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Credit Card Statement Made Easy

Your monthly credit card statement is the best document that will help you understand your monthly spending and also help keep a check on it, if it is not in line with your budget. By reading and understanding the fine print (especially the fine print) of

Elizabeth Thomas

22 Oct 2007

When was the last time you took a detailed and unhurried look at your credit card statement? Do you understand every printed detail that appears on your credit card?

Your monthly credit card statement is the best document that will help you understand your monthly spending. By reading and understanding the fine print of your statement, you will be practicing proper credit card management. It will also help you learn how your credit card program works.


What is a credit card statement?

A credit card statement is the monthly billing statement you receive from your credit card issuer. It lists all the transactions done using your credit card, and the total outstanding balance, payment date etc.

The credit card statement essentially has two parts. One is the payment coupon which you detach and enclose with your payments. The second and the most important part of your credit card statement is where your credit activity is listed. Let's examine this part in detail now.

Name and Address: This is the card holder's name and full address as per the card issuer's records. The only thing you should keep in mind is that, if there is any change of address, you should immediately notify your card issuer/bank in writing and get acknowledgement.

Reference Number: This is the number you will need to quote in case of dispute on any of charges listed in that particular credit card statement.

credit card Number: Most of the credit cards have a unique 16-digit number assigned to your credit card, usually super-imposed across the credit card. Some credit cards such as American Express (Amex) have a 15-digit number. You need to quote this number your cheque or demand draft while making payments and also for correspondence with the card issuer.

Credit Limit: Credit limit is the maximum amount your credit card allows you to borrow, whether as credit against goods purchased or/and cash withdrawn. The card issuing bank can revise credit limit based on your payment track-record.

Available credit limit: It is the difference between your credit limit and total amount due. If your credit limit is Rs. 50,000 and you have spent Rs. 1,500, your available credit limit reduces to 48,500.

Cash limit: The cash limit sets the maximum cash you can withdraw using your credit card. Your cash limit is a part of your credit limit and is necessarily lower than your credit limit. Consider a credit limit of Rs. 50,000 and cash limit of Rs. 20,000. If you have exhausted your credit limit of Rs. 50,000 by making purchases on your credit card, you cannot withdraw cash using your credit card, even if you have not used your cash limit at all.

Statement Date: This is the date on which your bill is generated. This is also the date used to calculate interest rate if you do not pay the full outstanding amount by the payment due date. This is true even if the due date falls many weeks after the statement date.

Payment Due Date: This is the date before which your payment should be credited at the bank. Note that this is NOT the date your bill has to be postmarked, or even the date it arrives at the company's office. Hence, be sure that your cheque/DD/ or cash payment is credited at the bank well before the due date so that no late payment fee is levied on you.

Total Amount Due: This is the total bill amount to be paid - the total unpaid accumulated amount outstanding in your credit card account, including interest and any other charges like late payment fee.

Minimum Amount Due: It is the minimum amount required to be paid to keep your account in a good credit standing. This amount is usually 5% to 20% of your total amount due. If you do not pay the minimum amount due by payment due date, it will be considered as a default and levied a late payment fee.

Tip to remember: Even if you pay the minimum amount due, you will be charged interest on the total amount due (including the minimum amount due that you paid). If you do not want to pay interest you have to pay the entire total amount due before the payment due date. Even if you have paid 95% of the total amount due before due date and but there is still some small amount pending, you will be charged interest for the full total amount due.

Rewards Point Summary: This is the record of the rewards points you have earned/redeemed till date. The summary usually gives an account of your opening balance and the points or credits earned or redeemed. You should not confuse reward points with credit limit or balance outstanding. Reward points and the method of redemption vary from one credit card to another.

Transaction Details: The transaction details will have the date of transaction, place of transaction (where you spend the money) and the transaction amount. This helps you verify the charges credited to your card. It is important that you check your credit card transaction details regularly. This is the only way you will come to know if some transaction has been fraudulently credited to your card.