Pros and Cons of Paperless Bank Statements

Quick Answer

The pros of paperless bank statements include less clutter and better recordkeeping, while the cons include readability issues and limited access to older statements.

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Forget old-school bank statements printed on paper. These days, more financial institutions are allowing customers to opt out of receiving paper statements and instead receive them electronically. While paperless statements offer pros such as less clutter from hard-copy statements, they also present some cons such as harder access to older records.

Here, we explain what you can—and cannot—bank on when it comes to paperless bank statements.

What Are Paperless Bank Statements?

For decades, banks sent statements only by regular mail. Now, they enable customers to sign up for paperless statements and bypass the need to head to the mailbox to retrieve them.

Customers can view electronically delivered statements via a website or mobile app, and even download or print them. These statements typically arrive in a PDF format.

How to Sign Up for Paperless Bank Statements

Each bank has its own way to sign up for paperless statements, but the basic steps are typically as follows:

  1. Log in to your bank's website or app.
  2. Navigate to the place on the website or app where you're able to manage your statements.
  3. Pick the account or accounts that you'd like to go paperless on, such as checking and savings accounts.
  4. Save the changes.

Keep in mind that not all bank accounts allow account holders to sign up for paperless statements. Because statements might have already been mailed, there can be a delay between when you sign up for paperless statements and when you stop receiving statements by mail.

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Pros of Paperless Bank Statements

Here are some of the pros of choosing paperless bank statements.

Less Clutter

Receiving bank statements electronically rather than by traditional mail cuts down on the amount of paper you need to toss or recycle. They do carry the risk of creating digital clutter if you tend to download your statements, however.

Identity Theft Protection

Paperless statements do away with the potential of your statement being lost or stolen in the mail. As a result, you may enjoy protection from paper statements winding up in the hands of identity thieves. They also prevent snooping roommates from learning about your finances.

Quick Access

Paperless statements let you view a monthly account summary as soon as the bank makes it available, rather than waiting for it to arrive in your mailbox. An added benefit: Their digital nature makes searching through them a trivial task, even allowing you to search multiple months or years of records at the same time.

Better Recordkeeping

Compared with paper statements, paperless statements might make it easier to keep track of banking activity. Why? Because paperless statements typically can be viewed anytime on a bank's website or app, even when you're not at home.

Fewer Fees

In some cases, banks might charge a fee for printed and mailed statements but offer paperless statements at no cost.

Environmental Benefit

Switching from paper to paperless statements can help the planet. Among other harmful effects, paper products contribute to greenhouse gases and deforestation.

Cons of Paperless Bank Statements

Here are some of the cons of paperless bank statements.

Limited Access to Older Statements

A bank might limit the number of statements you can view on its website or mobile app. So, you may need to request access to older statements dating back a year or more, for example, and you might even be charged a fee to gain that access. However, you can get around this issue by printing each monthly statement and safely storing it for future reference.

Lack of Readability

If you access a paperless statement on a mobile device, you may find it hard to read because the device screen might be too small. This can be especially problematic for people who don't have access to a desktop computer with a larger screen.

Chance of Identity Theft

A cyberhacker may be able to break into your email account and swipe emailed bank statements. Information on the statements potentially could be used to steal your identity and set up fraudulent financial accounts in your name.

Inadequate Digital Access

If you're not super tech literate, you might have a hard time accessing digital statements in the first place. You might also find it annoying and cumbersome to track your account activity with digital statements if you're used to using paper statements. In addition, some customers might lack convenient access to internet or wireless services.

Pesky Passwords

You may be irritated by the need to keep track of passwords in order to log into a website or mobile app so you can review your paperless statements. A 2022 global survey by the Entrust Cybersecurity Institute found that more than half (51%) of those questioned had reset a password at least once a month because they couldn't remember it. Complicating matters, the use of easy-to-remember passwords can present a major security risk. Be sure to use unique and strong passwords for all your accounts.

The Bottom Line

Paperless bank statements can save time, money and sanity. However, paperless statements also can present problems, such as the potential for identity theft and the inability to clearly read them on mobile devices.

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