What is a bank statement? It tracks your bank account activity – Business Insider

What is a bank statement? It tracks your bank account activity – Business Insider

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • A bank statement is a document that shows your deposits and withdrawals over a period of time, and information such as your account number, interest accrued, and beginning and ending balance for the statement period.
  • Most banks provide free bank statements online; some automatically mail paper statements to your home, but others will charge you for hard copies.
  • You’ll need to provide a bank statement when you apply for a loan, file taxes, file for divorce, and take other actions that require proof of income or assets.
  • You can use your bank statement to track your spending, create a budget, keep financial records, and check for mistakes or fraud.
  • See Business Insider’s picks for the best high-yield savings accounts »

A bank statement is a document that summarizes your account activity over a certain period of time. A “statement period” is typically one month, but it could be one quarter in some cases.

A one-month statement period doesn’t necessarily last from the first to last day of a month. For example, your bank could track your account from the fifth day of a month to the fourth day of the following month.

Most banks will keep your statements on file for at least five years, sometimes longer. 

You may have a bank statement for a single account. But if you have more than one checking and/or savings accounts with a bank, then the bank may include information for all your accounts in one statement.

Here’s the information you can except to see in a statement:

Basic information at the top of the bank statement

  • The bank logo and mailing address
  • Your name and mailing address
  • The statement date, or the final date of the statement period
  • The bank contact information

Overview of account information

  • Account names. This could simply be “savings” or “checking.” If you bank with an institution that lets you assign nicknames to your accounts, like “emergency fund” or “travel account,” you’ll see those names here.
  • Account numbers. For security reasons, each number will probably show up as an x, except for the last four digits. This way, no one can steal your account information, but seeing the last four digits helps you know which account you’re looking at.
  • Beginning balance. This is how much was in an account the day your statement period began. For example, if the bank statement is for financial activity from January 5 to February 4, the beginning balance is how much was in your account on January 5.
  • Ending balance. This is the amount in an account on the last day of your statement balance, or in our example, February 4.
  • Total account balances. If you receive one statement for multiple bank accounts, you’ll see the total amount in all your accounts combined. There will be one number for the balance at the beginning of your statement period and one for the balance at the end of your statement period.

Individual account information

Next, you can see the details for each individual account:

  • Bank account number.
  • Product. You’ll see if this is a checking, savings, or other type of account.
  • Open date. This is the date you opened the account.
  • Account ownership. You’ll see whether this is an individual account or joint account you share with someone else.
  • Summary of deposits and withdrawals. Here you’ll see the beginning balance in the statement period, the amount you received in deposits, and the amount you spent. You’ll also see any interest you earned and any ATM fees you paid. Finally, you’ll see the ending statement balance.
  • Other account information. You’ll likely see the number of days in the statement period, the interest rate earned (if any), the amount of interest you’ve earned so far this calendar year, and your average daily balance for the statement period.
  • Overdraft information. If you paid any overdraft fees during the statement period, you’ll see those fees here. If your bank charges a fee each time you tap into its overdraft protection program, then you’ll see that charge here, too.

Statement activity

You can see each deposit and withdrawal you made during the statement period, probably starting with the first day of the statement period and moving forward. Here’s the information you’ll see for each transaction:

  • Date it occurred.
  • Description. You might see the name of a restaurant or gas station where you swiped your credit card, or the name of your employer who deposited money into your account. This will give you some context for the transaction. 
  • Credits. This is the amount a deposit added to your account.
  • Debits. This is the amount a transaction withdrew from your account.
  • Balance. This is how much was left in your account after an individual deposit or withdrawal.

Additional information at the end of the bank statement

If you look at the last page of your bank statement, you’ll likely see some or all of the following information:

  • Regulatory requirement. The bank explains how to take action if you see mistakes on your bank statement.
  • Section for balancing your checkbook. Use this space if you balance your checkbook every month. If you receive a bank statement for a period ending February 4, but you don’t look at the document until February 6, you may have spent or received money in the two days since the period ended. Add or withdraw that amount from your ending balance to make sure it aligns with your balanced checkbook.

Log into your account online

These days, most banks will let you see your bank statement online for free. Log into your account on a computer or phone. 

Click on your bank account name, then look at the menu. You should see an option along the lines of “statements” or “statements and tax forms.” Click on this option, and you’ll see a list of statements by month or quarter. 

When you click on the time frame you want to view, your device will probably automatically download the statement. This way, it’s saved to your device and you can print the statement if need be.

Receive statements in the mail

Some banks automatically mail paper bank statements to your home, while others give you the option to sign up for paper statements or will send one upon request. This can be a good option if you don’t have a computer, smartphone, printer, or reliable internet access.

Certain institutions will charge a few dollars for sending you a paper statement, so you may want to confirm any fees before signing up for paper statements.

It’s likely you’ll need to access your bank statement every so often — mainly if you’re applying for a service that requires proof of income. Here are some of the most common times you’ll need to show a bank statement:

  • Applying for a loan. Your approval and interest rate for a loan — including a mortgage, car loan, personal loan, or private student loan — partially depend on your income. Providing a bank statement is an easy way to verify employment and income.
  • Refinancing your home. Even though you’ve already taken out a mortgage, you’ll still need to show a bank statement when you refinance the home.
  • Renting a place to live. Most landlords want evidence you earn two or three times the amount of rent before they accept your application.
  • Filing your taxes. You’ll need that bank statement every year when you file your taxes.
  • Disputing a credit report. If you check your credit score and see you’ve been incorrectly penalized for something like a missed payment, you can call to dispute an error. You may need to show a bank statement to back up your claim that you made a payment.
  • Qualifying for Medicaid. Medicaid is an income-based program, so you need proof income to be eligible.
  • Filing for divorce. You’ll need to provide documentation of individual and shared assets when you get divorced, including bank accounts.

Bank statements are useful for lenders, divorce attorneys, credit bureaus, and landlords, but they can also be helpful for you personally. You may choose to use your bank statements to take some of the following actions:

  • Track your spending and savings habits. By looking at your statement balances and the itemized list of deposits and withdrawals, you can see how much you’re spending versus saving. This may help you create a budget or adjust your savings contributions. You may even see you’re enrolled in automatic payments for something you had forgotten about, like a streaming service or gym membership, so you can cancel the subscription to cut costs.
  • Keep an eye out for mistakes or fraud. Checking your monthly statements to make sure every withdrawal is above board can be a good safety measure. You may see the bank has made a mistake, or you could even realize someone else has been using your debit card information to make purchases. 
  • Keep records. You may choose to save all your bank statements digitally or receive paper copies. You can hold onto these statements so that if you need access to one from years ago, you have it on file even if a bank has discarded the statement after a number of years.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

Tags:

Share this post

Post Comment