When you have a credit card, your issuer will provide you with a statement each month that tells you how much you need to pay, when you need to pay it and more. Because credit card statements contain a lot of important and helpful information, we are explaining how you can interpret your statement. After all, you don’t want to miss anything that may cost you later. Keep reading as we detail each of the sections on your credit card statement and explain what this section means for you.

Account summary

Your account summary gives an overview of all the recent activity on your credit card, including the starting balance at the beginning of the month, the current balance at the end of the month, and the total amount of payments and purchases that occurred between the two.

The charges on your account are typically divided into a few categories. The most common is the purchases that were made with the card. However, you may have also used the account for cash advances and balance transfers, which will both appear in the account summary. You’ll also see what you paid in interest and fees, if any, for that month.

Rewards summary

If you own a credit card with a rewards scheme, your monthly statement will include information about the rewards you’ve accrued over the past month. If you earn different levels of points in different purchase categories, this will be explained as well.

Payment information

The payment information is the most important part of your credit card statement, as it tells you what you need to pay. You’ll see your total balance, followed by the minimum amount that you owe for the month. Remember that the amount owed is just a bare minimum; you can always pay more, and anything left on the balance after your payment will be subject to interest. You’ll also see the payment due date included in this section. This is the date by which a minimum payment must be made.

Late payment warning

Under the payment information, your issuer will include a late payment warning. If you are late by even a day, you’ll most likely face late fees; this warning will inform you exactly what fees you can expect if you don’t pay on time. It will also detail any potential interest rate increase that could result from failure to pay on time.

Keep in mind that in addition to late fees and penalty APRs, late payments of 30 or more days will end up on your credit report and could hurt your score.

Total minimum payment warning

Your issuer will tell you on your monthly credit card statement how long it would take you to pay off your entire balance if you only make minimum payments each month. This is in the form of a minimum payment warning. The warning will also let you know what the total payment amount will be if you continue to make minimum payments and accrue interest. The less you pay each month, the longer it will take to pay off your balance, and the more you’ll end up paying in interest.

Payment coupon

If you receive your credit card statement by mail, your monthly statement will include a payment coupon. This is a piece of paper that repeats your payment information and includes identifying information for your account. If you decide to pay your bill by mail, you should fill out this payment coupon and include it with your check so that your issuer knows exactly which account the payment is intended for and how much you’re paying.

Transactions

The bulk of your monthly credit card statement consists of a list of transactions that were made with the card. For purchases, this includes the date of each transaction, the name of the business and the total amount charged. You’ll also see details of payments, credits, balance transfers and cash advances, including the date on which they were made and the total amount. Essentially, this section is a detailed account of the information that was included in the account summary.

You should carefully review the transactions when you read your monthly credit card statement to check for errors and unauthorized purchases. If there are any transactions you need to dispute, you need to act quickly to have a better chance of getting them removed from your statement. Otherwise, you might be on the hook for the charges.

Total interest and fees

Your bank is required to disclose the interest and fees you were charged on your monthly statement. This is included separately from the transactions to help you understand which portion of your bill came from charges and which came from interest and fees. Some of the fees you might see include late fees from failing to pay on time and annual fees that are charged once per year to continue using the card.

Interest charge calculation

If you are charged different interest rates, such as for purchases or cash advances, this will be explained in the interest charge calculation section. If you have triggered a penalty APR by failing to pay your bill on time, this will also be detailed. Sometimes penalty APRs only apply to payments after a specific date, so review this section to make sure you understand how much interest you have paid and will pay in the future.

Important messages

If there have been any important changes to your account, or if there is any other information your bank needs to communicate to you, this can be found in a designated area for important messages. Most of the time, you’ll probably only see a simple thank you message here. Some creditors use this area as an opportunity to update you on your current rewards balance.

Next time you receive your credit card statement, don’t simply gloss over it and make a payment. Take time to read your monthly credit card statement, checking for errors and unauthorized purchases, reviewing interest charges and making sure you understand how long it might take to pay off your balance. Knowing this information will help you make more educated decisions about your finances going forward.