If you’re looking to save money, you could find a way in what might seem the unlikeliest of places — your credit card statement. Here’s how to read a credit card statement to be sure you’re not paying more than you should.
This is the bare minimum of what you need to know from your credit card statement — your current balance, the required minimum payment, and your due date.
But please, do not stop there.
Yes, paying your minimum payment by the due date will keep you in good standing with your credit card issuer, but it will also cost you a pretty penny in interest fees. (A review of your credit card statement will show you just how much making a minimum payment will cost you in the long run.)
Even if you decide to pay the balance down to zero, you won’t know if you’re paying for something that’s actually a mistake unless you review your statement. Here’s what else to look at.
At a glance, this overview of your credit card activity should be able to tell you if anything major is amiss. It includes your new balance, but more importantly, the account summary displays a breakdown of how your new balance was calculated, including your:
- Previous balance
- Payments and credits
- Balance transfers
- Cash advances
- Interest charged
This section also includes your credit limit and available balance.
What you’re looking for
Is your previous balance correct? Did you get credit for your last payment and that return you made to the store last month? Did you actually make that new balance transfer or cash advance? Are the fees you’re being charged ones you agreed to?
If anything looks off, dig deeper into your credit card statement for details and contact your credit card issuer to report costly errors.
That said, even if your account summary looks fine, review the rest of your statement anyway, as one erroneous charge or fee may not stand out to you in the summary.
This section can also be helpful in changing your credit card behavior. Take a close look at the interest charged. Every penny of that could be avoided if you just pay off your balance every month.
Lastly, always double-check your available balance. You may have less available than you thought, which could save you from making a purchase that will cost you an unnecessary over-limit fee.
Checking the accuracy of your payments and fees won’t take long, but expect to spend some time on your charges. Go through your list of transactions line by line and verify everything.
If you only use your credit card a few times a month — and always for the same things — you might remember every transaction on your own. But if you use your credit card a lot, the last thing you want to do is assume you made that purchase that you don’t remember making.
If that’s the case, it helps to have a record of your purchases to check against your statement. Receipts work well; just remember to print or save them for any online transactions. Should you find errors, contact your credit card issuer immediately.
There are a few different aspects of interest charges that are important to double-check:
- Are you being charged the correct interest rate for each type of balance? It’s usually higher for balance transfers and cash advances than it is for regular purchases, so it’s an important mistake to catch.
- What have you paid in interest fees to date? If you carry a balance from month to month, this could be a doozy. It could also be just the incentive you need to start paying that balance down, saving you big bucks over the course of a year.
You can also see how much interest you were charged for the most recent billing period.
Account change notifications
When credit card issuers change your fees or interest rates, they are required by law to notify you accordingly — but it’s up to you to pay attention when they do. Though these changes may be included in a separate notification, you can always find them in the account change notifications section of your credit card statement.
Armed with this information, you can make money-saving decisions about your credit card use. The higher interest rates go, the more expensive it’s going to be carrying a balance. The higher fees go, the more expensive it will get to be late with a payment or go over your credit limit.
Your credit card issuer is required by law to give you these important reminders every month:
- Minimum payment warning. This will tell you how long it will take you to pay off your balance — and how much more it’s going to cost you — if you only make minimum payments.
- Late payment warning. This will remind you of your due date, the late fee you’ll be charged if you miss your due date, and the possibility that your APR will go up as a result.
These can serve as great incentives to pay on time, every time, and pay more than the minimum each month.
Rewards (if applicable)
If you have a rewards credit card, this section will provide a breakdown of your points, including your:
- Rewards balance
- Rewards earned
- Rewards available for you to use
The better you keep track of your rewards points, the more money you can save via cash back, travel, and other rewards perks.
Look beyond your credit card statement
Understanding a credit card statement means realizing just how costly interest fees can be.
If you’re unhappy with your credit card’s high interest rate, ask your credit card issuer for a better one. There’s no guarantee they’ll extend it to you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Here’s how to get the ball rolling on a lower interest rate.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|