Reconciling your credit card statement is easier than you think once you have the right knowledge and tools to make sure that all the figures balance out
Taking your credit card statement at face value and just going ahead and making the required payment can be a big leap of faith on your part. Mistakes are made even by large banks, and fraud takes place when you least expect it, meaning you shouldn’t assume that what your statement says is always accurate. Before your next statement arrives, learn how to reconcile it for accuracy and what steps to take if you do find something that is out of place.
Why would I need to reconcile my credit card statement?
Reconciling your credit card statement sounds more intimidating than it really is. This is nothing more than the process of verifying that you actually made the purchases that you are being charged for. Additionally, you are checking that the cost of all charges match the cost that you were told at the time of purchase. Credit card companies are not exempt from making mistakes, nor are the merchants that you make purchases with. Reconciling your statement will catch any of those errors, along with any fraudulent activity on your credit card, right away and allow you to avoid having to pay for something that you did not receive.
What is required?
Reconciling your credit card statement will be easy if you have three important elements:
- Current statement. A copy of your recent statement may be mailed to you, or you can retrieve it online if your account is set up with online banking.
- Current receipts. You should save any and all receipts for transactions made with your credit card. This includes those for the purchases and withdrawals you made during that statement period.
- System for reconciliation. This could be as simple as a pencil, paper and calculator, or a software program designed for accounting purposes. One of the easiest and most effective systems of reconciliation is to enter the data into an Excel spreadsheet.
Once you have the paperwork and tools required, reconciling your credit card statement will be easier than keeping your transaction account balanced. If you are unsure of what the items on your credit card statement mean, you can learn how to read your credit card statement by clicking here. With that knowledge you should have no trouble in checking to make sure that your credit card statement is accurate before you make your monthly payment.
How can I sort my receipts?
Keep your credit card receipts in a separate compartment in your purse or wallet so that they are not accidentally lost or thrown away before you reconcile your credit card statement. If you are using a software program or an excel spreadsheet, consider entering them as you get them throughout the month. This will help you to avoid the frustration of having to search through receipts or forgetting about a purchase made early in the month. This is especially helpful for Australians who use their credit card for daily expenditures and may forget about the time they topped up their petrol on the way to work.
If you are using a contactless card to make purchases, such as Visa PayWave or Tap and Go, you will want to be extra careful about keeping records of those transactions with the exact amount that you were given by the cashier. Once you feel confident that you have all of your receipts for the month, sort them by date to make it easy to mark them off from your statement.
Matching my receipts to the credit card statement
With your receipts in date order, it should be easy to go through the listed items on your credit card statement and mark each one that you have a receipt for. Don’t just stop at checking for a receipt however, you should also be looking to ensure that the amount on your receipt matches the amount that is listed on your statement. Once you have gone through every receipt that you have, there should be no unmarked items left on the statement other than any fees and interest charges.
Notifying the bank
If you do note an error on your credit card statement, it is in your best interest to notify the issuing bank immediately. The sooner you contact them, the more likely it will be that they will be able to find the reason for the error and correct it. The process involved in notifying the bank will vary depending on the institution, but in most cases you should be able to contact them online to begin a dispute resolution process. Note the item number on the statement, the date of the transaction and the amount. Be specific about what type of error it is. For example, if you have a receipt for that date, but the amount is wrong, note this in your request. If you suspect fraud, make sure that you indicate this so that the bank can take the necessary steps to ensure that no other fraudulent purchases are made with the credit card.
It is important to understand that the disputed item may not be cleared from your statement immediately, as the bank will likely need to conduct its own investigation first. How long that will take is dependent on the type of error. To help speed the process along, provide your bank with any requested information immediately and sign the form authorising them to investigate as soon as it is sent to you. You stand a better chance of having errors removed from your statement if you give the bank notice immediately of the mistake.
Every one of your dollars counts, especially if you are going to be charged interest on it. Review your credit card statements carefully every month to ensure that each dollar you are sending as a payment is actually going towards a purchase that you made.Back to top
Frequently asked questions
How long should I hold on to the receipts from my credit card after I have reconciled the statement?
That is entirely up to you. If you feel that you no longer will need the receipt, then you can throw it away, but for items where a warranty is involved, you should retain it at least until the warranty has expired.
How do I reconcile my statement if there are multiple cards being used?
Each cardholder should be given instructions on saving their receipts the same way that you do. Collect those at the end of the statement period and match the transactions the same way as outlined above.
What about purchases made online?
If you use your credit card for an online transaction, either print the receipt at the end of the transaction, or save the information onto your computer.
Should I still make my monthly payment if I notice an error?
Yes, you should still make your payments while the bank is investigating the mistake. The only exception would be if that is the only item charged on the statement. In that case, ask your bank how you should proceed with payments while they are investigating your dispute.