How Often Should You Typically Monitor Your Checking Account?

How Often Should You Typically Monitor Your Checking Account?

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The answer to how often you should monitor your checking account is surprisingly simple: As often as you’d like to and are comfortable with. For some, that means checking in on a daily basis, while for others, logging in every few weeks or once a month is preferrable.

What’s important is that you keep track of your finances regularly and stay on top of your checking account activity. This can help you be able to tell immediately if something is amiss — whether that’s a fraudulent charge or excess fees getting deducted from your account each month.

How often should you check your bank account?

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer as to how often you should check your bank account, nor is there any harm in managing your finances as often as possible. A 2018 Lexington Law survey found that 36% of respondents check their bank accounts daily, while another 30% do so on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, 8% do so twice a month, another 8% opt for a monthly check-in and, notably, a significant 18% check their accounts less often than every month.

By keeping tabs on your checking account, you won’t have to worry as much about overspending or having a low balance, which could mean paying more fees or even having your account closed due to insufficient funds. Ideally, you’ll want to at least read through your monthly account statements to stay on top of any changes regarding terms or fees, keep a lookout for any bank errors and check for anything that looks suspicious.

Beyond reviewing your statement, see if there are any holds placed on your recently deposited earnings before spending them, as it can sometimes take a few days for funds to clear. If you notice you’re incurring monthly maintenance fees, check with your bank to see if there’s any way to waive them. You should also pay attention to when automatic payments or electronic transfers occur, so you’re never caught off guard or stuck with a lower balance than usual.

What's the purpose of monitoring your checking account?

There are a number of reasons to check in with your checking account, from protecting yourself from fraud or excess fees to simply managing your financial life effectively.

Catch signs of fraud

It’s important to review your bank account statement often, so you’re able to identify and report suspicious activity as soon as possible. This is especially true if you lose your ATM or debit card or realize it was stolen, as the amount you’re liable for comes down to how fast you report it.

Per the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), consumers are not liable for fraudulent transactions made with their ATM or debit card if they report their card missing before any unauthorized changes are made. You will also not be responsible if your card isn’t lost but someone makes unauthorized charges, as long as you report these charges within 60 days of receiving your statement.

Beyond this timeline, however, the following guidelines apply:

  • If you report your card missing within two business days of learning about the loss or theft: Maximum loss of $50
  • If you report your card missing up to 60 days after you receive your bank statement: Maximum loss of $500
  • If your bank is made aware of a missing ATM or debit card more than 60 days after you get your statement: All of the money in your debit card account, and potentially funds in linked accounts as well

In other words, the sooner you report suspicious charges, the better. You’ll also notice irregularities faster by monitoring your checking account on a regular basis.

Notice hidden or excessive fees

The more you monitor your checking account, the more familiar you’ll be with the charges deducted each month, like automatic car payments or electronic transfers for rent, as well as fees that shouldn’t be there or those associated with common account issues.

Be aware of whether or not you’re paying checking account maintenance fees, as these can typically be waived unless your balance dips below the required monthly minimum. Some other fees worth watching out for are nonsufficient funds (NSF) fees, which apply when you have too low of a balance, and overdraft fees. These fees can cost up to $35 per occurrence if you accidentally spend more than you have in your account.

Checking in on your account regularly can also make you aware of how much seemingly small fees can add up. For instance, using ATMs outside of your financial institution’s network can result in a $2.50 fee — this may not seem sizable in the moment, but can certainly compound if you go out of your network numerous times in a month.

Keep track of your finances

Getting in the habit of reviewing your bank account statement regularly, knowing which fees to expect each month and staying in tune with your checking account activity can go a long way toward maintaining your overall financial health.

By keeping track of deposits and withdrawals, for example, you could be better able to avoid accidentally overspending and paying costly overdraft fees. You can also gain a better understanding of your spending habits, which can help you create a more effective budget and identify areas where you can easily cut back should you need to.

How to check your bank account

Check online or through your bank’s mobile app

One easy way to keep tabs on your bank account is to sign up for an online account through your bank as soon as you open your checking account. Many banking functions can now be done online from the comfort of your home or office, and most banks also have mobile apps that allow you to easily check your bank account balance on the go.

Contact your bank over the phone

You can also call the number on the back of your ATM or debit card to check your bank account balance over the phone. Consider doing so before making a big purchase: This can help you confirm exactly how much money is in your checking account, and not end up paying costly overdraft fees if you inadvertently overspend.

Review your monthly bank statements

Pay attention to the bank statements you’re getting each month, either online or by mail. Use them to double-check your balance and ensure there aren’t any deposit or withdrawal errors. This could also help you stay on top of any changes to fees, terms or minimum balance requirements that may occur.

Sign up for automated alerts

You can also sign up for email or text alerts, so you’ll know as soon as your balance dips below a set amount. Other alerts can also flag any charges over a certain amount, sounding the alarm for potential fraudulent activity if you weren’t the one who made the purchase.

Prior to her two-year stint as a digital nomad in Australia and New Zealand, Kaeli spent two years as senior editor of The Points Guy, where she became a travel credit cards expert, covering hotel and airline loyalty programs and how to maximize travel with points and miles. Before that, she was digital editor at Budget Travel for five years, mastering the art of traveling the world for less and reveling in affordable luxury. Kaeli's writing has been featured by Forbes, Thrillist and Business Insider, among others. Follow along with all her travel adventures on Instagram and Twitter at @KaeliTravels.

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