Bank statements versus transaction histories

Bank statements show how much is in your account while transaction histories show your spending habits.

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When you apply for a home loan your lender may ask for bank statements and a transaction history. These documents are different. A bank statement is a summary of a financial account (your spending and saving) over a set period. A transaction history can cover any specified period and is typically more detailed and shows more recent activity.

Why do you need a bank statement?

A bank statement is a bank record that summarises your financial position at the end of a set period. Statements are usually issued monthly, quarterly or every six months. They include a summary of all the transactions for your account for that month. This means that any money you’ve spent or earned for the month from that particular account will be reflected on the statement.

Lenders require a bank statement because it establishes details including your current bank, your account number and your address. It may also show your regular pay or income amount.

Why do you need a transaction history?

A transaction history is a record of all transactions for that bank account for a set period that you have chosen. Unlike a bank statement, a transaction history allows you to choose the period you want reflected. For example, you could choose to see all the transactions on your account for the last three months until today's date.

Transaction histories tend to be more recent. While a statement is issued at regular intervals and summarises the pre-determined periods, a transaction summary can be produced at any time and contains the most recent transactions, right up to the date you generate the summary.

Lenders may want to see a transaction summary because it gives a fuller picture of your financial habits and position. Because you can cover a longer period, your lender can identify spending habits, debt obligations, living expenses and regular income.

Unlike a bank statement, a transaction summary will not generally include details like your full name and address. For this reason, lenders may want to see both a statement and a transaction history, because a statement will provide them with the identifying details they need while a transaction history will provide them with a more complete financial history.

What information do these documents contain?

Bank statements and transaction histories have to include certain details in order for a lender will accept them. The information they contain is slightly different. For a bank statement, which may be digital (PDF) or physical (on paper), lenders will want to see the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your bank’s name
  • Your bank’s logo
  • Your account number
  • The period covered by the statement
  • The account’s opening and closing balances
  • A list of transactions during the period covered

Transaction histories may come in the form of a screen shot you've taken on your computer screen. They will contain less identifying information but should include the following information:

  • Your account number
  • Your bank’s logo
  • A list of transactions for the period covered
  • A running balance

Some online lenders may ask to securely access your banking app to assess your transaction history directly.

How do you get a copy of your bank statement or transaction history?

It’s easy to obtain either a bank statement or a transaction history.

A bank statement is likely to be mailed to you each reporting period. Alternatively, if you’ve chosen to receive your statements electronically, you’ll have your statement emailed to you, from which you should be able to download and print a PDF of your most recent statement.

If you can’t find your most recent statement, most banks allow you to generate statements through your online banking platform. Or, you can head to a bank branch and ask for a print-out of your most recent statement.

A transaction history will also be available through your online banking platform. You can search for the required period and then screenshot the page with the information you need. You can also obtain a transaction history by heading to a bank branch and asking for a transaction history covering a specific period.

Note that you don’t want to download either your statement or transaction history as a spreadsheet. Most online banking platforms will allow you to export a CSV of your statement or transaction history, but lenders will not accept these as supporting documents for a home loan application, because they are editable forms (meaning you could make changes to the spreadsheet, which makes them unreliable).

While bank statements and transaction histories are similar, the two serve different functions and provide different information to your lender. Together, statements and transaction histories help paint a picture of you and your financial habits so your lender can make sure your home loan is right for you.

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