The purchasing card (p-card) program provides an efficient, cost-effective method of purchasing and paying for small dollar transactions, high volume, repetitive purchases, and travel and expense costs. The program is designed to reduce numerous processes that are higher risk and/or higher cost to the University, including petty cash, cash advances, small dollar checks, and small dollar purchase orders. This policy addresses the use of p-cards by University employees.


The p-card is similar to a corporate credit card with payment made directly by the University. The card may be used for business purposes only and those purchases must comply with all applicable Willamette University policies and procedures. Cardholders must use the card responsibly and in a manner consistent with the University’s mission, ethical practices and applicable laws.

University employees may become eligible to have a purchasing card upon completion of required training. In order to retain eligibility, cardholders must continue in good standing and maintain compliance with this policy. Cardholders, Account Group Managers and Approvers are expected to stay current with and abide by p-card policies and procedures, including the duties of their roles in appropriate card use enforcement. Noncompliance with this policy may result in temporary elimination of the cardholder’s credit limit or revocation of the card. Misuse or fraudulent use of the p-card may also result in disciplinary action up to and including termination and/or criminal prosecution.

Purchasing cards must be used responsibly and for University business expenses only. Any accidental personal charges must be reimbursed immediately. If making a purchase using grant funds, the cardholder is responsible for ensuring that all granting agency requirements are fulfilled. The cardholder and approver are responsible for ensuring budget funds are available and there is sufficient documentation of the University-related business purpose for all expenses paid using the p-card.

A P-Card Application form must be completed and approved by an employee who has an appropriate level of delegated authority under the Delegation of Signature Authority Policy, before a card can be issued.

Credit Limit Amounts

When completing the P-Card Application form, a credit limit amount must be specified. The following is a table of standard credit limit amounts to be used, unless business reasons justify the use of a different amount.

Level Credit Limit Amount
Staff/Faculty $1,500
Supervisor/Manager $2,500
Director/Dean $5,000
AVP/VP $10,000

Changes to the credit limit amount may be requested at any time in writing, and must be approved by the appropriate signature authority.

Roles and Expectations


The Cardholder is the university employee whose name appears on the Purchasing Card and who is accountable for all charges made with that card. The Cardholder should review and sign their p-card expense report each month. The cardholder is responsible for following applicable University policies, as well as guidelines for expense documentation, monthly reconciliation, and card security.

Account Group Manager:

The Account Group Manager assists cardholders in reconciling transactions, providing proper accounting coding and supporting documentation, and preparing monthly p-card expense reports. Account group managers play an important role supporting cardholders and approvers in use of the p-card program, and are responsible for the following activities:

  • Reconcile cardholder charges with matching original receipts.
  • Assign appropriate general ledger account number(s) if not already done so by the cardholder through the online system.
  • Make sure that all charges include a description of the business purpose for the expense. If it is a hosting expense, the cardholder should include a list of attendees.
  • Note any missing receipts and follow-up in a timely manner by assisting the cardholder with retrieving missing receipts.
  • Assist with disputes and follow-up until the dispute is completed and closed.
  • After verifying the charges and account numbers online, the "Submitted" box should be checked for each reviewed transaction.
  • Make sure that the "Expense Report" has been signed by both the cardholder and their immediate supervisor. The approved Expense Report should be forwarded to Accounting with all the supporting documentation attached.


The Approver is responsible for approving the monthly purchasing card transactions of their cardholders and ensuring they comply with University policies and procedures. Once the Approver signs the p-card expense report of a Cardholder, they are attesting to the validity of the Cardholder’s purchases. The Approver will also assist in assigning cardholder spending limits and monitoring adherence to purchasing card policies and procedures. The Approver is responsible for retrieving purchasing cards in the event of termination or change in employment status of a cardholder under their supervision.

The Approver should generally be the cardholder’s supervisor unless an alternate approver has been designated. The approver must have an appropriate level of delegated signature authority. The p card expense report approver should also approve expense reimbursement requests for the cardholder to reduce the risk of duplication. Alternate approvers may be designated on the P-Card New Approver Reviewer Agreement, and must be approved by the appropriate fiscal officer, and should not be a subordinate of the cardholder.

Purchasing Card Coordinator:

The P-Card Coordinator is designated to answer questions, address issues and oversee the administration of the program. All purchasing card requests must go through the P-Card Coordinator.

Restricted Purchases

See Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy for a list of Non-Reimbursable Expenses. Items on the list are not eligible for reimbursement, and may not be charged to a p-card. Individual departments may have more specific guidelines for restricted purchases.

Monthly Reconciliation

At the end of each billing cycle, each cardholder is required to reconcile their charges online and to ensure that all transactions are properly documented. Each expense should be allocated to the proper general ledger account number(s) and a description of the business expense entered online through the p-card system. After a charge has been reviewed and allocated, the "Cardholder Reviewed" box should be checked for that transaction. Once all of the charges for the statement period have been reviewed, an "Expense Report" should be printed, signed by the cardholder, and submitted to the Approver with the original receipts and other supporting documentation attached.

The online reconciliation MUST be completed within ten days of the billing cycle cutoff. Failure to reconcile your statement or include proper documentation for charges will result in the suspension of the credit limit and ultimately revocation of the card.


An itemized receipt is required as substantiation for all expenditures in excess of $75 when using the purchasing card. Additional unit or department requirements may apply – consult the appropriate signature authority with questions about specific documentation requirements. It is the cardholder's responsibility to ensure that there is a receipt when required. When a receipt is required, the following guidelines apply:

  • The itemized receipt must be presented – the credit charge slip is not considered adequate documentation.
  • If a purchase is made by mail or telephone, the cardholder should ask the vendor to send a receipt by mail or email. If a purchase is made online, an invoice or order confirmation which includes a list of the purchased items should be submitted as documentation.
  • If a receipt has been lost, the cardholder should obtain a duplicate copy of the receipt from the vendor.

Returns, Credits, and Disputed Charges

If there is a problem with a purchased item, service or charge, the cardholder should make every attempt to first resolve the issue directly with the vendor. Any returns must be credited to the credit card; cash refunds for returns are prohibited. The cardholder should review future monthly statements to ensure that the account is properly credited for returns, credits and disputed charges.

If a cardholder cannot resolve a disputed item directly with the vendor, they should contact the p-card vendor and then complete the dispute form which can be found in Campus Use Only Forms on the University website. The completed form should be submitted to the P-Card Coordinator with the monthly statement.

Security of the Card

The cardholder is responsible for the security of the card. The card and card number should be kept in a secure location at all times. The only authorized user of the card is the cardholder whose name appears on the front of the card.

Below are some guidelines to help guard against fraud:

  • Sign the back of your card immediately.
  • Keep the card in a secure location and guard the credit card number carefully.
  • Keep an eye on the card during the transaction, and retrieve it as soon as possible.
  • Always know where your card is. If you cannot find the card, assume the worst and have your account canceled and request a new card.
  • Be aware of what you are signing. Your signature can copy through to other slips deliberately placed underneath.
  • Review your monthly statement to ensure that all charges are legitimate.
  • Visit reputable, familiar merchants whenever possible.
  • Report possible fraud immediately to the issuing bank and the P-Card Coordinator.
  • Report a lost or stolen credit card to the issuing bank and the P-Card Coordinator.

Lost or Stolen Cards

In the event that the p-card is lost or stolen, the cardholder should immediately contact the issuing bank, and then notify the P-Card Coordinator.


P-Card Coordinator:
Toru Tanabe, 503-370-6144

Status: Approved

Effective Date: March 1, 2017

Last Revision Date: March 1, 2017

Last Review Date: March 1, 2017

Next Anticipated Review: 2018

Responsible University Administrator: Controller

Responsible University Office: Finance and Accounting

Primary Policy Contact: For Questions and Suggestions Contact: Scott Schaefer, Controller, 503-370-6710, or Dan Valles, 503-370-6451

Willamette University

Accounting Office

University Services Building

503-370-6633 fax

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