Splitting credit card transactions with cash accounts in YNAB

This problem has plagued me for years with the new YNAB. It used to work great in old YNAB, but their changes to credit card rules means I run into this problem all the time. I have a few support threads with YNAB dating back to 2016-2017, and their answer has always been “this isn’t possible the way you want to do it.” I figured I’d start this thread here in case anyone else has this problem and wants to try to badger YNAB support until they fix it.

Here is a simplified example of the problem:

You are at dinner with 2 friends and the check comes. The total is $60, and the three of you want to split the check evenly. Rather than giving the waiter 3 credit cards, you offer to pay the whole bill on your credit card and your friends each give you a $20 bill. In YNAB you enter a $60 transaction on your card, and split it $20 spent from your “eating out” budget and $40 as a transfer to your cash account. Now the problem is only $20 was budgeted towards the credit card payment and there is magically $40 more in your “to be budgeted” amount. In reality, it should have put the $40 cash towards the credit card payment.

Here is a sequence of screenshots from a brand new budget that illustrate this.

We start with a fresh budget with $1000 in a checking account, budgeted to rent, groceries and dining out.

Next, we enter a split transaction spent on the credit card, $60 to the bar, split $20 to my dining out category and recording the $40 cash I got from friends.

This should result in $60 budgeted towards my credit card payment, but instead we have this:

Notice that it budgeted only $20 to my credit card payment category, and there is $40 in “to be budgeted” now. YNAB’s answer to this is that I am actually holding on to $40 cash that I didn’t have before, so I now need to budget that into categories.

My argument is that if I don’t budget this towards my credit card payment, everything falls apart, so I have to do that anyway. And now I need to manually add the $40 from “to be budgeted” into the credit card payment category.

I think YNAB should be doing this automatically, otherwise I end up with phantom money appearing in “to be budgeted” and I have to go figure out which credit card is underfunded and move money there. As soon as this happens with less friendly numbers than “$20”, and when it happens a couple times a month across different accounts, it becomes extremely hard to track down.

Anyone else have this problem and want to see it fixed? Please chime in!

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Paging @brute and @LadyDuck from the other thread!

Excellent write-up of the issue there. I’ll bug my buddy about it next week.

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I HATE the inconsistency of the phantom money part of this feature. So much that I started a new budget after years of data and reclassified my credit cards as checking accounts and enter payments (in full) as transfers.

And then haven’t used YNAB at all for the past three months because the whole thing annoys me so badly, after using it weekly for about a decade now.

ETA My kids also stopped using YNAB after the first time the discrepancy screwed up their budget, and they started it in high school.


I’ve tried to adopt YNAB 3 times now. Each time, it gets totally borked on something with the CCs and I give up. Mint breaks for me, constantly, but at least it doesn’t leave mystery phantoms I can never solve when it does break.


Same with giving up on adopting the latest YNAB.

We went back to the old version for as long as it limps along and just ignore credit cards. I just important them as debit transactions.

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Yes, I’m another in the “credit card payments and other transfers between credit card & other accounts” == “account transfer, not an expense” person. I can only imagine it really stuffs up other people who are paying for things with their credit card at the same time as paying them down as well, if they ever go out for a meal with friends!

Sorry for the delayed response - new to OMD and enjoying reading through past threads!

I have also talked to support about this. In my case, it’s a transfer from my credit card to my Starbucks card. I was just told to transfer the “to be budgeted” amount to my credit card payment if I wanted things to work out. The phantom “to be budgeted” money comes from the credit card payment category, so it seems very silly to have to manually put it right back. Doesn’t it encourage people to redistribute the money to other categories, and then be short on their credit card payment when the time comes?

That’s actually why I contacted support in the first place. My accounts were off because I had rebudgeted the money to fun categories, thinking I had just forgotten to allocate some of my paycheck. Now I do what they say and transfer the surplus to my credit card immediately so I don’t forget, and so I know what card to send the funds to. Annoying, but I like everything else about YNAB so I put up with it.

For situations like the one you describe, I usually just budget two separate transactions. I put one $60 outflow in the Dining Out category using my credit card as the account, and then one $40 inflow in the Dining Out category using cash as the account. The net result is $20 spent in the Dining Out category, so my reports are still correct. I agree that your way also makes sense logically, but you could try the double transaction method if you don’t want to worry about the phantom $40 you have to then budget to the credit card payment.