7 Things to Know About Your Credit Card Billing Statement

A woman reviews her credit card billing statement
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Keeping up with your own credit card transactions could 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.

Your credit card billing statement is important and necessary for maintaining your credit card account, keeping it in good standing, and ensuring you're paying only for charges you made to your account. Make sure you read through it every month so you know what's happening with your credit card 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.

While your credit card statement may be a few pages long and packed with information, it's important that you 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 and then some. It includes:

  • Your balance from the previous billing cycle
  • The minimum payment due
  • The payment due date
  • 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 debits made to your account
  • 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
  • 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 detailing the amount of time it will take to pay off your balance if you only make the minimum payment and the total amount you'll end up paying. It will also include the monthly payment necessary to pay off your balance in three years. This information is helpful for figuring out the best way to pay off your credit card balance.

Your credit card billing statement will also include a late payment warning that tells you the impact of sending your payment late - usually a late payment and penalty rate increase.

There will be a phone number you can call if you're having trouble making payments 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 credit card 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, log on 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 payment 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 have to make the dispute within 60 days that the credit card statement was mailed to you.

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 and you have to complain to a government agency (like the 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.

All transactions aren't 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 log on 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 login 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 zero and there was no activity on your account within the previous billing cycle. If your credit card issuer doesn't have your correct address, for example you moved recently and haven't given your new address to your credit card issuer, you may not receive a billing statement.

For new credit card accounts, it can take several weeks to receive your first statement, longer depending on when the first transaction posts to your account.

Call your credit card issuer if you don't receive a credit card statement for a particular month, especially if there may be a payment due.