Reasons You Should Check Your Credit Card Statement

Credit cards are valuable tools for proper money management, but you want to be sure you stay on top of your accounts, so you don’t lose money. Whether you receive a paper statement or a digital copy, consistently review your credit card statements before disposing of them. Avoiding financial stress in your life by disregarding your statements is a mistake. Here are some reasons you should evaluate your credit card statements monthly.  

Catch Errors
Errors may happen and it’s best to review your statement to ensure it has an accurate account of your previous monthly transactions. This means reviewing your payments are properly applied, ensuring there aren’t double charges for a single transaction and checking that annual or other fees are calculated correctly. Keep in mind that if you carry a balance, you’ll want to verify that any interest charged correctly, or if you pay off your balance each month, you aren’t charged interest.

Preventing Fraud/Identity theft
Most people are unaware that identity theft can occur easily and subtly. Taking time to review your statements allows insight into transactions that may have occurred and gone unnoticed. Unless you are reviewing your account balance daily, it’s normal for you to assume that an extra $10 or $20 on your balance is likely that extra coffee you bought or that last minute run to the grocery store. Thieves are counting on small amounts going undetected so fraudulent charges can accumulate over the course of years on hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts. By addressing unauthorized charges with your financial institution early, they can take preventative measures to protect your finances by issuing a new card or flagging suspicious merchants. Another thing to look out for are new cards or second credit cards issued without your consent. If you don’t review your statements each month, it could mean missing the signs of fraud or identity theft which could lead to greater financial stresses down the road.

Spending Tracker (Where and How Much)
Proper money management comes with setting a budget and following through. By reviewing your statements each month, you can evaluate if you stuck to your budget and where your finances deviated from your goals. Most statements will provide a breakdown of deposits and withdrawals so that you can compare the transactions. Take time to analyze the withdrawals column and evaluate where you can cut excessive spending. A snapshot of your monthly spending will help provide perspective on spending with specific merchants or the frequency of your shopping. Consider where you can prioritize more affordable alternatives, lowering your monthly expenses. For example, if you are running to the store three times a month to buy household items, maybe it’s time to buy in bulk once a month to reduce your expenses and trips.

Subscription Cancellations
Typically a free trial means a trial period, and then a full charge after it’s completed, followed by reoccurring charges. Free trials come with merchant expectations that you will forget to cancel the trial and allow monthly charges to continue. Reviewing your statements each month will allow you to highlight the merchants that you may have forgotten to cancel subscriptions for. Even if the charge is small, consider how much it will cost at the end of a year for a service or product you are no longer using or need.

Personal Information Updates
As life changes occur, you want to be sure your financial accounts are updated. Review your statements for accuracy regarding name changes, address changes, payment updates or any other information that could be changed. Consider that when you change addresses, it is your responsibility to make those updates with your financial institution.

Changes to Terms, Rates, Due Dates and Penalties
Frequent updates occur with financial accounts, some changes may be impactful while others may be small. Keep track of interest rate changes as it could mean a significant change to minimum payments and you want to be sure you account for it in your budget. If you prefer a credit card due to the rewards for use, be sure you track your points and benefits in case they have made a change or if there is an error that needs to be rectified.
Make it a priority to schedule time to review your credit card statement each month as it contains valuable information. Use these helpful tips the next time you receive your statement. Prioritize this time to uncover where you can make changes and improve your money management. 

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