How Long Do Credit Card Companies Keep Records of Purchases?


Knowing how long credit card companies keep records of purchases can save you time and stress when banking and keeping track of your finances.

Although there is no longer a necessity for paper-based statements, and you can trust banks to give you accurate, timely records of recent purchases, it’s still worth knowing how long credit card companies will hold on to these records in the event you need to access old records later, especially for tax or legal purposes. 

Credit card companies typically keep easily accessible records of your credit card purchases for a minimum of five years, mandated by law. Additionally, depending on your credit card provider or bank, credit card statements can be viewed online past this timeline. 

In this article, we’ll cover how long credit card companies and banks typically keep records of your purchases and what that means for you. We’ll also discuss tips for accessing older records should your financial institution not have old purchasing data readily available.  

How Long Do Credit Card Companies Keep Purchase Records? 

Depending on the specific bank or credit card company, the length of time that purchasing records are kept can vary; however, all accounts should be kept for a minimum of 5 years according to law

  • Banks must keep checks over $100, international transactions over $10,000, fund transfers over $3,000, and credit card statements. This information can be kept in any form, but it has to be easy to access for customers. 
  • Banks and credit card companies also keep records of suspicious activity, which will stay on your file for five years since the day it was reported. The financial institution keeps a record of any evidence of alleged fraud on your file as well. 

Savings, checkings, and credit card statements can all be stored online in today’s age. If the records are electronic, it’s not uncommon for banks to keep these records for longer than five years since they’re easier to store and keep track of. They don’t have the disadvantage of taking up physical space, so online records are simultaneously easier to manage and store.  

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Credit card companies typically provide archived copies of your old statements. These can be easily accessed online through your account, where you can print them at your own leisure. You can find these under an “account activity” or “statements” tab, where these statements are ordered by date.

How Long Can You View Credit Card Purchase Records?

While the minimum amount of time records being kept for is five years, the length of time you can view statements online will inevitably vary by company. 

For instance, Discover and Citibank allow cardholders to view up to seven years of statements, while other credit card companies and banks only allow cardholders to view two years. Some banks, such as Bank of America, only allow statements to be viewed for six months. 

It’s also worth noting that it’s not uncommon that you end up permanently losing access to all of these records when completely closing your account. With that said, if you do plan on canceling a credit card, make sure you obtain all the statements you need beforehand. 

Requesting Older Credit Card Purchase Records 

Although five years is more than a sufficient amount of time for viewing old statements, sometimes that’s not enough. With that said, it’s not impossible to request older banking statements. 

If older statements are needed, you have the option of going to your bank in person and requesting access. You can also contact the credit card company by phone or email to request the old credit card statements. 

However, this isn’t usually free, and the fee associated with viewing older credit card statements can potentially be costly. The best-case scenario is that you could just visit your local banking branch to obtain printed copies of statements with your credit card purchases. 

Depending on the bank’s access to the requested account and the number of documents requested by the customer, this could be incredibly simple and convenient. However, sometimes statements can be lost and simply impossible to retrieve. 

Worst case scenario is the price of fees you’ll pay to find old, archived records. If a local branch can’t accommodate a written request for information, the local branch may put it in a bank’s research department’s hands. 

While most institutions have research departments, many local branches have departments composed of only a few members who search for old documents in the back room. This can get pricey though, because at that point, you’ll be paying for labor, too. 

Similar Financial Geek Article: Do Credit Cards Still Work After Being Washed?

How Long Should You Keep Credit Card Purchase Records? 

Records are one thing, which isn’t hard to get in today’s day and age, but knowing how long to keep credit card statements is another.

Every time you get a physical credit card statement mailed to you, it’s important that you check it for accuracy. You can do this by scanning for charges that you didn’t make. 

If it looks like there are charges that you don’t recognize, be sure to get in contact with your credit card company as soon as possible. 

You won’t be responsible for fraudulent charges; however, according to the Fair Credit Billing Act, an inability to report these charges in 60 days will result in the loss of protection over these charges. 

If there are no concerns, you can make your payment. As soon as your payment has been processed, you can get rid of the statement. 

Why Keep Credit Card Purchase Records?

Depending on your circumstances, it can simply help to keep your records of purchase. 

For instance, it’s wise to hold onto statements when you anticipate dealing with the IRS or any financial or legal concerns. 

IRS

If you charged tax-deductible expenses on your credit card, tax-related documents should be kept around. If you find yourself audited by the IRS, having these documents on hand could be the proof of the tax deductions you claimed. 

When dealing with the IRS, it never hurts to have supporting records of one’s returns. It’s suggested that these be kept for a minimum of three years; however, with some specific records, a longer time requirement can be necessary. 

Online access to any bank accounts that support your case may no longer exist, and the online information may not go back in time far enough. However, even if this is the case, you’ll still be responsible for producing records for your auditor.

Divorce

In a divorce, financial documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, and more must be provided to complete the litigation discovery process. Required documentation could go back many years past your bank’s retention of records, being at most seven years for most banks.  

Fiduciary Concerns

Fiduciary matters have to do with trust. 

Whenever an individual is entrusted over the care of another person’s funds, the person being trusted must provide evidence to support the proper use of the allotted funds. This typically looks like the transparency of bank statements, credit card statements, and canceled check images. 

Similar Financial Geek Article: Do Credit Cards Expire on the First or Last of the Month?

Conclusion

If you ever find yourself interested in your banking and credit card statements, it’s useful to know how long credit card companies keep records of your purchases. 

Generally speaking, credit card statements are held for a minimum of five years. This length of time can vary depending on which organization you do your banking with. 

Past five years, it can be more difficult to receive credit card statements. Although it’s not impossible to receive statements from the past five years depending on your bank or credit card company, it does tend to come with a price. 

As always, thanks for reading and I hope this article provides you with some real value. Thank you and good night!

Geek, out.

Noel

Noel is the founder and main contributor for his blog - Noel's passion for personal finance has helped him amass over 600k readers to his Financial Geek blog.

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