I’m the type who reviews my credit card statements and reconciles them with my receipts and online orders. Occasionally I run into puzzling issues and end up calling the vendor or credit card company to verify, clarify or challenge a mysterious charge on my bill. However, I hate wasting time on a customer service call (or chat), and would much rather solve the mystery myself when I can.
The Problem: Reconciling Credit Card Statements with Amazon Charges
Have you ever had a charge from Amazon.com on your credit card that doesn’t match any orders around the date that your card was charged? I’ve found a few common situations — and some clever ways to verify them without the bother of contacting Amazon customer service. This post is a way for me to remember the clever tricks I discover–and to share them with the world. ‘Cause I’m generous like that. You’re welcome. (Post last updated Sep 17, 2020; be sure to scan the comment section for more tips not included in the main article. THANK YOU to every commenter who lets me know when Amazon has changed their interface or who shares a great tip.)
tl;dr / The Easiest Way to Find Charges Matching Your Credit Card Statement
(Hint: It’s not the Amazon order reports)
(Post edited 10/30/2019 to add this tactic:) I’ve been updating this blog post for several years since I first posted it, as Amazon keeps changing their interface. In the end, this simple workaround is the most reliable way to get the information I need quickly:
Save every Amazon order shipping confirmation email that you receive.
Archive the emails if you want them out of your inbox, but save them. And then, when you find a rogue transaction from Amazon on your credit card statement, search for the exact dollar amount in your email archive. When you find it, the email should contain a link to the order details in your Amazon account (sadly, the emails don’t currently list the items and details), which you can use to verify things.
TO CLARIFY, based on feedback from a reader: In the text below I refer to Amazon charges “for shipments”. I’m not talking about Amazon charging “for shipping”, since most of us using Amazon regularly have Amazon Prime and get free shipping. I’m talking about the charge that goes on a credit card for the items in that shipment.
Scenario #1 – An item with an order date significantly distanced from its ship date (the credit card is usually charged when it ships)
Often, this is easily reconciled by looking at orders within 5 days before/after the credit card charge date. But if that doesn’t give you any orders that match the charge, try using their Request My Data feature. This used to be available under Your Account as “Download Order Reports”, but now (updated Sep 2020) it’s no longer available that way.
Use the dropdown to request data about Your Orders.
This will generate an email confirmation. When you receive the email, click the link to confirm your email address and generate the report. It says that it can take up to a month to receive the report (that’s awful!) but the first time I tried it the data was available the next day.
Amazon provides the data in several .zip files, each containing one or more .CSV files (you can use MS Excel or Google Sheets to read them). After scanning through these files, here’s what I found:
- The data download seems to contain every order for the entire history of my Amazon account (years of data).
- Retail Order History and Subscriptions and Digital Order History seem the most useful.
- There does not appear to be a column of data with the actual charge total, which I find astonishing. They list the item cost, the tax, the shipping cost (if any) — but don’t offer a total. So you can’t just search for the charge amount. Instead, use the charge date to find a similar shipping date and search the surrounding entries from there. This limitation (and the delay while waiting for the data to be delivered) is why I prefer keeping my Amazon confirmation emails and searching for the charge amount in my email archive.
If this data download doesn’t help, you can resort to Amazon’s email, phone or chat support options.
Pre-ordered e-books have proven quite tricky. Let’s say I pre-order an e-book on October 23 and the book is released December 3. Everything in my Amazon Order History for Digital Orders says October 23. The invoice, the order record, everything. And yet, my credit card is not charged until December 3.
While I’m thankful that they don’t charge me until they actually deliver it, it’s horrible that there is no record of that charge date anywhere related to my order. The only thing that helped me solve this scenario was clicking on the book title, which then tells me at the top of the page, “You purchased this item on December 3.” Well, that’s not exactly true, either, but at least the date is close enough to the credit card charge (and for the correct amount), so the mystery is solved. UPDATE (Sep 2020): The new “Request My Data” feature mentioned above has a download for Digital Order History, and this spreadsheet shows the order date AND the delivery date (which is usually within a day of the charge date), as well as the title, purchase amount, etc.
Scenario #2 – An order with multiple items that ship separately from each other
(This section updated 10/30/2019) Sometimes the confusion enters because of how Amazon groups the orders for shipping.
Let’s say you put in an order and the total is $79, but three items ship for a total of $36, and a week or two later another item ships for $17, and then a week after that the last item ships for $26. When you scan your orders, it’s possible you won’t find one on the date you expect it (close to the original order date) AND/OR you won’t find any orders at all with the $17 charge because of how Amazon summarizes the orders.
The best way I’ve found to illuminate this situation is to find an order that shows as having several separate ship dates (and one of them around the charge you’re reconciling), or several items grouped with the same delivery date.
Click on the Order Details button.
Then either click on the Transactions link (to quickly check for credit card transactions) or the View/Print Invoice button, to see full details on what items shipped together on what dates, individual item prices, tax, and credit card transactions.
The invoice will outline the charge for each part of the order as they shipped and clearly show at the bottom the exact credit card charge amounts associated with it and the dates they were charged (see below).
Scenario #3 – Recurring subscriptions
(Post edited 12/14/2016 to include this third scenario:) Another common oversight is recurring subscriptions. The annual Amazon Prime membership charge itself is one. Under “Orders” if you click on “Manage Prime Membership”, you can see the last payment date and the next time it’s due for renewal.
Check under “My Account > Digital Content” and review “Your Video Subscriptions” or “Your Digital Subscriptions” and see if the mystery credit charge shows up there. I don’t know why they don’t include these items in your downloadable report, but they didn’t as of the writing of this update. So if you have a monthly video subscription to a service like Acorn TV, it will be listed here for the months it was active, and you can view receipts to verify the amount.
I’m still a fan of Amazon.com
It’s not fun to find mysterious charges on your credit card statement. I hope this helps someone (or myself in the future) when troubleshooting an unknown charge from Amazon.com on a credit card.
That said, I really enjoy the convenience and excellent service that Amazon provides, and when I do need to get help from their customer service, I’ve always been impressed with their responsiveness and willingness to please me.