Let’s save you time by showing you how to download your American Express credit card transactions into QuickBooks®. Part of doing business is to handle the many transactions that occur daily. Whether through a bank account or credit card account, or both. They should be entered into your accounting system and be reconciled on a monthly basis. You will see the cash coming in and the cash going out and make good business decisions. Are you using QuickBooks®? Are you or someone in your office manually entering transactions?
We will explain the benefits to you so that you understand that it would be a good investment of your time.
We will define some banking terms you may have heard, but not fully understood.
We will take you through the steps so that you can download your transactions quickly and easily.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE AN EXPERT WHO CAN HELP YOU WALK THROUGH THE STEPS AND MAKE THIS PROCESS A SUCCESS THE FIRST TIME, CALL 800-216-0763 AND ASK ABOUT OUR SUPPORT PLANS.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DOWNLOADING AMERICAN EXPRESS TRANSACTIONS INTO QUICKBOOKS®?
- Saves Time – Entering credit card transactions manually is time-consuming and detailed oriented. Downloading transactions from American Express via a bank feed saves time and keeps your account up to date. Under preferences in QuickBooks®, there is a feature, if turned on, will “automatically recall the last transaction from that vendor.” Over time, QuickBooks® will recall repeat transactions.
- Keep Expense Accounts Manageable – Every transaction entered will be categorized under different expense accounts. To keep from creating too many expense accounts, create a few general expense accounts by setting up rules or aliases within the bank feed such as Restaurant, Parking, Gas, Hotel, and Phone. This is recommended when it is not necessary to have an actual vendor name on the transaction.
- Transaction Search Is Easier – Searching for a particular purchase becomes easier when the Vendor’s name and not the Credit Card company’s name is on the transaction.
- Better Business Reporting – Accrual Accounting – The date of each transaction is the date of the credit card was charged. That would place the expense in the month that it was incurred and not when the payment was made, providing a better view of the current month’s income and expenses.
- Easy Reconciliation – Reconciling your credit card statements each month in QuickBooks® verifies those downloaded transactions. After they have been reconciled you have a better understanding of the full picture of this credit card liability when it comes time to pay your bill. Budget accordingly and save by making credit card payment in full. Save money when no need for interest payments.
- Better Accuracy – Downloading your transactions from American Express will help deter mistakes from missing a vendor transaction getting into QuickBooks®. These transactions can be downloaded daily, weekly or monthly. Also, each vendor’s transactions are grouped so partial payments will be easy to see and which transactions would still be open for future payment.
DO YOU KNOW THESE BANKING TERMS?
- Bank Feeds – A bank feed is a list of the transactions completed for a period of time from a checking, savings or credit card account at a financial institution. This list can be manually or automatically imported into your QuickBooks. Bank feeds help save a large amount of data entry.
- QBO File– Web Connect file that can be downloaded to your computer and imported to QuickBooks® Desktop.
- Bank Provided Credentials – This would be your login name/user ID, password and sometimes a pin from your bank previously set up to connect to your financial institution online. If you have not set up your American Express online account yet, here is the link: https://global.americanexpress.com/login?inav=iNavLnkLog
- Connection Methods
- WEB CONNECT – This is a manual operation is completed by either of the following methods, set up required:
- Method #1 – Web browser and the American Express website
- Method #2 – Within QuickBooks Under bank feeds
Either way, you would download a transaction via a (.QBO File) to be saved on your computer. Then, import that (.QBO file) into your QuickBooks® company file. Usually, this would be 30, 60 or 90 days’ maximum worth of transactions.
- DIRECT CONNECT – (fees may apply), set up required. This method syncs the transactions directly from the American Express Online Banking account to your QuickBooks American Express Credit Card account.
Also, this connection has other features such as bank payments and bank transfers. Must be set up through American Express, first. When this connection is set up you will need your bank credentials to connect.
- Downloaded Transactions – The Bank Feed will group the transactions into three groups.
- Unmatched – No matching transaction in QuickBooks, enter these transactions manually.
- Renamed – You have set up either rules or Aliases for these bank feeds. QuickBooks® will use these to try to make a match between the American Express transaction to a transaction already set up in QuickBooks® company file chart of accounts – American Express account. Eventually, the more rules or aliases you have entered the quicker this process will be.
- Matched – QuickBooks® handles these transactions automatically.
- QuickBooks Register Symbols – American Express Credit Card Account Register Symbols
- Asterisk -Transaction has not been reconciled but has been cleared
- Checkmark – Transaction has been reconciled
- Lightning Bolt – Matched to online bank
STEP BY STEP GUIDANCE TO DOWNLOAD AMERICAN EXPRESS TRANSACTIONS
This procedure provides set-up assistance for downloading American Express credit card transactions. Once set up it is easy to get your business transactions. Whatever you charge to your credit card: Office supplies or equipment, inventory, phone bills, internet bills, restaurants all will download into QuickBooks and you will make easy work of managing your expenses.
STEPS TO COMPLETE BEFORE DOWNLOADING TRANSACTIONS FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS
- Create Backup Copy – Create a backup copy of your QuickBooks® file. This way if anything goes wrong, you can start over.
Important note: Transactions can only be synced or imported to QuickBooks once to a company file. However, some banks may have the ability to release the transactions on their side, so that you can download again if necessary.
- Create a New Credit Card Account – your QuickBooks® Chart of Accounts will need a new Credit Card Account called American Express.
- Open Chart of Account in QuickBooks®.
- Go to the bottom left corner and click on the down arrow next to Accounts tab (bottom left) and the window Add New Account: Choose Account Type will open.
- Choose Credit card and click continue
- A new window opens and type Account Name: American Express, Account description: if you would like to add more information about the American Express account, Credit Card Account Number.
Easy as that.
Add a new Credit Card Account to your Chart of Account in QuickBooks
- Create American Express Online Account – If you have not previously set up your American Express online account, now is the time to do so. From this account, you can log in and view your transactions, view or download your statements, make an online payment and using the bank feed to download your transactions to QuickBooks® via a Web Connect or Direct Connect option.
Here is the login link: https://global.americanexpress.com/login?inav=iNavLnkLog
- Go to the website above.
- Click on the Create New Online Account link
American Express Website Log-In Page
- Follow the three-step process to set up your American Express Online account.
- Add your American Express Account Number
- Add the 4 digit CVV number (Card Verification Value) on front of the card
- Create a user name/ID
- Create a password
First of Three-Step Process to Set Up American Express Online Account
- Choose Preference in QuickBooks® software – there are two bank feed options when you are ready to view your transactions. These are Classic mode or Express mode.
- Classic mode (original) for view bank feed transactions in the Account Register. Able to create Aliases.
- Express mode (newer) and the bank feed transactions are viewed from a Transaction List. Able to create Rules.
These can be used interchangeably via turned on under the Preferences menu, Checking, Company Preferences. This must be done in Single-user Mode and it would be a good idea to make sure that QuickBooks® has the latest release. Make your preference now, however, you can switch to the other mode, whenever you choose.
Something to remember when you make your choice: As you can see the Express mode gives you the ability to create rules. But, these rules are not available in the Classic mode. In Classic mode, you can create an alias for each general type of transaction, but these will not show up in the Express mode.
DOWNLOAD OPTIONS FOR RETRIEVING TRANSACTIONS
There are two connection options that will allow you to pull your transactions from American Express. Web Connect is an indirect method for downloading transactions. The other option is Direct Connect. Using Direct Connect your QuickBooks® software is synced to American Express and your transactions are downloaded directly into QuickBooks®. No file to download, save and upload to the company file. Both options are not difficult to do, however, Direct Connect may have fees attached due to other features like bill payments and bank transfers. The following is how-to for setting up each connection.
Set up a bank feed for your American Express Account:
- In QuickBooks® software, there are two places to open setup bank feeds:
- Banking Menu > Bank Feeds >Set Up Bank Feed for an Account.
- Within the opened American Express Credit Card Account (see picture below).
Click on the Setup Bank Feeds within the opened American Express Account.
- There will be a pop up where you will enter the American Express online account’s user name and password that you have previously created.
Using Web Connect, downloading transactions is a two-step process.
Step 1 – Export Transactions – Through the bank feed, your transactions are exported into a (.QBO file) which should be saved to the appropriate place you choose on your computer.
Two Export options:
- Export this file either directly from the American Express online account, once you have logged in.
- Export this file from within QuickBooks, once you have set up your bank feed for this account. Go to the Bank Feed Center, choose American Express, select Download Transactions, here you will need to log in with your user name and password.
Different banks/credit card companies allow for a different number of transactions to be downloaded at a time with a few that allow for a date range to be entered. Usually, this would be 30, 60 or 90 days maximum worth of transactions.
Step 2 – Import Transactions – the (.QBO file) into QuickBooks® software.
Within QuickBooks®, under Banking Menu, go to Bank Feeds and scroll right and click Import WebConnect File.
- QuickBooks will ask you to choose the downloaded (.QBO file) that you saved to your computer.
- Open file.
- Choose the Credit Card Account (American Express) where the transactions will be imported to.
- A pop up will state that QuickBooks® has successfully imported the transactions.
- Ready to go to Bank Feeds Center to manage your transactions.
Make sure you have completed the steps above under STEPS TO COMPLETE BEFORE DOWNLOADING TRANSACTIONS FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS. Also, contact American Express to see about turning on Direct Connect for your American Express account. (Fees may apply.)
- Go to the Banking menu in QuickBooks®.
- Scroll down to Bank Feed and to the right Bank Feed Center to download the latest transactions into QuickBooks®.
- In the Bank Feed Center, under the Accounts list choose the American Express Account – this is the account you want the transactions to sync to within QuickBooks® software.
- Choose Download Transactions (This link may read Transaction List instead, if, you have previously done a download and did not process all the transactions in the list).
- Choose Synchronize and then Sync this account.
Click on the icon that appears in the bottom part of the online banking window labeled American Express Quick Statement. A Classic Mode Account Register will open and you can create one or more alias for a generic account to be viewed in this mode. Or, if you chose the Express Mode account under preferences then a Transaction List will open. Here you can add rules that can be viewed in this mode.
Just assign the account, a customer name and/or class (if applicable), click ok and your reports will now have the 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. With this connection, there is no download file to export and then to import. This is a quicker process.
ENTERING CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS IN QUICKBOOKS® SOFTWARE
Working to match transactions
When importing or syncing transactions the Bank Feed groups the transactions as Matched, Renamed (due to a rule or alias) or unmatched. QuickBooks® will try to match the transactions to an identical transaction already set up in the American Express Account register.
- If there is a match, QuickBooks will automatically save the transaction.
- If there is not an exact match, QuickBooks® will try to use your aliases or rules to match the transactions. Incorrect matches here can be adjusted to make a complete match by adjusting the rule or creating a new rule.
- No matches then, enter into QuickBooks® manually. You can create a new rule, so that next time you download the same type of transaction, QuickBooks® can use the rule to make a match.
After the transactions are in the register
Make sure you don’t skip this step. You want to mark each transaction with an account, memo, and class for more descriptive information.
- Open each transaction, one at a time.
- 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.
There are still transactions that you don’t want to enter.
- Express Mode – lower left margin there is a button, Select items to delete.
- Classic Mode – when you leave the transaction screen and return to the online banking screen- in the lower right margin of that window delete remaining transactions.
TIPS ON MANAGING CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS
- 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.
- For Small Businesses – In many small businesses, credit card charges do not have packing lists, receipts, purchase orders or other documentation for the bookkeeper to refer to 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.
- Using Aliases IN CLASSIC MODE: An alias is a generic name such as Meals to help categorize all restaurants or Gas to categorize the many different gas stations that your company may purchase from. However, it is a good idea to put the vendor name in the memo field of each transaction. Your reports will be more 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.
RECONCILING YOUR CREDIT CARD ACCOUNT (RECOMMENDED EVERY MONTH)
Reconcile this credit card account before making a payment. Works just like the bank reconciliation.
To Reconcile Credit Card Account:
- Go to Banking Menu
- Select Reconcile
- Select appropriate credit card account (American Express)
- Enter the ending balance from the credit card statement
- Mark all transactions that have cleared
- If the difference is zero, click reconcile now.
At this point, QuickBooks® will generate a payment for you.
Two more steps to complete before you are done:
If you are making a partial payment
Create a bill
- Enter a bill for a payment to be made later, if you are not paying the balance in full. The reconciled balance is then transferred to accounts payable.
Change the payment transaction to reflect a partial payment
- Go to the Account Payable Summary
- Drill down on the credit card vendor
- Find the transaction that was just created and change to the amount you intend to pay.
This will set the numbers straight for next month’s 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 informative. If you use credit cards to charge your business expenses, this is one QuickBooks® software feature that you should not live without. Contact us if you would like assistance.