Make Sure to Review Your Credit Card Statement

Review Your Statement!

Review Your Credit Card Statement!

Do you carefully check your credit card statements, and review the transactions? It can help ensure that you’re not being charged unnecessarily for any “phantom” transactions, unauthorized purchases, or mistakes.  I had an experience recently that serves as another example of why we take the time to at least scan through our statements each month.

First off, I make it a practice to pay off any bills in full each month. I don’t like to carry credit card balances, and simply don’t do that. Rather, I pay it all in full and on time each month. So, when reviewing a credit card bill, I typically don’t think of there being any issues in those areas. I’m usually focusing on transactions instead.

A recent review of a statement showed that all the transactions seemed fine, but something else jumped out at me: an interest charge! Impossible, right? After all, I pay may bills on time and in full, so there should be no problems.

Immediately, I called the credit card company. After describing the situation, and asking why it happened, it turns out that my last payment had been received late. Now, that’s not something I wanted to hear, since you just don’t want to be paying bills late.  There must have been some kind of mistake on their part!

Well, after they described the situation, I froze for a second and realized that I had been busy the month before and my payment was made close to the deadline. I normally don’t do that, but it was just one of those things. However, I pay bills online and the payment date was supposed to be right at the deadline date. Apparently, it must have hit right after that so thus the late fee.

Ouch.  Obviously, if you read this blog, you know that this is NOT something I would be happy about. Being someone that takes pride in financial responsibility, I didn’t like that this happened.

I explained the situation to the person on the phone, and stated that I pay my bills on time in full every month, and that was the reason I was surprised and called. The guy on the line then said he would make sure that the fees were reversed and charges removed. Great!

After getting charges reversed, I felt some satisfaction in knowing that reviewing a credit card statement saved money. Of course, I also learned a lesson that even people who are responsible can slip and make a mistake by procrastinating. Best to pay bills well ahead of the deadline, to avoid any situations like this where you have to call.  Minimizing credit card expenses is a good thing.

Finally a big thing I learned from the experience is that building up a stellar track record of paying in full on time can build goodwill.

My Questions for You

Do you review your credit card statements each month?

Have you ever found any surprise charges on there? If so, how did you handle the situation?

What is your process for making the payments each month?

 

Comments

  1. says

    I review my credit card transactions also, but I like that Mint sends you a notification when a service charge hits your account. I remember this happened to me and I immediately called my financial institution. It was only $5, but it was inexplicable and so I demanded a refund.

    When I set up my credit card payments online, I always try to remember to set the payment date as the next available business day. For some sneaky reason, credit card issuers like to make the default payment date the due date. No thanks. I want the payment deducted from my bank account ASAP. Those unscrupulous tricksters will pull a fast one and try to charge you a late fee. Which sounds like what they did to you. Good thing you caught them.

    • Squirrelers says

      That’s a good thing to get a notification. Nice feature. Glad you called to get the $5 removed – no need to pay for something that’s not understandable in most cases.

  2. says

    I definitely review our bill each month, and a few times during the month. We pay ours off in full before the grace period is up as well, so we are never charged interest on the money we spend.

    By checking the bill I have found two mistakes of being charged twice by the same retailers. I was able to call and have the charges reversed both times.

    • Squirrelers says

      Amanda – good for you that you’ve been able to find and correct 2 mistakes. More evidence that it’s important to check carefully.

  3. says

    I pay credit card bills online, and set the transfer date as one business day prior to the due date. After hearing your experience, I’m thinking maybe that’s cutting it too close, though I’ve never had a problem with a late payment–maybe good luck?

    I definitely look closely at each credit card statement, and not just at the transactions. I’ve found some credit card issuers like to announce negative (for cardholders) policy or other changes in the small print and/or on page 2 of the statement, where they know few people look. Sneaky!

  4. says

    Good catch Squirrelers! Credit cards are one expense I don’t put on auto-pay. Always review the charges before making a payment. And if you have a good payment history, card companies will almost always remove any charges (but you have to ask as you did!).

    • Squirrelers says

      MC – I agree that it sure helps to ask. It’s a good lesson in general: sometimes you have to ask, but the act of doing so can pay dividends. You just have to do it though!

  5. says

    Great post. I’m actually writing a blog post that’ll appear in the near future on the way I make sure and check that there aren’t “mystery charges.” We have a family meeting every weekend and review EVERY statement. Sure, we only take a few seconds on each one, but it’s AMAZING how much stuff we catch.

    • Squirrelers says

      Average Joe – thanks. The every weekend meeting is hard core! Good stuff, seems like with that type of auditing at home, nobody should overcharge you!

  6. says

    I review my statements as the transactions occur with Mint.com. I rarely look at the actual PDF statement. I have found charges I was not sure about, but I was always able to figure it out.

    I have caught problems before statement day. I was able to work that out with the merchant.

  7. says

    Yes, every month. If there’s a mistake we make sure it’s really a mistake (and not just that the name on the bill is different than something we paid for– googling the phone number for the charge often helps), and then call up to get it taken off. The only kind of mistake we’ve had like this I can remember was a double charge for something. We pay our bills in full every month online.

    • Squirrelers says

      Nicole – good point on making sure that it’s truly a mistake, instead of just different names. Trying to rectify a mistake that actually wasn’t one would be a big waste of time.

  8. Jenny says

    I saved nearly $80.00 by checking my statement recently. There was a charge for that much from McAfee, a company I have never bought anything from (or signed up for a ‘free’ trial or anything), for this much. I called their customer service (not a fun experience), and even though they couldn’t find an account in my name or under my email address, they said they were unable to reverse the charge. I had to file for a reversal with my credit card company, which took a couple months and lots of paperwork, but it was worth it for that much.

    I’ve been checking statements carefully ever since (sort of worried my number was stolen and used), but haven’t found anything else weird on there.

  9. First gen american says

    I actually was billed interest and late fees in error on more than one occasion, and when it happened to my husband too with the same card company, we ditched them. Yes I definitely look at my statements.

  10. says

    This is where the Periodic Interest Rate shows up on your bill. I wrote a post about how to calculate the date and when it kicks in. This also helps determine the amount of interest they will be charging you.

    What people don’t get is that the PRI often goes into effect at midnight of the actual due date, which is often set ahead of the end of the month. And one thing I found out from utility companies, payment online does not guarantee on time payment of the bill because there is still their processing time. It just means they got the money, not that they recorded the payment (that is the date you want to match the due date).

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