How to use credit cards

I have used quicken to pay my bills for as long as I can remember, but I now need to start tracking expenses and budgeting carefully. As part of that process, I need to get my credit card payments categorized properly. I manually added categories for 2019 after reading that I could only download credit card info for 90 days, but I was hoping there was an easy way to categorize credit card charges going forward. (I am assuming there is a better way than for me to go through a statement each month to add up charges and manually add categories to my credit card payments.) I added two credit cards to my account, but now I am not sure what to do with them. I have not very good with technology, plus I am in the midst of a family health crisis. So, I need things explained in simple terms (don't worry about being too simple--I need really simple explanations). Specifically, here are the problems I am facing at the moment as I try to get myself documented well enough to establish a budget:

1. I like downloading my credit card transactions and categorizing them under the credit card account, but how do I get that to transfer over to my checking account--which is where I am trying to track things. Is there some easy way to do this or was I misunderstanding what I could do with a credit card download? I have my account paid automatically each month since I'm not always able to keep up with bills due to the family issues we are facing. So, I really only added the credit cards so I didn't have to manually add split categories each month.

2. After adding the credit cards, when I try to find things in my account, everything is jumbled. For example, I tried to search for all my credit card payments (thinking I was getting things from my checking account). My search pulled up every single credit card transaction--which renders that search function useless for me.

3. Also, any suggestions on a good place to see videos on budgets, generating reports, and how to do things like this with a credit card? I understand a lot better when someone shows me. Thanks so much!!


  • volvogirl
    volvogirl SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Let's start at the very beginning.  Just in case you are doing it the wrong way,

    The proper way is to set up a credit card ACCOUNT and enter the charges into it when the purchase is made and assigning it to a category. Then when you pay the bill you TRANSFER the payment from your checking account to the credit card account. Then when you download the payment from the bank you match it to the one you already entered.

    When you enter the payment in your checking account you put the credit card account name in for the category using square brackets around the name to indicate it is a this… [credit card] or newer versions have a Transfer column.

    I used to do it the wrong way for years!  Then I wised up and now enter them properly. I would split my credit card payment into all the categories on one transaction in my checking account. And since I always pay more than the bill I would need to figure the difference and put it to another category.  But then I needed to have them entered on the date the charges actually happened. So I finally set up a credit card account. It makes it much easier to enter and balance!

    I'm staying on Quicken 2013 Premier for Windows.

  • Hanson
    Hanson Member ✭✭

    I have my credit card set up for autopay. I just looked at the last payment, and the category says [credit card xxxx]. So, I think it is not working as you suggested. Does that mean the categories I have assigned on the credit card account will carry over to my checking account for budgeting and report purposes? I'm still confused how the credit card account works to get the charges categorized in your checking account reports/budgets.

    Also, now that you shared about the payments, I see that when i added the last 90 days of my credit card, it only shows the payment that happened since I added the account. So, do I need to TRANSFER those payments to the credit card account? If so, how do I do that?

    Thanks for shedding some light on this for me!
  • GeoffG
    GeoffG SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2020
    Hanson said:

    I just looked at the last payment, and the category says [credit card xxxx].

    Does that mean the categories I have assigned on the credit card account will carry over to my checking account for budgeting and report purposes?
    The account in [ ] appears to be correct. Be sure when making the entry that the offsetting category is to your [checking account] to show the flow of funds from checking to CC.
    Not sure what you are asking, but the only thing that should flow is the $ payment from checking to CC, that's it. The credit card transactions need to be categorized just as any checking account. So if you buy groceries from Walmart on one day using a check and the following day using a CC, both should be categorized as Grocery. The budget picks up the categories used not the method of payment.
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