A bank statement is a document from a financial institution like a bank or credit union. It contains information on an account holder’s banking and spending activity for a specific time period.
What Is a Bank Statement?
Bank statements are essential in order to better understand your financial activity. You can expect to receive a bank statement if you have a checking or savings account. Most financial institutions provide bank statements monthly, but the frequency varies.
What Information Will I See on a Bank Statement?
A bank statement is a detailed account of your bank information and recent activity. Your account statement will have basic information such as your name, address, and account number.
A bank statement usually has the following information:
- Beginning and ending balance
- Canceled checks
- Fees and interest earned
Each entry in your bank statement will have a corresponding date and the payer or payee.
How To Find and Correct Mistakes on Your Bank Statement
There may be an instance when you read your bank statement and notice an error. The error can be a simple mistake or a sign of identity theft, so it’s crucial to correct it quickly.
Get the Error Details
When you notice a mistake on your official bank statement, take note of the date, type of transaction, amount, and payer or payee. Once you verify the entry is a mistake, you can contact your bank or credit union.
Contact Your Bank
Your monthly bank statement should have a customer service number you can call. If you don’t see a number to call, you can also get the number online or by looking at the back of your debit card. You may also have the option to send an email or a message through an online chat.
You will need to provide the error details, so ensure you have the information ready. Suppose the error was a result of fraudulent activity. In that case, your bank will issue a new debit card and a refund if you make the report as soon as possible.
Contact the Merchant or Third Party
When a bank statement mistake involves a third party, you can try contacting them to resolve the issue a lot faster. For example, suppose you ate at a restaurant, and the total on your online bank statement is higher than it should be. You can try contacting the restaurant and explaining the mistake. The manager may be able to make a correction on their end.
How To Get a Bank Statement
You do not have to do anything in order to get a bank statement from your financial institution. Most account holders receive bank statements regularly by mail. However, you can usually go paperless and choose to view them online.
While most banks do not charge for paper statements, some do. The cost of a paper statement fee is usually a few dollars. To avoid this cost, use a bank that does not charge you to receive paper statements or opt to get bank statements online.
What Are Paperless Bank Statements?
You can expect to get your bank statements in the mail unless you opt for paperless statements. A paperless statement, or e-statement, is a free electronic version of your bank statement. Electronic statements have the same information as paper statements but typically come in a PDF format.
Many account holders choose to go paperless to reduce their carbon footprint. To sign up for paperless statements, go to your financial institution’s website and log into your online bank account. Every online portal is different, so you may have to navigate around to find your account settings. Once you find your account settings, look for a section that details your statement preferences and choose paperless statements.
Your financial institution will then send you emails notifying you when your statements are ready. However, you can always see your account activity online at any time. Keep in mind that even if you sign up for paperless statements, you may still receive one final statement in the mail, depending on the date you make the switch.
You may have to provide bank statements in the future when you need to show proof of your monthly income. You can download a PDF copy to share your e-statements with a lender or landlord and then print or electronically deliver the file.
How Often Should I Check Bank Statements?
Keeping an eye on your bank account can help you spot errors and fraudulent activity. It’s best to check your bank statements more than once a month to avoid significant issues.
Most financial institutions have a time limit on unauthorized transaction reports. Typically, you must notify a bank within 60 days of receiving electronic or paper statements. If you take longer than 60 days to make a report, you may be responsible for the total amount of the fraudulent transactions.
Most unauthorized purchases occur when account holders lose their debit card, PIN, or security code. But it’s still possible for scammers to get your information from card skimmers.
Once you contact your bank and make a report, an investigation will be done. An investigation must start within 10 days of the report. Still, financial institutions can take as long as 20 days to investigate. Once the bank verifies an issue, an account holder must receive a refund within one business day. However, if the account is less than 30 days old, you may have to wait at least 20 business days to get reimbursed.
How Long Do Banks Keep Statements?
Do you need an old copy of a bank statement? An account holder usually needs past bank statements for one of the following reasons:
- Tax audits
- Litigation processes
- Divorce processes
- Loan applications
- Housing applications
You may wonder if it’s possible to look up bank statements that are over a year old. It is! Banks are required to keep statements for at least five years under the Bank Security Act. Closed your old account? No worries! Your bank statements will still be viewable even after you close a checking account.
Some banks charge fees for old online bank statements. If you need bank statements older than one to two years, you may have to pay a fee for each statement you access. The cost of this fee varies per bank, but you could pay as much as $5 per bank statement.
How to Open a Bank Account
A bank account is a necessary financial tool that every consumer should have. Bank accounts allow you to monitor cash flow, which can help you develop better spending habits. You can also make deposits, transactions, and transfers more efficiently.
In addition, banks offer additional financial protection that digital wallets do not. Most financial institutions have FDIC insurance, which protects account holders up to $250,000 against bank failures. If you keep money in a digital wallet, you risk losing every cent in the event your account gets hacked.
Opening a bank account is a simple process these days. You can choose to start the process at a local branch or online. Both methods are the same, but you can conveniently submit your information from home with an online application.
Generally, you will need to provide the following details and documents to open a bank account:
- Basic personal information (name, date of birth, phone number, etc.)
- A government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or state identification card
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
What Are Some Common Bank Fees?
Check the type of fees you may have to pay before you apply for a checking account with a financial institution. Some banks and credit unions have more fees than others, although there are standard fees that every bank charges.
Most financial institutions have the following fees:
- Insufficient Fund Fees: This fee is for when you do not have overdraft protection and make a purchase that costs more than your available balance. Also known as a returned-item fee.
- Excessive Transactions Fees: If you also opened a savings account, know there are limitations on the number of monthly transfers you can make. Making more than six withdrawals from a savings account within a month will result in a fee in most cases.
- Overdraft Fees: When you spend more than your current account balance. Some banks offer overdraft protection for a small fee.
- Out-of-Network ATM Fees: When you withdraw or deposit cash at an ATM that belongs to a different financial institution.
- Wire Transfer Fees: When you send a wire transfer instead of a traditional electronic funds transfer. Wire transfers take less time, which is why they cost money.
- Early Account Closing Fees: Some banks require new accounts to stay open for a minimum amount of time. Closing a new bank account too soon may result in an early closing fee.
However, some banks also charge monthly maintenance fees. These fees are not common, but they go toward the cost of providing certain services. You can avoid paying a monthly service fee by opening a checking and savings account, scheduling monthly deposits, or maintaining a minimum balance.
Some banks and credit unions require a minimum initial deposit. The amount you need to open a checking account varies depending on the financial institution. But if you currently have limited funds, do not worry! There are no-fee checking account options that do not have monthly maintenance fees or deposit requirements.