'Polarity of transactions'

Steve106's Avatar


12 Sep, 2019 05:11 PM

Dear Moneydance support team,

I have been running Moneydance 2017.8 (1691) for just over a year and am very happy with it. It has taken a little while to get used to the software but as a person from a non-accounting background I find that it generally makes sense and is fairly easy to use.
I am based in the UK and have 2 main bank accounts plus 2 main credit cards. Thus I am downloading data from each of these providers on a monthly basis and importing it into Moneydance. Whilst the process works well I am experiencing issues with the quality of data supplied by the four different financial institutions. HSBC (UK) provides the option for OFX format which works brilliantly and doesn't allow accidental duplication of transactions if there are overlapping dates in the monthly downloads. Santander (UK) doesn't list OFX so I use the .qif format which is OK but doesn't seem to protect against duplication. MBNA (UK) offer .qif and other formats for the credit card but since March this year the polarity of transactions has been flipped so that a spend transaction now credits the account!! Capitol One (UK) only offer .csv and since I have been using it they have always had the polarity wrong! The consequence of this is that each month I have to manually correct the polarity of each credit card transaction prior to import into Moneydance. Whilst this isn't hugely difficult it is time consuming and introduces the possibility of keying errors etc. that might alter some of the data then requiring time to backtrack to find the error.
Having investigate this topic a little bit it seems that the Credit Card companies are a law unto themselves with regard to how they present the polarity of transactions on their platform - why anyone would think that a spend is a positive transaction is quite beyond me and certainly doesn't work for Moneydance!
There's at least one thread on the specific MBNA issue in the Online Banking section forum - "MBNA Card transactions reversed after site change" In this thread there is discussion around a custom extension that someone has written to reverse the polarity of imported transactions. However I would be very reluctant to install untested software into my personal finance program for all the obvious security reasons that you can imagine.
As this is a problem that lots of users are experiencing I was wondering if it would be possible to add an option somewhere into the manual import process with maybe a check box that says - "Reverse polarity of imported transactions". This could perhaps be a preference for specific accounts or maybe could even be intelligently embedded into the process by checking for the account type and automatically applying the correct polarity. I have seen for example that in the release notes for the 2019 version "Improvements to the algorithm used to guess whether a bank’s OFX credit card transactions reverse the signs based on the transaction type field." This tells me that the odd behaviour of banks with regard to credit card transactions is already recognised by Moneydance.

In summary I have 5 questions:
1. Am I overlooking something in my current version that could help me with this?
2. Is there an approved and tested extension that will help with this?
3. Is there something in Moneydance 2019 that will help with this?
4. Is this a recognised issue for which a software enhancement is being planned, if not could it be added to the development queue?
5. Should I be worried about trying the extension that Mike Bray has written for this specific issue?

I could of course switch card providers but there's no guarantee that any new provider won't suddenly go rogue on me!

Thanks in advance for your help.

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Maddy on 12 Sep, 2019 06:13 PM

    Maddy's Avatar

    Hi Steve,

    We are sorry to hear about the problem you have encountered.

    We would recommend downloading the latest version, Moneydance 2019.3 (1880) from here.

    In order to fix the issue described earlier, you need to make sure you select the "Ignore Transaction Types in Favor of Amount Signs" checkbox, in the Network tab of the settings.

    I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have further questions or need any assistance.

    Maddy, Infinite Kind Support

  2. 2 Posted by derekkent23 on 12 Sep, 2019 07:42 PM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    Hi Maddy

    I know the fix you descried work for QFX/OFX file types but I cant remember if it works on QIF files?

  3. 3 Posted by derekkent23 on 12 Sep, 2019 07:55 PM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    I am not support staff, just a user.
    Hi Steve

    I have tested Mike Brays QIF Loader extension and it works well.

    Mike is a long-time user of Moneydance. I have worked with Mike on a number of Extensions in the role of tester and for the Quote Loader extension writing user documentation.
    A number or other experience Moneydance users have also given their time to test Mike’s extension to ensure they work and are safe to use.
    See https://bitbucket.org/mikerb/moneydance-2019/wiki/QIF%20Loader

    Hope this helps

  4. 4 Posted by Steve106 on 13 Sep, 2019 11:32 AM

    Steve106's Avatar

    Hi Maddy,

    I do plan on updating to the version that you suggest but am not sure that enabling the checkbox that you identify would fix the problem. When I open the MBNA .qif files with a text editor I can see that there isn't a negative sign in front of each spend transaction. Without a negative sign in place surely the imported transaction will still appear as a credit value even with the option enabled? (It would seem that the option to ignore transaction types is relying on the presence or absence of a negative symbol to determine the polarity.) Also would this work for .csv imports when again there is no negative symbol prefixing the value?

  5. 5 Posted by dwg on 13 Sep, 2019 11:45 AM

    dwg's Avatar

    I'm a fellow user.

    I do not see that the fix as described by Maddy could work with QIF files. That fix is dependent on certain fields that appear in OFX/QFX files, these fields are not present in QIF file - which have a completely different format, in QIF files with bank type accounts the sign of the transaction is the sole determinate of the Debit/Credit nature of a transaction.

  6. 6 Posted by derekkent23 on 13 Sep, 2019 12:38 PM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    I am not support staff, just a user.
    Hi Steve

    For QIF files Mike’s QIF importer provides the option to globally change the sign of each transaction in the QIF file as part of the import process.

    The "Ignore Transaction Types in Favor of Amount Signs" checkbox, in the Network tab is a fix for OFX/QFX files were the bank has used incorrect transaction types.

    Hope this helps

  7. System closed this discussion on 13 Dec, 2019 12:40 PM.

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