How Long Should You Keep Credit Card Statements
The quick guide for keeping or tossing your credit card bills
Each month that your credit card is open, you’ll receive a monthly billing statement detailing your credit card activity. Your credit card statement includes a list of transactions you’ve made, fees you may have been charged, and payments you’ve made to your account.
If you have several credit card statements coming each month, the mail can pile up. You don’t want to get rid of statements that you might need in the near future, but you also don’t want to hold on to mail unnecessarily. So, how long should you keep credit card statements?
Do You Need to Keep Credit Card Statements at All?
You generally don’t have to keep your credit card statements for very long, especially if you’ve set up an online account. Most credit card issuers make several years of credit card statements available online.
You may be able to retrieve old credit card statements or download them to your computer to retrieve them later. However, there’s no guarantee your credit card issuer will store old credit card statements. In some cases, it’s better to keep the ones you need in a place where you can easily access them.
How Long to Keep Credit Card Statements
You should keep each credit card statement for a minimum of 60 days. This is the amount of time you have to dispute any billing errors on a credit card statement. After that, credit card issuers aren’t legally required to handle billing error disputes, so it's not necessary to hold on to your statements—at least not for dispute reasons.
Keep your credit card statements for any items you want to be covered by your credit card’s extended warranty or purchase protection, and keep that particular credit card for the amount of time the benefit is effective.
Purchase protection and extended warranty time limits vary from one credit card to another but may last between 90 days and one year. Check with your credit card issuer to find out the time limits for your credit card benefits.
If you have any tax-related purchases on your credit card statement, such as donations or business expenses, keep those statements for six years. Your accountant or tax preparer will need the statements for your next tax return. It’s also a good idea to hold on to these in case your taxes are ever audited since the IRS can go back up to six years when reviewing your tax history.
Holding on to your credit card statements can also be useful for tracking your spending over a period of time. You can review several months of credit card statements to figure out where you’re spending too much money, because three to six months of credit card statements may be enough to give you a good insight into your spending habits. Of course, you can also do this online or with financial budgeting and tracking software, but if you prefer to do it on paper, your statements are made for this.
Should You Also Keep Credit Card Receipts?
Credit card receipts can pile up faster than credit card statements, especially if you’re a heavy spender. You can follow similar guidelines for credit card receipts.
At a minimum, keep your credit card receipts long enough to ensure the transaction has posted to your credit card statement correctly.
If there’s an error on your credit card statement, the receipt will come in handy once you dispute the charges. You should also keep tax- and business-related credit card receipts for your tax preparer, as well as receipts for anything you may need to return. Store business and tex receipts longer in case of a tax audit.
Storing Old Credit Card Statements
When you’re holding on to a credit card for a specific reason, it may be helpful to label the statement or include a sticky note detailing the reason for keeping the statement.
Keep your credit card statements in a safe place so they won’t be lost, stolen, or destroyed. A fireproof safe is a great place to store your statements, along with any other financial documents or valuables. If you’ve stored credit card statements on your computer, place them in a password-protected folder and keep a password on your computer, too.
How to Get Rid of Credit Card Statements
Because of the risk of fraud, you should be careful about how you throw away credit card statements you no longer need. Simply tossing them in the trash is unsafe because it leaves too much of your personal information exposed; they need to be completely destroyed.
Shredding credit card statements is the best way to get rid of them once you’re sure you no longer need them. Also, shredding before you throw your statements away prevents dumpster divers from stealing your statements and using the information to make authorized charges on your account or to steal your identity.