Unpacking Your Credit Card Statement

Man surprised by credit card statement after holiday shopping season.

Congratulations on earning credit! It can be tough to do the hard work of getting your financial life in order to become credit-worthy, so kudos on that. But with holiday spending, you may have racked up higher charges than usual. That makes it extra important to get a handle on what’s shown on your credit card statement so you can continue making the savvy financial moves that enabled you to earn that card in the first place.

We’re with you, with answers to common questions and a breakdown of the must-knows about your credit card statement.

Um, what’s a statement?

Not a dumb question, especially if this is your first card.

Your credit card statement (a.k.a. bill) simply “states” or presents all of your account activity for that billing period, usually spanning a month. That includes transactions like purchases, cash advances, payments and lots more.

Bonus Tip: If you aren’t already opted in for electronic statements, consider signing up now. It’s more secure than paper statements. Plus, you’ll get quick notification when your credit card statement is ready to view, which means you can more swiftly spot potential fraud or mistakes on your bill.

Why do I need to know more than the minimum payment?

There’s tons of other important information on the statement, most of which credit card issuers are required to provide so consumers can be more responsible users of credit. It’s a lot, but worth understanding. Let’s dive into the key bits.

Account Summary

This is basically a snapshot of your account since your last statement. It lists your previous balance and subtracts payments and credits and adds purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. If there’s any past due amount, that’s also added in, as are any fees and interest charged. All that is added together, and you get the new balance shown.

This section also provides an at-a-glance view of other key details, including your credit limit, current available credit (that’s your credit limit minus your new balance), your statement closing date, and the number of days in your billing cycle.

It’s handy as a quick overview, but you need to look deeper if you really want to level-up your credit card game.

Payment Information

This is a super-important section to ensure you’re making the best use of your card. It shows the new balance and minimum payment due – no matter what, you definitely need to pay at least that minimum amount – and be sure to make it by the listed payment due date. This section also shows the projected financial consequences of only paying the minimum each month.

Bonus Tip: While there are good reasons a person might occasionally only make the minimum payment on their card, we generally recommend against making only the minimum payment because it will take much longer to pay down your debt, which means you could end up spending significantly more in interest. That’s money you could spend on fun stuff, or saving for a house or Future You’s retirement.

Another Bonus Tip: Missing and late payments are credit score killers, so consider setting up auto-pay so you’re never late.

Transactions

This is a section you’ll want to go over with a fine-tooth comb, each and every month. Because this section lists all of the transactions on your account that month, you can easily compare it to your receipts to verify that all of the purchases and cash advances are legit. It also shows your payments, as well as any refunds and credits from items you’ve returned. If there’s anything you don’t recognize, you’ll want to report that potentially fraudulent activity right away. You’ll also want to make sure the payments match your own records of what you paid on the account.

The transactions section also lists any fees you incurred that month – fees for cash advances, for example – and interest charges you incurred since your last statement. If you have a BluPeak Mastercard®, by the way, there are no cash-advance fees.

Finally, there’s a year-to-date summary showing how much you’ve paid in fees and interest for the year. This is really important for helping you get a sense of how much it’s costing you to not pay off your balances promptly.

Interest Charge Calculation

You’ll often pay different interest rates on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. This section breaks down those specific rates, showing dollar amounts for each and actual interest charges for the month. It pays to keep an eye on this section because, according to Bankrate®, the average credit card interest rate for the week of December 14 was a whopping 19.42%, which often applies even to people with high credit scores. Meanwhile, BluPeak’s Platinum Plus card offers rates as low as 9.90% APR with no annual fee.

Rewards. We love Rewards!

If you have a card that comes with rewards, you’ll probably also see a section that details your rewards activity – what you earned that month, points you redeemed and when, and balances.

What Next?

In addition to the key sections detailed above, your credit card statement will include tons of fine print, which is mostly there for legal compliance. But if you want to really nerd-out, it does reiterate many of the policies and terms in your original credit card agreement.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific financial advice. All loans subject to credit approval. Rates, terms and conditions subject to change. Rates valid as of December 1, 2022. Visit blupeak.com to learn more about Platinum Plus and other credit card rates and terms.

Bankrate is a registered trademark of Bankrate, LLC

 

You Might Also Be Interested In

Online Personal Budgeting Tools You Need to Know

What’s the best way to start a personal budget? Consider these widely used digital tools and simple rules to create a solid spending-and-savings plan Read More

How to Have a Conversation About Money

Here are some tips to end the awkward and get comfortable with financial chats among good friends. Read More

When It Comes to Savings, an Emergency Fund Is Just the Beginning

Whether you have been making monthly transfers to your savings or simply depositing extra money when it’s available, you’ve built an emergency fund to help you stay afloat if times get tough. Read More