What are Bank Statements?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
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Bank statements are record compiled by a bank to show items like balance and activity within the account. It is common for most people with checking accounts to receive a monthly bank statement. Those with savings accounts may get statements less often, and many only receive a quarterly record. It used to be the case that many banks only sent such records out every three months or even less frequently, but now most people depend upon viewing a monthly statement to balance like checking and other active accounts.

There are several features that most bank statements possess. These may include a beginning and ending balance. A monthly statement would probably show what the balance was at the beginning and end of the month recorded. This doesn’t mean it is completely accurate or accords with current balance, since most people won’t receive their statements until a couple of days after the recorded period has ended. New activity in the account like deposits or withdrawals can quickly change ending balance.


Most statements also will list all transactions that have occurred in the account and the date upon which they occurred. Transactions include deposits, withdrawals, ATM withdrawals, ATM purchases, checks written on the account, and any monthly deductions from the account for payments to other businesses plus any bank charges or fees. Sometimes, bank statements comes with all checks that were processed and canceled within the month. Other banks send out copies of these checks, and a few just send a summary of check purchases.

A few bank statement types may also record any interest earned. This can be the case with savings accounts or any type of interest checking account. Understanding that interest may be accrued can be helpful in reconciling accounts with the bank’s records.

Different financial institutions have varying methods of organizing bank statements. Most do so by date, but may list a few things separately. Checks that were cashed by the bank could be listed in more than one area. Sometimes banks will summarize all ATM purchases with a total amount, or do this with all deposits. These summaries are usually in addition to a detailed list of each transaction.

One increasingly popular trend in banking is the paperless bank statement. This is an online accounting of all transactions provided by financial institutions. There are several reasons why people are interested in this form of statement. They can eliminate the need to destroy lots of bank records and canceled checks, and they are usually updated very frequently (some within a few minutes).

This means people can check online to get near instant records or view recent activity. A few banks provide statements compatible with financial management software like Quicken® which may be useful in reconciling accounts. Some people opt to only receive paperless bank records, and others feel more secure getting to check online and possessing paper records too.

For the consumer, there is significant benefit in reading through bank statements. It can help each person determine assets and expenses. They also provide a way to perform a back up check on any personal records kept. Other advantages to reading these statements are that they can be a way to determine if a bank has made a mistake or if anyone has illegally accessed an account. Timely notification of mistakes or identity theft can help resolve these problems more quickly.


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Post 1

Bank statements are the bane of my existence! I can never get the numbers to add up right. I usually keep track of my balance online, and can see my purchases in real time, so that's more useful to me in the everyday scheme of things than an actual paper bank statement.

Since I do most of my banking online, I can print out a bank statement any time I need to do it, so I don't really need a full paper statement every month.

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