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How Long to Save Bank Statements

How Long to Save Bank Statements?
Susan Guillory
Susan GuilloryUpdated July 19, 2023
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You’re working to create positive financial habits, and to that end, you’re wondering about your financial documents. Specifically, how long to save bank statements.Should you print them? Keep them digitally? And how long do you need to hang onto them? Let’s cover all these questions and more. 

Reasons to Keep Your Bank Statements

Bank statements are legal documents that you may need in several situations. Because of this, it can be a good idea to hold onto them.

Check for Fraudulent Activity

Your bank statements help you ensure there’s no fraudulent activity happening with your bank accounts. Review them monthly (at a minimum) to make sure all the transactions are ones you authorized. If there’s anything suspicious, contact your bank immediately.

Keep Track of Fees

You can also keep track of fees you pay, such as checking and savings account fees, overdraft fees, and other bank charges.

Tax Purposes

Another reason to keep your bank statements is for tax purposes. You may need to show proof of a donation to a charity or other expenses that could be tax-deductible.

Proof of Purchase

If you make a purchase of a high-end item that breaks, having your bank statements makes it easy to verify the date of purchase for the warranty.

Taking Out a Loan

If you’re taking out a loan, the lender may ask for the last several months of bank statements to prove your income, especially if you’re self-employed.

Running a Business

If you run a business, keeping statements can be helpful. If you’re a 1099 freelancer, for example, you can verify your income throughout the year when it’s time to pay taxes. Statements also show proof of business purchases that may be tax-deductible. Now, let’s look at how long to save bank statements.  Recommended: 7 Different Types of Savings Accounts

How Long Should Bank Statements Be Kept?

There’s no required time period for you to keep bank statements. Some people hold onto them for years, whereas others don’t have any copies on hand. It’s always best to consider your own financial situation as your guide.When it comes to personal bank statements, a good rule of thumb is to retain a year’s worth of statements for everyday purchases. If you make a large purchase, it may be best to hang onto the statement with that purchase for as long as you see fit.If you have items that will be relevant for your taxes, keep those statements for three years.If you change banks, keep statements from the previous bank for up to a year, as it may be difficult to retrieve them once you lose access to your account online. Reviewing your old statements before closing that account can also help you identify any automatic payments that you’ll need to switch to the new account.For business statements, you may want to hold onto your bank statements longer. Experts recommend keeping statements for businesses for three to seven years. That way, should an issue with a client or vendor arise down the road, you have documentation to support you and to provide a (literal) paper trail.Recommended: Guide to Business Financial StatementsAlso, the same rules apply to credit card statements. You may want to hang onto them for the same reasons you’d keep your bank statements — to verify transactions, have proof of purchase, or for tax purposes.

Online Statements Versus Paper Statements

When it comes to how long to save bank statements, the answer will vary depending on if it’s an online statement or paper statement.

Online Statements

Naturally, it’s easy to store digital bank statements from an online savings account or checking account. You just need space on your computer or in the cloud. If you were concerned about the statements taking up digital space, you could set a reminder to delete the files after the period you decide to keep them is up.There are benefits to keeping digital bank statements. They don’t take up physical space, nor do you have to worry about them being stolen or destroyed due to natural disasters. You can easily find them, assuming you save them in a folder on your computer that you can get to quickly.You may want to encrypt your digital files so that no one can access your financial information, such as your account number. You can also black out this information if you’re scanning a document to save digitally.

Paper Statements

Still, some people prefer to have paper statements.When it comes to how long to keep paper bank statements, you’ll want to have a plan for how you’ll store them, since they’ll take up physical space. Keep the statements in a safe place, such as a safe or filing cabinet that’s fireproof and flood-proof.If you’re storing business bank statements, you might consider storing them off-site, such as in a bank lockbox, to ensure their safety.

Shredding Your Bank Statements

Once you decide how long to keep bank records, you’ll need a plan for safely disposing of the physical statements once that storage period is up.Shredding them is the standard practice. You can buy a personal shredder and take care of the task on your own, or if you’re shredding a large number of business statements and other documents, you might consider hiring a document destruction company that can handle the job efficiently.Because you’ll always have a rotation of bank statements that need to be saved as well as those ready to be destroyed, you might set a reminder on your calendar for the end of each year to shred any statements older than X years.

The Takeaway

How long to save bank statements will vary from person to person, but the recommended time frame is at least one year. You may want to hold onto business bank statements or personal statements with large purchases for three to seven years, though.Saving and storing your bank statements ensures you can access information about your account if and when you need it. Make a plan for how you’ll store physical statements and how you’ll shred them when the time comes.Compare high interest savings accounts with Lantern by SoFi and access your statements online.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Photo credit: iStock/Vadym Pastukh

About the Author

Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

Su Guillory is a freelance business writer and expat coach. She’s written several business books and has been published on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and SoFi. She writes about business and personal credit, financial strategies, loans, and credit cards.
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