What Is a Bank Statement & How Do I Get One?

What is a Bank Statement?

A bank statement is a document (also known as an account statement) that is typically sent by the bank to the account holder every month, summarizing all the transactions of an account during the month.

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 in 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.

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How to Get a Bank Statement?

Getting a copy of your bank statement is easy. Your online banking page will list out all of your statements. From there, you can download a PDF or order a paper version by mail. You can also call your bank’s customer service line for help.

How to Get a Bank Statement Online

Most banks today offer online banking for both deposit and credit card accounts. This makes it easy to check your account to see the status and transactions, transfer money, and conduct other banking business. One of the things you can do in your online banking account is getting your bank statement.

For recent months, your statements should be readily available to download as a PDF, free of charge. Banks vary on how to receive your statement, but typically there will be a link at the top for “Statements,” possibly under “Account” or “Account Services.”

Once you find this page, you will have access to downloadable, PDF versions of your bank statements. You can choose the time frame and what account you want to view. Most banks have your statements instantly available, though it’s possible you’ll need to request to have the PDF emailed to you.

In addition to downloadable PDF statements, the main page of your account should also list out your recent transactions in an account summary. The transactions may be broken out by statement cycle or all together. While this is not technically your statement, and may include some pending charges, this is an easy way to review recent credits and debits from your account.

Most banks offer the option to “go paperless” and only receive and review your statements online. If you’ve gone paperless, this is the way to see your statements. You should also regularly download and file your statements on your computer in case you need easy access to them in the future.

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How to Get a Bank Statement by Mail

Typically, when you sign up for a bank account, you will automatically receive your monthly bank statements by mail. They are mailed out monthly based on when you opened your account, so they won’t necessarily align with the beginning or end of the calendar month. These will look identical to the downloadable PDFs from the website.

What happens if you can’t find your paper statement? These could happen for a number of reasons. Perhaps you misplaced it, perhaps it got lost in the mail, or perhaps you chose to only receive online statements. Regardless, most banks offer the option on their online banking portal to request a paper statement to be mailed to you.

This request is likely in the same place as your digital statements. It may be a different option under the same “Statement” heading, or there may be a button on the page showing your statements. If you choose to request a printed statement, be careful, as your bank may charge a fee – typically around $6 – for this service.

If you do not have access to online banking, you can call your bank’s customer service line. They can help you receive a paper copy of your statement. You can find the number for customer service on the back of your debit card or in the contact section of the bank’s website.

If your bank doesn’t have an option to request a paper statement, you can print out a downloaded PDF for a physical copy of your statement. This printed version will look exactly like the mailed version of your statement and is considered an official document.

How to Use Your Statements?

Your bank will create statements monthly or quarterly and send them to your mailing address unless you opt-in to receive paperless statements.

Balance Your Account

It’s wise to balance or reconcile your bank accounts every month. To do so, review every transaction on your bank statement and compare it to your own records of what happened in your account.

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This helps ensure that you and your bank agree on how much you have in your account, how much was added, and how much was removed. Occasionally, you’ll find discrepancies—which is fine if they’re just timing issues that clear themselves up. Sometimes you’ll discover serious problems.

Identify Fraud and Errors

Your statement shows you a record of all transactions in your account. If you see anything unexpected, research the transaction to see if it’s a result of theft or a bank error. In many cases, federal law protects you from losses. The sooner you notify your bank, the more protection you have but you might be responsible for losses in your account if you wait more than 60 days to report the problem.

Understand Spending and Income

Bank statements display the facts (with no judgment). If you want to know where your money goes, your transaction history tells a detailed story that can help you track your spending. If you need to make changes to your budget, your statement can show you what the impact will be—and next month it will hold you accountable.

Know-How Much You Have

Unless you check your account, every day or sign up for account alerts, you might not know how much money you have in your checking and savings accounts. Monthly statements provide a regular opportunity for you to check-in and see where you stand.

You’re less likely to miss payments and face penalty fees due to insufficient funds when you keep tabs on your account.

Document Your Finances

Statements are useful when applying for loans, and in other situations where you need to document your assets and income. As official, periodic, documents, lenders often demand two or more bank statements when you apply for home loans and other large loans. You may need a recent statement for student loan verification.