DEFINITION of 'Descriptive Billing'

A type of credit card billing that includes the date, merchant's name, contact, telephone number etc. of each transaction. Descriptive billing replaced country club billing, which existed in the 1970s, where the actual credit card slips were physically included in the bill. Country club billing is obviously more expensive for the credit card companies, and descriptive billing has become the norm.

BREAKING DOWN 'Descriptive Billing'

Descriptive-billing practices are governed by Regulation Z, which states that if the credit card slips are not included in the bill, the credit card company must supply "the amount and date of the transaction and a brief identification of the property or services." Reg Z also states that the creditor "may omit the address or provide any suitable designation that helps the consumer to identify the transaction when the transaction (1) took place at a location that is not fixed; (2) took place in the consumer's home; or (3) was a mail or telephone order."

Some consumer advocates dislike the use of descriptive billing, because the customer cannot view the slip where he or she actually authorized the transaction. But with credit card purchases now commonly made online and by phone, providing physical evidence of customer authorization would often prove difficult at best.

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