Fixing Payee Strings

I am in australia, so no auto import. When i import transactions, all my card transations are like....VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 <Name of Payee>. Is there anyway i can autoatcally get rid of the starting "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011" for all my transactions? Its really messing up my payees.

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  • Hi Beige Inspector ! I’m happy to help with the payees. How the transaction data is presented in the file is controlled by your bank, but there are a few things that can help.

    You can access the Payee Management feature by either clicking the name of your Budget in the upper left-hand corner or double-clicking a transaction in the payee field and selecting "Manage Payees."

    From there, cleanup your payees by editing, deleting, combining, and changing your auto-categorization rules to your heart’s content. You can also edit and define “Is” and “Contains” rules to automatically rename imported payees how you’d like.

    Check out our Payee Management article for more details and let us know how it goes! 

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    • Nicole Im not sure you understood what i wrote. ALL my transaction made on a particular card start with "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011" + name of payee. So if i made a McDonalds purchase, it would be VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds. This if for all my transactions...so thats over a 1000 transactions. How do i change VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds to just McDonalds? What i am looking for is like search & replace feature where i would replace VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 with a blank. that would fix my payees. Please help.

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  • Im not sure you understood what i wrote. ALL my transaction made on a particular card start with "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011" + name of payee. So if i made a McDonalds purchase, it would be VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds. This if for all my transactions...so thats over a 1000 transactions. How do i change VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds to just McDonalds? What i am looking for is like search & replace feature where i would replace VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 with a blank. that would fix my payees. Please help.

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Beige Inspector  There's not a search and replace, so it will be tedious. What'll you do is use the payee management feature to combine VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds 9543 and VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds 9622 (two different McDonalds stores) to the payee "McDonalds." You'll need to do this for each distinct payee, though you can select multiple at a time.  From then on, YNAB will recognize that VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds 9543 and VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds 9622 should be changed to "McDonalds" on import. 

      Going forward, since you know your import works this way, I would suggest spending at least some time carefully manually inputting transactions. If you already have "McDonalds" as the payee for $3.11, when YNAB imports VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds 9543 for $3.11, it will match it and also learn that the payee should be "McDonald's" at the same time. Even if you don't keep up manual entry forever (though you really should), doing it for a month or so will make YNAB learn most of your regular payees. 

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    • WordTenor Thanks for the response. thats a very tedious solution. Is there any other way i can fix this to remove the "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011" string thats at the start of every card transaction? If im hearing you correctly, the answer is no, correct? Is there a way i can export, manipulate the transactions and import back?

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Inspector So I just played with this in a test budget, and it does look like you can export the existing transactions and manipulate the payee field in Excel. Then you can unlink the account, and use manual import to re-import the CSV file with your corrected payees. Re-importing will involve first deleting all the existing transactions before you import, because otherwise the import will just match to the existing payees. In other words, when you import the file with it marked as "McDonalds," it will match up as "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011" because YNAB defaults to the payee that is already in YNAB. However, if you are using a YNAB export to correct the data, it shouldn't ultimately change anything in your budget--you'll just suddenly have no transaction data, and then suddenly have all the same transaction data again. (Reconcile your accounts after you do this, of course.) 

      You will still need to follow the steps in the second paragraph with regard to teaching the budget which payee is which going forward; fixing the existing transactions will not solve the problem of your transactions showing up as VISA DEBIT in the future. 

      But yes, they programmed for what they tell people to do, which is to manually input your transactions and use import only to clear them. A vast majority of their users don't ever manually input, but since that's not how they intended the software to be used, it wasn't optimized for that use case. This is unlikely to change,  so the only thing you can do beyond fixing the transactions on your end is to report it to the devs so that they can pass on the information to their import partners on how to treat transactions from your financial institution. 

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    • WordTenor Thanks for this. Will i lose my categorisation when i reimport? 

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Inspector Your categorization will come along with the CSV. Just make sure you don't change that column. 

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    • WordTenor Thanks. However, when im importing now, it says all transactions were previously imported. I have deleted all of them.

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    • WordTenor My categories havent imported too :-( HELP!! Im so scared now :-(

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Inspector Hmm. I had forgotten about that wrinkle. If you haven't refreshed the page, you can always "undo." However, I just got this to work, so don't despair! I didn't actually delete the transactions in experiment #1, I just noticed that my import failed to overwrite some of my payees, so I forgot about that deleted transactions error when I suggested you delete them. To fix that, I just created a new account, named it "checking 2," clicked yes in the warning box about transactions being dated before the start date on the account, and the import came in perfectly. I then deleted the old account and nothing changed in the budget (note that this means you can't undo changes in that account though, so wait until you're happy with the new account!). 

      Re: your categories; that I don't know about. If the transactions didn't import, naturally the categories didn't! 

      My CSV file has:

      Account,Flag,Date,Payee,Category Group/Category,Category Group,Category,Memo,Outflow,Inflow,Cleared

      If you altered any of those three Category columns, that might confuse the categorization. However, my categories come back in fine. The only info I changed was the text in the "payee" column.  

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    • WordTenor Are your categories back because of payee rules you have or because of the file? I have the exact same fields in my file and its just not taking the categories.

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Inspector Because of the file. I'm working in a test budget which has no payee rules set (but has about 100 transactions from various scenarios I've game planned over the last four years). 

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    • WordTenor Weird. Even in a brand new budget, the categories arent being imported.

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    • WordTenor I just reimported the one I exported and all the categories are there now. When I make changes to the payees, the categories aren’t imported.

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    • Hi Beige Inspector !

      File Based Importing does not import categories. However, if you have payee rules in place, they'll be applied to the file you import - that's why you aren't seeing categories when you edit the payee. If you use the 'Contains' rule WordTenor mentioned, then you should see categories applied in the new budget when you perform the import. If you don't use the payee rules, then YNAB will learn as you update the payees going forward.

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    • Faness thannks. The contains rule means i have to do it for each individual payee and that is tedious. Is there anyway i can delete ALL my payee rules and start again? man this sucks.

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    • Faness Faness I really need your help. I have a file with all my transactions and categories. Is there anyway you can help me import these with the categories in the file? Happy to provide this file to you.

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    • Beige Inspector I'm sorry, but there isn't a way to import categories from the file import, it only uses the payee rules in place. There also isn't a way to clear all payee rules at once - they'd need to be deleted individually. If you alter the payees in your file, you'd then have to create payee rules in YNAB that apply to the payees. The rules would then apply to all transactions going forward and would be applied to the file even if you chose not to edit the payees in the file beforehand.

      Instead of going through the file and changing all VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 McDonalds, you could create a McDonalds payee with the "Contains: McDonalds" rule, so that all instances of that payee are automatically categorized when you import the file.

      When you see the first instance of a payee in your budget, you don't have to create a rule - when you update it, YNAB will remember it. For instance, let's say it's your first time going to VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 Burger King. If you click on the payee and change it to just Burger King, all future "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 Burger King" will be automatically updated to just Burger King.

      It sounds like you already altered the payees in your file, is that right? If so, you can search for the payees and bulk edit them to categorize them (search for the payee, select all of the transactions, click Edit that Categorize As). This is still a bit more work than it being done automatically, but should cut down on the time it takes and YNAB will remember the categories for those payees, so they'll be automatically categorized int he future.

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Inspector I feel bad for having sent you down this path so was going to offer to take your file and run it through version 4 on my computer to give you a migratable file that would keep your categories. But it’s worth noting that even if all these  transactions come in categorized, payee rules for future transactions still won’t be set  until you categorize them in the software for the first time. So I would use the bulk edit to categorize what you have, as this will set the rules. Even with a thousand transactions, it shouldn’t take long when you think about it; I don’t know about you but most of my frequent transactions happen at the same handful of places. I dine out multiple times a week but it’s usually the same two or three local pubs. 

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    • WordTenor I would really appreciate that If you can. My categorisation isn’t that straight forward because not all MacDonalds goes to restaurants and not all Woolworths goes to groceries😔

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    • Faness is there anyway I can restore to what my budget was yesterday?

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    • Beige Inspector I wish I had better news. Currently, there isn't a way to restore a budget to a specific point in time. If a budget is accidentally deleted, we can restore it to where it was when it was deleted, but not a moment in the past. 

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  • Just for info, I'm in Australia as well and my payee are the same. Even include the date on the credit card ...

    A mix of manual entries, scheduled transactions and using the Payee manager fixed the issue. I didn't do it all in one day. But my accounts now pretty much import with only nice payees, only the one-off types that I haven't entered by hand are still to modify. Also when you fix a Payee in the manager, it will fix all transactions already in. 

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  • I don't see how going via Excel would be faster than the Payee Manager. You can simply say to change all transactions that contain McDonalds to Macca no matter what's before or after. 

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      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Ceeses Unless I'm mistaken and can't figure out how to do what you're suggesting, there's not a way to search for part of the string among existing transactions in the payee management tool. Just ones that haven't been imported yet. Although I suppose if the OP wanted to search for each payee in the register, they could then be bulk renamed to a new payee. E.g. create the payee "McDonald's." Then search for all the transactions that have McDonalds in the payee  (which will be several different payees, depending on how many McDonalds there are--my card definitely puts the store number for most transactions like that, so each one would be a different payee). Then select all >  edit > categorize as > McDonalds. Repeat for Arby's, Best Buy, Walmart, etc. But the best you can do is searching for the end of the string for each payee which is still pretty time consuming. It *might* set the renaming rule, though--perhaps a staffer can confirm.

      I would find the procedure I outlined much faster. Export to CSV, open the CSV, and use any number of possible methods to cut the string "VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011" off the front of each payee. In one swoop, you can reduce every VISA DEBIT PURCHASE CARD 7011 PAYEE to just PAYEE, no matter how many different values there are for PAYEE. 

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