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How long should you keep credit card statements?

how long should you keep credit card statements

Depending on the type of purchases on your statement, it’s recommended that you keep credit card statements generally for one to three years. If you are new to working with a credit card company, you may be wondering how long should you keep credit card statements. But what about your other financial records? Continue reading to learn about why it’s important to hold on to credit card statements and what other documents you should keep a record of. 

How Long Should I Keep My Credit Card Statement?

If you want to manage your credit card wisely, it would be in your best interest to keep your credit card statements instead of just throwing them away immediately. While you don’t have to keep them forever, it may be a good idea to keep statements from credit card issuers for a few years at least. 

Optimal Retention Periods for Different Types of Credit Card Statements

Type of StatementRecommended Retention Period Reason for Retention Additional Notes 
Regular Monthly Statements1 YearFor personal budgeting and short-term financial tracking.Useful for monitoring monthly expenses and spotting any irregularities.
Statements with Major PurchasesUntil Warranty ExpiresTo support warranty claims.Keep statements longer if they contain major purchases like electronics or appliances.
Statements for Tax Deductions7 YearsRequired for potential tax audits.Particularly important for self-employed individuals or those claiming business expenses.
Statements with Disputed TransactionsUntil Issue Resolved + 1 YearTo ensure disputes are fully resolved.Keep these statements until the dispute is settled and for a period after for reference.
Statements for Loans or MortgagesDuration of Loan + 1 YearFor reference in loan disputes or closures.Essential for tracking payments and for any queries related to the loan.
Statements for Insurance ClaimsUntil Claim Settled + 2 YearsTo support any insurance claims.Retain these statements longer in case of delayed insurance claim processes.
Statements for Large InvestmentsUntil Investment is LiquidatedFor tracking investment-related expenses.Important for investments like real estate or significant financial ventures.
Statements for Educational ExpensesUntil Educational Course Completion + 3 YearsFor potential tax credits or deductions.Useful for students or parents claiming education-related expenses.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in the chart above is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional financial advice. The retention periods suggested may vary based on individual circumstances and legal requirements. It is recommended to consult with a financial advisor or legal expert for advice tailored to your specific situation.

How long you should keep a statement from your credit card issuer depends on the type of expenses that the card was used for. For example, if your credit card statement contains tax-related purchases, you may want to keep those statements for at least three years, but perhaps seven, just to be safe. Consumers may be audited for tax purposes for up to seven years of filing, but the IRS can only audit without a valid reason for the first three years after filing.1

For credit card statements containing everyday personal purchases, like groceries, entertainment, etc., it is recommended that consumers only keep those statements for about one year. Although it is doubtful that you will need credit card statements for personal purchases, it’s always good to have recent records on hand, just in case. 

Why Should You Keep Old Credit Card Statements?   

There are many reasons why consumers are encouraged to keep credit card statements, including: 

  • Financial organization. 
  • Financial protection. 
  • Providing proof of purchase. 
  • Reimbursements. 
  • Monitoring spending habits. 

Keep Your Finances Organized

Say you made a large purchase, such as a new kitchen appliance, but experienced problems with it a few weeks in and wanted to return it. If you did not have your receipt, you could use your credit card statement to prove that you made a particular purchase from a specific retailer. 

Protection Against Identity Theft

If your credit card or other financial information was stolen, you might have experienced fraudulent purchases on your account. By having your credit card statements on hand, you can work with your creditor to identify which purchases were made by you and which ones are fraudulent. Your creditor will then use this information to credit your account for the correct amount. 

Proof of Purchase for Warranty Coverage

When companies extend warranties to consumers, they are often for at least a few months up to a few years. In fact, many products and appliances have lifetime warranties. If you ever wanted to utilize a warranty, the retailer may require you to provide proof of purchase. Well, if multiple years have passed by, you may no longer have your receipt! In this case, consumers would most likely be able to use their credit card statements as proof of purchase. 

Reimbursements

It is quite common for employers to have employees make certain business-related purchases on their own and then reimburse them for the expense later. When this happens, the employer often requires a receipt or proof of purchase. In circumstances like this, credit card statements may be the most efficient way to show what was purchased and for how much. 

Monitor Spending Habits

If you have financial goals, such as boosting your credit score, you will want to keep your credit card statements and other financial documents organized. That way, you can track your spending habits and progress as you work towards achieving your goals. 

How to Safely Store Important Credit Card Statements

What are the best ways to store your important credit card statements and other financial documents? The most common ways for people to keep financial records are via paper or online records. You may even want to keep both an online and hard copy of your financial records to ensure consistency.

Paper Statements 

If you keep paper copies of all your financial records, be sure to keep them organized. Ideally, you may want to get a filing cabinet so you can store your records in groups for even more thorough organization. 

Online Statements 

While electronic credit card statements are typically stored on your online account, you may want to download and save these files on your personal computer. When doing this, be sure to save your records in a password-protected file to keep everything safe from unwanted eyes or hackers. 

How to Properly Dispose of Credit Card Statements

When you decide it’s time to get rid of credit card statements or other important financial documents, be sure to do so thoroughly. Simply throwing your records away in the garbage puts you at risk for identity theft since financial documents often contain confidential personal information such as your account or social security number. 

To properly dispose of financial records, you will want to destroy them completely. The most efficient way to do this would be to shred your old documents. If you do not own a paper shredder, you may be able to take advantage of shredding events where companies will collect paper records and destroy them with an industrial shredder. 

Other Financial Documents You Should Keep

Credit card statements are not the only financial documents consumers should keep a record of. Other important documents consumers should consider storing or keeping a copy of are: 

  • Receipts and statements that reflect business expenses. 
  • Bank statements. 
  • Bankruptcy documents. 
  • Tax returns. 
  • Important bills and receipts. 
  • Pay stubs. 

Receipts and Statements for Business Expenses

If your company ever needs proof of purchase for a business expense, a receipt or credit statement should suffice. Business owners or employees who have a business credit card should keep receipts for any business-related purchases and business credit card statements just as long as they would any other important receipt or credit card statement. After three years or so, chances are those documents won’t be necessary anymore. 

Bank Statements

It is recommended that you keep bank statement records for about one year at least. A bank statement is similar to a credit card statement in that they are both records of your spending history, but they differ regarding the source of the income used to make purchases. 

When it comes to credit cards vs. debit cards, credit cards are used to make purchases using a pre approved credit limit, while debit cards are used to make purchases using the existing funding in the card owner’s bank account. 

Bankruptcy Documents

For some, declaring bankruptcy is unavoidable. Unfortunately, there is still a chance debt collectors, or creditors will come after people who have declared bankruptcy for unpaid debts. For circumstances like this, consumers can use their bankruptcy petition and discharge documents to prove they have been relieved of the responsibility of paying back certain debts they had prior to declaring bankruptcy. 

Federal Tax Return (And State Tax Return if Applicable) 

The IRS recommends that consumers keep tax returns for at least three years but up to seven years just to be safe. Tax returns will include information such as: 

  • Standard and itemized tax deductions.
  • Charitable donations.
  • Yearly income (including wages, salaries, commissions, tips, qualifying lottery winnings, etc.). 
  • Other forms of income, such as real estate. 

Important Bills

Important bills, such as monthly installment loans, utility bills, or medical bills, you may want to keep on hand for about one to three years. Self-employed individuals may be able to use some bills, such as internet or electricity, as tax deductions. In order to receive a tax break on expenses like that, consumers may need to provide a history of payment for certain bills. 

Furthermore, saving other important bills, like medical bills, can prove to be useful for people who are paying back medical debt with a payment plan. Often, insurance providers will require a proof of procedure before they can adjust pricing or extend financial assistance. Additionally, if there is ever a medical billing error, you will have a record of everything you have been charged and have paid back. 

Pay Stubs

Workers and employees are recommended to keep a record of their pay stubs for approximately one year. Since paper pay stub records can be difficult to keep organized, especially for people who are paid weekly, it has become much more common for employers to issue electronic pay stubs. Your pay stub may come in handy if you ever need to: 

  • Confirm that you’ve been paid the correct amount.
  • File taxes or confirm your W-2 or annual social security statement. 
  • Show proof of income to a potential landlord. 

What Is the Fair Credit Billing Act?

The Fair Credit Billing Act is an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act, enacted in 2009.2 Under this Act, consumers are protected during credit disputes, and it prevents creditors from taking action that would harm a consumer’s credit history until their dispute investigation is complete. Furthermore, this Act requires that creditors: 

  • Provide written acknowledgment when a consumer submits a billing complaint. 
  • Perform a billing error investigation in response to consumer billing complaints. 
  • Prompt posting of consumer payments. 
  • Timely refund or account credit when consumers overpay.  

FAQ

What should credit cardholders do if they lose a monthly statement?

If you lose a monthly statement, immediately contact your credit card company to request a duplicate. For added security, consider opting for digital statements to avoid physical loss.

How can keeping credit card statements help in case of identity theft?

Retaining statements helps in identifying unauthorized transactions quickly, enabling you to alert your credit card company and law enforcement about potential identity theft.

Is it safe to keep paper statements at home?

Yes, but ensure they are stored securely, preferably in a locked cabinet. This is crucial for protecting your financial history and personal information from theft or unauthorized access.

What are the benefits of digital statements over paper statements for credit cardholders?

Digital statements are environmentally friendly, reduce clutter, and are generally more secure as they require password access, reducing the risk of identity theft.

How can statement credits affect the decision of keeping credit card statements?

Statement credits should be tracked to ensure accuracy. Keeping statements helps verify that credits have been correctly applied to your account.

What is the recommended frequency for credit cardholders to review their statements?

It’s advisable to review your credit card statements monthly to keep track of spending, identify errors, and monitor for signs of fraud.

Should credit cardholders shred credit card statements after a certain period?

Yes, once they are no longer needed (typically after one to three years), it’s safe to shred credit card statements to protect against identity fraud or theft.

How can keeping credit statements assist in building a financial history?

Keeping statements helps in documenting your financial habits and credit usage, which can be beneficial for loan applications or financial planning.

What precautions should be taken when disposing of old credit card statements?

Always shred credit card statements before disposal to prevent any chance of identity theft. Shredding ensures that personal and financial information is completely destroyed.

Can keeping credit statements help in disputing charges with the credit card company?

Yes, having your statements handy allows you to reference specific transactions and dates, making it easier to dispute any inaccuracies with your credit company.

A Word From CreditNinja: Old Credit Card Statements and Other Financial Records

While you don’t have to keep important financial documents like your credit card, bank, or mortgage statements forever, CreditNinja encourages consumers to generally keep them on hand for a few years at least. If you decide it’s time to dispose of some of your records, be sure to do so in a thorough and sufficient manner for your own financial protection.  

Want to learn more about revolving lines of credit, credit card consolidation loans, bad credit loans, handling your finances, and more? Head over to the CreditNinja dojo for hundreds of helpful articles, debt calculators, and other financial tools, available to everyone for free! 

References:
1. How long should I keep records? | Internal Revenue Service
2. Fair Credit Billing Act | Federal Trade Commission
3. How Long to Keep Tax Records and Other Documents | Consumer Reports

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