QuickBooks Can’t Connect to Bank of America

Symptom

You have had QuickBooks 2014 (or earlier versions) setup with online banking connecting for a long time. Everything has been running fine. Suddenly, one day “Bank Feeds” simply stop working. QuickBooks displays this error message:

Error message shows please try again in a few days,

QuickBooks Fails to Connect to Bank of America

Really?! Try again in a day or two?! OK. You are busy. Or patient. You wait a day or two. Same problem. You wait another day or two. Same problem.

Contacting Support

When you contact Intuit support, they will have no idea why this problem is happening…although they will suspect it is because you have done something wrong. However, you are in luck! Not only does Intuit have a dedicated helpdesk for supporting Bank of America customers, Bank of America has a similar dedicated helpdesk for supporting QuickBooks customers.

  1. The Intuit dedicated helpdesk for Bank of America Customers will spend an hour or so explaining to you that the problem is definitely caused by the stupid people at Bank of America changing their website constantly.
  2. The Bank of America helpdesk for QuickBooks Customers will respond by spending an hour or so explaining to you that the problem is definitely either in the poor design of the QuickBooks software or in your inept use thereof.

Meanwhile, you are still dead in the water.

What is Actually Going On?

The problem is in the stone-age software communication protocol between these two major institutions. That is, apparently they don’t have one. Instead of using something modern, architected, and designed for electronic business-to-business communication, these two giant companies communicate by having Intuit use a web-scraper to try to decipher Bank of America’s customer website. For anyone who understands anything about software development, this is an astoundingly primitive approach.

In any event, although there may be any number of ways in which a minor tweak to the Bank of America website can break Intuit’s web-scraper, there is one trigger that will break it without fail and cause the error message shown above. That trigger is any change to your business credit cards. I have had this problem three times in four years for our little business:

  1. When I added a business credit card for a summer intern
  2. When I cancelled that intern’s credit card at the end of the summer
  3. When Bank of America got worried about security breaches at Home Depot, Target, et al and spontaneously reissued my credit card – even though my account was not actually having any fraud issues.

The nasty thing about the problem is that the QuickBooks bank feed doesn’t stop working just for the single credit card in question. Rather, once there is any sort of change in the constellation of your business credit cards, QuickBooks completely locks up and refuses to communicate with Bank of America at all…instead displaying the useless error message shown above.

How Do I Fix It?

Fortunately, it is not hard to fix. Don’t waste your time calling the Inuit or Bank of America helpdesks. What you have to do is completely deactivate online banking and reactivate it again from scratch. If you are a small business with only a handful of accounts, this process will only take a few minutes.

Deactivate Online Banking

The first step is to deactivate online banking for all of your Bank of America accounts.

Open the Chart of Accounts

Open the Chart of Accounts

For each Bank of America account, Right Click and Select Edit Account

For each Bank of America account, Right Click and Select Edit Account

Deactivate Online Services

Deactivate Online Services

Click OK to Dismiss Warning

Click OK to Dismiss Warning

Reactivate Online Banking

Select Your Main Bank of America Checking Account and Setup Bank Feeds

Select Your Main Bank of America Checking Account and Setup Online Banking

Click Yes and Let QuickBooks Re-Initialize

Click Yes and Let QuickBooks Re-Initialize

Select the Correct Bank of America

Select the Correct Bank of America

Click Continue

Click Continue

Enter Your Bank of America Online ID and Password

Enter Your Bank of America Online ID and Password

Relink Your Accounts.

Relink Your Accounts. Use the Pull-Down Next to Each Account to Assign the QB Account. All Accounts can be Re-Assigned in One Step

Online Bill Pay

If you are using online bill payment, some additional steps may be needed. That is, there are two ways to pay recurring bills:

  1. Initiate the bill payment from QuickBooks – Enter the bill in QuickBooks. Pay the bill in QuickBooks. QuickBooks uploads the information to Bank of America. Bank of America prints and mails a check. Later when the check is cashed, the item appears in your QuickBooks bank feed and QuickBooks recognizes it.
  2. Initiate the bill payment from Bank of America – Use the Bank of America website. Select bill payment. Setup the supplier information. Pay from the website. Bank of America prints and mails a check. Later when the check is cashed, the item appears in your QuickBooks bank feed. The first time, you have to assign a vendor and account number to it. In subsequent months, QuickBooks should recognize it and automatically set the transaction up for you.

We had started with the first method because our accountant liked it. However, we had problems with the primitive interface between QuickBooks and Bank of America garbling/truncating address information and causing Bank of America to send checks to nonexistent addresses. As such, for some suppliers we had started using the second method. After the most recent round of fixing this communication problem, the first method stopped working – obviously some additional setup is required. However, I decided that rather than messing around figuring out out to re-setup the first method, I would simply transition the few remaining suppliers to the second method that seems to work better anyway.

Preventing it from Happening Again

You may not be able to completely prevent this sort of problem from happening if Bank of America makes a change and you try to synchronize the QuickBooks bank feeds before you are aware of the change. However, if you are aware of the change because you initiated it (adding new card, cancelling an old one) If you are careful to change all of the associated account setup information in QuickBooks BEFORE trying to synchronize bank feeds, you should be able to avoid this problem.