The conversation lately is about throwing everything away and living a minimalist lifestyle. While this is a good approach for material things, it is different regarding finances. You want to hold on to credit card statements for a few reasons — not forever, but in some cases, for at least six years.
Do you need to keep credit card statements?
No matter how tempted you are to throw them away, you want to hang on to your credit card statements. Keeping a record of your credit card statements can come in handy if you need to dispute a charge, monitor business expenses, or during tax time. There are many reasons to keep these pieces of paper handy, either physically or electronically. Take a look at them in more detail.
Dispute a charge
It’s best practice to check your credit card statements every month, but most people don’t do this. As part of the Fair Credit Billing Act, you have 90 days from the statement date to dispute a charge with your credit card company. So keep records to dispute a charge for 90 days.
Track your spending
It is best to track your spending over a year to get a good idea of where your money goes. A year doesn’t necessarily need to be a calendar year but whatever works best for you. For example, if you know you will be looking at financial documents for taxes, make your year mark around April or May. To track your spending, keep your records for one year.
Prove deductions on tax returns
Tax time can be stressful, but it comes every year. What can be unexpected is having to prove your tax deductions to the IRS. According to the IRS, if you’ve claimed deductions in the past, you could be asked for proof up to three years but no more than six years later. So, if you use your credit card for tax deductions, consider keeping statements for three to six years.
Monitor business expenses
Similar to tracking your personal spending, business expenses must be monitored. Monitoring your costs comes in handy during tax time as well. Like personal accounts, you want to track your business expenses for a year, so keep your credit card statements for that long.
Some credit cards offer extended warranties on items like cell phones or TVs. This extended Say your cell phone has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, and your credit card provides an additional year. Suddenly, 18 months later, your phone stops working. You will likely need proof of purchase; your credit card statement can help. Consider keeping your statement for at least two years when it comes to warranties. This amount of time can usually cover the extended warranty. Warranties can vary, so check with your credit card company and the company you purchased from and adjust accordingly.
Best ways to store credit card statements
Your credit card statements have a lot of important information on them so you want to make sure where you store them is secure to keep your private information safe.
Print your credit card statements
Printing your credit card statements or asking your credit card company to send them in the mail is an excellent option if you prefer hard copies, but you want to make sure you are storing these statements in a secure location. You can use a safe, preferably fireproof, to ensure these documents are secured and kept safe from damage in an emergency.
You have an option for electronic downloads if you prefer. You can typically find these on your online credit statement and download them directly to your computer. If you like this method, creating a password-protected digital file is best. You will then select this file when downloading your statement each month, and it will be accessible only to those with the password.
How to dispose of credit card statements
When you realize you no longer need your credit card statements, disposing them is just as important as storing them.
Shredding is a great way to ensure your important information does not get into the wrong hands. You can find an at-home shredder at a reasonable rate or hire a shredding company. Either way, this method makes your information almost impossible to read. If you want extra security, you can separate the shredded bits into different trash bags. This makes it practically impossible to put them back together.
If a shredder is not an option, scissors can give you a similar effect with a little more work. Just make sure when cutting, you cut into small pieces. Also, make sure you cut through important identifying information such as name, address, account number, or Social Security number. Cutting around those numbers defeats the purpose because they can still be legible.
Delete your files
Electronic copies can be quickly deleted from your electronic device once you no longer need them. When deleting, clear your trash bin; sometimes, documents stay there after you delete them and are still accessible to others.
Is It Worth It?
Keeping your credit card statement might seem like a hassle, but it is vital to keep them for at least a year. Make holding on to these documents as simple as possible. If you decide that paper statements are more manageable, store them in a safe. Prefer to go the electronic route? Make a folder on your primary device and move them there every month. Every year make a habit of reviewing your financial documents and getting rid of the ones you no longer need — safely, of course. Once you get a system down, this will become a natural part of your routine. You will not regret holding on to your credit card statements the day that you need to refer to them for financial purposes.
Is there any reason to keep old credit card statements?
Yes, you should keep your credit card statements for disputes, tax purposes, and budget purposes.
Is it safe to throw away credit card statements?
If you choose to throw away your credit card statements make sure you shred them or cut up any identifying information. Your credit card statements have important information on them that could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Do banks destroy credit card statements after seven years?
Banks are required to keep credit card statements for five years.