7 Things to Know About Your Credit Card Billing Statement
Keeping up with your credit card transactions can be a tedious process. Fortunately, you don't have to do the work yourself. Each month, your credit card issuer will send you a billing statement with all the information you need to know about your credit card account.
This statement is important. Understanding it helps you maintain your credit card account, keep it in good standing, and ensure you're paying only for charges you made. Make sure you read through it every month so you know what's happening with your account.
What Is a Credit Card Billing Statement?
A billing statement is a periodic statement that lists all the purchases, payments and other debits and credits made to your credit card account within the billing cycle. Your credit card issuer sends your billing statement about once a month.
Although your credit card statement may be several pages long and packed with information, you still should read each line. At the very least, review your balance, minimum payment, and the list of transactions made to your account.
What's on the Billing Statement?
Your billing statement lists everything you need to know about your credit card account. It includes:
- Your balance from the previous billing cycle
- The minimum payment due
- The payment due date
- A late fee that will be charged if you pay late
- A summary and detailed list of payments, credits, purchases, balance transfers, cash advances, fees, interest, and other transactions
- A breakdown of the types of balances on your account and the interest rate and interest charges for each
- Your credit limit and available credit
- The number of days in your billing period
- The total amount of interest and fees paid year-to-date
- Contact information for your credit card issuer
- Rewards earned or redeemed, if applicable
Your credit card statement will include a minimum payment disclosure, which details the amount of time it will take to pay off your balance if you only make the minimum payment and the total amount you'd end up paying. It will also include the monthly payment necessary to pay off your balance in three years. This information helps figure out the best way to pay off your credit card balance.
There will also be a phone number you can call if you're having trouble making payments and would like more information about credit counseling.
When Does Your Billing Statement Come?
Your billing statement is mailed at the end of each billing cycle to the mailing address on file with your credit card issuer.
Law requires that credit card billing statements be sent at least 21 days before the due date so you have time to make your payment on time and avoid finance charges if a grace period applies to your balance.
If you've signed up for paperless billing, meaning you view your credit card statements online rather than receive a mailed paper statement, you'll receive an email letting you know your bill is available to view online. Paperless statements are simply electronic versions of your mailed statement. To view your paperless statement, sign in to your online credit card account and look for a link to access your statement.
Many credit card issuers make billing statements available online, even if you haven't enrolled in paperless billing. You'll likely need a PDF reader to view the paperless version of your billing statement. The statement you download online is an exact version of the one you'd receive in the mail.
Make sure your credit card issuer has your correct mailing or email address so you receive your credit card statements or email alerts related to your statement.
Will You Receive a Statement If Your Card Is Closed?
You'll still continue to receive a monthly billing statement on a closed account until you've paid off your credit card balance.
When you close your account, you're still responsible for making regular monthly payments and you can still be charged interest and fees on your outstanding balance. However, you won't be able to make additional charges on your account.
Review your billing statement, even if your account is closed, to be sure that transactions are accurate and that your payments have been applied correctly.
What to Do If There Are Errors on Your Billing Statement?
One of the most important reasons to thoroughly review your credit card statement is to verify that everything is correct. If you spot a billing error, you have the right to dispute it with the credit card issuer, but you must do so within 60 days of receiving the statement.
Many credit card issuers will resolve your dispute if you simply make a phone call. However, to protect your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you need to send a letter detailing your dispute. This way, you have proof that you disputed the billing error if the credit card issuer doesn't resolve the issue. Having proof will come in handy if you have to complain to a government agency—such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—or sue your credit card issuer. It's OK to start the process with a phone call and then follow up with a letter.
Not All Transactions Are Listed on Your Billing Statement
Your billing statement only includes account activity within your billing cycle. Transactions you made before or after the start and end of the billing cycle won't appear on your billing statement. Check the top of your credit card statement for the billing cycle dates.
You can sign in to your online account to see a list of transactions that have posted to your account since your billing statement was prepared. You'll have to look for a copy of a previous credit card statement if you need to see a transaction that occurred before the billing cycle for your current credit card statement.
To create an online account, visit the credit card issuer's website and look for a signup link. Once you set up a username and password, you'll be able to log in anytime to view your account details or make a payment.
What If You Don't Receive a Billing Statement?
You may not receive a billing statement if your account balance is less than $1 and there was no activity on your account within the previous billing cycle. Another reason you might not receive a billing statement is if your credit card issuer doesn't have your correct address on file. If you've moved recently, you must update your billing address with your credit card issuer.
Finally, if your account is in collections or has been charged off, the credit card company isn't required to send you a statement.
For new credit card accounts, it may take several weeks to receive your first statement—or possibly longer, depending on when the first transaction posts to your account.
Call your credit card issuer if you haven't received your statement, especially if there may be a payment due.