Oh rubbish! RBS & NatWest bin monthly paper statements

by , Money Researcher Money 12 November 2012
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NatWest and RBS have decided to stop posting monthly paper statements to their current account customers, opting to send them every three months instead. But are you embracing the idea of paperless banking?

A bin full of paper

Many high street banks already give customers the option to ‘switch off’ their paper statements and manage their accounts online instead. But NatWest and RBS are the first banks to stop monthly paper statements altogether.

As part of the new arrangement, all RBS and NatWest customers who currently receive paper statements will start receiving them on a quarterly basis instead. Those who wish to keep receiving monthly statements will be able to opt back in.

So could this move be another nail in the coffin for the humble paper bank statement?

The rise of online banking

Internet banking continues to grow in popularity and, for many, is the easiest way to manage your money. I decided to opt out of receiving paper statements a while ago, when I realised that I’d been hoarding quite a sizeable collection of them that I didn’t have any use for. This has helped me cut down on clutter, and I no longer feel guilty about wasting so much paper.

Issuing fewer paper statements is a positive move where the environment is concerned, and of course NatWest and RBS will benefit financially as a result of lower administration and postage costs. But what does it mean for their customers?

Paperless isn’t always an option

For many, it probably won’t make any difference. But I can’t help thinking that the decision doesn’t consider the needs of people who still rely on paper statements to manage their money and budget effectively.

Millions of people in the UK still have no access to the internet, and those who do might not always feel comfortable managing their bank account online. For those people, there’s going to be an increased risk of payment errors or fraudulent activity going unnoticed if they can only monitor their accounts on a quarterly basis.

Do you think regular paper statements still play an important role in personal banking? Or would you like to see other banks follow in NatWest and RBS’ footsteps?

Do you use or want monthly paper bank statements?

Yes - I find monthly paper statements useful (65%, 186 Votes)

No - I don't need monthly paper statements (23%, 67 Votes)

I wouldn't mind if they were sent quarterly (12%, 32 Votes)

Total Voters: 288

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Add your comments


Gerard Phelan

My immediate thought is about the consequences following the incapacity or death of a family member. When my mother died, I was able to work out her complex financial affairs by looking through the bank statements received during her illness and following her death. If her statements had remained on-line, then that would have been impossible.


George Attaway

I was in hospital for thee months and my wife is not able to use a computer so the paper billing from the bank and other utilities was essential for her to pay bills. It is monstrous of these companies to deny elderly folk the choice. And what happens if the computer is down?



My wife, who is 76 years old cannot use a computer. We have joint bank account and if I should die before her, then with the monthly statements she would be able to continue her financial affairs. With quarterly accounts she would be lost.
We will definitely ‘opt out’ of any change to 3 monthly statements, and if this facility is withdrawn would change banks – which is a pity after 55 years with the same bank.



Absolutely has no problem with quarterly statements,
online records go back a year if not much longer
… can print out to keep, no problem with that either,
if so wish.


Richard Kelly

I don’t really have too much of a problem with online statements, except when it comes to proving id.

I have my utilities on prepayment, so the only things I get that can be used for proof of address, when I need it, are bank statements and my credit card bill. The trouble is, is that most places I have come across will not accept a print out of an online statement as proof of anything.

As it is, I only get a passport for ID purposes, and with more and more institutions doing away with paper, the all important proof of address is disappearing.



This did concern me at one time but when I have offered a printout it has been accepted as proof of address.

I cancelled my paper statements a while ago, and am glad to have done so. I recently needed to provide a physical statement and it was easy enough to log in and download a PDF.

Next, I’d like to see shops offering paperless receipts.



I agree, and now it really annoys me when a financial institution does not offer PDF statements. The storage space on my hard drive is negligible compared to the physical storage space taken by paper statements.



My banks in other countries have charged for the postage to send paper statements for decades. Now that online banking is a suitable alternative, I would support British banks doing the same. Why should those who don’t want paper statements subsidise those who do?



You have a computer, use online banking and can cope well with online statements. So can I and probably most of the people who use this website.

Please can you spare a thought for those who would find it difficult or impossible to use online banking or simply cannot afford a computer. I’m happy to subsidise them, even if you are not.



If they cannot afford a computer, they can choose instead to pay for paper statements. They have a choice. When I buy a computer and use online banking, I should not have to subsidise those who choose to receive paper statements. It’s about choice and a reasonable charge reflecting the costs that a customer incurs.



Thank goodness that some people care about those less fortunate than themselves. :-)



With First Direct – I still get both – I prefer paper for my records –

I deal with OAPs and the very vulnerable that are unable to cope with the Internet or afford a computer – I am appalled at some posters lack of sympathy or empathy for the less able. No wonder I’m losing interest in Which? conversations.



I use the internet for lots of things but I’m not willing to bank online. I still wish to receive a monthly statement as all my regular payments in and out of my account are on a monthly cycle. When my computer is out of order I still have a monthly statement to manage my finances.

I wonder how much I and those who manage our accounts off line subsidize the fraudulent activity of on line banking. We do not complain about that so they should not complain about monthly paper

Other members mentioned the ease of downloading a PDF. as proof of address. Is this easy to alter or manufacture? I recently had a bank card in the post together with details of how to manage an account on line. The letter was addressed to a Colombian man at my address. I found out he was Colombian after a CRB chech followed shortly afterwards. After lengthy enquiries with the bank it was established that he opened the account with a passport. The bank told me that Data Protection rules prevented them from providing further informatiom. I think an original bank or utility statement may have prevented this happening.

We should all vote with our feet and change to a bank that meets our requirements. I moved to First Direct many years ago and they are terrific. They answer the phone within a few rings, the person who answers deals with the problem and you ring off. You are not pressing button after button before listening to how important your call is and so on and soforth.

First Direct are a breath of fresh air and other companies could do well to emulate their customer relations. It is always a pleasure to phone them.


James Baxter

Am I mistaken in thinking that Inland Revenue or whatever it now is require bank statements to be kept for 6 years?


James Baxter

AmI mistaken in thinking that Inland Revenue or whatever it now is require bank statements to be kept for 6 years?



Thanks for the reminder. I have just downloaded transactions for 2006 and will do the rest tomorrow.



As an immigrant, I am required to provide original bank statements to the Home Office as part of a visa application as part of proving that I reside in the UK. It is not clear how I can meet this requirement if my bank refuses to send me those original statements.


Jonathan Jones

Similarly you also need to have a bank statement to open up a library account. It acts as a proof of address. It’s quite annoying as I don’t pay for utilities in my house share (The landlord takes care of it), so it’s quite troublesome and they won’t send you a bank statement unless you want to be charged £5. Or at least with LloydsTSB it works this way.



I detest the massive amount of paper that comes to me monthly but as I had ordered Quarterly Statements for my Savings Accounts I still found it practical to have Monthly Statements for my Current Account.
In a mistaken gesture, I agreed to do without any Paper Statements for both Types of Account. I was due a quarterly account for the Savings from the 5th April that year which was never sent and I discovered my Bank had shifted the length of time I could see figures for the Accounts I wished to view ‘On-Line.’
Numerose Fone Calls and Letters have not resolved never induced my bank to reveal the lost information from January through to half way through March of that year.


Jonathan Jones

I’m with LloydsTSB. I usually use online banking, but I asked if I could get a printed copy and they said they would charge me £5… I said no. I’ve re-activated my paper monthly statements, which is apparently not active by defualt when you sign up…

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