4 Common Accounting Errors with Credit Cards in QuickBooks

The credit card errors discussed here involve the credit cards clients possess and use to make charges and pay for expenses. A QuickBooks® account should be established for each credit card the client has for its business. The type of the account will be Credit Card. This is different than a debit card that is tied to a bank account. All debit card transactions should be entered directly into the bank account’s check register, not via the Credit Card account type.

Common Errors

  • The client only makes partial payments on its credit card bills
  • Accounts Payable is used to enter bills for revolving debt balances
  • All credit card bills are recorded to the same expense account
  • Credit card accounts are not reconciled

Symptoms

  • Accounts payable balance is high with numerous credit card bills
  • Expenses seem unreasonably high
  • The bank account balance appears correct

The credit card errors discussed here involve the credit cards clients possess and use to make charges and pay for expenses. An account should be established for each credit card the client has for its business. The type of the account will be Credit Card. This is different than a debit card that is tied to a bank account. All debit card transactions should be entered directly into the bank account’s check register, not via the Credit Card account type.

Often, clients will not want to enter or download the individual charges that appear on a credit card statement. Instead the client wants to enter one summary transaction for all charges appearing on the bill. This is easily accomplished after the client has summarized the transactions for the bill. A Credit Card account is still established and from the Banking menu, Enter Credit Card Charges is selected to enter the transaction. One charge is created with the detail of the credit card statement from the client’s summation being entered as one credit card charge. An account line item is added and the total charges for each account type are entered. Advise the client that when using this manner of recording charges and payments, the date of the credit card charge is the date the financial statements will be affected. If the credit card statement covers more than one month or accounting period, two entries might be desired to properly account for the dates of the transactions.

Clients that pay a credit card statement in full can shortcut the process by simply entering the total of the credit card statement as one bill, again after summarizing the charges for segregating to the proper accounts. Entering a bill is only recommended when the credit card bill is paid in full each and every month. Otherwise, the accounts payable balance will be intermingled with growing and longer outstanding credit card balances.

Credit Card Type Account
Credit Card type accounts should be used for many reasons. The reasons include:

  • A reconciliation process that includes reconciling to the credit card statement from the credit card company similar to reconciling a bank statement
  • Accounts Payable Aging Reports and due dates are not distorted when the entire balance of the credit card statement is not paid in full.
  • Credit card charges are typically deductible for income tax purposes when the charge is made regardless of whether the credit card company has been paid or not. If bills are used to record the credit card transactions, these transactions will not be reported on accrual basis financial statements.

Credit Card Transaction Entry – One Entry or Many?
The first step in using the credit card feature is to enter the charges and credits. The charges and credit can be entered as the credit card is used to pay for the purchase of goods and services or later.

  • Entering the individual charges as the credit card is used or downloading them via Online Banking will give the client real time financial information and can be an added internal control to ensure that all credit card transactions are supported with a receipt.
  • For some clients, this level of effort in recording these transactions is not feasible. Instead, clients enter one credit card charge with the total credit card charges and credits. The credit card charges will have to be summarized by account type to be entered in detail as a credit card charge.

Using a consistent method to record the charges is important. Often, a client will not pay its entire credit card balance occasionally. Entering the credit card statement as a single will create a challenge in those months when the balance is not paid in full.

Credit Card Reconciliation
Credit card statements can be reconciled in a process very similar to the bank reconciliation. When the credit card statement arrives, the statement should be reconciled to the charges. Finance charges can either be entered as a charge or during the reconciliation process.

The bank account reconciliation ensures all transactions are recorded. Credit card reconciliation facilitates the process of making a credit card payment. Once the statement has been reconciled and the Reconcile Now option has been selected, a dialog box appears to provide an alternative to enter a check to pay the credit card statement in full or to enter a bill to pay the credit card later (see image below). The amount that will be paid will be entered.

Extra Payments
Occasionally, business owners will make an additional payment other than the monthly required payment to pay down the balance due. Since a check or bill for the additional payment will not be created as part of the reconciliation process, a check or bill must be entered and coded to the credit card account. This will reduce the outstanding balance of the credit card. The payment will appear on the next credit card reconciliation that occurs.