Mistakes, forgotten direct debits, auto-renewals – just some of the reasons extra cash could be hidden in your bank and credit card statements – if you check them.
I’ve some top things to look out for to make sure you aren’t missing out on YOUR money.
A few weeks back I got a letter in the post from Santander. Nothing strange about that, except I’d closed my account there in early 2017. It turned out some money had been returned to the account rather than the new one – and I hadn’t realised. And it was a decent sum too, just over £180. Really I should have picked this up by checking my bank statements. And normally I do!
A couple of years ago I bought a Reiss suit in the online sales. It was a bargain and one I’d had my eye on for a while. A few days before it was delivered to the store (free delivery naturally), I happened to see it available in a shop. I tried it on, but sadly decided it wasn’t the right fit. The terms and conditions of delivery said uncollected orders would be sent back after 14 days and a refund issued. So I left it.
But checking my statements I saw the refund hadn’t come. I chased and found my order was just sitting in the shop. I’m sure at some point it would have been sent back to their warehouse, but who knows when. And in that time my money wasn’t available for me to spend or earn interest on.
It’s not just purchases where errors happen. As I’ve written about before, I’ve had to claw back money owed to me when switching broadband provider on a couple of occasions. I assumed the money would be automatically refunded, but checking my bank statement it was clear it wasn’t.
These aren’t the only times I’ve found errors, so I expect the same has happened to you – but they can be easy to miss! So you need to check all your payments in and out. I know it’s a big ask and it’s easy to forget what you spent by the time the statement comes through, but online and mobile app banking can make it a lot easier to check on a daily or weekly basis.
To help you, here are my top things to look for each month:
1. Old direct debits
Just like I had with Sky and TalkTalk after I cancelled, your last payment might be too much. Or even worse, it might not be stopped! Get in touch to make sure you get the money back.
You should check active direct debits too, just to make sure you’ve not been overcharged.
2. Double charges
If you’ve ever had a payment machine go wrong on you, you should get a receipt that says the payment was cancelled. Check this is the case.
If you are buying online and the page crashes, there’s no sure way to know you didn’t get charged until you see your statement.
3. Contactless payments
I love contactless. It makes paying so much quicker. But, there’s also the danger, especially when you’re at a bar, that you simply just tap and go without properly checking the amount you’ve been charged. I’ll annoy the cashier/bar person by always asking for a receipt, but you’ll know exactly what you’ve paid. If you don’t want to do that, you’ll need to look at your bank statement.
4. Auto-renewals and subscriptions
Sign up for something like a magazine or annual insurance policy and there’s a good chance you’ve agreed for auto-renewal. But six or 12 months on you’re bound to have forgotten. Ideally put a note in your diary to cancel, or you might even be able to put the cancellation in straight away. The same goes for any free trial you take out but don’t want to continue.
If you do see a charge come through, call the company ASAP as there may be a cooling off period where you can cancel and get a refund.
5. Things you didn’t buy
A few years back my credit card was cloned in America. Checking my statement showed I’d been charged for about $600 of shopping at the US department store JC Pennys. I knew I hadn’t been there so it was a quick and easy call to get the card stopped.
Annoyingly, you’ll often see charges to companies you’ve never heard of, but they usually are just coming through under a parent company name for a place you have actually shopped with, particularly online. But if there’s anything you aren’t sure about, it’s worth a quick google search or calling to check with the bank.
As I found with my suit order, just because someone says you’ll get a refund, it doesn’t mean you actually will! If I hadn’t looked out for the money in statements it’s easy to assume it’s all gone through.
7. Money you’ve lent to friends
Has a friend said they’ll transfer you some cash you lent on a night out or a meal tab you’ve picked up? It’s easy to forget these payments so I’d advise to keep an eye on your online banking or app and chase your friend if it doesn’t come through.
8. Points and cashback
I earn cashback on pretty much everything I spend on my American Express, and sometimes there are additional offers. Most of the time they come through fine, but at times I’ve had to call up. Check you’re getting all the points or cashback you’re entitled too.
You’ll know by now that I’m a big fan of switching bank and taking advantage of the different offers available for doing so. One of the main ones is to get up to 5% interest on savings. However, with each of these switches there are terms and conditions such as requiring a certain number of Direct Debits or paying in a minimum amount each month. If these don’t happen, you don’t get your interest.
Last year I realised I wasn’t getting the interest on my Lloyds Club account. And the reason? One of my charity Direct Debits had been cancelled by the charity! I’ve no idea why, but it meant I’d misssed out on two months of interest.