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Wait..What Did I Buy Again With My Credit Card?

credit card
credit card
photo credit: wikimedia

How many times have you looked at your credit card statement and wondered this? Wait, you aren't looking at your statements? Well, that's another story. Since I review my statements often, especially given all of the well-publicized data breaches lately, I occasionally come across very ominous looking charges like this one:

SQ *JDoe $15.00

After a little process of elimination, given the day of the week, Saturday, and the amount, I determined that it was for a Square payment I had made to a taxi driver. Ok, fine, but why wasn't this completely spelled out on my statement? Why does it have to be so difficult to figure these items out right away? And, what's more was that it was listed as "Uncategorized" on my statement. Now, how am I am supposed to account for my credit card spending easily and accurately when I get tons of those showing up?

In another example of poorly categorized and coded transactions, Mrs. Edge used to work at Freddie Mac, the mortgage provider, and every time she ate at their cafe, they coded the transaction as a "loan." That's not right, and since then, I have grown frustrated with the transaction coding on all of my bank statements; debit cards, too. In one case, I almost protested a charge before realizing I had made it. We shouldn't have to do this as consumers, and it makes me wonder, how many transactions have been protested, reversed, and later realized to be accurate? Every time a bank reverses a charge (presumably that is not reimbursed by the party who issued the charge), it loses money, and well, say what you might about banks, that still means jobs are at stake. So, you'd think that the industry would wise up and standardize coding.

While major banks (if you are reading this) are probably not going to change this practice overnight, I would totally appreciate standardizing transaction and category coding to help make credit card accounting for our purchases more user-friendly. I am available to work on this right away.