each month, whether it’s your online statement or the paper-based one that arrives by mail.
Schedule your monthly credit card statement review into your day planner or online scheduling app. Sign up to receive text or email alerts to notify you when a new statement arrives.
When you’re reviewing your credit card statement, watch out for any unusual activity that shows up in your transaction listing. This could include double charges from vendors you visited, or transactions from vendors you don’t recognize, including those in locations you haven’t visited or made a purchase from online. Also keep an eye out for any unusual fees and contact your credit card issuer to ensure your statement doesn’t contain errors.
Ignoring your credit card statement is a bad habit that could cost you money because of critical information you’re missing. Instead, get into the habit of checking it regularly.
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