One of the latest options that credit cards have been providing their customers is the chance to go paperless with their monthly statements. Sometimes called an e-statement, the spending information that would normally be mailed to you is instead available to you online through the log-in you have with your online banking. You’ll receive an email or notification that your statement is ready and this allows you to read it, download it and print it as needed.
Outside of the benefit of not needing paper for the statement, which cuts down on the use of trees and recycled paper products to print them, there are some other key benefits that comes with going paperless.
You Can Protect Your Identity
One of the easiest ways for a thief to steal your identity is to just steal your mail or view your statement in your garbage. All they need to do is wait for it to be delivered to your mailbox and then they can just take it without you ever knowing that it came! The traditional statement has a lot of personal information on it that can be used by a thief who knows what they’re doing. By transitioning to a paperless statement, you eliminate this risk altogether.
Going paperless also means that you don’t need to hold onto your statements in a file cabinet or some other storage area. You can pull up a full year or more worth of statements through most online portals to easily see what your past purchases have been. If you need to print out a specific purchase for your records, then you can just access it and send it to your home printer.
E-Statements Make Disputing Charges a Simple Process
Although the vast majority of people will never have a need to dispute charges, it may happen. You can contact your credit card provider directly to discuss a charge you don’t believe is valid, but eventually you may need to dispute that charge in writing. That means you’ll need to mail the provider a letter as proof. Using postal services is time-intensive and maybe costly.
When you receive an e-statement, you can often dispute charges in writing through the online portal. You simply select the charges that you don’t believe are valid and then, with one-click convenience, you can send a message in writing to your lender. This speeds up the process and lets you get the charges that aren’t valid off your account.
Should you sign up for credit card e-statements?
It’s a personal decision to make, but many people do prefer this option. The one disadvantage is that you must remember to log into your account to pay your minimum amount due each month, so you may wish to set a reminder for yourself if this isn’t your habit.
Monitor Your Spending Closely
You’ll also want to monitor your credit card statements as you would monitor your chequing account. Set clear limits that you can afford so you aren’t overspending. This will help you manage your credit utilization ratio and promote a better credit score.
Keep Your Mobile Devices Close
With today’s mobile apps, tap and go payment technology, and other mobile payment options, there is a lot of financial information that is sitting in the palm of your hand.
The fraud protections that are on a credit card are not always extended to mobile devices that are lost which contain your stored credit card data. Treat a lost mobile device that you use for payments as you would a lost credit card. Contact the provider first, report your card information as compromised, and have a new card issued.
Understanding Credit Card Statements
Many people cringe at the thought of looking at their monthly credit card statement, simply because there is so much information to take into account. Being able to process all of the information you find on both sides of your report is imperative to fully understanding how much money you owe. Understanding statements is an important part of owning a credit card to avoid making mistakes that could be easily remedied by looking at the credit card statement and understanding what is on it — both sides.
What is on the Front Side?
When you first open your credit statement, what do you usually see? There is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), the minimum payment due, the new balance, the interest, and the grace period. You will also find the Credit Line or the limit of how much you can put on the card each month, as well as credit card fees.
APR is how much interest you will pay on an annual basis for your card. The higher the number, the more interest you will have to pay. Depending on what card provider you have, your APR will be different. Another part of understanding statements is figuring out what your minimum payment due is. In order to stay in good standing with a creditor, you must pay a certain amount each month. This minimum payment is determined by a percentage of the new balance you have each month.
The interest or finance charge which you find on the front of your statement, is the cost of using credit. A grace period is the amount of time you have to pay the bill while still staying in good standing with the creditor.
Your credit limit is how much credit you have unused on the card every month. Be sure that you are comfortable with your credit limit.
What is on the Back Side?
Reading the fine print on the back of your statement will let you know more about your specific credit card and often any changes or updates that are being made to your credit card like rate changes, monthly fee changes and changes in other benefits of your particular credit card program. With a little extra planning, you can manage your credit card spending effectively and view your credit card statements and usage online.