If you’ve ever tried to look at your credit card statement then you probably know it can be a little confusing to follow the first time. It is highly important to go over your statement each month to keep track of your spend and watch for any suspicious activity.
When was the last time you took a detailed and unhurried look at your credit card statement? Do you understand every printed detail that appears on your credit card?
You must read the fine print on your statement in order to understand and control monthly spending. It will help you to practice proper credit card management. You may be surprised by what you find when taking a good look at your statement and you discover just how your credit card works.
What is a credit card statement anyway?
A credit card statement is a list of all of your transactions during the previous month’s use of your credit card. Note that the month on the statement may be from the 10th of one month to the 10th of the next month. Credit card companies don’t necessarily bill you according to calendar month. Included on the statement are the total outstanding balance, payment due and due date.
A credit card statement has two parts. The first part is the slip that you detach and include with your check. The second part is the part most people just skim over and never really read. This is the part that lists all your credit card activity. This is the part which we are going to examine.
Name and address: This is the card holder’s name and address that the credit card company has on file. If you have a change in your address or phone number, you should notify your credit card company in writing of the change and request an acknowledgement letter or send it with a return receipt requested.
Reference number: This number is the number that the credit card company uses to reference their records. If you ever dispute a charge on your statement, this is the number you will need.
Credit card number: This is the 16 digit number that’s shown on the face of your credit card. American Express or Amex is an exception to the rule and only has a 15 digit number. This is the number you should enter in the memo field of your check when you send in your payment, or if you pay by any other method such as by phone or online.
Credit limit: This is the maximum amount your credit card issuer allows you to spend. If you spend more than this amount you will be over your limit and you may be charged a penalty for this depending on the credit card company.
The credit card company may consider increasing your credit limit if you pay more than the minimum payment and are on time every month. Paying more than the minimum amount each moth and paying on time can help you to get your credit limit increased.
Available credit limit: This is the difference between what you have already spent on your credit card, or your total balance due and what you have left to spend until your reach your credit limit. For example: if your credit limit is $5000 and you have already had a balance due of $4000, your available balance will be $1000.
Cash limit: Most credit cards allow you to take cash out on your credit card. Often a different interest rate is applied for taking cash out as opposed to purchases made. Your cash limit is included in your maximum credit limit, not in addition to it.
Statement date: This is the date on which your credit card company generates their bills. This is also the date used to calculate interest on your outstanding balance. You will continue to be charged interest until your outstanding is paid in full.
Payment due date: This is the date before which your payment must be received by the credit card company to avoid being considered a late payment. So be sure that your check reaches the credit card issuer well before the due date so that no late payment fee applied.
Total amount due: This is the total amount to be paid by you. This includes total unpaid purchases, cash advances, interest accrued and any fees applied.
Minimum amount due: To keep your account in good standing with the credit card company, this is the minimum payment you must make. This amount is usually 5 to 20 percent of your total amount due. If you do not pay the minimum amount by the due date, this will count against your credit score and you may be charged late payment fees.
Rewards point summary: If your credit card has a reward points system included, this is a summary of points earned on purchases and/or cash advances. The summary usually gives an account of your opening balance and the points earned and redeemed. Reward points and the method of redemption vary from one credit card to another. The total of your reward points should not be confused with any other balances or payments due on your credit card statement. These are merely incentives used by your credit card company and do not count towards your bill in any way.
Transaction details: This is the list of all of the transactions made during the billing cycle. It will include the type of transaction (whether it’s a purchase or cash advance), the place you made the purchase, the date of purchase and the amount charged. This helps you verify the validity of the charges to your card.
It is vitally important that you check your credit card transaction details regularly. This is the only way you will discover if all the charges made were actually made by you. If you believe that any charges were made fraudulently, report it to your credit card company immediately. It is also a good idea to keep all of your credit card receipts, that way you can compare them to your statement. Sometimes you may forget about a charge you made and believe it’s fraudulent when it’s actually not.
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