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Intuit
543 helpful votes

What is the difference between bills, checks, and expenses?

  • For bills to be paid later, use Bill, then Pay Bills.
  • For expenses to be paid immediately or that have already been paid, use Check or Expense depending on how you made the payment.

When to enter bills

  • Enter bills from vendors to accurately report your Accounts Payable, especially if you run your reports on an accrual basis.
  • If tracking Vendor balances, entering bills is essential for knowing how much you owe your vendors.
  • Record a bill for any services or items received that you will pay for later - whether or not there is an actual bill received from the vendor.

For example, when you receive your electric bill, which is not due until the end of the month, use Bill to track what you owe. Then, use Pay Bills to clear the bill and generate the check.

Learn how to enter bills to keep track of your payables.

When to enter bill payments

  • If you originally recorded a bill in QuickBooks, use Pay Bills to close the bill. You can print a bill payment check or pay via credit card.
  • Entering a bill payment through Pay Bills ensures that the Vendor balance decreases appropriately.
  • Using Check or Expense may cause the bill to still show unpaid on your reports.
  • If you paid a bill via electronic payment, enter EFT in the check number field.

Learn how to record a bill payment check or pay a bill using credit or debit card.

When to record checks or expenses

  • Both Check and Expense report a transaction as an expense and a payment simultaneously.
  • While Bills are for payables (received services or items to be paid later) Check and Expenses are for services or items paid on-the-spot.
  • If you need to print a check, record an expense as a Check, instead of an Expense.
  • If you paid something via credit card, use Expense.
  • If you paid something via EFT, you should still use Check or Expense. You can enter EFT in check number field.

As an example, if you bought supplies at Office Depot and immediately paid for them, record the transaction using Check or Expense. You can skip entering and paying bills, because there's no money owed to Office Depot.

Get help with entering a Check or Expense.

Note: If your preferred delivery method for a customer is set to "Print later," the Expense will save as a Check.

To check this, go to your customer's profile, then select Edit. Go to Payment and billing tab and verify that the preferred delivery method is not set to Print Later.

Now you know how to handle bills to be paid later and bills to be paid immediately.

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