The vast majority of us have checking accounts, but how many of us can say we check them diligently? Actually, more than you might think. According to a study by Lexington Law, 66% of Americans check their accounts daily to weekly. But what about the remaining 44%? Are they missing a vital step in managing their financial health? And just how often should we be monitoring our checking accounts anyway?
How Often Should You Monitor Your Checking Account?
With our increasingly busy lives, regularly monitoring our checking accounts is a habit that’s easy to fall out of. We might give it a glance whenever we make a deposit or a withdrawal, but that’s about it. As it turns out, we might be missing a trick. Keeping a watchful eye on your checking account is the number one way of identifying and correcting irregularities, preventing fraudulent activity, and managing budgets.
But just how often should we be checking? According to investopedia.com, a good rule of thumb to apply is to check your account at least once a month. However, the more often you check, the better picture you’ll get of your account activity. Many people prefer to monitor their checking accounts weekly or even daily. Not only does this increase your chance of spotting any signs of unusual or fraudulent activity, but it also helps you keep a firm grip on your spending habits.
Why Should I Monitor My Checking Account?
Monitoring your checking account comes with multiple benefits, including:
Root Out Hidden Fees – Banks can be sneaky. If there’s money to be made, you can bet they’ll take advantage of the opportunity. Some of the fees they apply might catch you by surprise. Most are at least legitimate under the terms and conditions of the account’s policy. Others aren’t. As Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Card (bestcashbackrewardscreditcard.com/how-often-should-you-typically-monitor-your-checking-account/) notes, by checking your account regularly, you can keep a close eye on some of the more common fees that can be surreptitiously charged to your checking account. These can include overdraft fees, returned deposit items, stop payment fees, ATM fees, per check fees, check printing fees, and monthly maintenance fees. If you spot a fee that’s been applied in error, either in its entirety or in part, the sooner you raise it with your provider, the sooner you can ensure they don’t try to charge for it again. If the fees are legitimate but excessive, you might want to consider whether it’s worth switching accounts altogether.
Protect Yourself from Fraud – One of the primary reasons to monitor your checking account is to avoid fraud.
Checking your account regularly gives you the opportunity to ensure that personal details like your name, address, phone number, and email address are all correct and valid. Just as importantly, it lets you ensure that your password and username are still functional. Personal information like this is often targeted for identity theft and fraud. The more vigilant you are at checking the accuracy and security of your details, the more defended you are against criminal activity. Other than keeping on top of your personal information, it’s also vital to pay close attention to your purchase and transaction history. If you notice any unauthorized charges or suspicious activity, report it to your provider immediately. The sooner you identify and report fraudulent activity, the less out of pocket you’ll be.
If you lose or have your debit card stolen, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act will protect you against losses. However, the act only protects funds from the point that you report the card as missing or stolen to your bank. If someone makes charges before you notice the card has gone, the amount that you’ll be responsible for will depend on how soon after the transaction you notify the provider. Similarly, if your card hasn’t been stolen but the debit card number has been used against unauthorized transactions, the amount you receive back will depend on how soon you notify the bank.
As MagnifyMoney outlines, depending on when you report the fraud or theft, you’ll be liable for the following maximum losses:
- Before any unauthorized charges are made: $0.
- Within 2 business days of discovering the loss/ theft: $50.
- More than 2 days after you report the loss/ theft, but less than 60 calendar days after your statement is issued: $500.
- More than 60 days after your statement is sent to you: Any and all money taken from your checking account and any linked accounts.
By monitoring your account regularly, you’ll be better positioned to catch any unauthorized transactions. This will allow you to report the problem and reduce your financial liability for the loss.
Stay on Top of Your Budget
It’s easy to overspend occasionally, and most of us are guilty of at least the occasional shopping spree. By regularly monitoring your checking account, you can ensure that those occasional sprees don’t turn into anything more insidious. Checking your transactions and activities gives you a clear picture of exactly what you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. Having an awareness of your spending habits is crucial to keeping them in check. It’ll make planning and building a budget easier and help you identify where and when you need to cut back. Having a good idea of exactly what you have in your account at all times also reduces the risk of running into your overdraft and getting a fee for the privilege.
How to Effectively Monitor Your Checking Account
No one wants to spend hours pouring over each and every transaction on their account. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can make keeping on top of your checking account a breeze. If you haven’t already, sign up for mobile and online banking access. Not only will this let you keep up to date wherever and whenever you are, but it also avoids the risk of anything untoward happening on your account between now and your next statement being sent. If your bank offers the facility, sign up for banking alerts. Although the type of alerts varies depending on the provider, most will notify you of any failed login attempts or any changes to your personal information or login information. You should also be able to receive a notification each time a debit or credit is made from or to the account.