What is a Bank Statement?

Posted by Frank Gogol

A bank statement is a commonly-used document by banks and their users. You might be receiving such a statement every month either in physical form or e-mail. It’s basically a summary of the banking transactions you’ve done for the month. Many people confuse it with an invoice, but it’s not technically the same. In this article, we explain what a bank statement is and its significance.

How a Bank Statement Works?

As part of its services, the bank allows you to carry out several transactions in a month. You pay for your consumption in various ways, whether it be a debit card, credit card, or internet banking.

At the end of the month or a specific date, the bank reviews all of your banking activities. It summarizes these and prepares a document which is known as the bank statement. By reviewing this document, you’d be able to see all the transactions you’ve carried out for the month.

The transactions could be:

  • Deposits
  • Withdrawals
  • Payments (both at online and offline stores)
  • Fees charged by the bank
  • Any interest earned by you

The transactions appear in chronological order. So the payments you’ve made recently will be at the bottom, and then you move up the order for those made earlier that month.

Please note that even if the bank issues a credit card, you might receive a separate document called a credit card statement. This depends on how your bank functions.

Benefits of a Bank Statement

A bank statement is helpful in multiple ways. But the main benefit it offers to the end-user is keeping track of all the banking transactions.

In a survey, as many as 70% of the respondents affirmed that bank statements help them to keep track of their expenses. Based on the report, they either reduce or continue with their spending habits.

The bank statements exactly show you where, how much, and through which medium you have paid for the goods and services.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll receive a separate statement for credit card transactions. Any deposits or savings you might have, there will be separate copies for those as well. But all the deductions for paying for the above services from your bank account will be recorded in your month-end bank statement.

The second benefit is that by looking at the bank statement, you’d be able to know the different types of charges charged by the banks. There are often hidden fees most people don’t know about. Banks incur these fees from your savings/current account. This gets reflected in the bank statement. By looking at the bank statement, you’ll gain insight into these fees and their associated services.

How to Receive a Bank Statement

You can basically receive the bank statement in three ways.

  •  Physical papers
  •  E-statements
  •  ATM print outs

Conventionally, the bank statements are delivered either in paper format or as e-statements to your email address. Both do the same thing, which is to inform the bank account holder about his banking transactions. If you’ve opted for paper statements, the documents will be mailed to your address every month.

Paper statements are still widely used and are the preferred method for receiving a bank statement.

The next way to receive a bank statement is e-statement. As opposed to paper statements, these exist only on the internet in digital format. Every month, your bank sends them to your email address as an encrypted attachment. You have to unlock the attachment to access it. With the growing adoption of electronic banking, banks are issuing more e-statements. The cost-effectiveness of this form is also what is pushing banks and consumers alike. But you can always print the e-statements out as and when you feel the need.

You can also access the bank statements online. For this, you need to have an internet banking facility activated for your account. You’d need to log in and download the statement for the month. This is the easiest way to get a statement.

Some banks also offer the option of accessing the statements via ATMs. You can visit your nearby ATM and print out the most recent statement and review the transactions instantly.

What To Do With Your Bank Statement

Your bank statement is an essential document since it’s directly related to your banking usage. By reviewing it, you can take necessary measures like:

Reconcile Your Account

Bank statements are a way for you to look into the past. By looking at your past, you’ll notice many inaccuracies. After going through the statement, you’d be able to reconcile your account. Check to see if things listed on the statement match with your own banking record or are there any anomalies. This is really important, and many people cut down unnecessary expenses by reconciling their accounts.

Correct Mistakes

When you’re reconciling your account, you might notice some expenses you don’t remember. Also, there might be transactions that you think are overcharged.

In such cases, you should dig deep and find the reason for such discrepancies. This is so that you don’t repeat the mistake and end up overpaying.

If the errors are significant, you can get in touch with your bank or merchant and try to resolve them. But without reviewing your bank statement, you’d never be able to correct these mistakes.

Keep Records

As a final benefit, bank statements always allow you to keep track of your expenses. Many people who do not use other apps or keep a record of their own rely on these documents sent to them every month to keep track of expenses. Since the documents are very accurate, you should have no problem doing so.

Since there is so much information provided in a bank statement, you can come up with your own requirements and fulfill them with these statements. For example, people refer to bank statements when filing tax returns. Others use it to rent an apartment or refinance their homes. So there are many possibilities.

How Long Do Banks Keep the Statement?

Banks usually keep the statements for five years at their end. This is as per the Bank Securecy Act, which mandates it. This is the case even after you’ve closed your account. Statements up to 5 years will stay with the banks for their reference and for any authority who requests for it.

Some banks may keep it longer, depending on their policy. You’re allowed to retrieve statements available in your online account. If you want to retrieve older records, you can do so but with a fee.

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Conclusion

Banks advise you to shred and destroy the bank statements after you’ve used them. This is for security purposes to keep your banking information safe and confidential. If not, you can store them in a secure place. If you’re receiving e-statements online, then you should handle them properly and keep them accordingly. Scammers often employ phishing techniques to steal such sensitive information. So always be alert about your bank statements to avoid misuse.

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