Step by step QuickBooks Pro guide to enable the  on-line American Express credit card download
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Downloading American Express into QuickBooks

Why choose to enter each credit card transaction
 

Reap the benefits of accumulating important management information in QuickBooks by making an the investment of time required to complete the American Express download set-up. More companies are beginning to follow suit in American Express's lead establishing a secured link from their website into your QuickBooks company file. Downloading credit cards into QuickBooks renders a credit card company that does not offer this feature, obsolete. Plus they pay you cash as a rebate once a year.  Want more information on this nifty benefit?

Benefits:

  1. Always know what your complete liability picture is when it is time to pay bills.  Doing so may allow you to budget accordingly and put aside enough to pay the credit card off in full each month rather than incurring expensive liabilities.
  2. Searching for a purchase detail becomes easier when the vendor name, not the credit card company name is on the transaction.
  3. If you do not enter each transaction, how do you record any partial payments?  For example, if you pay 25% of current months charges, which transactions will you book today, what accounts would you choose for categorizing and  how will you remember this next month? Using the credit card feature in QuickBooks lets you book the entire months activity and make partial payments, keeping you abreast of what is owed and keeping you informed of total purchases.
  4. The charge date is entered as of the date the transaction took place, and places the expense in the month that it was incurred not when payment is made, providing a better view of your current month income and expenses.
  5.  Credit card statements can be reconciled in QuickBooks so each transaction can be verified. This leads to more accuracy and prevents extraneous charges from slipping through. Details entered provide an opportunity to see who is spending money and how providing tighter controls on company funds.
  6. Entering credit card charges individually is time consuming and detailed, but that can be mitigated by using generic names like Restaurant, Parking, Gas, Hotel, and General Vendor, when it is not necessary to have a specific vendor's name on the transaction.

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American Express offers a seamless interface  for downloading transactions into QuickBooks

This procedure provides set-up assistance for downloading American Express credit card transactions, tips on entering credit card transactions, tips on reconciling the credit card account at month end and a lead on how to get money back (not points on your American Express purchases..

Downloading the transactions using the direct method is the most efficient method, but will take a bit more effort to set up:

With the direct method, it takes just a couple of clicks (Banking menu > Online Banking Center) to download the latest
transactions into QuickBooks. Once you have completed the set-up, entering each transaction is easy. Just assign the account, a customer name and/or class (if applicable), click ok and your reports will now have detail you need.  If you have purchased from the vendor previously, QuickBooks will auto-fill these details in for you.  Just review and click ok. 

Also available for American Express business accounts is an indirect method using Web Connect  by visiting
http://www.americanexpress.com/cards/quickbooks.shtml.This method takes more steps and requires remembering
more access codes, web addresses and passwords but once the download is complete, accepting the data works the same way.

To get started using the direct method:

  1. On your chart of accounts (list menu), set up a new account.
    Select the account type to  credit card
    Name the account any name you would like, but "American Express" seems a logical choice
     
  2. Next connect to the internet- Go to http://www.americanexpress.com
    Sign into your account to verify your login and password.
    If you do not have a login, create one, then login to make sure it works
    Write down your user ID and password you will need it in the next step
     
  3. Next- From the Banking menu, select online banking >click set-up .
    Select the American Express chart of accounts you just set up > click next
    Type American Express in the financial institution window > Next
    Select Direct Connect > Next
    Enter your American Express user ID from step 2 and your password > sign in


    There is direct telephone number on this page (1-800-297-7500) that you can call if you have difficulty. (It has been my experience that calling this phone number and having them walk you through the set-up speeds the process tremendously, but you are welcome to continue with the steps below.)


     
  4. To download credit card charges into QuickBooks. 
    Change to single user mode in order to download charges.
    From the Banking menu, choose online banking center
    Select American Express as the Financial Institution
    Click on Send
    Enter your pin number (online web password from step 2) . You may need or opt to enter a new pin number at this time
    American express downloads your transactions.
     
  5. Click on the icon that appears in the bottom part of the online banking window labeled
    American Express
    Quick Statement
    A register will open which will allow you to add each transaction to the register Or QB will open to a
    side by side mode.  You can select which mode you want under preferences (Edit menu > preferences > checking >
    Company preferences
     
  6. To add the transaction to your register
    Select only those transactions you wish to enter  (see step 9 below)
    Highlight the transaction
    Click on Add credit card charges
    Click on OK
    Enter an account and memo and class (if you use class)
    Save and close and go to the next transaction.
    Then click on done. Click through any message that appears if the remaining transactions in this window have already been accounted for (see step 9 below)

    Not interested in having all those names created in your vendor or other names list?  Use alias's. Create a generic name such as "meals" to represent all restuarants.  However it is a good idea to put the establishments name in the memo. Your reports will be meaningful and your list names will remain manageable. For payments to payees that you use regularly, go ahead and keep the name in the "purchased from" field.  Also, using generic vendor names such as food, parking, gas, hotel, and Misc Vendor can be set up when it is not necessary to have a specific vendor's name on the transaction and you dont need the detail in the memo field.
     
  7. For the initial set-up.  You will want to enter only those transactions that are unpaid. This is assuming the transaction has already been accounted for in QuickBooks. For assistance with this step, we offer QuickBooks support through via telephone, e-mail or remote access
     
  8. You can delete the transactions that you do not want to enter into the register.  If using side by side mode on the lower
    left margin there is a button, select items to delete.  If you are using the register mode, when you leave, you will
    return to the online banking screen in and in the right margin - lower right corner of the window you can delete
    the remaining transactions that have not been entered into register.
     
  9. In many small businesses credit card charges do not have packing lists, receipts, purchase orders or other documentation for the bookkeeper to refer for reference in categorizing the expense. By downloading new credit card transactions into QuickBooks every few days your memory will be fresh and your books and records will become more accurate.
     
  10. Reconcile this credit card account before making a payment.  Works just like the bank reconciliation. 
    From Banking > Reconcile > select the appropriate credit card account and enter the ending balance information.
    When you are through marking all the transactions that have cleared, and the difference is zero, click reconcile now. At this point, QuickBooks will generate a payment for you If you are not paying the balance in full, enter a bill for a payment to be made later.  The reconciled balance is then transferred to accounts payable.

    One more adjustment is needed. From the accounts payable summary, drill down on the credit card vendor and find the transaction that was just created and change to the amount you intend to pay. This will set the numbers straight for next months credit card reconciliation.

While the set-up  looks complicated. The time invested will be repaid very quickly.  The accounting for credit card transactions each month will be significantly reduced and your internal financial reports will become more meaningful.  If you charge your business expenses this is one QuickBooks feature that you should not live without.  Contact us if you would like assistance.
 

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