Finance Department

Purchasing card policy

Policy and Eligibility


The Procurement Card (P-Card) is a corporate card issued on behalf of Union College by Bank of America. The P-Card is used for buying goods and services for the College. Use of the P-Card eliminates the need for more cumbersome advances, check requests, petty cash, requisitions/purchase orders and is the payment method preferred by many suppliers. Because the P-Card is a corporate liability card and not a personal liability card, cardholders may not list the P-Card as a line of personal credit on any personal credit application or credit check.


P-Card eligibility is based on a departmentally-determined business need and is contingent upon receiving the required application approvals.

The P-Card is intended for use only by Union employees on active payroll status. At the department’s discretion, and with the approvals identified herein, a P-Card can be issued to a student (i.e., teaching assistant, research assistant, etc.). Issuing P-Cards to students should be done only when essential on a very limited basis. A department card can be used by students when appropriate. The P-Card may not be issued to non-employees such as contract workers and volunteers.

Information regarding the application process and associated cardholder agreements are available on the Card Program website.

Training, Card Renewals, Suspension, and Cancellation

New User Training and Card Renewal

New P-card holders are required to attend user training prior to activation and use of their card. P-Cards expire every three years. Replacement cards are issued one month prior to the card expiration date.

Card Cancellation/Suspension

A P-Card can be cancelled at any time by the Issuing Bank, Union, or the cardholder. The Issuing Bank may cancel a card if there has been no transaction activity for eighteen consecutive months. Card Services (with notification from HR) is responsible for ensuring P-Cards are canceled when an employee: a) terminates employment with the College; b) transfers to a different department; or c) misuses the P-Card and/or violates College policy, so that the Card Services can cancel the employee’s P-Card(s). Cardholders may cancel any card in their name at any time.

The P-Card should be returned to one of the following College representatives:

  • Cardholder’s manager
  • Card Services.

Cardholders, or Managers must notify Card Services via when a cardholder goes on extended College leave (i.e., family leave), so that P-Cards can be suspended until his/her return to work. Union will also suspend a P-Card if the cardholder is under investigation for misuse of the P-Card.

Reactivating suspended cards

Cardholders, and Managers can request to reactivate a P-Card suspended during extended leave via email. A P-Card suspended for misuse may be reopened only after Card Services has determined the cardholder’s eligibility for continued use of the P-Card.

Proper Use and Policy Compliance

Proper Use

Cardholders may only use the P-Card for College business transactions. Partial business and personal transactions are not permitted.

In addition to this P-Card policy, all P-Card transactions must comply with the College’s policies and procedures governing Expenditures and Purchases. Cardholders who allocate expenses to a sponsored project account must also comply with their respective sponsoring agency’s policies. Cardholders who do not comply with College policies and procedures may have their Union cardholder privileges revoked.

The College’s policy on Misappropriation of College Assets is applicable with respect to use of the P- Card. Misuse of the P-Card may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

The table below outlines the levels of P-Card use for purchasing goods and services.

Single transaction amount

Use of P-Card

Less than $500


More than $500 and less than $2000

Strongly recommended

$2000 or more

Should be used in conjunction with a PO if applicable

The following list provides examples of appropriate business transactions for the P-Card. It is not all inclusive.

  • Approved Alcohol purchases. Please see Uniform Alcohol Policy
  • Appliances, hardware, and electronics
  • Bakeries and grocery stores, restaurants
  • Books and periodicals
  • Business, trade, and vocational schools
  • Camera and photography supplies
  • Cellphone/internet service
  • Conference registration
  • Copy and reproduction
  • Computers (Hardware and Software should be handled through ITS unless instructed otherwise)
  • Department stores
  • Equipment repair
  • Lab supplies (medical, dental and hospital)
  • Laundry (lab coats, linen and uniforms)
  • Office supplies (incl. coffee service)
  • Overnight courier service
  • Paints and art supplies
  • Postage
  • Photography
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Sporting goods
  • Tickets, Ski Passes
  • Travel related activities
  • Uniforms (purchase, rental and cleaning)

In accordance with IRS accountable plan regulations, reimbursements must be submitted within 60 calendar days after business related expenses are incurred. If a reimbursement is submitted after 60 days, Union College can reimburse those expenses however they are added to an employee's paycheck and taxed as taxable income as per IRS regulation Part 1, Section 62.

Card restrictions

The following restrictions apply to the P-Card.

  • Personal use: Cardholders may use the P-Card for College business transactions only. When used in conjunction with business, the employee must reimburse the college for the appropriate portion non-business related and make a comment in the transaction via WORKS.
  • Promotional and print: When the P-Card is used to purchase promotional items or printed materials that bear the College’s name, logo, or seal, the purchase must be made in compliance with the Style Guide policies governing proper use of the College’s trademarks
  • No alcohol may be purchased as gifts or exceeding the one drink with a meal allowed under the travel policy
    • For those events which are Union College sponsored fundraising events catered using ADC or an outside catering facility, alcohol may be purchased. PLEASE NOTE: Alcohol should be served by trained bartenders who ID patrons and make the decision to serve (or not) that patron. There should be no self-serve tubs of beer/alcohol, cans, and or kegs.
  • Other Examples include:
    • Transactions for gift cards
    • Donations
    • Payments to individuals that require a 1099. Examples include self-employed individuals, freelancers, or independent contractors.
Sponsored project policies compliance

Expenses allocated to a sponsored project account must comply with the sponsoring agency’s policies and the College procurement guidelines.

Cardholders should direct questions regarding allowability to the Sponsored Programs & Special Projects & Grants Office before incurring the expense.

Purchasing policies compliance

All P-Card transactions must comply with the College’s Procurement policies. For example, cardholders are not authorized to sign procurement agreements, contracts (unless designated), etc., regardless of the dollar amount or method of payment. Cardholders should contact the Director of Procurement to obtain a signature for any procurement agreement if using an agreement outside of the designated templates. See the Contracts website for further guidance.

Additionally, some suppliers are required to have specific types of industry licenses and insurance coverage, depending upon the nature of their services. Cardholders are responsible for ensuring that suppliers performing work for the College have the required licenses and insurances.

Card limits

The P-Card has two limits: a billing cycle credit limit and a single purchase limit. The limits are determined on the P-Card application.

The credit limit determines the maximum amount that can be spent during each monthly billing cycle.

Attempting to circumvent the established single purchase limit by splitting transactions is not allowed and may result in deactivation of P-Cards and further disciplinary action.

After P-Card issuance, the Manager can request card limit changes. This increase can be temporary or permanent.

Merchant Category Code (MCC) restrictions

In addition to card limits, the P-Card is subject to certain Merchant Category Code (MCC) restrictions imposed by Union College to reduce the potential for misuse and fraud. For example, transactions for gambling establishments, jewelry stores, and other types of merchants unlikely to provide goods or services with a legitimate business purpose, will not be authorized at point of sale.

Unauthorized Transactions

Please reference the following list of unauthorized transactions as a guideline for procurement card usage:

  • Personal Use
  • Cash Advances (blocked use)
  • Union College Purchases - This includes the Bookstore, Athletics, Dining Services and College Relations – Please charge your account directly
  • Computers, Laptop, & Software (order through ITS) or Major Furniture & Office Layouts (order through Department or Purchasing)
  • Staff Relocation / Moving Expenses – use existing HR process
  • Gasoline for Personal Vehicle - Submit a mileage reimbursement using the current mileage rate - mileage covers your gas, insurance and wear & tear - include a map to an from Union
  • Capital purchases (tangible items) over $2000
  • Travel Insurance, Priority Seating and/or Advanced Boarding fees
  • Gifts for employees
  • Personal meals with co-workers at local restaurants
  • Business items delivered to home address
  • Gift cards of any kind - including Groupon

Cardholder Responsibilities

Authorized Card Users

The cardholder whose name appears on the P-Card is the only individual authorized to use the card. Per Union’s agreement with the Issuing Bank, lending or sharing of P-Cards is not allowed. Cardholders are expected to keep their P-Cards in a secure location at all times.

The Department is responsible for ensuring that anyone using their P-Card understands the policies. If they do not verify this prior to the person using the card, the Department risks the possible cancellation of the P-Card.

The Cardholder is responsible for providing adequate documentation for all P-Card transactions. Adequate documentation is defined in the Documentation Requirements section of this policy.

The Cardholder is responsible for charges hitting the correct accounting string. If there is an account split, within the Issuing Banks software you are able to add multiple line items to show the different accounts/object codes and dollar amount to charge. If there is an account you need to charge that you don’t have access to, please add a note in the comment section indicating the account, object code and dollar amount to charge.

Avoiding Duplicate Claims

Cardholders may not submit duplicate claims for expenses charged to a P-Card, and may not seek a claim for expenses charged to a P-Card from any other source.

Transaction Disputes

Cardholders must dispute any questionable charge appearing on their account in WORKS with the Issuing Bank within sixty days of the transaction postdate.

The Issuing Bank will provide the cardholder with a fraud affidavit form to complete and once returned the fraud investigation will begin. If the dispute is resolved in the cardholder’s favor, the Issuing Bank will credit the transaction and it will remain permanently on the electronic statement. If the Issuing Bank determines that the transaction is a legitimate charge, the Issuing Bank will inform the cardholder and it becomes the cardholder’s responsibility to settle the expense.

Lost, Stolen, or Fraudulent Charges

Cardholders must immediately contact the Issuing Bank’s customer service line if a P-Card is lost or stolen, or fraudulent activity is detected. Please Call (888) 449-2273. Cardholders may be held financially responsible for transactions if fraud is not promptly reported. The Cardholder should also notify Card Services as soon as possible.

Declined Transactions

Common reasons for declined transactions include the following:

  • Merchant has incorrect P-Card expiration date;
  • Incorrect PIN or multiple attempts to bypass PIN;
  • The cardholder’s billing address does not match the billing address provided to the merchant;
  • The transaction amount exceeds the card’s allowable limit without being properly reconciled; and/or the cardholder is attempting to use the P-Card with a restricted high-risk merchant.

If a cardholder is unclear as to why a P-Card transaction is declined, the cardholder may contact either the Issuing Bank or Card Services for more information.

Cardholder Cooperation During Audits

The cardholder agreement states that the College has the authority to access transactions posted to the cardholder’s account and/or to obtain supporting documentation directly from a merchant/supplier. By signing the Procurement Cardholder Agreement, cardholders agree to cooperate with College officials, and provide any additional information and/or documents requested by auditors.

Responsibilities and Misc

Manager Responsibilities

The manager of the cardholder has the following responsibilities:

  • Ensure that all subordinate cardholders are uploading acceptable and legible business purposes and receipts
  • Electronically approve all subordinate cardholders’ transactions through the College’s financial system within 30 days
  • Managers who have not provided adequate oversight of purchases may be subject to disciplinary action.
Card Services Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of Card Services to oversee the P-Card program at the College level. Services responsibilities include:

  • Establish and monitor department-level procedures to ensure expenses charged to departmental accounts comply with departmental procedures and the College’s Expenditure policies;
  • Handle year end closing/external audit procedures of card program;
  • Approve or reject P-Card applications;
  • Review Missing Receipt Form (MRFs);
  • Change to spending limit and Union account number subsequent to the application process;
  • Inactivate cardholder’s based on use/termination/departure from the College
P-Card Audits

P-Card transactions are audited regularly by Finance and an outside auditing firm. All audit material requests will go through the appropriate Finance or trained Department Approver. Please contact Financial Services at (518) 388-6973 if you have any questions regarding audits or P-Card procedures. When audits are performed, Card Services will assist in the gathering of any records, if necessary. Department Approvers or Cardholders may be contacted to provide additional information supporting the business purposes of any transactions under review.

Managers should ensure that the transactions are carefully reviewed both for reconciliation to P-Card receipts and for authorized use of the P-Card. Managers have web access to the Issuing Bank’s portal to review departmental cardholder transactions by contacting Card Services.

Approving Transactions in the P-card System

All P-Card transactions must be processed on-line in the P-Card reallocation system before the sweep/postdate by a Department Approver or Finance employee. Finance and/or Department Cardholder have 30 days to reallocate P-Card purchases to the appropriate account, and have them approved. The Sweep/Post Date for each transaction is shown in the P-Card and Finance systems. Cardholders must supply all receipts and information.

Cardholders are responsible for uploading the receipts for their P-Card purchases in the College’s P-Card system. Each P-Card is assigned a default Union account number in the application process. Departments can reallocate transactions from the Union account number associated with the P-Card to another account or to multiple Union account numbers via the reallocation process. See the User Guide on how to navigate and process transactions in the WORKS System

All P-Card charges appear in the transaction detail of the Transaction Detail Report as journal type CRD.

Billing cycle

The P-Card billing cycle is bi-weekly. Full payment is made to the bank at that time. A reconciliation is done by Financial Services regarding all outstanding transactions.


Transactions automatically default to the cardholders primary GL Account associated with their position. At the time of reconciliation, items can be reallocated to a different GL string if appropriate, prior to signing off. If a cardholder finds they do not have access to a GL they need, a request can be made to Card Services by the Manager of that Account.

Receipt requirements

In accordance with the College’s Expenditure policies and procedures, all P-Card transactions must be supported by a receipt for anything over $25, transaction purpose, and source of funds. All receipts require sufficient information to support the transaction. At a minimum, receipts should provide the following content:

  • Name of merchant
  • Itemized amount of charge
  • Transaction details (what was purchased)
  • Transaction date
  • Delivery charges
  • Evidence of card used (i.e. displays last four digits of card number)
Missing receipts

When a receipt cannot be obtained or has been lost and all measures to obtain a copy or fax of the receipt (or other acceptable alternative), have been exhausted, the cardholder must submit a Missing Receipt Form (MRF) for the transaction. The MRF requires an explanation of why the receipt is missing and a business purpose for the expense. Each expense for which a receipt is missing must be itemized on a separate MRF. Do not bundle multiple expenses that are missing receipts onto a single MRF. The MRF must be reviewed and electronically approved by the Manager.

Business purpose requirements

Each P-Card transaction must be supported by a business purpose. A clear business purpose answers the following questions: who benefits from the transaction, where the purchased item is located (if applicable), and why the transaction was necessary. When the type of transaction may inherently imply a business purpose (e.g., toner, paper, pens, letterhead, lab supplies etc.), it is still necessary to provide a business purpose that describes for which location or project within the department the merchandise was purchased. For some sponsored-project accounts, purchases are allowed only if they are solely used for the specific project attached to that account.

Document retention

Once approved, the electronic transactions are stored in the Issuing Bank’s data storage network for a minimum of six years. If a P-Card is linked to a sponsored project account, once that sponsored program ends, the account will be deactivated and charges will no longer be allowed.

Contract or grant expiration

P-Card orders placed within thirty days of a contract or grant’s termination must be made with the understanding that the goods and services will be received before the contract or grant’s budget period end date, and that the goods and services will directly benefit the project.

Overdrawn, frozen or closed account numbers

P-Cards associated with Union account numbers that are either inactive or closed will be paid in full by the College. However, a representative from Card Services will contact the cardholder and request a Union account number correction so that charges can be reclassified. It is up to the cardholder and manager to ensure budget funds are available for the purchase.

Sales Tax

The College is exempt from sales tax in many states. When purchasing items with the P-Card, this should be communicated with the vendor and the appropriate certificate provided. Additional information about sales tax is available on the Card Services website.

Institutional liability

The P-Card is an institutional-liability corporate card. This means that the College pays the cardholder’s transactions in full directly to the Issuing Bank. The cardholder does not remit payment to the Issuing Bank and does not process an expense report. However, cardholders are responsible for processing their transactions in the College’s financial system.

P-Card misuse

Cardholders who do not comply with all College policies and procedures, may have their cardholder privileges revoked, and continued misuse of the P-Card may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

College employees must report known or suspected misappropriations, regardless of magnitude, to their immediate manager, department chair or dean.

Responsible Office

Card Services

Issued by

Finance 1/12/22