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How Long to Keep Credit Card Statements
If you’re a careful person, then chances are you’ve kept your credit card statements for some time now. After all, you might need them, right? However, if you’re getting your statements monthly, you might be buried under an avalanche of paperwork.
So, you might be wondering how long you actually need to keep your records and when you can dispose of the paperwork that’s been piling up. Let’s explore these questions in more detail.
When You Should Keep Your Records
Most people these days use digital banking methods for all of their transactions. However, many people continue to get their credit card statements in physical form through the mail. Older generations, especially, prefer to see their statements on paper rather than on the phone or computer.
It doesn’t matter what form you receive your credit card or bank statements, you should still keep a record so you can review them for any errors or mistakes. Let’s take a look at how long you should keep your statements.
How Long Should You Keep Your Statements?
The good news for those overwhelmed with paperwork is that you do not need to keep your credit card statements around for too long. In fact, you only need to keep your statements for a minimum of 60 days. Usually, most people don’t need to keep a record of their statements for longer than this. That is because the Fair Credit Billing Act allows credit card users to report any error in their statement within 60 days. You can also use this period to report any signs of suspicious activity or fraud you notice on your credit card statements.
That being said, some people might wish to keep their statements around for longer. For instance, some people keep paper statements around for at least a whole year, not only because this helps them keep track of their expenditures, but it also helps them deal with sudden or unexpected issues that crop up in the future.
There are several other reasons why you might want to keep your records for longer than 60 days. Some of these reasons include:
1. Disputes: If there is an ongoing dispute related to a charge on one of your credit cards, then it would be advisable for you to keep the statements until the dispute has been fully resolved. This usually takes around 30 days but might also take up to 90 days.
2. Statement credits: You might get statement credits for certain purchases you make. If you are waiting for a statement credit to be added to your account, it would be good to keep your credit card statement until you have received your credit. The reasoning for this is in case any issues arise regarding your credit, then your credit card statement will act as proof of purchase.
3. Returns: For certain purchases you make, some credit cards offer different kinds of return protection. This protection could last for a long period of time, which is why it would be advisable to keep your records while your protection lasts.
4. Extended warranties: Some credit cards offer extended warranties on purchased items. In this case, it would be best to hold onto your credit card statement for longer than the 60-day period. You can use this statement as proof of your purchase for as long as your extended warranty lasts. For instance, if your extended warranty grants you an additional year of protection on top of the one year of general warranty provided, then you might want to keep your credit card statements around for at least two years.
5. Tax-related expenses: The IRS can audit your financial history for up to a maximum of six years. As such, it would be advisable to keep your expense records for at least three years. However, if you think you are at a high risk of being audited by the IRS, then you might want to keep your credit card statements for six years.
Why You Should Keep the Statements
A lot of people assume their credit card provider will keep a record of their statements. This is why they do not bother doing it themselves. However, this is not the case with most credit card providers. True, some (such as Chase) keep a record of your statements for almost seven years. However, you must remember that this is not the norm. In fact, most card providers keep your statements for only a year. That means if any sort of error or dispute were to arise, you would not be able to access your statements.
It is also essential to keep your statements if you ever decide to close your account. You will not be able to access your old records once your account has been closed.
Digital vs. Hard Copy Statements
Digital copies of your credit card statements are easier to save than hard copies. All you need to do is download each month’s statement onto your computer and save it in a folder. Make sure to keep this folder password-protected so only you can access your statements.
When it comes to hard copies, you might need to invest in a safe that is fireproof and waterproof. You might also want to get an accordion file system so you are not lost in a sea of endless paperwork every time you wish to retrieve a record. Make a note of the date and other important aspects to keep your statements neat and organized.
How to Dispose of Your Statements
Credit card statements become redundant after a while. If you no longer need some of your statements, it is important to dispose of them properly. Of course, digital copies can be kept around for as long as you want. They do not take up too much storage space. However, if you wish to get rid of your digital records, make sure you permanently delete your files and delete them from the Recycle Bin.
Getting rid of physical copies might take a little more effort. This is because you need to make sure people cannot steal your identity whenever you dispose of your hard copies. It is essential, therefore, to completely shred all of your records before getting rid of them.
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Paperwork can be a pain sometimes, but it is nevertheless important for you to keep a record of your financial history. After all, you wouldn’t want to end up with any nasty surprises. This is why you need to take some time out every month to go over your credit card statements and check whether they are accurate or not. Make sure to store all of your statements securely and get rid of old ones in a safe and protected manner.