What Is a Bank Statement, and How Do I Get One?

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A bank statement is a summary of financial transactions that occurred at a certain institution during a specific time period. For example, a typical bank statement may show your deposits and withdrawals for a certain month. Bank statements allow you to check for errors, watch for suspicious activity, and track your spending. You may also need to submit a bank statement when you apply for a loan or mortgage.

By reviewing your bank statements, you’re working toward better financial health and taking control of your finances — putting you closer to reaching your financial goals.

What Shows up on a Bank Statement?

What’s included in a bank statement varies based on your financial institution. If you have a checking and savings account at one bank, you may see both in the same report.

Here’s what’s generally on a bank statement:

  • Account number
  • Home address
  • Statement period
  • Bank’s customer service number
  • How to report errors or fraudulent activity
  • Beginning balance for the time period
  • Deposits
    • Checks
    • Direct deposits
    • Electronic transfers
    • Canceled checks or payments
    • Reimbursements or credits
  • Withdrawals
    • Purchases and payments
    • Electronic transfers
    • ATM withdrawals
    • Auto payments
    • Fees charged by the bank
  • Interest or dividends earned
  • Ending balance for the time period

For each item, you’ll also see a transaction date and the payer or payee name.

Each statement covers a certain period, such as a financial quarter or one month, but it might not begin on the first day of the month. For instance, your statement might run from September 6 to October 5.

If you find any inaccuracies on your statement, you should report them to your financial institution. You usually have 60 days from the statement date to dispute any mistakes or errors. Typically, disputes are done in writing, so be sure to provide any supporting documentation you have. Your institution should work with you to resolve the errors and any fraudulent activity.

How Can I Get a Bank Statement?

Most banks provide statements every month, although some do it every quarter. Depending on your bank, you can access your statement online, in-app, or through the mail.

How to Access Your Bank Statements Online

Almost all banks and credit unions offer an option to view your bank statements online for free. The process varies from bank to bank, but here are some basic steps to follow.

  1. Log in to your account through the bank’s website or app.
    • If you’ve never signed in online, you may have to create an account or call customer service.
  2. Find where your bank houses their electronic statements.
    • Look under headings like “services,” “bank statements,” or “e-statements.”
  3. Select the statement period you want to view.
  4. Review the statement on your computer, tablet, or phone — or download your statement as a PDF.
  5. Save your bank statement in a secure location on your computer (if you wish), print it, or close out the screen.
  6. Log out of your bank account for security purposes.

While you’re logged in, you can adjust your account settings to “go paperless.” This means you’ll receive and review all statements online instead of getting them in the mail. Sometimes banks will offer a one-time bonus credit to your account for going paperless.

How to Get Paper Statements by Mail

When you sign up for an account, some banks automatically send you monthly statements by mail. Your mailed statements will be identical to what you can view online.

If you agree to go paperless, meaning you consent to receive electronic bank statements, banks still must provide a paper copy of your statement if you ask. To receive paper statements, first log on to your account through your bank’s website or app. Look under headings like “account settings” and “services” to find where you can request mailed statements. Some banks charge a fee for mailing your statements as it costs them time, printing, and postage.

If you’re unsure how to log in online, call your bank’s customer service number, which is often listed on your debit card. If your bank doesn’t offer a mailed option, download your statement online as a PDF and print it to get a physical copy.

How Long Do Banks Keep Records of Statements?

Under the Bank Security Act, banks must keep statements for up to five years — although some may keep them longer. If you’ve closed your account, the bank will still keep your records for at least five years. Why would you need a bank statement from the past? You may need to pull your records for a tax audit, litigation, divorce, or to apply for a loan.

You can often retrieve bank statements online for free for the last year or two. If you need to go back further than what’s available online, your bank might charge you for each statement. For instance, if you want a statement from four years ago, the bank could charge you $5 per statement. That’s why some people save their bank statements in case they need them in the future. If you no longer need your statements, be sure to shred them for security purposes.

What Can I Do with a Bank Statement?

Bank statements come in handy for a variety of reasons. From monitoring your spending to catching errors, bank statements are an easy-to-use financial tool.

Here are the main things you can do with a bank statement:

  • Gauge your spending: Review your bank statement monthly to keep a tab on your expenses.
  • Track your savings: Look at your beginning and ending balances over the course of a month or a quarter. Take note of how much you’re accumulating.
  • See how much interest you’re earning: If your bank or credit union gives you interest, see how much money it’s making you every month. Depending on what interest you earn, you may want to put some of your money in an investment account or money market to earn more.
  • Monitor your account balance: Reduce overdraft fees by ensuring you always have enough to pay for bills and ATM transactions.
  • Identify fraud: Review your statements regularly to help spot fraudulent activity, like someone using your debit card. Promptly contact your bank should you find any fraudulent transactions.
  • Catch banking errors: Banks sometimes make mistakes. Contact your bank if you suspect any errors, such as depositing in the wrong account or mischarging you.
  • Watch for mistakes: Say a waiter accidentally typed in $52 on a restaurant credit card machine when your bill was only $25. Make sure your bank account is free of errors, duplicate charges, and discrepancies.
  • Apply for a loan: Whether it’s a personal loan or mortgage, you may have to provide bank statements to your lender to prove your financial standing.
  • Rent an apartment: A landlord or rental agency might request to see your bank statements before signing a lease.
  • Refinance your home: Financial institutions may want to see several bank statements if you plan on refinancing your home.
  • File your tax return: You may need to reference your bank statement when you file your taxes.
  • Maintain records: Keep your statements in a safe place in case you need them in the future. You can download them on your computer or print them and place them in a secure file.

Bank statements provide you with a clear, ongoing picture of your financial activity. By reviewing your statements, you can monitor your spending and saving while watching for any errors. Most importantly, being mindful of your finances will help you reach your goals and achieve financial well-being.

Sources

Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council | Fraud Magazine | Go Banking Rates | Investopedia | SmartAsset | Zacks

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