How long should I keep my credit card statements? – Councilor Forbes

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed by years of paperwork, be careful. You may be able to ease your burden on your credit card statements.

Experts suggest that credit card holders should keep their personal credit card statements for at least 60 days. But how long all that extra paper (or those extra bytes) needs to be kept can change depending on credit card usage and whether the cardholder relies on hard copies or statements. online (or both).

For many people, keeping credit card statements for at least 60 days is probably sufficient. It is important to verify and confirm purchases made using copies of receipts or other proof of purchase. Reviewing each monthly statement also helps to avoid surprises, spot errors, and identify signs of identity theft or fraud.

According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers have up to 60 days to report signs of fraud or other billing errors to credit card services, but the sooner they can, the better. Recording credit card statements is also still useful for tracking spending habits and maintaining a budget.

It may be advisable to keep records for more than 60 days for other reasons:

  • While the cardholder relies only on hard copies, some experts suggest keeping copies of credit card statements for up to 12 months. This is useful not only for tracking spending habits, but also in case unexpected problems arise later.
  • If a charge to a specific credit card statement is the subject of a dispute, it’s always a good idea to keep the statement until the dispute is resolved. It can take 30 to 90 days depending on the situation and the credit card company.
  • If a purchase should result in a credit on the statement, keep the statement that shows proof of purchase until the credit is received. For example, a travel reward card may give a credit on your statement to enroll in TSA PreCheck or other eligible travel expenses.
  • Some credit cards offer extended guarantees on qualifying purchases, such as televisions or speaker systems. Keep the credit card statement showing proof of purchase for as long as the extended warranty is supposed to last. For example, if the purchased TV has a two-year warranty and the credit card used grants an additional year, keep the corresponding statement for three years.
  • Some credit cards offer return protection for qualifying purchases. Keep the statement for as long as the protection lasts.

Tax expenditures are a very important reason to keep credit card statements for more than 60 days. This can be particularly useful for those who use business credit cards. The IRS reserves the right to check the financial background of anyone up to six years of age. In this case, it is wise to keep credit card statements for at least three years, preferably six years if there is a very high risk of an audit. Credit card statements are essential to prove business expenses, large purchases or payments (several thousand dollars), or tax deductions like charitable donations.

Keeping the returns in a safe place is essential in all cases. Most credit card companies offer online account access that allows account holders to access their statements for at least one year. Some popular companies have a longer reading history. For example, Chase allows account holders to search up to seven years of statements. Bank of America allows you to search for up to three years of statements.

The best practice is to download the statement for each month and save it to a password protected file. There is no guarantee that a credit card manager will keep statements longer than they advertise. The statements may not even be easily accessible by a simple search. Downloading statements at least once a month will also be helpful if the account holder decides to close an account. Often, credit card statements will no longer be accessible after the account is closed.

For those who rely on paper statements, it is important to organize and file hard copies in a safe place. Experts recommend a fireproof, lockable safe that is stored in a safe place. Always label returns with the month, year and any other important notes to remember. Accordion file systems are handy for keeping everything organized for those who don’t want bulky filing cabinets but need to avoid what I like to call the “fire hazard office”.

Once the credit card statements become old news, the next step is to get rid of the old copies. Online statements can be kept on a hard drive as long as needed and then deleted permanently to free up storage space.

Hard copies take a little more effort to get rid of. Believe it or not, dumpster divers who find old credit card statements in trash cans or landfills can steal your identity along with their new “treasure.” The best way to prevent identity theft is to destroy every statement before you throw it away. The shredders can be purchased cheaply from online retailers like Amazon. Office providers like FedEx or Office Depot also offer shredding services for a fee. Shredding old credit card statements (and other important financial documents) is crucial to protect account numbers, names, addresses, and most importantly, Social Security numbers.

Final result

Keeping and organizing credit card statements can seem, and to many, quite boring, but it’s important to review financial records in order to avoid any surprises. Getting audited by the IRS or losing thousands of dollars to fraud is a lot less fun than filling out a little paperwork. Be sure to download online statements monthly and shred hard copies when no longer needed.

About Robert Moody

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