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How to Read Your Credit Statement: Tips for Students

Your credit card statements can seem like a complex puzzle. But whether you’re a first-time credit card user or have had one for a while, understanding your account information is crucial. 


Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ll help you navigate this financial document by highlighting important information, what they mean, and how you should use those details. 


  • Account summary
  • Minimum payment due
  • Payment information 
  • Transaction and purchases
  • Promotional offers and rewards 

Payment information 

The payment information section of your credit card statement provides a quick glimpse at how much you must pay before the statement date. Ensure you make your payments on time to avoid late fees or excessive interest payments.


  • New/current balance: This section shows the outstanding balance on the account as of the statement date. Review this information to determine how much you must pay before your payment due date to avoid interest charges. 
  • Minimum payment due: Your minimum required payment usually represents 1 to 2% of the outstanding balance. While we recommend paying the statement balance or more than the minimum payment due to avoid more interest charges, it’s critical to make the minimum payment to avoid late fees and negative repercussions to your credit score.
  • Payment due date: This part of your credit statement specifies when your minimum payment is due. Paying the minimum on time will help you avoid late fees and maintain your credit score.


You may see the minimum and late payment warnings, which outline the consequences of failing to pay the minimum payment on time, like late fees and rate increases. It also explains the additional charges you may incur if you only make the minimum payment.


There may also be a chart that provides a comparison of how much time and money you’ll save on interest by paying more than the minimum amount versus only paying the minimum. 

Account Summary

Your account summary is a more detailed view of your current balance calculation. This section provides a quick snapshot of your credit usage and can help you identify any errors related to late fees or interest charges. 


Your new balance is the sum of these components:

  • Outstanding payments from your previous credit card statement
  • Recent purchases
  • Any fees or interest accrued during your billing period


You will also see your credit card and cash advance limit, the amount your credit card issuer has allowed you to use during your billing period. And you’ll find the amount of credit and cash you had available, which is the portion you didn’t utilize during your billing period.  

Account activity 

The part of your credit card statement provides you with a detailed view of your account’s activity. There are two primary types of The transactions section of your credit card statement offers a comprehensive overview of the activity on your account. There are two primary types of transactions that occur:


    • Transactions that decrease your balance: These transactions include payments, credits, or refunds made towards your outstanding balance. Each line in this section will display the date, the source of the transaction, and the amount by which it reduces your total credit balance. Reviewing this information allows you to track your payments and credits accurately.
  • Transactions that increase your balance: This part of the account history encompasses transactions that add to your credit balance. It includes purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. Each line provides details about the date, the source of the transaction, and the amount that increases your total credit balance.


In addition to individual transactions, the transactions section may also display year-to-date totals. These totals show the fees and interest charges accumulated on your account since the beginning of the year. By reviewing these figures, you better understand the overall cost associated with your credit card usage. This knowledge can empower you to make more informed decisions about your spending habits and payment strategy.

Rewards and promotional offers

An attractive perk of having a credit card is the ability to earn points that help you get exciting rewards like travel points or hotel stays. 


In this section, your credit card statement will show you the number of points you have available for use. This figure is determined by the total points you’ve accumulated at the end of your previous statement, the points you redeemed, plus the amount you’ve earned during your current statement period. Your statement may also illustrate what activities or transactions allowed you to garner those points. 

Interest charges

This field of your credit card statement provides a thorough breakdown of the interest applied to your account during the billing period. Reviewing this section can help you understand the cost of carrying a balance on your credit card.  


You’ll find the annual percentage rate, the balance subject to interest rates, and the amount you must pay in interest for each balance type (purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers). 



Alani Asis is a freelancer for Firstcard on writing finance topics for college students. She graduated from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in history. Alani has over three years of experience writing for personal finance brands such as USnews & World Report, Forbes, Insider, LendingTree and Fortune Magazine. She is dedicated to helping readers make informed financial decisions and achieve their financial goals. You can find her on LinkedIn or visit her website at alaniasis.com.

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