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Published July 15, 2021

What Is a Bank Statement?

A bank statement is a document that shows you a summary of the money that went in and out of your account during a set period of time. Check it for errors, fees and any interest earned.

A bank statement is a record of all your financial transactions in an account during a set period of time. Having a record of your saving or chequing account activity is vital since it’ll help you see how much you’re earning and spending, and whether you’re sticking to your budget.

Understanding what information is included on a bank statement can also help you keep an eye out for any suspicious transactions.

What a bank statement includes

Regardless of what bank you use, your bank statement will typically include:

  • The name and address of your financial institution
  • Your bank’s customer service number
  • Your name and address
  • The statement period (the time period covered by the statement)
  • Part of your account number (some of it will be hidden for security reasons)
  • Your current balance
  • All of your withdrawals, including overdrafts and ATM withdrawals
  • All of your deposits, including direct deposits
  • Descriptions of each transaction, such as the name of a store where you used your debit card or a written cheque
  • The dates of each transaction, including pre-authorized debits
  • The sum of all withdrawals and deposits during the statement period

Bank statements typically cover a full month, starting on the first day and ending on the last day. It’s a good idea to check your statement each month to ensure that everything is accurate. If there’s a transaction you don’t recognize, it could be a sign of fraud. You need to contact your financial institution right away, as most banks only give you 30 days from the date you receive notice of the transaction to dispute it.

» MORE: Common bank fees and charges to know (and avoid)

How to get a bank statement

Every bank and credit union will allow you to get your bank statement through the mail or online. The statements are exactly the same, but online bank statements can be a good idea since some financial institutions may charge a fee for paper statements.

To get your bank statement, follow these steps:

  • Log in to your bank or credit union’s website
  • Look for “Statements” on the sidebar or menu
  • Choose your account
  • Select your statement period
  • Open the PDF and choose to print or download it

In your account preferences, you’ll be able to choose between paperless and online statements. You can also choose your notification settings so you get a message when a new statement is available. It’s also worth mentioning that some accounts aren’t set up to automatically provide bank statements, so you might need to turn on this setting in your account preferences. However, it’s a good idea to enable statements so you have access to historical documents about your account.

Another useful feature of online statements is the ability to set date ranges. You can choose a specific period and generate a statement that includes only those transactions. This is handy if you’re trying to isolate transactions made during a specific timeframe, such as during a trip.

How long should I keep my bank statements?

How long you keep your bank statements is a personal choice. Many people destroy their statements as soon as they’ve reviewed the information and made sure everything is correct. If you need to check a transaction online, many banks will allow you to go as far back as seven years from the time you register for online statements.

Checking your bank statements regularly is crucial. Not only can you identify potential fraud, but you can also monitor your spending and saving. Bank statements may also be required when applying to rent a home or receive a mortgage. Think of your bank statements as another tool that can help you reach your financial goals.

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About the Author

Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel.

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