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How to Use Your Year-End Credit Card Summary

Use your year-end summary to take charge of your finances.

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A year-end credit card summary is exactly what it sounds like -- a rundown of all the spending you did with your credit card over the previous year. It’s typically available in January, but in some cases you may be able to access it sooner. It breaks down your spending per month, where you used your card the most and even shows you how much interest you’ve paid, among other things.

Read on to learn more about how you can use your year-end credit card summary to better manage your finances.

What’s in a year-end credit card summary?

Your year-end summary will show you exactly how you’ve been using your credit card. It’ll break down your spending each month, tell you which stores you spent the most in, which subscriptions you’ve been paying and how much interest you’ve paid over the past year.

American Express, for example, breaks down your spending into an easy-to-read chart, detailing which categories you’ve spent the most in. What’s more, you’re able to download a PDF that breaks it down further into specific purchases over the entire year.

To access your year-end summary, head to your credit card issuer’s website. You can typically find it under your account controls. 

For Amex cardholders, it’s called your spending report rather than a year-end summary and it can be found beneath the Statements & Activity tab on your online account page.

Use it to create a budget

Knowing exactly how you’ve been spending your money over an entire year is helpful information if you’re looking to create a budget for the year ahead. Use your summary to see where you’ve been spending the most, and adjust your spending habits if it’s higher than you’d like it to be.

You can also find any holes in your financial ship that you’d like to plug. Are you spending more than you’d like on subscription services? Is your Uber Eats or DoorDash spending higher than you thought? Take the time to go over everything and see if there are any purchase types you want to cut back on.

Consider your credit card debt payoff strategy

Your year-end summary will also show you how much you’ve spent on interest over the past year. Seeing that number could be an eye-opener for people who tend to revolve a balance from month to month. If it’s a large number, consider mitigating your credit card debt.

The average annual percentage rate, according to CNET’s sister site Bankrate, is 20.04%. Interest rates have been on the rise lately as the Federal Reserve works to cool inflation. The average credit card debt in the third quarter of 2021, according to Capital One, for example, was $5,221.

Using Bankrate’s credit card debt calculator, if you were to make only the minimum payment of $134.88 on a balance of $5,221 each month, it would take 279 months (or over 23 years) to pay it down, and you’d end up paying $7,672.73 in interest.

Even if your balance isn’t that high, it shows how quickly interest charges can accumulate. Consider utilizing a balance transfer on a credit card with a 0% interest APR offer. Some credit cards offer up to 21 months of no interest to pay down a balance. Oftentimes, you’ll need to pay a balance transfer fee, but it’ll typically be less than what you’d pay due to high interest charges.

There are other strategies for eliminating credit card debt, too. There’s the snowball method, which involves tackling your smallest debts first and then putting more and more funds toward the next debt to pay it off faster. Or the avalanche method, which has you tackle the debts with the largest interest rates first and then put all available funds toward burying the next debt.

Evaluate your spending habits

Your year-end summary shows where your money is going, and which type of purchases you’re using the card for. If you’re spending a lot on a purchase type that isn’t covered by your credit card’s bonus categories, you could be missing out on rewards. Consider adding a top flat-rate cash-back rewards card to your wallet if you don’t have one, or even a general travel card if you’ve been spending a lot on transit or other travel categories.

The bottom line

Your year-end summary is a great resource for getting your financial strategy straight for the year ahead. Consider these tips when reviewing your summary:


  • Create a budget: Limit any unnecessary spending on streaming services you might’ve forgotten about or other purchases you’re spending too much on.
  • See how much you’re paying in interest: Interest charges can add up quickly unless you pay off your full credit card statement every month.
  • Make sure you’re using your card correctly: If you’re spending a lot on a purchase type that your card doesn’t offer a good rewards rate for, consider a card that does.


Yes, credit card issuers won’t charge you for viewing your summary.

Balance transfer fees typically run from 3% to 5% of a transferred balance. There are credit cards without balance transfer fees, but they typically don’t provide a long introductory balance transfer APR period.

The answer comes down to how responsible you are at managing debt. If you can keep up on all of your monthly payments, and not get enticed into overspending, you could have as many as you’d like. Just remember the more credit cards you have, the more you’ll have to keep track of.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.
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