A bank statement is a record of all your financial transactions in an account during a set period of time. Having a record of your account’s activity is vital since it’ll help you see how much you’re earning and spending, and whether you’re sticking to your budget.
Understanding what information is included on a bank statement can also help you keep an eye out for any suspicious transactions.
Regardless of what bank you use, your bank statement will typically include:
Bank statements typically cover a full month, starting on the first day and ending on the last day. It’s a good idea to check your statement each month to ensure that everything is accurate. If there’s a transaction you don’t recognize, it could be a sign of fraud. You need to contact your financial institution right away, as most banks only give you 30 days from the date you receive notice of the transaction to dispute it.
Every bank and credit union will allow you to get your bank statement through the mail or online. The statements are exactly the same, but online bank statements can be a good idea since some financial institutions may charge a fee for paper statements.
To get your bank statement, follow these steps:
In your account preferences, you’ll be able to choose between paperless and online statements. You can also choose your notification settings so you get a message when a new statement is available. It’s also worth mentioning that some accounts aren’t set up to automatically provide bank statements, so you might need to turn on this setting in your account preferences. However, it’s a good idea to enable statements so you have access to historical documents about your account.
Another useful feature of online statements is the ability to set date ranges. You can choose a specific period and generate a statement that includes only those transactions. This is handy if you’re trying to isolate transactions made during a specific timeframe, such as during a trip.
How long you keep your bank statements is a personal choice. Many people destroy their statements as soon as they’ve reviewed the information and made sure everything is correct. If you need to check a transaction online, many banks will allow you to go as far back as seven years from the time you register for online statements.
Checking your bank statements regularly is crucial. Not only can you identify potential fraud, but you can also monitor your spending and saving. Bank statements may also be required when applying to rent a home or receive a mortgage. Think of your bank statements as another tool that can help you reach your financial goals.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website moneywehave.com is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel. You can reach him on Twitter: @barrychoi.