Sadly, some banks are listed but never work (we're looking at you PayPal)

We've now been at this for a few years, and we've come to a sad realization.

Some banks are simply never going to work.

Oh, they may tease us for awhile, data may download, it may even be correct, but eventually we start getting bad data or cannot connect at all.

One of the largest examples is PayPal.  

For some reason PayPal has consistently been a problem connection, over three different data partners (Yodlee, Intuit, and currently MX) over 10 years.  It sometimes doesn't connect, when it does it gives us notoriously bad data.  We used to wonder whether it was our data provider or PayPal, but we don't wonder anymore because none of them were able to stay connected.  We do know we've spent hundreds of hours trying to patch it, and it turned out to be a complete and total waste of time and energy.  Every now and again we get the hope it's working for awhile, only to be dashed yet again.

We recommend you don't add PayPal.

I use PayPal as an example because it's a large well known company, but in practice the vast majority of banks with connection problems are smaller local institutions.  Large banks like Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, and American Express never seem to have problems.  This is not an endorsement of those institutions, they just appear to have well designed and working data sharing systems which don't fail.  

The harsh truth is that while there are some 10,000 that MX can connect and get transaction data from, many of them work sporadically or not at all and the only way to know if yours works is by trial and error. 

Be Patient, This is Hard

If you think about it 10,000 is a surprisingly huge number.  The vast majority of those, and especially the smaller ones, do not have formal data sharing arrangements with MX.  Instead MX uses your bank credentials and logs into your banks online website and "screen scrapes" your data. 

The problem with this approach is that every time your local bank changes their security procedures or ANY other aspect of their online website, MX has to rework their code to get your data.  This can take 6-8 weeks, and result in data errors until they get it right.  We here at Cheqbook often get the brunt of that frustration, because your Cheqbook account isn't getting data or can't connect.  

Sometimes there are steps we can take to help, sometimes there aren't.   We just have to let them know and wait for MX to fix it, hoping it doesn't break again.

It May Be Time to Give Up

Why are we sharing all this?  Primarily because if you're committed to using bank data to save time and effort with Cheqbook (or any other online accounting package that connects and downloads data from your bank) at some point you may have to make the choice to abandon your existing financial institution when you simply can't get them working.  Only you know when you've reached that frustration point, but if we've referred you to this FAQ in a support ticket, it's likely we're not going to be able to connect to your your bank.

This is amazing technology when it works, but some banks just don't cut it.  

It's still possible to manually download and upload transactions, here's a link to that method:

http://help.cheqbook.com/entries/22471563-How-to-upload-transactions

 

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