Bank statement – definition and meaning

A bank statement, also known as an account statement, is a document that lists a bank customer’s financial transactions over a given period. The information may be displayed on paper or in electronic form, i.e. on a monitor.

The statement’s given period is usually one month, with the opening balance from the prior month printed at the top, the net of all transactions below it, and the closing balance for the current month at the bottom.

Traditionally, bank statements have been posted every month to the account holder’s address, or kept at the bank’s nearest branch for pick-up.

Bank Statement
There are several ways customers can see their bank statements.

This is gradually shifting towards paperless, electronic statements, which can be viewed by the customer using his or her personal computer, tablet or smartphone.

Some banks offer direct statement downloads into the holder’s accounting software.

Most ATMs (UK: cash machines) offer the option of viewing a mini-statement on the screen, or obtaining a printed version. This type of mini-statement is sometimes called a transaction history.

If you have a telephone banking service, you can also listen to a mini transaction history.

According to Collins Dictionary, a bank statement is:

“A statement of transactions in a bank account, esp one of a series sent at regular intervals to the depositor.”

Always check your bank statement

Account holders should carefully check their bank statements, and hold on to them for their own records.

Many of us trust that banks will always get it right. The number of mistakes they make is surprisingly high.

According to Ernst & Young, 29% of companies said they had experienced an error with their primary bank during the last 12 to 24 months, with 57% saying they were not ‘highly satisfied’ with the resolution.

Ernst & Young added:

“This poor service is pushing businesses to look for alternative banking options – be that moving their primary accounts to a rival bank or moving certain services to a non-bank, according to EY’s global commercial banking survey, Advancing service in a digital world.”

Customers should check carefully for incorrect or transposed numbers, as well as transactions that were not authorized.

The US Department of the Treasury says that account holders have 60 days from the date a problem or mistake appears on their bank statement to contact the financial institution. On its website, it also says “Notify the bank in writing and keep a copy for your records. You should also review the Account Agreement you received when you opened the account.”

Video – Example of a bank statement