Have you ever wondered, “How long should you keep credit card statements?” I know I have! I also know that I really don’t want to keep them around for too long. For one thing, they constantly remind me how much I have spent in the month—in a judgy font, no less!
Another reason is that they create clutter, and if you’ve followed me for a while now, (I hope you have. If you haven’t, welcome; we have lots of fun here! Where was I?)
Yes, if you’ve followed me for a while now, you know I am all about keeping an organized home, both literally and financially.
So, all those paper statements lying around the house, filling up my desk drawers, are not ideal!
The problem is that some are important, like credit card statements. This brings us to the topic of the day…
How Long Should You Keep Credit Card Statements?
The simple answer is 60 days.
The less simple answer is, “It really depends on why you may need the credit card statements in the first place.”
The fun answer is, “If you get a digital statement, you don’t need to keep a paper statement lying around at all.”
So, why 60 days? For most card users, 60 days is long enough to comfortably double-check all the purchases and line items listed on the credit card statement and launch any kind of dispute with the credit card company should the need arise.
According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, a consumer has up to 60 days to report any fraud or errors in billing to their credit card company. Keeping your credit card statements is also good when you want to track your spending habits and maintain a budget.
Reviewing your credit card statements each month is a great idea because:
- It lets you get a good picture of how and where you spend your money
- It helps you find any billing mistakes or detect possibly fraudulent purchases
- It shows you how much you owe
What Is a Credit Card Statement?
I apologize if this seems a little inverted. I just realized that I may be unable to explain why any of this is necessary unless I explain what a credit card statement is. That way, you can decide whether or not you want to keep them at all, let alone for 60 days or longer.
So, what is a credit card statement?
A credit card statement is a piece of paper that summarizes all the activity on your credit card since you last received your bill.
For example, you received a credit card bill 30 days ago and just received a credit card statement today. That statement shows you exactly what you (or someone else, in cases of identity theft) have put on the credit card since 30 days ago (the last time your bill was issued) by giving you an itemized list of purchases during that statement period.
Your credit card statement also does other things too:
- It shows you exactly how much you owe the credit card company (IN TOTAL)
- The required minimum payment for the current billing cycle
- When you should make the minimum payment on your credit card balance
- How much interest you are being charged
- How much credit you still have on the credit card
This itemized list is designed to help you sort through your credit card usage for the month and flag any inconsistencies or unauthorized charges. According to statistics, credit card fraud is a billion-dollar industry, with over 30 billion dollars lost yearly.
In fact, approximately 44% of credit card users in 2022 reported they had two or more fraudulent charges during the year. Even fraud without the physical card is more prevalent today with it being 81% more common than point of sale fraud. Additionally, card-not-present fraud is forecasted to total approximately 74% of losses by the year 2024.
What does all this really mean? It’s your job to ensure that none of this stolen money is yours. According to Hari Ravichandran, the CEO of the company Aura, credit card fraud continues to rise and while these scammers continue to win and profit from your losses, it will continue its steady climb.
When Should You Keep Your Credit Card Statements for More Than 60 Days?
Now, 60 days is the recommended number of days to keep your old credit card statements because most credit card companies have a billing cycle of 21 to 31 days. Sixty days give you enough time to review the monthly statement and officially lodge any complaints to the card issuer.
Related: How long to keep important documents
There are, however, instances where 60 days may not be enough time. These include:
If the credit card expenses include any tax-related financial expenses, then having those records for up to three years is important. This is particularly true if you have any audit-related issues. If you are at a higher risk of audit, the IRS suggests you hold onto these financial records for up to six years.
Only Paper Statements
If your credit card company issues digital credit card statements, then you really don’t need to have any of that paper lying around. If your credit company relies on only paper statements, you might need to keep them for up to 12 months. This can help you track your spending, help if any unexpected issues arise, and come up with a proper budget.
Now, this is when you really need your credit card statement. If you find a fraudulent or unauthorized charge on your credit card bill, it’s your duty to raise the issue with the credit card issuer immediately. In this case, the billing dispute could take 30 to 90 days to be resolved. You’ll need your statements for the duration.
Some purchases result in statement credits. For example, if you sign up for a credit card that says you will get a bonus or refund when you purchase something using your credit card. In this case, you must keep your credit card statement until the statement credit has been awarded.
If your credit card offers return protection on purchases, keeping the credit card statements for the duration of the protection period is important.
Some credit cards give you extended warranties on certain purchases, such as electronics. For example, your credit card might provide an extended warranty of one year on a laptop purchase. If the manufacturer provides a warranty of two years, then it’s important to keep the credit card statement for three years as proof of purchase and for the extended warranty.
To be honest, keeping and organizing your credit card statements and other financial records may sound boring, but it’s yet another stepping stone to getting out of debt, especially if you recently suffered any kind of identity theft.
Sixty days is how long you should keep each credit card statement, but it can be longer depending on the reasons I have listed above.