Double counting credit card purchases?

I apologize in advance as I know this has been asked before, but I am still having trouble understanding this concept. I try using my credit cards for every payment I make as I pay off my credit card balance in full daily and I get cash back rewards.

I notice that sometimes if I make a purchases with my credit card, my YNAB will "double count" those purchases. For example, I have instances where I purchase a cup of coffee for $1.62 with my credit card and YNAB will show two separate expenses for that. One will be categorized as a "Credit Card Payment" of -$1.62 and a second one will be categorized as "Starbucks Coffee" for -$1.62. Both of these though are for the exact same cup of coffee I purchased. Is this a double charge by accident, or is YNAB accounting for it correctly and I'm not understanding it?

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  • Well, if that was your only purchase that day, did you make a payment to the credit card for that coffee amount?

    If it was, I would expect the payment to be a positive number. So, either way, something is not right. Reach out to support in the app for your import connection, I believe 

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  • Yes, I did make a payment to cover that credit card expense from my chequing account. So I have a +$1.62 from my chequing to cover the credit card expense, but still have two separate -$1.62 for the same purchase.

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  • There's not enough information here to go on; screenshots would help immensely. But YNAB almost never gets this wrong, unless there's something wonky with your bank connection. The occam's razor answer is that you don't understand what you're looking at. 

    Here are the steps. Let's say for the sake of explanation, you have $10 to your name, it's all in checking, and you have a credit card with a  $0 balance you're going to use to buy coffee. You've budgeted all $10 to coffee. 

    1. You enter the coffee purchase. $1.62 leaves the "coffee" category and activity shows -$1.62 in that category.

    2. At the same instant, the card payment category for the same card increases by $1.62. This is also show in the activity of that category (a positive $1.62.) 

    Stopping right here to audit: your coffee balance is now $8.38 and your card payment category is now $1.62. Your credit card balance is (-$1.62) and your checking account balance is still $10. 

    3. You then make a payment, which is recorded as a transfer, of $1.62. Your credit card balance becomes more positive by $1.62--in other words, it goes to $0. Your checking account is now lower by $1.62--it is $8.38. This payment affects the card payment category only, as a negative activity of $1.62. This brings the card payment category back in balance with the card balance, which are now both $0. 

    If you have two outflows of $1.62 on the card, you did one of the following: entered the transfer incorrectly, imported transactions which are backward (this happens sometimes with some banks---it imports inflows as outflows and vice versa), or you've misunderstood the output you're seeing.  Looking at the above will help you figure out if it's this last one. 

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  • Here is a way to see things. When you buy something with the credit card, you don't spend money, you are borrowing money. So the transaction for "Starbuck" for -$1.62 is not you spending money, it is you borrowing money and then immediately giving it to Starbuck.

    Then, you need to reimburse this borrowed money. For this, you spend some of your cash from your checking account and send it to the credit card company that lent you the money. So then you spend -$1.62 from your checking account to put in your credit card account.

    So you are only spending your own money once. But it's not when you buy your coffee cup, it's when you pay the credit card. That's why in YNAB, when you pay your credit card, no money disappear from your budget. It gets repurposed to a new category. You don't need it anymore to pay for coffee, you need it to pay for debt  you have taken with the credit card company.

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  • Where are you seeing this double charge? Are you looking at the "All Accounts" register or just the credit card account register?

    If the former, you'd have the charge for coffee from the credit card account (-1.62), and two transactions for the transfer of money to pay the credit card - one FROM the checking/savings account of -1.62, and one TO the credit card of +1.62.

    If you're on the credit card only register, do you import your transactions or enter them manually (or both)? If you import only, it sounds like WordTenor may be right and your bank import may be importing transactions incorrectly. If you enter them manually, then you may have set up the payment incorrectly, and created an outflow where there should have been an infow. If you do both manual and import, it may be a matching issue, where YNAB isn't matching the imported transaction to the manually entered one.

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  • If you're seeing both of these negative transactions show up in your credit card account as duplicates, I think we might have a direct import issue on our hands. Report this as a Bank Importing Issue with some examples and we'll get to the bottom of it. :)

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