7.1. Concepts

Since you probably write a check or make an electronic payment to the credit card company each month, you may think of your credit card bill as an expense - but it really is not an expense. Why? A credit card account is a short-term loan - you buy things on that loan account, and then you eventually have to pay back the money, often with interest (your finance charge). The purchases you make with that credit card are your expenses.

You have a couple of options when entering credit card transactions, so choose the one that fits your desired level of detail. The simplest method is to simply track monthly payments to the credit card company. From your bank account, you enter a transfer of money each month to the credit card expense account. This will show you the amount of money you are paying each month to the credit card company, but it won’t show you any information about your credit card balance or credit card purchases.

A more complete way to track your credit card in GnuCash is to enter each purchase and payment as a separate transaction. Using the credit card account register, you enter your receipts throughout the month. When your credit card statement arrives, you reconcile the credit card account to the statement, and you enter your payment as a transfer of money from your checking account to your credit card account. This method gives you more information about your balance during the month and points out any discrepancies during reconciliation, but you will have to do more data entry.