Online banking has opened up a world of convenience to financial consumers. Instead of waiting patiently for a paper statement to arrive in the mail, banking customers can log in anytime and anywhere to review the status of their bank account, which typically reflects a more-up-to date record than a monthly paper statement. But some online statements aren’t as complete as a paper copy.
In a battle of paper vs. e-statements, which one should you choose?
Although waiting on the post office to deliver your bank statement takes patience, once it arrives, all you need to do is open it and review, a very tangible reminder to pay attention to your finances. With e-statements, if you need a hard copy of the document, it’s on you to secure a copy.
“The real problem with paperless is that, well, there is no paper, which means if you want to see your whole statement and really read what it says, you have to—you know the drill—print it out. And now it’s your paper, you ink and your time, instead of your bank’s, that gets spent,” reports Bankrate.com writer Marcie Geffner.
According to the paper, “Paper Statements: An Important Consumer Protection,” written by National Consumer Law Center, Inc. staff attorney Chi Chi Wu and Associate Director Lauren Saunders, e-statements are easy to miss.
“Consumers will inevitably miss important information if they are limited to tiny text produced on a three- to five-inch screen. The ability to see a few recent transactions at a time on a mobile device is not the same thing as being able to sit down and carefully review an entire statement. Transaction histories also do not display all of the same information that is available on a statement, including the summary of fees and charges at the top,” write Wu and Saunders.
Just like shopping or paying bills online affords you convenience and saves you time, so will e-statements. And, with e-statements, you can easily cross-check your account information with your online credit card and other bills.
Plus, e-statements can help streamline your at-home work space because they don’t add to your paperwork pile.
“You do save paper. You do have fewer pages to file away. If you pay your bills online through your credit card’s website, you can review your statement and be sure the charges and fees are accurate before you pay. This saves time as well as paper,” explains NerdWallet.com writer Ellen Cannon.
Because e-statements live in the digital world, you have 24/7 access, which can uncover suspicious fees or charges, according to Cannon. Discovering problems sooner can save you money and stop a small problem or mistake from getting out of hand.
With e-statements, keeping them in one place is easy—there’s no worry about misfiling a piece of paper. According to Cannon, being well-organized is crucial for money management, and with e-statements she suggests creating a folder on your hard drive that can house your important financial records; you can customize your computer filing system to reflect individual accounts or even your bills.
Although paper statements are tried and true and deliver a complete record of your bank account, by the time you open it that record might be outdated. E-statements are available all the time, and with some good online organization, you can keep track of your accounts and bills as well as rectify wrong charges or inapplicable fees sooner.