How long should you keep credit card statements?
Find out how long you should keep your credit card statements, as well as how to safely store and dispose of them.
If you’ve got a lot of financial documents to keep track of, you might wonder what you need to keep and what can be thrown away. Whether you get paper copies or digital files, it’s usually wise to keep credit card statements for at least 60 days. But in some cases, you might want to hang on to them for up to six years.
Here’s an overview on how long to keep your credit card statements, how to store them and how to get rid of them when it’s time.
How long do you need to keep credit card statements?
It’s always a good idea to review your account statements right away to check for potential billing errors. But you may want to keep your statements for at least 60 days. That’s because, under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), the credit card issuer must receive written notice of any errors within 60 days of it sending you the statement containing the error.
In some circumstances, you may want to keep your statement even longer. Here are a few examples:
- At least 90 days if you need to dispute charges: If you’ve made a billing error dispute in line with the FCBA, you might want to hold on to your account statement at least until the dispute has been resolved. That process could take two billing cycles, but not more than 90 days, after the creditor receives notice of your dispute.
- One year if you want to track expenses: Consider keeping copies of your credit card statements for a year to track your spending habits. This information can help you build a budget.
- One year if you need to add up business expenses: If you’re self-employed, you might charge business expenses to your credit card. At the end of the year, you can use your statements to add up those business expenses for tax purposes. It may also help you calculate deductions.
- Three to six years for personal tax deductions: When you claim deductions on your personal income tax return, it’s a good idea to have proof of those charges, just in case the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) performs an audit. In that situation, it’ll likely ask for supporting documentation for deductions you’ve claimed. And your credit card statements can come in handy as proof of those charges. According to the IRS, it generally audits returns filed within the past three years. But it usually doesn’t go back more than the past six years. Either way, it can be a good idea to keep any credit card statements with proof of deductions for six years after you file your tax return.
- A few years for extended warranties: You might want to keep a statement if your credit card network—like Visa or Mastercard—offers extended warranties on certain purchases. For instance, say you buy a TV that comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, and your credit card extends the warranty for one year. Consider keeping your credit card statement for that extended amount of time in case you need proof of purchase.
How should you store credit card statements?
It’s important to protect your credit card statements since they contain personal information. There are several ways to access your statements and still keep them safe:
- View statements online: If your issuer offers online banking, you might be able to view recent credit card statements from your password-protected online account. Some issuers provide them in mobile apps as well. Check with your issuer to see how long you can access your account statements online.
- Download electronic copies: Although signing in to your account is an easy way to check your statements, you may want to download them—especially if you need to access them in the years to come. If you download copies, consider storing them in a password-protected file on your computer. And labeling them by month and year can help you find them quickly later on.
- Keep hard copies: If you receive paper copies of your statements, file them in a safe place in your home, ideally in a locked, fireproof safe. This can help protect your documents from damage or theft.
How to properly throw away old credit card statements
When you’re ready to get rid of your old credit card statements, security is an essential consideration. Especially since they contain personal information you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.
It’s best if you can use a shredder. But if that’s not possible, helpful ways of preventing identity theft include tearing up statements by hand or cutting them up with scissors. Once they can’t be pieced back together, you can throw the shreds away.
As for downloaded digital statements, keep them as long as necessary, then permanently delete them from your computer when you’re confident you no longer need them.
Get into the habit of storing your credit card statements
Remembering to keep paper copies of your credit card statements or download them each month can be a helpful habit to get into. Having your statements on file can help you dispute billing errors if necessary, track your budget, and prove any deductions you want to claim on your tax returns.
When you no longer need the information, you can dispose of the credit card statements by shredding them or deleting them from your computer.
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