When you apply for a new credit card, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is your billing address. What many people don’t realize is that this piece of information is not just for mailing you your card; it’s also for verifying your identity.
With your billing address being so important, it’s vital that you keep your account up to date if you ever move. The good news is that updating your credit card billing address is easy, but there are always things to consider to ensure things are done promptly and securely.
What is a billing address?
In case you didn’t know, the billing address on your credit card is typically the same as your home address. This would include your street name, building number, city, province and postal code. It is possible to have a different billing address than your home address. For example, if you have a business or corporate card.
Your billing address is relevant because that’s where any important documents, such as account changes or offers from your credit card provider, will be sent. It is possible to get all of your monthly statements sent digitally. That said, the important documents must be sent by physical mail to ensure you’re receiving them.
In addition, when you shop online, many merchants will ask for your billing address to complete the transaction. Without this information, your purchase won’t go through. This is done for fraud prevention purposes. For example, if you drop your credit card, someone that picks it up wouldn’t be able to make a large online purchase since they wouldn’t find the billing address for your credit card.
Why is it important to keep your credit card billing address up to date?
Admittedly, not every retailer requires you to input your billing address to complete online transactions. In addition, if you’re making a purchase in person, you’ll never be asked to provide your billing information. That said, it’s still important to keep your billing address up to date.
The main reason you want to update your credit card billing address right away is for security reasons. If you don’t make the update, important information could end up at your old address. You can’t assume that the new resident will destroy any of your mail. In fact, if they opened your mail, they could potentially get information to commit identity fraud.
In addition, most credit card providers and financial institutions automatically send out new cards when yours are about to expire. They’ll always send it to the billing address on file. If yours isn’t updated, you would literally be handing someone your credit card.
How to update your credit card's billing address
Even though every credit card provider will have a different process to update your billing address, it’ll be easy nonetheless. In most cases, you’ll follow a structure that looks like the following:
Log into your online banking
Select profile or my account
Select edit account details or personal information
Select edit home address or billing address
Enter your new address
Click continue or save
Note that a physical letter won’t be provided when you change your billing address. However, you’ll be able to see your new address in your online profile immediately.
It’s also worth mentioning that some credit card providers allow you to have a billing address outside of Canada. However, you’d have to call customer service to make that change.
Other methods for updating your billing address
Besides going through your online banking, there are a few other ways you can update your credit card billing address.
Use your credit card app: If your credit card has an app, you should be able to update your billing address in a similar way to your online banking.
Call customer service: After passing the authentication process, customer service can update your address via a phone call.
Go to a branch. If your credit card is from a bank, you could go into a branch to update your information. You would need to verify your account first.
It’s worth mentioning that only the primary cardholder can update the billing address. That’s because supplementary cardholders don’t have enough authority to make any changes to personal information on the account.
Things to consider when updating your billing address
Besides potential fraud, the biggest consideration when updating your credit card billing address is any pending transactions or automatic payments.
Pending transactions are a hold on your credit card. After a few days, the hold will be lifted, and your account will formally be charged. However, let’s say you change your billing address when things are still pending. It’s possible that the charge may not go through since your billing address no longer matches what you originally put in. This could cause your online order to be cancelled since you technically haven’t paid.
Automatic payments operate in a similar manner. Let’s say you have a few automatic payments that are charged to your card every month or even annually. If it checks the billing address every time, and you’ve already changed yours, then the transaction might be declined. This could potentially affect your purchases and/or services.
As a general rule, you should contact any merchant where you have a recurring payment to let them know that your address has changed, and they may need to update your billing and mailing information.
What if you've recently moved or have multiple credit cards?
Generally speaking, you should only update your credit card billing address once you’ve actually moved. Of course, moving can be stressful, so some people may forget to update their credit card billing address right away. No one is expecting you to make the changes the day you arrive in your new home, so just try to update things as soon as you can.
If you have multiple credit cards, changing the billing address on all of your accounts will be tedious, but it’s necessary. The good news is that the process for changing your address will be similar with each credit card. You just need to do it. To minimize the time you’re spending on making updates, make the changes online instead of calling customer service.
Another trick is to forward your mail from your old address to your new one. Canada Post allows you to forward your mail if you’ve moved. There is a cost for this service, but you can purchase it for up to 12 months. This service can be essential as you may get a letter months later for an account that you forgot to update. You’ll still need to change your billing address, but at least anything you’ve forgotten won’t end up at your old address.
The bottom line
Your credit card billing address is a vital piece of information. If you ever move, you should update yours right away. Making the update online is easy, but you may also need to inform any merchants where you have pending or pre-authorized payments.
Barry Choi is an award-winning personal finance and travel expert. He regularly appears on various shows in Canada and the U.S., where he talks about all things money and travel. His website - Money We Have - attracts thousands of visitors daily, looking for the latest stories on travel and money.