Demystifying Google Ads billing
Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. This platform allows you to promote your website, set advertising budgets and bids, and measure results. But why is the Google Ads billing so complicated? Even something as simple as finding the invoice is a challenge.
I get it.
Navigating a new tool can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! To help you with that, in this article I’ll cover what you need to know about Google Ads billing so you can comfortably use this platform even if you’re a beginner. Specifically, I will be looking at:
- Payment settings and payment methods
- Finding Google Ads invoices
- Discrepancies between invoices and debited amounts
- VAT and taxes
- Downloading and printing payment receipts
Let’s get started.
Setting up payments
When it comes to setting up payments, it’s important to remember that in Google Ads, there’s a difference between payment settings and payment methods.
Payment settings refer to how you want to make payments. Depending on the country you are in, there are different payment settings available in Google Ads, including:
- Manual payments, where you pay a lump sum before the campaign starts and Google deducts the costs from the total.
- Automatic payments, where Google charges you for the cost of running a campaign either at the end of the billing cycle or when you reach your threshold, whichever happens first.
- Monthly billing, where Google gives you a line of credit you receive an invoice for all the ads ran during a billing cycle. This billing option is usually only available to large advertisers.
On the other hand, payment methods specify the channel used to make payments. The options vary from country to country and depend on your currency, but in most cases the following payment methods are available:
- Direct debit, where the amount owed is automatically taken from your bank account.
- Credit and debit card payment.
To set or change the payment method, ensure you’re logged into your Google Ads account and click on “Tools and Settings”. Then click on “Billing” > “Payment method”, enter the requested information, and save it.
For extra peace of mind, you can also set up a backup payment method. Go to “Billing” > “Settings” > “Payment methods”, then designate the payment options on record as either Primary or Back Up, and save the changes. This will ensure that you’re always up to date with your payments should there be a problem with your bank, debit, or credit card.
Partial payments with voucher codes and coupons
Google Ads allows you to make partial payments against an invoice using coupons or voucher codes. If you have any of these, you can redeem them and combine their total amount to cover a specific invoice. To do that, ensure you’ve selected a payment method and click on “Billing”, then go to “Voucher codes”, enter your code, and click on “Save”. This will apply the voucher/coupon amount towards your next invoice.
Sales tax & VAT on Google Ads invoices
Google Ads invoices do not include VAT or sales tax. However, this doesn’t mean you’re exempt from paying the relevant taxes. Google views tax compliance as the individual responsibility of each account holder, so always budget for the taxes that apply in your country. Because taxation rules differ from country to country and from situation to situation, I always recommend speaking with an accountant or a tax advisor to determine what applies in your case.
Finding your Google Ads invoice
Google Ads invoices are generated every month and available for viewing and downloading directly from your account.
To find your Google Ads invoices, you need to log into your Google Ads account. Next, click on “Tools & Settings” in the top right-hand corner. Then select “Billing” and “Billing overview”.
If your Google Ads account is new, you can access the “Billing” tab from the menu bar.
What if you need more than one invoice? You access your entire invoice history by clicking on
“Billing”, “Invoices” and then “All Invoices”. After selecting the Google Ads invoices you need, click on “Download selection”.
Still having problems finding your Google Ads invoice?
This can be due to four things.
- It may still be too early in the billing cycle, which covers 30 days from the moment you purchase a campaign. So you won’t find any invoice if you’re trying to access it and it’s only day 2 in the billing cycle.
- You may not have reached your threshold. In addition to the billing cycle, Google takes into account thresholds to trigger invoices. The specific amounts vary, going from $50 to $500. New accounts usually have a $50 threshold, and the platform won’t generate an invoice if your charges don’t amount to that.
- Google Ads only generates invoices when there’s an activity in your account. So you may not get an invoice if you have paused a campaign or if your keyword search volume is too low to drive any traffic.
- You’re trying to access an invoice without selecting a time period.
Why doesn’t your invoice match the amount debited from your account?
Finding a mismatch between the invoice total and the amount Google debited from your bank account or credit card is very common. And unfortunately, this discrepancy can create some accounting headaches. So why does this happen?
This issue can happen if you have chosen the Automatic payment settings. As I explained earlier in this article, this means that Google charges you either at the end of the billing cycle or when you reach your threshold, whichever happens first. You may reach your threshold before the billing cycle is over, or multiple times during this cycle. Each time this happens, there will be a separate charge reflected in your bank account or credit card statement. However, the Google Ads invoice generated at the end of the 30-day billing cycle will reflect the total amount outstanding.
Let’s use an example to clarify this. Imagine you have a $100 threshold and your billing cycle starts the fifth day of every month. On day 20, you hit the £100 threshold and Google debits your bank account or credit card. You don’t hit the threshold again until the following month. You may still accrue clicks between day 20 and day 5 of the following month when Google generates the invoice. This invoice will cover the clicks that took place between the time you hit the threshold and the invoice date or end of the billing cycle.
So in summary, any clicks that take place after hitting the threshold are carried over into the following month and are reflected in the respective invoice. Google does not match payments to invoices, which can make bookkeeping a bit complicated unless you are a large advertiser and qualify for monthly billing.
Making changes to your Google Ads invoice
You cannot make any changes to an invoice or payment settings once Google Ads has issued the invoice in question. If you entered the wrong payment information by mistake, you can still edit it under “Payment methods” as explained above, but the changes will only come into effect in the next billing cycle.
Bear in mind that any updates you make to payment information must be made at least 14 days before the end of the billing cycle if you want them to be reflected in the next invoice.
Downloading and printing your Google Ads invoice
You can get a hard copy of a Google Ads invoice for your records or for accounting purposes, directly from your account dashboard.
Once you’re logged into your account, click on “Billing”, and again on “View Invoices”. This will display a drop-down menu where you can choose between “All Invoices” (a historical view of all your invoices), and “Open and past due invoices”, which shows outstanding invoices.
Once you select a specific invoice, you get the option to download it in PDF or CSV format.
In this article I’ve covered the basics of Google Ads billing, so you can navigate this tool smoothly from now on. If you have questions on whether Google Ads is for you or would like to know how to bring real change to your business, get in touch. I’ll be happy to discuss the options and offer personalised solutions.