How to read a credit card statement

Information verified correct on October 1st, 2016
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Everything you need to know to read and understand your credit card statement.

If you want to keep track of your credit card spending, make timely repayments and flag any errors, it’s important to understand how to read your credit card statement. As most credit card providers use a similar layout on their credit card statements, you can use this guide to understand how your credit card statement works and what you need to pay attention to.

Key features on your credit card statement

Below we’ve outlined the major features of your credit card statement. We’ve numbered each feature to match the attached example statement to help you find these details on your own statements.

1. The statement period

Your statement period is usually listed in the top right-hand corner of your statement. If you wish to make use of your card’s interest-free days, understanding your statement period can help. One common mistake many credit card users make is assuming that interest-free days start applying from the date of the purchase. In reality, while credit cards offer up to X number of interest-free days, the exact number of days depend on your statement cycle and when you make the purchase.

For example, let’s assume that your card provides up to 55 interest-free days, and the statement period in question is from 27 February to 26 March. The interest-free period for this statement period would end on 23 April. In this example, if you make a purchase on 27 February, you can make use of 55 interest-free days, and if you make a purchase on 26 March, you get 28 interest-free days.

2. Payment due date

The payment due date is also listed on the top right-hand corner of your statement. The payment due date is the date you need to have made at least the minimum repayment by. While you can pay the minimum repayment (or more) before this date, you’ll be charged a late fee if you pay it after. Paying after your due date can also leave negative marks on your credit rating and could impact your chances of approval if you apply for another card in the future.

If you’re having trouble paying your credit card bill by that specific date, you could submit a request for the payment due date to be moved. For example, you might prefer that it falls shortly after your pay day. But if you’re just struggling to repay that month, you can also request an extension or explain your predicament to the bank. You can contact your bank directly request a change to your payment due date.

 3. Minimum amount due

When using a credit card, you’ll be required to pay a minimum amount each month. The minimum repayment is usually between 2-3% of your outstanding balance. Otherwise, a dollar amount in between $10 and $30 may apply if the balance is larger. If you pay less than the minimum repayment, you could also be fined. While you’re obligated to meet the minimum, it’s ideal that you pay as much as you can each month. If you only pay the minimum amount, it’ll take longer for you to pay off your balance in full. The longer it takes you to pay off your balance, the more interest you will pay on what’s already owed.

4. Overdue

If you haven’t paid your credit card bill or have paid less than the minimum repayment, the amount that you’re yet to repay will be detailed in the “overdue” section of your statement. The longer you have an overdue account, the more you’ll be charged in late payment fees. Remember, overdue credit card bills collect fees and interest that increases your debt, and also have a negative impact on your credit file. Overdue statements are a red flag to lenders and could reduce your likelihood or approval when applying for a future card or loan.

5. New charges

The new charges section is a summary of the total amount of money charged to the card during the statement period. It’s wise to look at the new charges to make sure the total amount matches up with the transactions that you’ve made. This can help ensure that there aren’t any errors on your statement (such as fraudulent transactions or double charges).

6. Payments/Refunds

This is the total of all the payments made towards the card, along with any refunds, during the given statement period. Some refunds can take a few weeks to process, so if you can’t locate the refund on your statement, you might need to contact your bank or the organisation issuing the refund to make sure that it has gone through properly.

7. Closing balance

This amount refers to how much you owe towards your credit card account in total. If you pay more than you owe, this figure goes into negative. So while you’re only obligated to pay the minimum repayment each month, you should aim to pay as close to the closing balance as possible. If you do pay your closing balance in full each statement period, not only will you avoid paying interest on that balance, you could also qualify for up to a certain number of interest-free days on future purchases.

8. Transactions

This list will detail all of the transactions you’ve made on that card during that statement period. It should include the date of the transaction, its reference code, the type of transaction and the dollar amount. Again, it’s wise to look over your transaction history to make sure that you haven’t been charged incorrectly or fraudulently in the previous statement period. Most credit cards also come with mobile apps which allow you to check your transaction history, so you won’t have to wait for your statement to arrive to check these details.

Commonwealth Bank Credit Card Statement Page 1

9. Daily rate

While banks usually present the interest rate as an annual percentage, it’s actually charged on your transactions on a daily basis. So you can use the daily rate to see how much your balance is collect in interest each day, including your purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. Most transactions, aside from cash advances, usually don’t start accruing interest until after the statement period ends, though.

10. Reward points

This is not a standard on all credit card statements, and you can expect these details only if you use a rewards credit card or frequent flyer credit card. If you do, your statement should inform you of points earned during the statement period, the total number of points in your account, and point redeemed during this period. You can also monitor how many points you’ve earned through your online rewards program account and frequent flyer account balance.

Commonwealth Bank Credit Card Statement Page 2

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How to manage errors on your credit card statement

couple looking on the computerWhile your credit card statement should usually be accurate, there are some instances where you might spot an error. If these errors go unreported, they could have a negative impact on your credit history and reduce your likelihood of approval when applying for future loans. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your credit card statement.

If you do spot an error on your credit card statement, it’s wise to get in contact with your card provider to report and resolve the issue. If you do this soon enough, the errors might not even make it to your credit file. The simple steps you can follow to report and fix an error on your statement include:

  1. If you spot a purchase you’ve not made, contact your card provider immediately.
  2. In some instances, the responsibility to prove you’ve not made the purchase is on you, so make sure you have the relevant receipts and evidence on hand.
  3. If you feel you’ve been a victim of identity theft or if your card has been used for fraudulent transactions, you should also contact the police as well as your provider. See our guide on how to survive credit card fraud for more tips.
  4. If any such errors make it to your credit file, you’ll have to contact credit reporting bodies like Veda, Dun and Bradstreet or Experian individually to order a copy of your credit file. You can then get in touch with a credit repair agency to help clean up your credit file.

See our guide on how to lodge a credit card dispute with your bank for the contact details and steps you need to report an error on your credit card statement.

Get a copy of your credit report here

Your credit card statement might seem like just another bill to deal with at the end of every statement period, but it’s important to look over it rather than just paying your bill each month. Understanding how your statement works will not only ensure that you make timely repayments and avoid collecting interest, but will also help you spot any errors on your statement and resolve them before they impact your credit file.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I save any money if I ask my card provider to stop sending me paper statements?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. However, by doing so you can look forward to clutter-free space and you can also do your bit to save the environment. Most banks issue electronic credit card statements, so this might be an easier way to manage your statements.

How often should I receive a credit card statement?

Credit card providers in Australia issue statements on a monthly basis. Make sure you contact your bank if you haven’t received your credit card statement around the time you usually would in the month.

I made a purchase but noticed that I did not get any interest-free days. Why might that be?

This might be because you have an outstanding balance in your account from the previous billing cycle. Bear in mind that you have to pay your account’s closing balance in full before each due date if you wish to take advantage of your card’s interest-free days.

If I have an additional card linked to my credit card, do I receive a separate statement for the same?

You shouldn’t receive a separate statement for an additional card, instead, all of the transactions will be included in the one credit card statement. While this simpler than juggling multiple statements, it’s important that you read over your statement closely to keep track of yours and your additional cardholders’ transactions.

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9 Responses to How to read a credit card statement

  1. Default Gravatar
    john | April 15, 2015

    Hi, My Visa CC statement just arrived by post yet my online closing balance shows a lot less, which one should I pay?

    Cheers, John

    • Staff
      Jonathan | April 15, 2015

      Hi John, thanks for your inquiry!

      Your online statement will generally be the most accurate/ updated record and more reliable to pay to. It may be useful to check the payment records on the postal record and compare that to the online statement. There is a possibility that your credit card has had some pending or new transactions between the time your postal statement was mailed and when you have received it.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    jaswant | August 13, 2013

    How can I know my credit card statement?

    • Staff
      Jacob | August 14, 2013

      Hi Jaswant.

      You will receive a statement a month after opening the account. If you want to keep track of purchases before a statement is sent out to you in the mail. You can check and manage your account online through your lender’s online banking facility.

      Thanks for your question.

  3. Default Gravatar
    Christopher | July 20, 2013

    Do the things you purchase end up on your credit card statement?

    • Staff
      Jacob | July 20, 2013

      Hi Christopher. Thanks for your question. Your credit card statement will show you all your transactions for the month. This includes purchases and cash advances. Statements come in the mail but you elect to receive them electronically. Jacob.

  4. Default Gravatar
    Marsha | May 30, 2013

    Is the opening balance the one you pay?

    • Staff
      Jacob | May 30, 2013

      HI Marsha. Thanks for your question. You will need to pay all balances eventually if you want to get out of debt. But typically, the opening balance will have the card’s annual fee (if applicable) and any transactions you’ve made in the first month. You will need to make at least the minimum monthly repayment to stop your account from going in to arrears. Jacob.

  5. Default Gravatar
    carly | April 13, 2009

    The 55 days interest-free period only applies if your balance is at $0 when you make the purchase.
    Eg- $0 balance then you spend $500 on a sofa- you then get UP TO the 55 days interest-free period on the $500.
    If you already owe something, eg $50 and then you spend $500 on the sofa, you don’t get the $500 interest-free period, the total $550 will be accumulating interest at the interest rate from the date of purchase.
    So you will only get the UP TO 55 days interest-free if balance at $0 when making the purchase.

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