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What is a bank statement?

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A bank statement is a summary of the transactions that have occurred in your bank account over a given period of time typically a month. Your bank will either send you this statement via mail, or you can access it online through your online banking account or mobile banking app. Your bank statement provides you an overview of all the money that came in and went out between the time of your last statement opening date and closing date. It can also provide you with a quick summary of your account, which you can also see by viewing your bank’s activity (which is not the same as a statement, but similar). 

What your bank statement includes

In your bank statement, you can see information regarding:

  • Deposits
  • Wire transfers
  • Credits to your account
  • Money taken out from spending

If it’s a credit card, you can also see interest applied on your purchases and how much interest has accrued over that period. You’ll also see what your statement balance is, which is the money you have to pay each month to avoid paying interest on your balance. 

How do you receive a bank statement and when do you get it?

There are several ways to receive and view a bank statement. Many people can download their bank statement online within their online banking account. This will look different depending on the bank’s online platform, but usually there is a section of the site where you can view or download your statement. If the bank also supports a mobile app, you can usually view your statement on there, as well. 

Others may get their statement in the mail, or they can call the bank to get information regarding their statement. 

Check the statement

Scan for incorrect transactions

When you get your bank statement, there are certain things you should check for. These days, people do not balance a checkbook like they used to in years past. Instead, they look at their bank statement to see if there are any inconsistencies. For instance, you can check to see if you were charged more for something than you should have been charged, or if you were charged double. If you notice anything that doesn’t look right, you can call your bank to dispute the transaction.

Review your spending habits

Checking a bank statement is not only a good way to see if there were any errors made, but also to see what your spending looked like for the last month. You can see your starting balance, your ending balance, when you got paid from your job, who sent you money, etc. You can see when you’ve paid bills, and how much money you’ve spent altogether. In certain cases, you will also see what fees you’ve been charged.

See how much (if any) interest has accrued

Again, if it’s a statement from a credit card, you can see how much interest has accrued on purchases (if any), and/or if how much you have to pay in order to prevent interest being added. If you were offered any promotions when opening up your credit card, you’ll also be able to check your statement to see how long until your promotion expires. Of course, a bank statement also has all the fine print regarding your account, in case you want to check any details before making a large purchase, cancel the account, or do a balance transfer. 

Bottom line

A bank statement can tell the account holder a lot of information regarding their finances. And for someone who wants to be on top of their finances because they want to save more money, keep a budget, or just be aware of their spending and where their money goes, a statement is really important. Some people keep a handwritten money book, and others may go through all of their receipts by hand to learn what they spent their money on and check for errors. But, a statement does this for you automatically, saving you time and hopefully, saving you money, too.

Written by
Hana LaRock
Insurance Contributor
Hana LaRock is a former home insurance and auto insurance writer for Bankrate. Though she has written in many niches in her seven years as a freelance writer, Hana enjoys writing about personal finance and has appeared on Business Insider, Pocketsense, The Billfold and Benzinga, to name a few. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, reading or scrapbooking.