Most people give monthly credit card statements a quick glance before filing (or throwing) them away—if they view them at all.
But ignoring your statements is a mistake. If you already carry credit card balances, you may be missing some of the hidden costs digging you deeper into debt.
There are five very good reasons why you should examine your credit card bill closely every month, no matter how unappealing the thought may be.
1) Keep on Top of Your Spending
Credit cards make it incredibly easy to spend, and your impulse purchases can create a hefty balance very quickly. Even small amounts can soon add up, and before you know it you're pushing toward your credit limit and your monthly repayments are a serious drain on your finances.
Checking your statement each month gives you a true picture of what you're spending. This might not make pleasant reading, but it's vital if you want to keep your credit card under control without giving up its convenience altogether.
2) Spot Unwanted Transactions
It's not just impulse spending you need to keep in check. You may be making payments that increase your balance for no good reason.
Maybe you're signed up to a service you no longer use, but you're still paying for it. Maybe a free trial period expired, and you're now being charged without realizing it. If you never check your statement, these costly errors are easy to overlook.
3) Identify Identity Theft
Despite the security efforts of card issuers, identity theft remains a major problem. Recent numbers show over 15 million Americans were victims last year.
However, this doesn't mean that their accounts were cleared out immediately. Many modern criminals work by stealing relatively small amounts from huge numbers of accounts. This is much more difficult for security measures to detect. If you pay attention to your statement, you'll notice these strange transactions early enough to prevent serious damage.
4) Uncover Billing Errors
But not all unrecognized transactions on your account are malicious. Mistakes happen, especially in these days of computerized repeat billing. If you spot an error such as a double payment, it's easy to arrange a refund. Ignore your statements, and that's money you won't see again.
5) Avoid Penalties and Interest Spikes
Lastly, the credit card issuer will use your statement to inform you of changes to your account. Most of the time, these alterations won't make much difference to you, even if you manage to navigate their legal jargon.
However, if your account has a major change, you need to know about it. If your rate is hiked, it may be time to look for a new card. If your payment date changes, you may need to give fresh instructions to your bank to avoid late payment penalty fees. However, you won't get the chance if you file your statement away unopened and unread.
Taking a few minutes each month to check your credit card statement can help keep control of your finances, and avoid racking up more debt.
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