How to read a credit card statement
Everything you need to know to read and understand your credit card statement.
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If you want to keep track of your credit card spending, make timely repayments and flag any errors, it's important to understand how to read your statement. As most credit card providers use a similar layout on their credit card statements, you can use this guide to understand how your credit card statement works and what you need to pay attention to.
Key features on your credit card statement
Below we've outlined the major features of your credit card statement. We've numbered each feature to match the attached example statement to help you find these details on your own statements.
1. The statement period
Your statement period is usually listed in the top right-hand corner of your statement. If you wish to make use of your card’s interest-free days, understanding your statement period can help. One common mistake many people make is assuming that interest-free days apply from the date of the purchase. While credit cards offer up to X number of interest-free days, the exact number of days depends on your statement cycle and when you make the purchase.
For example, let's assume that your card provides up to 55 interest-free days and the statement period is from 27 February to 26 March. The interest-free period for this statement period would end on 23 April. In this example, if you make a purchase on 27 February, you can make use of 55 interest-free days. If you make a purchase on 26 March, you get 28 interest-free days.
2. Payment due date
You can find the payment due date on the top-right hand corner of your statement. The payment due date is the date you need to have made at least the minimum repayment by. You can pay the minimum or more before this date. However, you'll be charged a late fee if you pay it after. Paying after your due date can also leave negative marks on your credit score. This could impact your chances of approval if you apply for another card in the future.
If you're having trouble paying your bill by that specific date, you can request to move the due date. For example, you might prefer that it falls shortly after your payday. If you're just struggling to repay that month, you can also request an extension. Most banks offer financial hardship assistance, so contact your card issuer directly to discuss your options.
3. Minimum amount due
When using a credit card, you must pay a minimum amount each month. The minimum repayment is usually between 2-3% of your outstanding balance. Otherwise, a dollar amount in between $10 and $30 may apply if the balance is larger. If you pay less than the minimum repayment, you could also be fined. While you're obligated to meet the minimum, it's ideal that you pay as much as you can each month. If you only pay the minimum amount, it'll take longer for you to pay off your balance in full. The longer it takes you to pay off your balance, the more interest you will pay on what's already owed.
If you've paid your bill late or paid less than the minimum, the amount you're yet to repay will be detailed in the "overdue" section of your statement. The longer you have an overdue account, the more you'll be charged in late payment fees. Overdue credit card bills collect fees and interest that increases your debt. It can also hurt your credit score. Overdue statements are a red flag to lenders and could reduce your likelihood of approval for future loans and cards.
5. New charges
This is a summary of the total amount of money charged to the card during the statement period. Look at the new charges to make sure the total amount matches up with the transactions that you've made. This can help ensure that there aren't any errors on your statement (such as fraudulent transactions or double charges).
This is the total of all the payments made towards the card, along with any refunds, during the given statement period. Some refunds can take a few weeks to process. So if you can't locate the refund on your statement, you might need to contact your bank or the organisation issuing the refund to make sure that it has gone through properly.
7. Closing balance
This amount refers to how much you owe towards your credit card account in total. If you pay more than you owe, this figure goes into negative. So while you're only obligated to pay the minimum repayment each month, you should aim to pay as close to the closing balance as possible. If you pay the closing balance in full, you can avoid interest. You may also qualify for up to a certain number of interest-free days on purchases.
This list will detail all of the transactions you've made on that card during that statement period. It should include the date of the transaction, its reference code, the type of transaction and the dollar amount. Again, it's wise to look over your transaction history to make sure that you haven't been charged incorrectly or fraudulently in the previous statement period. Most credit cards also come with mobile apps which allow you to check your transaction history, so you won't have to wait for your statement to arrive to check these details.
9. Daily rate
While banks usually present the interest rate as an annual percentage, it's actually charged on your transactions on a daily basis. So you can use the daily rate to see how much your balance is collect in interest each day, including your purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. Most transactions, aside from cash advances, usually don't start accruing interest until after the statement period ends, though.
10. Reward points
You can expect these details only if you use a rewards credit card or frequent flyer credit card. If you do, your statement should inform you of points earned during the statement period, the total number of points in your account, and point redeemed during this period. You can also monitor how many points you've earned through your online rewards program account and frequent flyer account balance.
How to manage errors on your credit card statement
While your credit card statement should usually be accurate, there are some instances where you might spot an error. If these errors go unreported, they could have a negative impact on your credit history and reduce your likelihood of approval when applying for future loans. This is why it's so important to keep an eye on your credit card statement.
If you do spot an error on your credit card statement, it's wise to get in contact with your card provider to report and resolve the issue. If you do this soon enough, the errors might not even make it to your credit file. The simple steps you can follow to report and fix an error on your statement include:
- If you spot a purchase you’ve not made, contact your card provider immediately.
- In some instances, the responsibility to prove you haven't made the purchase is on you, so make sure you have the relevant receipts and evidence on hand.
- If you feel you’ve been a victim of identity theft or if your card has been used for fraudulent transactions, you should also contact the police as well as your provider. See our guide on how to survive credit card fraud for more tips.
- If any such errors make it to your credit report, you’ll have to contact credit reporting bodies such as Experian, Dun and Bradstreet or Equifax individually to order a copy of your credit report. You can then get in touch with a credit repair agency to help clean up your credit report.
See our guide on how to lodge a credit card dispute with your bank for the contact details and steps you need to report an error on your credit card statement.
Your credit card statement might seem like just another bill to deal with at the end of every statement period, but it's important to look over it rather than just paying your bill each month. Understanding how your statement works will not only ensure that you make timely repayments and avoid collecting interest, but will also help you spot any errors on your statement and resolve them before they impact your credit file.
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