More and more banks, creditors and utility companies are urging customers to go paperless and get all of their billing statements online. There are obvious advantages to this kind of arrangement—it’s better for the environment, for one—but there are downsides to consider.
Should you go Paperless?
- Less waste
- Easier to gather info at tax time
- Access account info from anywhere with internet access
- Less expensive for the bank or credit card issuer
- Statements are never lost in the mail or delivered late
- Banks typically do not pass the savings on to the consumer in the form over lower fees/interest
- Emailed statements can be blocked by spam filters
- May make you more vulnerable to ID theft if you check statements/email from a computer that isn’t yours
- Managing account passwords has become a serious problem for a lot of consumers
- You may overlook an emailed statement if you have a full inbox
- If you ever change email addresses, you will have to change settings with every online account
You can see this is not a clear-cut decision. Some credit issuers will offer incentives for going paperless, but the trade-offs can be significant. Consumers are actually more likely to overlook an emailed statement than a printed one. And who needs yet another set of logins/passwords to remember?
Like so many personal finance decisions, this one is up to each individual. Do you check your email daily and follow up, or are you likely to ignore an emailed statement? If you end up stressing out about gathering your financial records every year, then online statements will make record-keeping much easier. But if you are prone to forgetting passwords or have unreliable internet access, then think twice before going paperless.