How to Track Credit Card Purchases
Tracking your credit card purchases is extremely important if you plan on using it regularly. It can help you budget your entire financial plan as well as keep you in check with payment due dates and save you from late payment fees. In addition, you’ll benefit from being the first to know if something fraudulent hits your account. You can quickly report and remedy any cases of fraud that you could potentially come across, and having that extra layer of defense is always a good feeling. Let’s take a deeper look into everything you need to know about how, why, and when to track your credit card purchases.
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Best Methods for Tracking Purchases
The first step toward successfully tracking your purchases starts with becoming familiar with your online and mobile banking systems. These tools are the best way to stay in tune with what’s happening on your account. Via your online bank, you should be able to see your current balance, any charges that have been posted to your account, and a history of your purchases as well. You may have a section for pending purchases, but not all banks offer this system, so you’ll need to be aware of purchases that you have made and the fact that it may take several business days for your charge to go through.
Modern banking systems are constantly being updated with new features for your convenience. For example, you can set up purchase and payment alerts that notify you when certain actions are taking place. If you want to know when all new charges happen on your account, you can set up your alerts to send you an email, text, or notification through your mobile app. You can also stay within budget by alerting yourself when your charges exceed a certain limit.
If all else fails (or you simply prefer it), try using a pen and paper. This is great for visual people who prefer to see every charge right in front of them. Save receipts, jot down a note, take a picture, or anything else that can help you keep track of your purchases. When you get home, you can check your account and line that up with recent purchases that you’ve made. This way, you can stay completely up to date instead of being thrown off by a pending charge that hasn’t posted yet.
How Tracking Purchases Helps Your Budget
Chances are that you got a credit card in order to help supplement your income and possibly to build your credit. As such, your credit card should always stay within a manageable balance. Getting in over your head with too many purchases will likely have a negative effect on your budget instead of a positive one, which is why tracking your purchases is so crucial to your financial health.
In addition, learning how to proficiently budget, charge, and pay off your credit card will help you with the rest of your budget. You’ll know where every penny is spent, if it’s being put to good use, and where you might be able to fill in gaps within your financial plan. You’ll also be aware of your current balance, when your payment is due, and how much that payment should be, which will save you from late payment fees and unnecessary interest costs.
How Tracking Helps Your Credit Score & Credit Card Rewards
Another common aspect of credit cards that tends to add up over time are your credit card rewards. Some rewards accumulate as a result of certain purchases or particular purchases of a specific dollar amount. Knowing when these types of purchases will hit your account will help you to properly track the progress of your rewards, which means more accuracy when you’re trying to hit a certain rewards goal.
What’s more, if you’re able to successfully track your purchases, use your credit card wisely, and set up an appropriate budget that fits your needs, your credit score will also thank you in the end. When you’re ready to take out a larger loan, your credit will already be in a good place for getting approved. You’ll have learned all of the appropriate financial processes that will help you keep a squeaky clean budget and a sparkling credit score long term, which means all of your financial dreams will eventually be within reach.
Tracking Your Purchases Can Alert You to Fraud
Now, you’re aware of both how to track your purchases and why it’s good for you financially, but what about how to spot credit card fraud? Of course, this is a serious issue that most of us have heard a lot about. There are constant scams and security breaches happening all of the time. How do you know if you’ve fallen victim to one of them?
If you’re tracking your balance and every purchase on your credit card, you’ll never be surprised by a false one. If something shows up on your account that you don’t recognize, you’ll be able to identify it right away and report it to your bank or credit card company. Not to mention, this method costs you nothing and takes up very little of your time. If you’re already doing for budgeting reasons, this is just an added bonus that comes along with your due diligence.
As I mentioned earlier, you can also set up alerts with your credit card purchases. This is another layer of defense and can alert you immediately if something fraudulent has been charged to your account. You’ll know right away when it comes out of your account, instead of whenever you usually check your account balance and charges. The faster you’re able to identify possible cases of fraud, the quicker your bank or card company can start remedying the situation.
As you can see, there are a myriad of reasons for tracking your credit card purchases. Of course, how you do it is completely up to you. However, if you follow these steps and methods you’ll be confident in your budget, how your credit card works, and your ability to catch fraudulent behavior on your account. Pick up your phone, notepad, or computer and start tracking now.
Done tracking and need more credit card information? Visit our credit card learning center.
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Trisha is a writer and blogger from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan, an avid gamer, cat lover, and amateur SFX artist.
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published October 26, 2017.