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When your credit card import isn't working

Sheena TrepanierSheena Trepanier Posts: 1,106 admin
edited August 2017 in Important

Why does my card's connection to Expensify stop working?
The most important thing to understand about card import issues is that they most often arise as a result of something changing, even if it seems irrelevant. The way our banking connections work is that they rely on everything being 100% identical (with some wiggle room) from the time you first connected.

  • If you change your online banking password, that will break the connection until you update the password in Expensify.
  • If you change your online banking username, or the card number changes, your online banking system treats that as a whole new card, and you’ll have to re-upload it in Expensify.
  • If your security questions change or the answers aren’t stored in Expensify, we won’t be able to answer them to get to your account list, and you’ll need to fix that in Expensify.
    And so on!

There are also certain things we’ll never be able to overcome, such as two-factor authentication. This is a system wherein every time you log in from an unidentified device (which Expensify will always be in the eyes of your bank), you have to have a randomly-generated code sent to your phone, email, etc.. Because we’ll never have access to those things, we’ll never be able to input the code (and they’ll often expire before you’d be able to enter it manually), and we won’t be able to connect.

But why can't it just be more reliable, though?
Why do we jump through all these hoops? Because we don’t really believe in bypassing the typical security measures you’d normally have to work through to get this information. Sure, there might be other apps that don’t have these sorts of issues, but that also means they’re bypassing all of that security information, making the connection inherently less secure.

Your bank can also initiate changes that break the connection--it's not necessarily us!
Separately, there are any number of things your bank can do to break the connection, as well. Because we rely on the site structure remaining the same in order to log in, being redirected to a different page, having the page be reconstructed (even sometimes as much as moving a single image on a page), etc. can all contribute to a connection breaking. Banks going down for maintenance (this happens often with Chase) can also cause the connection to break.

Finally, there are some banks that require a service called Direct Connect ® (AKA Quicken) to be able to connect to third parties. These are banks such as Chase, Silicon Valley Bank, PNC, and Wells Fargo (though it’s often on by default at Wells Fargo). They’ll often charge a fee for this service, which is unfortunately something over which we simply don’t have control.

There’s got to be a better way, right?
Well, sure. We could develop partnerships with these banks to get fast-track access to your data, but that usually involves a sort of compromise we generally don’t want to make. Instead, what we’re currently doing is working to use OAuth connections, which are much more stable and don’t compromise your data. The trick is we have to get the bank on board to be able to do those things--luckily we’re making great progress there. That said, as with anything, this takes time to get right--for the number of banks we support, it definitely won’t happen overnight!

What can you do to help troubleshoot issues?
Here are some best practices we recommend in order to avoid bank import issues, as well as deal with them effectively when they crop up:

  • Use the correct feature for your card type: If you’re connecting a company card, please, PLEASE try and use our designated company card connections in Domain Control > Company Cards. The banking connections in your personal Account Settings are built specifically for personal cards, not company cards, which have connections built specifically for them in Domain Control > Company Cards. Anytime a connection isn’t used for its intended purposes, issues can arise.
    Following that, please don’t connect every card on your company card system to your personal account. We definitely understand the need for visibility, but this can inherently cause connection issues for reasons we don’t want to bore you with here. Just trust us!
    One more thing on company cards: if you’re using corporate cards, we 100000000% recommend seeking out a direct feed for your cards from Visa/MasterCard/Amex, rather than using one of our connections that relies on the bank’s interface. These feeds supply us with information directly from Visa/MasterCard/Amex, rather than relying on the bank as a messenger, meaning their reliability is through the roof, comparatively.

  • Self-diagnose using readily-available resources:If your connection breaks, try fixing it first by heading to Account Settings > Credit Card Import and clicking Fix, Update, or Retry. Follow the prompts, enter any information we request. If you end up having to answer security questions, you’ll have to do this for the same number of security questions you have (so if you have 3 security questions, you would need to do this 3 times). Second, check out our help page for any known issues here.

Okay, I tried all of that--now I need Expensify to help me!
If you need to reach out to us for help, here’s the best way to help us expedite your troubleshooting:

  • Check out our list of known issues here to ensure what you're experiencing isn't already covered
  • Be sure to write to us from the email address associated with your Expensify account! We can’t look up connection attempt logs without knowing your account.
  • If you’re working on multiple cards in your account, name which specific connection/bank (e.g., American Express, Chase, etc.) that’s giving you trouble.
  • Clarify if this is a new card you’re trying to add, or one that’s already connected to your account.
  • Clarify if this is a personal or business/company/corporate card.
  • Be understanding that banking connections are incredibly complex, and take time to fix. Any given issue can affect any given number of customers at any given time, and we always prioritize the biggest issues first, understandably. It’s impossible for us to give a specific ETA on any given connection, and we always offer another alternative to manual entry by way of being able to import expenses en masse via spreadsheet.
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