Going Paperless: Pros and Cons

two arrows that are pointing opposite of each other with one green arrow with "pros" written on it and the red arrow with "cons" written on it.

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.

A plant in a burlap bag surrounded by shredded paper indicating going green by recycling paper for other uses.

Should you go Paperless?

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Banks typically do not pass the savings on to the consumer in the form of 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 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 everyone. 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.

If you want to learn more about budgeting or how to reach your financial goals, get started with our free, confidential counseling and education right here at Credit.org.

Article written by
Melinda Opperman
Melinda Opperman is an exceptional educator who lives and breathes the creation and implementation of innovative ways to motivate and educate community members and students about financial literacy. Melinda joined credit.org in 2003 and has over two decades of experience in the industry.

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