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Using QuickBooks Online and Melio for Bill Pay

The following review was not paid for nor otherwise commissioned by AccountingWEB. They are the views and experiences of the author and do not reflect the views of AccountingWEB, its partners or its parent company Sift Media.

Feb 16th 2021
Owner FitBooks Pro
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This article focuses specifically on using Melio as the bill payment engine inside of QuickBooks Online. Of late, I've been using Melio inside QBO for this purpose, so here are my thoughts on my experience with the app.

Note that Melio does work as a stand-alone app for paying bills regardless of whether or not you use QBO. Also, Melio appears to have other features, including Accounts Receivable, but this article only addresses the Accounts Payable function.

Background: In August 2020 Intuit announced that the Melio [] bill payment app was now available for use inside of QBO. At that time, Intuit recommended Melio for QBO Essentials and QBO Plus and Bill Pay powered by Bill.com for QBO Advanced, but in fact, either app can be activated as the Bill Pay engine inside of QBO.

Using either Bill Pay app inside of QBO allows users to enter bills and create an Accounts Payable queue, then pay the bills directly inside of QBO, and the app vendor processes the payments. Both app vendors offer payment by paper check or ACH (both free in Melio; $1.99 per paper check, or $0.99 per ACH in BillPay powered by Bill.com). Melio also offers bill payment by credit card, for a 2.9 percent fee.

Melio Accountant Dashboard

Melio offers a Dashboard for bookkeeping or accounting firms, to see all of their clients in one place. For some reason, whenever I login to my Dashboard, instead of defaulting to the “Companies” screen, the dashboard opens directly to one of my clients on the Dashboard, and I have to manually click over to the “Companies” link to see all my clients. I found this annoying.

Once you get to the Clients Page (aka “Companies” -  perhaps Melio can choose one name, instead of using “Companies” in the side bar and “Clients” on the “Companies” home page), you see each client by name and some quick stats on the number of bills in the Inbox labeled Pending, Scheduled or Failed.

Next, you can select the client you wish to work on with a single click. If you entered bills in your client’s QBO file, or synced bills to QBO with a third party app, such as ReceiptBank, you will see the bills listed in Melio due to the Melio/QBO sync.

Of note: This sync does not populate all the QBO vendors into Melio, it only syncs vendors which have a current/open bill in QBO. I don’t know the logic for this, but it impacts the payment by ACH feature, which is described in more detail below.

ACH Payment Setup

One of the great selling points to about implementing Bill Pay inside of QBO is that vendors can get paid via ACH, instead of by paper check. Clients like it because they get out of the paying-by-paper game and vendors like because they receive their payments via direct deposit and no longer have the hassle of processing paper checks received.

In Bill Pay powered by Bill.com inside of QBO, you can proactively select any Vendor inside of QBO and send them an invite to get paid via ACH, whether or not they have any current bills. I like this because with a new Bill Pay setup, I can go into the Bill Pay powered by Bill.com app right inside of QBO and invite all the client’s usual 1099 vendors to get setup for ACH, so we are ready to go the next time the vendor sends the client a bill.

With Melio, the process works differently and in my opinion poorly. Note: There are some one-time setup steps involving micro-deposits which have to be verified. The steps below are after you have completed that initial setup.

To get ACH setup in Melio, these are the steps:

1. Enter the bill in QBO (or directly in Melio); the bill syncs to Melio

2. Open Melio Dashboard

3. Click on the Bill

4. Click the green "Schedule This Bill Payment" button

5. Select payment from your Bank Account to pay from

6. Schedule the bill for payment

7. Wait and hope the vendor accepts the ACH invite. If they do not, the bill payment fails and you have to start all over again, either by re-scheduling the bill payment with another ACH Invite, or by editing the bill payment to be paid by paper check instead.

If you have multiple bills, you have to go through the entire process for each vendor to get the ACH invite sent. Of course once the ACH is in place, bill payment is streamlined for the next time the vendor sends a bill.

You will receive an email from Melio confirming the bill payment was scheduled. If the vendor accepts the ACH, you will get another email confirmation. When the bill payment goes out, you will receive another confirmation. So, that’s up to three emails for each new vendor setup for ACH.

In other words, so far as I can tell:

  • You cannot invite a vendor to get paid via ACH from inside of QBO, you must instead open the Melio Dashboard to do so.
  • You cannot invite a vendor to get paid via ACH unless you have an open bill from that vendor.
  • Once ACH has been setup, you can pay the vendor by ACH next time directly in QBO – you don’t have to go out to the Melio Dashboard.

Note: If your client wants to create their own ACH authorization form, send it to the vendor, have the vendor complete and return it. You can then enter the ACH information manually into Melio and skip the Invitation step. While it is nice to have that option, in reality I don’t believe most small business owners would not go to these lengths to get a vendor setup for ACH payment.

What I Like About Melio

  • The bill pay, via ACH or paper check, is free.
  • Melio has many support articles with screen shots in their Support Center. However, for some reason, you cannot access the Help Center from the Accountant Dashboard. Instead, you have to open another browser and manually find the Help Center page.
  • If you set up the Accountant Dashboard roles such that your practice has the role of “Owner” of the Melio account, you can pay all your client’s bills and receive the confirmation emails to your own email, instead of having the emails go to the client. My client using Melio likes this configuration, as she is not getting bombarded with Melio emails, which she will essentially ignore.

What I’m Not Crazy About in Melio

  • You cannot send an invite to a vendor to get paid via ACH unless you first enter a bill in QBO, sync it to Melio, and schedule the bill to be paid.
  • There is currently no way to track if a vendor has accepted an ACH invitation (or not) inside of Melio. Instead, you must wait until you receive a confirmation email that the vendor accepted the ACH invite.
  • If a vendor ignores their ACH invite, the bill payment fails. You then have to reschedule the bill payment, either by a new ACH invite or by paper check (this takes a few extra clicks, as Melio thinks you want to send the ACH invite again).
  • Support seems to be Chat only, and chat is closed by 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
  • There is no link to the Help Center on the Accountant Dashboard, as far as I can tell. You have to open another browser and manually find the Melio Help Center.
  • If you pay multiple bills in one run, you will receive an email notification from “Intuit Service,” which says “Scheduled Payment Confirmed” showing the Payment Details (Amount, To, Memo, For Invoice, and account to be paid from), and indicating if the vendor will receive an ACH or a paper check.
  • There is also a link to view the bill payment, which is nice and you will get an email for each bill paid. However, if multiple bills were paid in one run, it would be nice if Melio could develop a summary, instead of sending individual emails for each bill paid.

Conclusion

While the Melio Accountant Dashboard is useful for some, I prefer not to leave QBO to manage the workings of the Bill Pay app. Melio has some work to do to get the ACH payment feature up to par. It feels like this is a ‘young’ app and has some maturing to do before I would personally consider recommending it to bookkeeping and accounting practices as a bill pay app engine inside of QuickBooks.

That being said, some clients may prefer Melio over Bill Pay powered by Bill.com because Melio ACH and check payments are free as mentioned. Overall, Melio seems to work reasonably well for paying bills as a stand-alone app for businesses not using QuickBooks.

Jody Linick is an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper, a QuickBooks® Certified Pro Advisor, and a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer network.  Her company, FitBooks Pro (formerly called Linick Consulting), specializes in remote bookkeeping services for professional services firms using QuickBooks Online. You can find her series of Blog posts here.

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