Checking your card bill

Celine Wee
2 min readSep 23, 2023

Do you check your card bill for irregular or unexpected transactions?

I’m not sure why (working-in-payments casualty?), but it’s a regular activity in my household. Especially after we’ve had friends not notice fraudulent transactions slip through and face a $XXK bill, I’ve felt a general paranoia about fraud attacks 😕.

What a statement descriptor is

Statement descriptor (also “transaction description”) is what shows up on a card statement monthly, where every transaction made on that card is consolidated in one document (aka “statement”).

With some banks going paperless, this is mostly seen via web/mobile. Some fintechs take it to the next level in terms of helping with categorization and budgeting (shoutout to Monzo for a very slick and helpful interface).

Why statement descriptors matter

To a consumer:

  • Helps you reconcile your spending to a merchant. Eg knowing that you spent 10 at Starbucks, 20 on Amazon etc
  • Helps you check if your card details were compromised and someone’s been using the card number for fraudulent transactions. It could start out small ($1) and then balloon to large transactions!
  • Bonus for nerds: see what payments processors some merchants are using 😂. I’ve enjoyed seeing how SMBs in the UK are using Sum up and Zettle!

To a merchant:

  • Stop confused consumers from contacting your support team because they couldn’t figure out what they bought.
  • Stop a customer from disputing their transaction unknowingly because they did not understand the transaction description.
  • Bonus – give customers a unique order ID that they can easily use for troubleshooting with your customer support team.
Photo by Chanhee Lee on Unsplash
  • Market differences: I’ve noticed that in markets where disputes aren’t as readily accepted by banks issuing the card (eg not the US), ambiguous statement descriptors are especially frustrating. For example not knowing if the card was compromised, or whether one was just forgetful about purchases. We’ve generally defaulted to cancelling the card in those cases.
  • Costs: It’s more time and effort to check multiple statements, especially if you have multiple cards across different banks. It does depends on risk tolerance, and to be fair if you have some transaction limits in place, the monetary loss can be capped. Overall, I still believe fraud is a substantial risk, and makes it worth checking a card bill closely.



Celine Wee

Opinions are my own: a collection of Go To Market, Payments, Biz Ops learnings across Stripe, Coinbase, Twitter. I also write