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It might be an eye-opening experience.
It’s common for credit card companies to give users an annual summary of their purchases.
Reading yours might help you better manage your expenses, save money, and minimize debt.
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As someone who checks her credit card balances on a weekly basis, most of the time, I’m well aware of how much I’m spending on various expenses. I know, for example, that grocery purchases and food constitute a big chunk of my expenses, as does gas for my car. I also know what I pay for services like cable, my kids’ various after-school activities, and the multiple streaming services I have access to.
But I still find it very helpful to read my credit cards’ annual account summaries, which usually come through early in the year. And if your credit card offers an annual account summary, I highly suggest giving it a thorough read.
What’s an annual account summary?
Your credit card annual account summary is a compilation of your spending from the previous 12 months. Your purchases will be grouped into different categories so you can see how much you spent on various things, from utilities to groceries to entertainment. You’ll often find that your annual account summary is available in January, or relatively early on in the year.
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What are the benefits of reading your annual account summary?
When it comes to reviewing your annual account summary, your first thought may be “Hmm, sounds boring.” But reading through that data is really important.
For one thing, it might help you better budget your money. You might think that groceries only cost you $600 a month, when lo and behold, based on the data your credit card company has provided you with, you’re actually spending more like $700 a month at the supermarket these days, perhaps due to inflation or the fact that your kids are growing.
Secondly, reviewing your annual account summary might help you identify costs you may not have realized you’re paying for. It may be that you were convinced you canceled your Netflix subscription in mid-2022, only to realize you were clearly still paying for it — needlessly — as of December.
Similarly, you might see that you paid your annual professional license renewal in May 2022 at a cost of $100. If that’s not an expense you were planning on for this spring, well, now you know about it. And you can take steps to carve out that money so you’re not scrambling to cover that added cost.
Finally, getting a better handle on your spending could help you keep your credit card balances down going forward. Once you realize you’re spending more in certain expense categories and have subscriptions and other expenses you can unload, it might put you in a better position to maximize your incoming paychecks and avoid adding to any existing credit card debt you might have.
As of the end of 2022, U.S. credit card balances totaled $930 billion, according to TransUnion. Getting a handle on your spending could mean not adding to your portion of that total.
Reading your credit card’s annual account summary may not be the most thrilling thing you’ll do this weekend. But it’s an important set of data to look at, especially if you’ve been having a harder time juggling your bills and coping with the fact that everything is more expensive these days due to inflation.