After a few days in Medellin, I've noticed that my credit card statement has merchant/business names that apparently have nothing to do with the name of the actual place. This isn't for mom&pop shops, but rather large establishments:

  • Ambroxia Salon appeared as "SENSORIAL COFFEE BAR"
  • luxuryconcept.co appeared as "DAVIDE RASO"
  • BURDO restaurant appeared as "MANUELA RUIZ VARGAS"

This makes it somewhat difficult to balance transactions at the end of the month. How can I reconcile what I see on my credit card statement with which business I actually went to? (Other than by checking my credit card statement every single day.)

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    That's interesting. Did you have a question? Are you asking why these names show up? Are you asking how to convince merchants to use a name more closely matching the name on their sign? Are you asking how to find businesses that don't do this? Are you asking whether you can report the businesses for fraud? – Robert Columbia Mar 19 '19 at 10:36
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    This is not restricted to Colombia. In Europe this is common as well. When you ask it turns out to be a former name, the name of an other location of the same owner, the name of a company which handles the payments and so on. – Willeke Mar 19 '19 at 11:16
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    The default is to include the actual company name (which may be very different from the name as known by the general public). Depending on the credit card network and local usage, acquirers may make more or less efforts to show the actual commercial name. For instance around here in France, it is my impression that Amex have the commercial name more often than Visa/MasterCard/CB. – jcaron Mar 19 '19 at 14:45
  • @RobertColumbia: duh, forgot to actually ask the question. Edited. – Dan Dascalescu Mar 20 '19 at 2:55

Although that makes it slightly confusing for you as a customer there are a number of valid reasons for that to happen that boil down to:

  • The name in the window of the business / merchant may only be a brand.
  • The brand is not the name of the legal entity operating the business.

The name you will see on your credit card (or debit card) transaction statement will most likely reflect the name of the bank account that received your payment and/or thus the name of the legal entity operating the business, (or possibly a third-party payment provider).

In a sole proprietor type of business that legal entity will likely be the name of the current owner.
(And the current owner of "Bob's Burger Bar" can be "Jane Doe" and "Bob" may have owned the business before or there was never a "Bob" in the first place and Jane simply decided on a good name for that burger joint.).

Otherwise the business is owned by a company, with a name different from the brand(s) they operate. That mismatch can be be intentional and by design, or the result of a re-branding sometime in the past; renaming a company and associated bank accounts is a lot more hassle than repainting the window sign and launching a new/additional brand to operate with.

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  • There's another major reason for differences like this: franchising. Even though a McDonalds looks always the same from the outside, if you look closely enough, you'll notice that it's often run by a completely different company (and that's what you see on the receipt/statement). For example, all the McD's/Burger Kings/KFCs/Starbucks/etc. across half of Europe are actually run by a company called "AmRest". – TooTea Mar 19 '19 at 14:19
  • @TooTea Franchising is one specific case of the brand on the window being different from the legal entity operating a particular business/location with the specific intent of using the brand awareness to draw customers to specific business – HBruijn Mar 19 '19 at 14:44
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    Yes, I'm not disputing that, your answer is perfectly fine. I just wanted to suggest another (very common) example besides "sole proprietor" and "historical reasons". – TooTea Mar 19 '19 at 14:49

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