How Long Should You Keep Your Bank Statements?

How long you keep your bank statements depends on the type of account and how you receive your bank statements. Most financial institutions provide electronic statements through online banking and make them accessible for years. Wells Fargo, for example, keeps deposit account statements for up to seven years. Check with your own bank or credit union for their specific policies.

If you still receive paper statements, it's a good idea to keep them for at least a year. If an issue arises with one of your accounts requiring you to access those records, this makes it much easier to access those records. When disposing of paper statements, be sure to shred them so no one can access your account information from the discarded paper.

Key Takeaways

  • Most bank statements should be kept accessible in hard copy or electronic form for one year, after which they can be shredded.
  • Anything tax-related such as proof of charitable donations should be kept for at least three years.
  • In any case, review your latest statement at least once a month to check for any errors or fraud.

When You Need the Records

About two-thirds of Americans now use digital banking, either via a phone app or on a personal computer. More than half continue to get their bank and credit card statements by mail, though. Not surprisingly, older consumers are much more likely to prefer paper documents.

For simple bank statements, such as those for checking or savings accounts, you may not need the statements for much more than a standard monthly review of account activity. However, there may be times when you need a record of a transaction from several months ago, and that bank statement might be all that is available. For such cases, it's a good idea to have at least a year's worth of back statements.

How Long Should You Keep Your Statements?

If you haven't opted out of monthly bank statements by mail, keep them for a minimum of one year. If your account is online-only, review the deposits and withdrawals monthly to make sure they're correct.

Alternatively, if you're great at data entry, you can record your income and expenses in a bookkeeping program or a spreadsheet.

After one year, it's safe to shred and discard the paper with one big exception: Anything that documents a tax deduction should be kept for at least three years and possibly longer in some circumstances.

If your account is online, the records will be either archived online or available by special order from the bank or financial institution. Your bank or credit union should have information online about how long records are kept. If not, contact the institution..

Why You Should Keep the Statements

Access to a record of your recent purchases, bill payments, and payroll deposits is necessary for a number of reasons, not least as a proof of payment in case of a dispute.

You should review your bank account activity regularly for evidence of identity theft and debit card fraud. The statements provide verification of illicit activity and are used to recover any damages.

For Tax Purposes

You may need your bank statements when you do your income taxes in order to verify your income and costs such as charitable contributions and business expenses.

Bank account statements confirming large purchases or payments may also be worth keeping. For example, you might need proof of purchase to file an insurance claim or use a warranty.

You can shred automated teller machine (ATM) receipts once you reconcile them with your account records. Deposit and withdrawal slips can be shredded once transactions are verified with the monthly statement.

Online Vs. Hard Copy Statements

Many banks maintain monthly customer statements online for at least five years and they are easily accessible through their online banking apps and sites. These statements usually come in printable formats. Summaries of transaction information are frequently available for download.

You may be able to get hard copy statements from your bank going back a number of years. Some banks charge a search and printing fees for this service, as it cannot be done at the branch level. Older statements are handled in a back office.

For safety, it's best to keep any hard copy bank statements in a fireproof safe in a secure location. Electronic statements should be maintained in a password-protected file.

Use password protection for electronic files. Hard copy statements should be kept in a secure, fireproof location that can be easily accessed.

Shredding Documents

It may seem easier to just keep your records forever rather than setting aside time to organize them. It's not a great idea, though, primarily because of the potential for identity thieves to get them.

Documents that should be shredded include the following:

  • Credit Card Statements: Keep them for 60 days unless they include tax-related expenses. In these cases, keep them for at least three years.
  • Pay Stubs: Match them to your W-2 once a year and then shred them.
  • Utility Bills: Hold on to them for a maximum of one year.
  • Tax Returns and Tax Receipts: Just like tax-related credit card statements, keep these on file for at least three years.
  • House and Car Insurance Policies: Shred the old ones when you receive new policies.
  • Mortgage Statements and Home Improvement: Shred these when you sell the house.

How to Shred Your Documents

When you're ready to dispose of your bank statements, make sure you actually shred them. Just ripping them in half, isn't going to stop identity thieves from piecing together your personal information. Shredders are now small, portable, and cheap.

If your paper volume is enormous, shredding services can be bought. Some banks will shred your statements for free on request.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Records Should Be Kept for Seven Years?

While the IRS recommends keeping most records for only three years, it does state that some records must be kept longer. For example, if you're a small business owner or self-employed, records from a claim for a loss from bad debt or worthless securities should be kept for seven years. If you ever are unsure about how long to keep a record, it is best to consult a tax professional.

What Are Five Kinds of Records That Must Be Kept?

Any records that have tax implications must be kept. For those who are self-employed or operating a small business, the IRS recommends keeping cash register tapes, canceled checks, invoices, credit card receipts, travel expenses, and more.

How Long Should You Keep Canceled Checks?

Much like bank statements, canceled checks are a thing of the past for many people since bills and other payments often are handled electronically. If you still use a checkbook, though, follow the same guidelines for canceled that you do for bank statements. It's good to have them for at least a year if you ever need them as proof of payment.

The Bottom Line

Online banking makes record keeping easier than it ever has been. Bank statements are available to review for longer than you'll ever need them in most cases, and the digital record saves you from having to make room in a filing cabinet or safe. If you still are receiving paper statements, it might be worth reviewing your bank or credit union's policies regarding electronic statements. If you still wish to receive paper statements, it's generally advisable to keep them for at least one year and sometimes longer if needed for tax purposes.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Wells Fargo. "Online Documents."

  2. IRS. "How Long Should I Keep Records?"

  3. IRS. "What Kind of Records Should I Keep?"

Open a New Bank Account
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.
Open a New Bank Account
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.