What Is a Billing Address?

Photo Courtesy: andresr/Getty Images

If you’ve yet to be asked for your billing address, then rest assured that your day will soon come. It’s common for everyone from credit card companies to merchants you shop with to request your full or partial billing address, so it’s important to know what it is.  

We’ll break down everything you need to know about billing addresses, how they differ from your shipping address, why they’re important, and even how to change yours if you move.

What Is a Billing Address?

The odds are that you’ve been asked to provide your billing address when signing up for a new credit or debit card. In many instances, it will be the same as your permanent address — your home or apartment — unless you decide to use the address of your financial manager or another alternate permanent address. 

 Photo Courtesy: The Good Brigade/Getty Images

Whenever a form or business requests your “billing address,” it refers to the address associated with your card or account. That said, if you want your transaction to go through properly, it’s important to check over your information and include everything from your apartment number to your zip code. 

What Is a Billing Address Used For?

First and, perhaps most obviously, your billing address is where any bills, statements, or other information associated with your account will be mailed. But your billing address also plays an important role when it comes to protecting your card from fraud.

 Photo Courtesy: simonkr/Getty Images

Ever wonder why you’re asked for your card’s zip code when checking out online? That’s because of something called the Address Verification System (AVS). Whenever you enter your zip code at checkout, the merchant’s AVS will compare it to the one your card issuer has on file to make sure that they match. While you should always contact the issuer as soon as you realize you’ve lost your card or that it’s been stolen, AVS serves as a deterrent to thieves who might try to use it to make fraudulent purchases.

How to Find Your Billing Address

Can’t remember which billing address you used to sign up for a specific card? Or maybe you’ve recently moved and can’t remember if your billing address is your new address or your old one? Rest assured: your billing address tends to be pretty easy to figure out.

 Photo Courtesy: andresr/Getty Images

Your first option is to call your card issuer directly and explain your situation to their customer service department. As long as you can ultimately verify the address that you used, they’ll understand if you accidentally guess your old address first. Alternatively, if you’re receiving communications from the business in question, then your billing address is the one you’re receiving mail at. It should also be available on your statements, which you can check online.

Example of a Billing Address

A billing address is usually written in the following format:

  • Your name
  • 1234 Street Name
  • Apt. # (if applicable)
  • City, State, Zip Code
 Photo Courtesy: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Most applications that ask you to fill in your billing address are pretty clear as far as providing the appropriate boxes. Just make sure you fill in everything correctly — and always read it over before — before submitting.

Why Does Billing Address Matter?

As we mentioned above, your billing address is not only where you’ll receive important correspondence about your account, but also an important part of helping protect you from identity fraud. AVS is used not only in brick-and-mortar stores but also when you’re shopping online.

 Photo Courtesy: Maskot/Getty Images

In fact, sometimes online address verification systems take into account even more information. Some may attempt to match your entire billing address with the one you have on file, while others will look at things like the street number of the billing address your issuer has on file.

This helps remove the anonymity of online shopping in the case of fraudulent purchases. Say, for instance, that a thief steals your credit card and attempts to have a large purchase shipped to them. Unless they know your billing address, the purchase is unlikely to go through. Even if they somehow do, it’s generally pretty easy to prove that such a transaction was a fraud by asking your issuer to check the shipping address against all your known residences.  

Difference Between Billing Address and Shipping Address

If you use your primary residence also serves as your billing address, it’s likely that said location will also serve as your shipping address. But what if you want to buy a gift online and have it shipped to a friend or family member?

 Photo Courtesy: Elva Etienne/Getty Images

In these instances, you’ll need to fill out the billing and shipping addresses separately. To make sure that your purchase goes through, you’ll need to make sure to fill in your billing address — whatever is linked to your form of payment — and the shipping address — where you want the gift to be sent. 

This is also an important distinction to make regularly if you don’t use your primary residence as your billing address. For instance, if you used a P.O. box as your billing address, you’d want to make sure to enter your physical address if that’s where you wanted the package delivered.  

How to Change or Update Your Billing Address

Any time you move, you should make sure that updating your billing address is on your moving to-do list. You’ll want to make sure that this is something you do for each card and account that you have. 

 Photo Courtesy: Carlina Teteris/Getty Images

Fortunately, changing your billing address isn’t too much of a hassle. Some of the easiest ways to get it done are to:

  • Log onto your account online, pull up your information, and simply change the billing address on your profile.
  • Call the issuer, whose number can usually be found on the back of your card or your statement, and request a change of billing address.
  • If you mail in your payments, then you can usually request a change of billing address on the back of your payment coupon when you mail it in.