Monitoring your checking account is a crucial activity that many account holders don’t do frequently enough.
In addition to balancing the sheets, it can also protect you from the repercussions of identity theft and fraudulent activity.
Fortunately, monitoring your account is much easier than it sounds, and it doesn’t even require you to memorize your card number.
In most cases, all it takes is a few minutes of your time to set up automated alerts.
How Often Should You Check Your Checking Account?
The answer ultimately depends on your personal financial situation and preferences. However, experts generally recommend monitoring your checking account at least once a week at a minimum.
This frequency allows you to stay aware of any unusual activity and catch potential issues early on.
If you’re more concerned about fraud or have a higher volume of transactions, checking your account daily might provide you with more peace of mind.
Why You Should Monitor Your Checking Account Regularly
There are several reasons why you should monitor your accounts regularly.
While your checking account is likely to see the most activity, it’s essential to check up on all of your accounts, including your checking, savings, and credit card accounts.
- Balancing: Balancing your account is one of the reasons why you should monitor your checking account. If your account earns interest, this will also help you make sure that the payments are coming through as they should be.
- Budgeting: Monitoring your account can help you avoid overspending, pinpoint unused subscriptions to cancel, and ensure that you’re saving enough money to cover your expenses.
- Account requirements: Some bank accounts have minimum balance requirements to avoid fees or earn higher interest rates. By checking in on your account balance, you can ensure that you’re meeting requirements.
- Fraud prevention: While most people don’t think they’ll get scammed, fraud is a major issue. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans reported losing $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022. Monitoring your accounts is crucial to preventing scams and unauthorized transactions.
- Understanding liability: When money gets stolen, determining who is liable and for what is the most critical step. While the FDIC or NCUA might insure your account, debit cards and credit cards have different liability mechanisms. When money gets stolen from a debit card, time is critical, and every hour counts.
- Fees: You can avoid paying many types of fees through account monitoring. For example, you can avoid NSF (non-sufficient funds) fees and overdraft fees for transactions that exceed your account balance. You can also avoid monthly maintenance fees and ATM fees more easily when you regularly monitor your account.
How To Monitor Your Checking Account
There are several ways to monitor your checking account. Most of these require little to no effort, and you can choose whichever works best for you.
While it might seem tedious, remember that not monitoring your account can be expensive.
1. Download Your Bank or Credit Union’s Mobile App
You can download most banking apps for free from the App Store or Google Play Store.
Once you open an account and download the app, you need to log in. Some apps allow you to use biometric authentication such as FaceID or your fingerprint, providing an extra security layer against unauthorized access.
Then, you’ll be able to see your account information, including transactions and bank statements. Make sure to check in regularly and go through your account activity to spot anything that shouldn’t be there.
2. Set Up Alerts
Most mobile banking apps also include alerts that make keeping tabs on your accounts effortless.
You can set up automatic notifications on your phone that alert you every time a transaction passes through your account, without having to log into your app to access them.
3. Use Online Banking
When you can’t access mobile banking, you can monitor your banking activity online.
You can usually log into your bank’s website from your laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet with an internet browser. Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices should all be compatible.
Once you log in, you should be able to see your checking account information and bank statements.
4. Check Your Bank Statement
You can usually access electronic bank statements online or in your mobile banking app. Paper bank statements arrive by post and are typically received much later than electronic statements since they have to travel via the postal system.
Bank statements contain all of the transactions within a statement period, which is typically one month long.
Make sure you cross-reference with your checkbook or other records to detect if any unauthorized payments have been made from your account.
5. Link Your Account to a Budgeting App
A lot of budgeting apps allow you to link your bank accounts, giving you a bird’s eye view of all of your accounts, even if they’re at different financial institutions.
The best budgeting apps can do this automatically by logging in on your behalf with your consent.
Should You Monitor Your Checking Account?
Regularly monitoring your account is an important personal finance move that gives you insight into your regular spending habits and helps you manage your money.
But most importantly, regular account checks can help you catch unauthorized payments, fraudulent charges, and suspicious activity before it’s too late.
Make sure you report any sketchy transactions promptly to your bank. All banks have steps in place to react to fraudulent claims quickly.
Using automatic alerts and reminders can also help keep you in the driver’s seat.