by Christy Bieber | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on Aug. 29, 2019
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Do you know how long to keep credit card statements? This guide explains how long to hold on to your paperwork.
Dealing with mountains of financial paperwork is a hassle. This is especially true when you get monthly paper statements in the mail.
The good news, if you’re wondering how long to keep credit card statements, is that you usually don’t have to keep them around for very long at all. Most experts recommend keeping credit statements until you pay your bill, unless they include information related to your taxes, in which case you'll need them a bit longer.
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When you get a credit card statement in the mail, you should check it for accuracy. Scan for charges that you didn’t make. Compare the listed transactions against any receipts you have to confirm the purchase amounts.
After making sure all the charges were legitimate and for the correct amounts, send in payment. If you notice charges you don’t recognize, contact the credit card company ASAP to report the problem. You aren’t responsible for fraudulent charges, but the Fair Credit Billing Act says you need to report them within 60 days to be protected.
Many credit card companies have policies that give you longer than the law requires to alert them to a fraud issue. But it’s still better to act sooner rather than later.
If all is well and you make your payment, you can get rid of the physical statement as soon as your payment has been processed. You can confirm this using your online credit card account within a few days of making the payment.
Or, if you wait until your next statement comes to confirm the payment processed properly, hold on to your statement until it arrives. That should be about 30 days after your last billing cycle closed.
While you generally only need to keep credit card statements until you’ve confirmed your payment, there are some exceptions. It may be a good idea to hold on to your statement for a longer time in the following circumstances:
There’s another circumstance where you may want to keep credit card statements: when they relate to tax transactions. If you charged business expenses or other tax-deductible expenses on your credit card, keep the statement and any other associated receipts.
You should keep tax-related documents for seven years. So stick those old credit card statements in the folder with your other tax records for the relevant year and hold on to them for seven years. Keeping records this long puts you outside the window where the IRS could audit you and you’d need proof of tax deductions you claimed.
Credit card companies typically provide archived copies of old statements in your online account. You can access and print these statements at any time if you need them, so there’s little reason to keep physical copies of your statements for a longer period of time after you’ve paid the bills.
If you're going to close your credit card account, though, print any statements you may want to refer back to. You could lose access to your archives once your account is no longer active.
Once you’ve passed the point where keeping credit card statements makes sense, it’s important to dispose of them properly. Credit card statements typically have lots of personal information on them, including your account number, your full name and address, and details about your transactions. This can make them very attractive to identity thieves who want to access and misuse your information.
To make sure your credit card statements don’t fall into the wrong hands, shred them. You can buy an inexpensive shredder from an office supply store or online. It's worth having one so you can properly dispose of old credit card statements and other old financial records that contain personal identifying information.
You only need to keep old credit card statements around until you’ve reviewed the transactions and made sure your payment has been processed, unless, of course, you have a reason to keep them around longer. For example, you may want a record of a purchase covered by credit card purchase protection or need the tax information the statement contains.
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