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Guide to Bank Statements

What Is a Bank Statement & How to Get One
Melissa Brock
Melissa BrockUpdated April 13, 2023
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What is a bank statement? It’s a document that shows all your banking activity for a checking or savings account for a certain period of time, usually a month. A bank statement provides information about the money that comes in and goes out of your account during that time frame, and it can help you keep tabs on your expenses and see where your money is going. Read on to learn more about what a bank statement is, how to get a bank statement, and ways to use a bank statement that may help you save money.

What Is a Bank Statement?

Every month, your bank, online bank, or credit union will send you a bank statement, which might also be called an account statement. The bank statement is a document that summarizes your monthly transactions, including deposits, withdrawals, and transfers to and from your checking or savings account

How Do You Get a Bank Statement?

A bank statement may be delivered in the mail to your home, sent to your email address, or you can get it through your online bank account. If you’re opening a bank account in 2023, your financial institution will typically allow you to select how to get a bank statement when you sign up for your account. You can have the statement mailed to you or choose a paperless option. Some banks may impose a fee for printed statements; be sure to find out if yours does.If you opt for a paperless bank statement, the bank will usually email you to let you know when the statement is available. You can then log into your online account to review it. If you have your bank’s mobile app, you may be able to see your statement via the app.

How to Read a Bank Statement

So what does a bank statement look like? These documents contain a lot of information. Here’s generally what you'll see, as a bank statement example: 
  • Personal information, such as your name and address
  • Financial institution information, including your bank account number
  • The statement’s beginning and end dates 
  • Your balance at the beginning and the end of the period covered by the statement
  • Deposits and the date each deposit was made
  • Withdrawals and the date each withdrawal was made, including automatic payments for bills, checks you wrote, and withdrawals from ATMs
  • Fees charged, if any
  • Interest earned
You'll see the deposits made into your account, including direct deposits, as well as all the withdrawals. The bank statement will list your deposits and withdrawals line by line. You'll also see all individual transactions, complete with dates they occurred and the amounts. Carefully read through the entire list of transactions to make sure all details are accurate. This process is similar to the way you read through your credit card statement each month to make sure there are no errors or unauthorized charges.

What's Included on a Typical Bank Statement

The types of transactions you may see listed on your bank statement include: 
  • Check deposits: Paper checks that you deposited into your account. 
  • Direct deposits: This might include your paycheck if you have it deposited directly, as well as any other funds deposited directly into your bank account. 
  • Electronic transfers: This is when you move money electronically from an account in one bank to an account in another bank, such as when you have business vs. personal bank accounts and you transfer funds from one to the other.
  • Canceled checks: These are checks you wrote that have been processed or deducted from your checking account. 
  • Automatic payments: The bills you pay electronically by having the money deducted from your account.
  • ATM withdrawals: Any withdrawals you make from an ATM will be listed. 
  • Debit card transactions. The vendor and the amount of the transaction should be listed.
  • Bank fees: Fees, such as maintenance or service fees, out-of-network ATM fees, excessive transaction fees, overdrafts, insufficient funds, and wire transfer fees, will appear on your bank statement. 
  • Interest: Any interest from checking accounts and high interest savings accounts will be noted on your bank statement.

What Are Bank Statements Used For?

You can use your bank statement to monitor your account and your spending. Some of the ways to use your bank statement are:
  • Track your funds: Your bank statement can show you exactly what’s in your account so you can make sure you have enough money to cover your bills and expenses. 
  • Review your spending habits: Reading your bank statement is a way to see what’s coming in and going out of your account. It may help you identify areas where you can save money and set up a budget.
  • Spot fraud or errors: Reviewing your bank statement regularly is a way to look for any fraudulent charges or errors on your account. If you find anything, notify your bank immediately. 
Recommended: Budgeting Tips for Beginners

How Long Do You Need to Keep Bank Statements?

Just like keeping statements for credit cards is important for a certain amount of time, so is keeping bank statements. If you have paper bank statements, it’s a good idea to keep them for one year. That will let you refer to them quickly at tax time to confirm your monthly income and help you locate deductible expenses.Most banks hold onto statements for a limited time — typically seven years. If you think you'll need your statements beyond that period, keep a copy of them in a safe place. 

The Takeaway

A bank statement is a detailed record of your finances. It shows you everything that’s coming in and going out of your account, and it’s a good tool for tracking your spending. A bank statement can also help you make sure there’s no fraudulent activity on your account. Review your statement carefully each month to make sure it’s correct.If you’re looking to open a new bank account to help you build your savings, Lantern by SoFi can assist you in finding a high-interest savings account. You can compare yields and get information on balance minimums and fees to find the best bank account for you.Compare today’s high-yield savings rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you get a bank statement?
What do you need a bank statement for?
Are bank statements and credit card statements the same?
Photo credit: iStock/NickyLloyd

About the Author

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a higher education and personal finance expert with more than a decade of experience writing online content. She spent 12 years in college admission prior to switching to full-time freelance writing and editing. Her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur, Investopedia, The Balance, FinanceBuzz, The Journal of College Admission, MarketBeat, College Finance, Rocket Mortgage, LeverageRx, Benzinga, Morty, Ally, and more.
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