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Bank statement definition
A bank statement is a monthly or quarterly document that summarizes your banking activity. It shows the money that went into and out of a bank account during the time period, or cycle. A statement can help you track finances, catch account mistakes and understand your spending habits.
If you have checking and savings accounts at the same financial institution, you might get information for all of them in the same report. While a statement period is usually one month long, it may not match up with the beginning of the calendar month. Your financial institution usually determines the cycle date.
What's in a bank statement
The starting account balance, the amount at end of the last billing cycle.
Your deposits, the money received in your account, such as direct deposits, checks and electronic transfers.
Your withdrawals, the amount taken out of the account, such as purchases, sent electronic transfers and ATM cash withdrawals.
Any interest the account earned, noting the annual percentage yield, or APY, and dollar amount.
Any fees charged by the bank, such as a monthly service charge.
The ending account balance.
How often will I receive a bank statement?
Banks send statements at least monthly if your account uses electronic funds transfers. For example, if your bank lets you create an automated savings transfer from checking to savings, you can expect to receive a monthly statement. If EFT isn't offered, the bank may send statements quarterly instead of monthly.
Are bank statements free?
Some banks charge a small fee for paper statements — typically around a dollar per report. If you have online banking, however, you usually have free access to electronic versions of your statements on the bank's website and mobile app.
What to do with your bank statement
Once you get a new statement, aim to do these things:
1. Reconcile your account
This means matching your own record of deposits, withdrawals, interest and fees with the information on your bank statement. Reconciling can help you catch errors or even account fraud if there are unauthorized expenses. It can also help you keep track of your balance, which is key to avoiding overdraft fees.
2. Correct mistakes
If you notice charges on your bank statement you don’t remember making, or see transaction amounts you don’t think are accurate, take a few minutes to find the reason for the discrepancy.
It could be that you made a purchase you forgot about, or you recorded the wrong purchase amount in your budgeting app or spreadsheet. Review recent paper receipts or online confirmations to verify transactions. If you believe a transaction on your statement is in error, report it to your bank or credit union.
You’ll usually have up to 60 days from your statement date to dispute the error and correct the transaction.
3. Keep records
After you review your statement, file it in a safe place. If you receive electronic statements only, consider downloading them. Some banks might limit access to statements after a few years, or you might choose to switch to another financial institution in the future.
You'll also probably need to refer to bank statements when you file your tax return, since they can help you confirm income and expenses. After you file your taxes, it is a good idea to keep your records for at least three years.
Bank statements help bank customers with their recordkeeping. The reports are a great tool to track your money and stay on the same page as your bank or credit union.