Guide to Bank Statements | Banking Advice

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A bank statement provides an overview of activity in your account over a certain period of time, usually one month. Among other things, going over your bank statement can help you spot fraudulent transactions, find accounting mistakes and monitor expenses.

How to Read a Bank Statement 

Not every bank statement looks the same. Designs will differ, depending on the financial institution, and statements may be more or less comprehensive. Still, some statement components are common, such as the account number, your name and address, and your financial institution’s name and address. Below are several items you’ll typically see on a bank statement.

Financial Institution’s Name and Address

The name and address of your financial institution should be listed at or near the top of the statement. The financial institution’s phone number might be included here.

Your Name and Address

Your name and address should show up in the same area as the name and address of your financial institution.

Account Number

Your account number should appear somewhere toward the top of the statement.

Statement Period

This is the date range covered by the statement. For instance, the month of December might be printed as Dec. 1-Dec. 31, 2023. This means any account activity from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 would show up on the statement.

Activity Summary

This section typically lists the:

  • Beginning balance for the period.
  • Dollar amount of deposits during the period.
  • Dollar amount of withdrawals during the period.
  • Ending balance for the period.

Transaction History

This section dives into the specifics of transactions that occurred during the statement period. Elements in this section usually include:

  • The date for each transaction, such as check deposits, debit card purchases, automatic bill payments and ATM withdrawals.
  • Numbers for checks you’ve written that were deposited or cashed during the statement period.
  • Dollar amounts of deposits, withdrawals or any other debits or credits. Debits are transactions that decrease your balance, and credits are transactions that increase your balance.

What You Can Find in a Bank Statement

Information you generally can find in a bank statement includes:

  • The name, address and phone number of the financial institution.
  • Your name and address.
  • Your account number.
  • The balance at start of the statement period.
  • The balance at end of the statement period.
  • The Dollar amounts of deposits, withdrawals and other debits and credits.
  • Transaction dates.
  • Numbers for checks you wrote that were cashed or deposited.
  • List of fees paid.
  • Amount of interest earned.

How to Get Your Bank Statement

When you make at least one electronic fund transfer – such as a direct deposit or debit card transaction – during a one-month period, you’re supposed to receive a bank statement for that period from your bank or credit union.

You will either receive a a paper statement in the mail or get access to it electronically via your bank’s website or app. Financial institutions typically let you choose whether to receive paper or electronic statements. In some cases a paper statement is an additional monthly cost.

You also should be able to get a statement at a bank or credit union branch.

If no EFTs were recorded during a single month, your bank or credit union should send statements at least quarterly that display the following information for a checking or savings account:

  • Annual percentage yield for interest earned during the statement period.
  • Dollar amount of interest earned during the statement period.
  • Type and dollar amount of fees paid during the statement period.
  • Number of days in the statement period, or the start and end dates of statement period.

Why You Should Check Your Bank Statement

There are a number of reasons why you should check your bank statement. It will help you to:

  • Keep track of your finances.
  • Balance your checkbook.
  • Detect fraudulent or unauthorized transactions.
  • Spot errors the financial institution made.
  • Identify fees you’ve been charged (to potentially avoid in the future).
  • Verify checks you wrote were cashed or deposited.
  • Get information to fill out your tax return. For instance, you might discover charitable donations you’d forgotten.

You should typically keep your bank statements, either paper or digital copies, for at least one year. For tax purposes, though, you might want to hang onto your statements for up to seven years.

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