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How to reconcile a credit card statement

Reconciling your credit card statement is easier than you think once you have the correct knowledge and tools

Taking your credit card statement at face value and making the required payment can be a big leap of faith on your part. Even large banks make mistakes, and fraud occurs when you least expect it, which means you shouldn’t assume that what your statement says is always correct. Before your next statement arrives, learn how to reconcile it for accuracy and what steps to take if you find something out of place.

Why would I need to reconcile my credit card statement?

Reconciling your credit card statement sounds more intimidating than it really is. It is nothing more than the process of verifying that you actually made the purchases you are being charged for. Additionally, you are checking that the cost of all charges matches the cost you were quoted at the time of purchase. Credit card companies are not exempt from making mistakes, nor are the merchants you make purchases with. Reconciling your statement catches any of those errors, plus any fraudulent activity on your credit card, right away and allows you to avoid paying for something you did not receive.

What is required?

Reconciling your credit card statement is easy if you have three important elements:

  • Current statement. A copy of your recent statement may be mailed to you, or you can retrieve it online if your account is set up for online banking.
  • Current receipts. You should save all receipts for transactions made with your credit card. This includes those for the purchases and withdrawals you made during that statement period.
  • System for reconciliation. This could be as simple as a pencil, paper and calculator, or a software programme designed for accounting purposes. One of the easiest and most effective reconciliation systems is to enter the data into an Excel spreadsheet.

Once you have the paperwork and tools required, reconciling your credit card statement is easier than balancing your transaction account. If you are unsure of what the items on your credit card statement mean, double-check them. With this knowledge, you should have no trouble checking to make sure your credit card statement is accurate before making your monthly payment.

How can I sort my receipts?

Keep your credit card receipts in a separate compartment in your purse or wallet, so they are not accidentally lost or thrown away before you reconcile your credit card statement. If you are using a software programme or an excel spreadsheet, consider entering them as you receive them throughout the month. This helps you avoid the frustration of searching through receipts or forgetting about a purchase made early in the month. This is especially helpful for Kiwis who use their credit card for daily expenditures and may forget when they topped up with petrol on the way to work.

If you use a contactless card to make purchases, such as Visa PayWave or Tap and Go, you need to be extra careful about keeping a record of transactions with the exact amount the cashier stated. Once you feel confident that you have all your receipts for the month, put them in date order to make it easier to mark them off on your statement.

Matching my receipts to the credit card statement

With your receipts in date order, it should be easy to go through the listed items on your credit card statement and mark each you have a receipt for. You should also make sure your it matches the amount listed on your statement. Once you have gone through every receipt you have, there should be no unmarked items left on the statement other than any fees and interest charges.

Notifying the bank

If you find an error on your credit card statement, it is in your interest to notify the issuing bank immediately. The sooner you make contact, the more likely it is that the bank can find the reason for the error and correct it. The process involved in notifying the bank varies depending on the institution. In most cases, you should be able to contact them online to begin a dispute resolution process. Note the item number on the statement, the date of the transaction and the amount. Be specific about what type of error it is. For example, if you have a receipt for that date, but the amount is wrong, note this in your request. If you suspect fraud, make sure that you indicate this, so the bank can take the necessary steps to ensure no other fraudulent purchases are made with your credit card.

It is important to understand that the disputed item may not be cleared from your statement immediately, as the bank likely needs to conduct its own investigation first. How long that takes is dependent on the type of error. To help speed the process along, provide your bank with any requested information immediately and sign the form which authorises them to investigate as soon as it is sent to you. You stand a better chance of having errors removed from your statement if you promptly notify the bank of the mistake.

Conclusion

Every one of your dollars counts, especially if you are going to be charged interest on it. Review your credit card statements carefully every month to ensure that each dollar you are sending as payment is going towards a purchase that you made.

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