Wondering “How to check my 401k balance online?” This article explains the steps you need to take to find out the details of your 401K, plus how to track down an old 401K that you lost or forgot about when you switched jobs.

It’s a good idea to check your 401K balance at least once per year to take a closer look at how your money is being invested, how your well your retirement savings are performing, and whether you need to rebalance your portfolio.

How to access my 401k online

Although you’ll have set up your 401K through your employer, your funds will be managed through a custodian or brokerage firm, for example, the likes of Charles Schwab or Vanguard. You should be able to log into your 401K account online through the website of the broker your 401K is with.

If you can’t remember your login details, you’ll need to contact your 401K provider to get your password reset, or failing that you may be able to check your balance over the phone.

If you’re not sure which custodian your 401K is set up with, speak to your human resources (HR) department at work. They won’t be able to tell you your 401K balance, but they’ll be able to direct you to the relevant 401K broker.

More on Charles Schwab vs Ameritrade

Do I have a 401k I don't know about

If you think that you may have enrolled in a 401K plan with a previous employer, but you’re not quite sure, there are a few ways to find out if you did.

The easiest way is to contact the HR department of your former employer and ask them whether you ever contributed to a 401K while in their employment. You’ll need to give them your personal details along with the dates that you worked for them, so keep this information to hand.

If your old employer has since gone bust or you can’t remember which companies you’ve worked for in the past, check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits website. You’ll be able to see whether you’ve been listed on their database by your old employer as someone with unclaimed retirement plan funds.

If you haven’t been listed on the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits database, there are a couple more options to explore. Visit NAUPA or missingmoney.comwhere you can search by state based on where you’ve lived or worked to find out whether any unclaimed assets belong to you.

More on 501 k Retirement Plan

Unclaimed retirement benefits

Losing track of retirement funds is a common occurrence nowadays. It can happen when you switch jobs, become self-employed or get made redundant for instance. The number of lost retirement funds is “well into the billions of dollars” nationally with more than $35 million paid out to missing participants by PenChecks Trust during 2017 alone, according to this news article from USA Today.

One way to avoid forgetting about your 401K when you switch employers is to rollover your existing 401K into a new plan with your new employer. Alternatively, consider rolling your old 401K into a rollover Traditional or Roth IRA instead.

Doing the latter could prove beneficial – you may have access to greater investment choices since you’ll have the freedom to pick a brokerage firm of your choice.

Summary

If you have a 401K with your current employer, it should be fairly straightforward to check your balance online. Contact your HR department for help if you don’t know which custodian your company uses.

Start with your former employer(s) if you’re trying to trace an old 401K. If you have no luck there, visit the websites mentioned above where you can search online to see if you have any unclaimed retirement benefits owing to you.

Going forward, keep your 401K paperwork in a safe place so that you can refer back to it and reaccess your 401K account quickly when you need to. Finally, your 401K is designed to be a retirement planning vehicle. Avoid dipping into it if you can, if you want to avoid fees and so that you can live comfortably in your golden years!

*We hope you find this article useful, but please note that it doesn’t constitute professional financial advice.

More on 401k rate of return calculator