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Credit Card Statements: The Pros and Cons of Paper and Paperless

Credit Card Statements

Should you choose to receive paper or paperless credit card statements? There’s no single correct answer for everyone because each option has its benefits and drawbacks. The following are some pros and cons to think about before you decide between paper and paperless.

Pros of Paper Statements

It’s easier to remember to pay your credit card bill when you have a physical reminder in the form of a paper statement sitting on your desk. Thus, if you’ve ever struggled to remember to pay on time or if you tend to ignore electronic notifications, paper statements are probably best for you. Paper statements are also a good choice if you don’t have reliable Internet access; with paper statements, you don’t have to worry about missing a payment because you couldn’t get online.

Another benefit of paper statements is that they don’t have the distracting links and buttons that can be found in electronic communications. Whereas you may be tempted to jump to the “Schedule Payment” button of an online statement without reading it, a paper statement offers no instant gratification to people who skip past the content.

Cons of Paper Statements

Of course, a paper statement isn’t useful if it gets lost in a pile of other bills and correspondence. People who are trying to cut down on clutter may be better off receiving paperless credit card statements. Consumers should also be aware that mail can be stolen and that paper statements could fall into the hands of identity thieves. And those who share living space with roommates or family members, may find maintaining privacy a challenge if they accidentally leave paper statements where other people will see them.

Pros of Paperless Statements

Paperless statements have the advantage of efficiency: You can view and pay them with a few clicks of a mouse. Also, they arrive in your email inbox instantaneously, so there’s no need to wait for the mail to reach you before you can see the information in your statement. These benefits are especially important if you travel frequently or if you need access to your financial information at times of the day when you’re not at home.

Cons of Paperless Statements

Paperless statements come with their own risk of identity theft, as hackers may break into them and steal information. Anyone who uses public computers, such as in libraries, should keep in mind that viewing statements in public is risky. Passersby may read over your shoulder, and failing to log out can expose sensitive financial information to the next person to use the computer. Less serious drawbacks of paperless statements are that they can wind up in spam folders and that they get lost when consumers change email addresses without notifying their credit card company, as the Wall Street Journal explains. In addition, some consumers dislike paperless statements because they don’t want to have to keep track of yet another password.

Whether you should choose paper or paperless statements depends on your bill-paying habits and Internet access. If you don’t have reliable Internet access from a private computer or if you need a concrete reminder to read and pay your bill, paper statements are probably the best choice. But if you’re looking for speed, efficiency, and access from different locations, paperless statements are the better option.

Image source: Flickr

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