What’s this charge on my credit card?

Learn about credit card statements and how to read them.

Ever struggled to recognize a credit card transaction on your billing statement? If something looks funky, like an unknown name or amount, it might just be because you don’t remember using your card. But it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper.

Checking credit card transactions can help protect the security of your account. It can give you peace of mind as well as the chance to identify unauthorized charges. So going through your credit card statement isn’t just a one-time thing, it’s an all-the-time thing. Here’s how to review your statements.

How to identify credit card transactions

The first thing you need to do is track down your statement. Find the latest copy that was mailed to you or sign in to your account online to see it there.

As you read your credit card statement, you’ll see a transactions section. Here, you’ll find details about all the transactions on your account, including purchases charged to the card during the last billing period. The details typically include how much your account was charged, who received payment, when the transaction occurred and when it was posted to your account.

A reproduction of what you might find in the transactions section of a monthly Capital One credit card statement.

What if I see something unfamiliar in my statement?

If something looks unfamiliar in your statement, take a few minutes to mentally retrace your steps. What’s the date of the transaction, and can you remember what you were doing that day? You might have forgotten that you stopped somewhere unexpectedly for lunch, for example.  

You can also check with family members or friends authorized to use the account to see whether they made the transactions in question. And think about whether you scheduled any purchases a while back that you might just now be seeing the charges for.

How to look up credit card merchant names

Do your credit card transactions show a business name that you don’t recognize? Bear in mind that some company names can appear abbreviated or otherwise shortened on your statement. 

Some companies might also appear under the name of their parent company or the name of the payment processing service provider they use. You can look up the name online to find out what company it’s related to. 

How to approach disputes

If you’ve researched the transaction and still don’t recognize the charge, it could be the result of an error or fraud. In either case, you should promptly contact your credit card issuer. 

Unless the dispute concerns fraud, most issuers require you to file it within 60 days of the transaction appearing on your statement. 

When it comes to disputes, contacting the business directly is often the fastest way to resolve things.

Reporting fraudulent charges

If you find an unfamiliar charge that’s more than a simple mistake, you might be dealing with fraud.

If you suspect you have a fraudulent charge, you can start by calling the toll-free number on the back of your card. You’ll answer some questions and start the process of filing a claim. If you’re a Capital One cardholder, you can instantly lock your card from the Capital One Mobile app so no one else can use it.1

Try to report the fraudulent charge as soon as possible. The sooner you can do it, the quicker you may be able to stop more unauthorized spending in your name.

Thankfully, if you report credit card fraud and it’s investigated and verified, the Fair Credit Billing Act says you’ll be liable for no more than $50, no matter how much was fraudulently charged to your card. Some issuers, like Capital One, have $0 liability for unauthorized charges. So if your card is lost or stolen, you will not be responsible for charges you did not authorize.2

You can also set up a fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting bureaus—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®—and it will alert the other two. And you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

Take time to check your charges

Taking a little time every billing cycle to review your credit card statement could save you from some of the financial and emotional impact of credit card fraud. 

And if you’re a Capital One cardholder, you can even keep track of charges as they come in. Fraud alerts and instant purchase notifications are just two of the tools Capital One offers to help you stay on top of your account. All you need to do is add the Capital One Mobile app to your phone or sign into your account online to activate these features.

1Some activity may continue, including returns, credits, payments, interest, dispute adjustments, other account fees, purchase transactions during system downtime and certain other exempted transactions. If your card is lost or stolen, please notify Capital One as soon as possible.

2Claims of unauthorized use and liability for unauthorized charges are subject to investigation and verification.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

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