Double Check Your Credit Card Statements!

by The Smarter Wallet on March 15, 2011

Now be honest –- how many times do you actually check your credit card statements? Do you sit down every month and go through them item by item as soon as they come in? Or do you just pay the minimum (or whatever you want to pay) and forget about anything else?

It’s understandable in today’s busy society that you would struggle to find the time to check through your statements. This is especially true if you use your credit cards a lot and you can’t face going through two or three pages of items each time.

Why You Need To Double Check Your Credit Card Statements!

But there are some very good reasons why you should make the time to do this. If you need convincing, read the three points given below.

1. You may owe something you had forgotten about. This point is more for when you think you have paid off the entire balance on a card. Let’s say you get your statement and you make the required minimum payment straightaway. In between the deadline for making that payment and making the next one, you decide to pay off the rest of the balance to clear the card. That’s fair enough, but you will already have accrued more interest in between the two payments. You will need to check your next statement to make sure any extra interest is paid off, so you don’t get slapped with a charge for late payment.

2. There could be fraudulent transactions on the card. Unless you check your statements every month, how would you know whether anyone else had been using your card as well? This is especially true if you use it a lot and wouldn’t know the exact balance unless you checked it. On that note, you could also use a credit monitoring service if you’re interested in monitoring for identity theft. A service like Identity Guard may be a good choice for this purpose.

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3. You can get an accurate idea of your spending habits. That’s just not possible unless you look at your statements each month. This might be hard if you are used to spending money whenever you like, because it might just show some naughty habits you didn’t realize that you had! But you should always see how you spend your money –- it could result in a tighter budget and more money saved.

There are other reasons why you should check your statements each month, but overall knowledge of your debt and understanding of your financial transactions are the two main things you need to know and remember. This is particularly important if you are the victim of fraudulent transactions. If you don’t realize someone has used your card for a fraudulent payment, they could keep using it and you would never know. What’s more, you could unknowingly keep on paying their extraneous bills!

Checking credit card statements is not anyone’s favorite job. But as you can see, there are some very good reasons for doing it. If you get into the habit of giving your statements a once over as soon as your notices come in every month, you will find it easier to keep up with this process for the long term. If you leave it for a few days, there is less chance you will remember to do it properly. And amazingly enough, it only ever takes a short while to check through it. Usually a quick scan will reveal anything that looks unusual and you can then check it in more detail later on.

Isn’t that better than not knowing where your cash is going -– or who else might be spending it?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kh March 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I actually download my credit card statements every 2 weeks on payday. It’s part of my regular routine to balance my accounts in Quicken. Even if you don’t read your statement when it comes in, it’s a good idea to log on and just check it periodically to make sure everything is ok.

2 The Smarter Wallet March 16, 2011 at 11:23 pm

People who keep a close eye on their finances normally don’t have an issue with this. But I do know people who put everything on autopay and never check their statements… I guess they take things for granted that things are being dealt with like clockwork. It’s pretty risky to leave things alone like this though, as errors often happen! And when you leave things going for a while, it may be harder to collect on any errors that may have occurred (as seen in your statements).

3 Jack Thomas March 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I have been burned several times because I didn’t carefully check my statement. Some of the free offers we receive are only free for 30 to 60 days and then the monthly charges begin. This is also true on telephone bills. Certain fees can be hidden and not disclosed.

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