Recently I got my credit card statement and actually took the time to go through the different charges there. Not that I am not careful but sometimes I just take a cursory glance at the list then set it aside especially if the amount is about what I normally expect. I know a good percentage of credit card users just like me are guilty of this because it has become a routine that we tend to take for granted. We all think “I know what I spend and that’s about the right amount so close enough is good enough”
For the small percentage of us going who actually go through our finances every month checking the fine dwetails can sometimes become a monotonous task that we often tend to get careless with. And sometimes this carelessness can cost us big time. Why? Because we should make sure that we track where our money is going, what we are doing with it, what we could be doing with it and that nobody is trying to relieve us of it. Based on a study done by The Federal Reserve System in the US, it shows that more and more people are using credit and debit cards in their transactions. In 2012 alone 31.1 million transactions were unauthorized with a total value of $6.1 billion. See my point here?
So how often do you check your credit card statement? Here’s another question… Are you checking your credit card statement closely?
Here are some easy tips on what to check on your credit card statement and why you should:
Your Account Overview
This contains all the basic information about your credit account and the most ignored part of everyones statement. You should always check the credit card number, the address, phone number and or email address. Why? Because if someone is trying to gain possession of your card they tend to alter the information there to allow them access to your account. Once something’s not right, even just a single letter or number, make sure to notice it and take action with your credit card company to change it back.
Credit Limit and Available Credit Limit
The first shows how much your bank or financial institution is willing to let you borrow. The second one is how much of that credit limit is available after your spending. Understanding the differences can help you avoid going over your credit limit and avoid incurring additional charges or fees. As a side note its better to make sure that you keep your usage below the credit limit to make sure your credit score won’t be affected negatively if your regularly overdrawn. And last but not least going over your limit can cost even more in overdraft fees. Fees your budget may not have allowed for!
Transaction Details and Monthly fees
Again, I would like to emphasize that just because your total balance is around what you expected, it doesn’t mean you are paying the right fees. There can be some mistakes or charges that you shouldn’t be paying at all and that wont be noticed if your not paying attention. Do you even check what interest rate your paying on your balance?
Or perhaps you are automatically paying a subscription you don’t need or has previously been cancelled. The vendor might be trying to slip one past you or you are being charged by a business or a person you’ve never heard about. A lot of fraud victims were being victimized for some time before they noticed it when the amounts are only small.
Any notices or reminders
Your bank may have made some changes on the policies or may need some important information from you. There can also be some discounts or promos that could help you save or provide you some benefits or bonuses. You wouldn’t know this unless you check your credit card statement thoroughly or start paying attention to it.
Your spending affects your budget
Not paying attention to credit card spending means your not paying attention to your spending. How can you run an affective budget, forecast spending and maintain a firm grip on your finances if your glossing over your credit card statement!
So how often do you check your credit card statement?
You don’t have to spend a whole lot of time to check your statement closely so why not be consistent in doing it? Put in some time and effort if you want to manage your finances because all these small things add up. Its all the details that determine your financial progress. Being aware of your credit card charges, spotting issues before they get big and addressing discrepancies right away will not only help you manage your credit card but it will also help your finances go in the right direction.
Know someone who doesn’t check their credit card statement? Need to remind someone to check theirs? Share today’s post so everyone can be smarter with credit card statements!
***Image thanks to Phillip Taylor***