How Long Should a Person Keep Credit Card Statements?

Credit card statements and receipts provide documentation of financial transactions. The length of time you need to hang on to them depends on the nature of the purchase. If you don’t have a record of a transaction when you need it, it can cost you money. Always shred credit card statements and receipts to deter identity theft.

Individual Records

Compare your monthly credit card statements against the receipts for purchases. If the amounts on a statement are correct, you can usually dispose of it. There are exceptions. For example, if you use a credit card to pay for something that comes with a warranty, keep the statement with the warranty until it expires. You also want to hang on to statements if there is a possibility you will return a purchase. You generally don’t need to keep credit card statements for more than a year.

Credit Card Info and Taxes

Anytime a credit card statement relates to a transaction that affects your income tax return, you should keep it until after the Internal Revenue Service period of limitations elapses. The period of limitations is the time until the IRS can no longer review a filed tax return looking for unpaid taxes. For individual income tax returns, the time limit is typically three years after you file. If you forgot to include some of your income on your tax return, the IRS can audit you for six years after you file.

Business Records

When you are self-employed or a business owner, you may pay business expenses with a credit card. These payments are frequently tax-deductible. Keep the monthly statements until the period of limitation is passed. As with individual taxes, this is usually three years after the tax return is filed unless the IRS requests a three-year extension because they suspect understated income, so retaining statements for seven years is prudent. If your business accepts credit card payments from customers, you'll receive statements detailing these sales. You may also keep a copy of the receipts you give customers. These receipts don't need to be kept once you've checked them against your merchant credit card statement to verify accuracy. Keep the statements for seven years as well because they document revenues for tax purposes.