Departmental Purchasing Cards

LAST UPDATED: April 19, 2018

What You Should Know

The University’s Departmental Purchasing Card Program simplifies the purchase of low-dollar goods and services that cannot readily be purchased through the Prime Marketplace or other contract suppliers. Built-in controls set limits on types of purchases; online transaction substantiation and approvals eliminate most paperwork and ensure greater accountability.

Who Should Have a Card?

Departmental purchasing cards are used by the primary purchaser of goods and services on behalf of a department.  Individuals who frequently travel on University business, or who incur individual business expenses, both travel and non-travel, should consider using the Travel and Expense Card.

Important Note

The successful completion of University Credit Card compliance training is required for all cardholders. This training is available online through the Employee Learning Center.

Cardholder Responsibilities

Cardholders are responsible for adhering to the University’s credit card policy. Before receiving a card, cardholders, approvers, and managers must sign and submit a Departmental Purchasing Card Application, to acknowledge these responsibilities:

  • Ensure that purchases are appropriate, allowable and reasonable.
  • Ensure that suppliers do not charge sales tax.
  • Scan receipts into Concur, when required, and note the business purpose.
  • Ensure substantiation of your Departmental Credit Card activity within 30 days of the statement closing date.
  • Ensure your transactions are approved.
  • Settle any disputes related to card purchases.
  • Immediately report a lost or stolen card to the Financial Service Center or, on weekends, the bank.
  • If you leave Princeton University, you must return the card to your department.

What Should Be Purchased with the Card?

Card charges are expenses incurred by the cardholder on behalf of their department for business purposes only. Personal charges are never allowed.

Acceptable purchases include catering for departmental functions, conference registration fees, books, and subscriptions. You cannot use the card to purchase computers, hazardous materials, chemicals, gift certificates or gift cards, or capital equipment.

Certain types of businesses – for example jewelry stores – automatically trigger a purchase denial based on business’s Merchant Category Code.

Getting a Card

The successful completion of University Credit Card compliance training is required for all cardholders. This training is available online through the Employee Learning Center. Requests for cards must be approved by the chair or head of your department as part of the application process.

Spending Limits

In general, monthly card spending limits are $10,000 per month and individual purchase limits are $2,500. Limits on some cards may be set higher. Cardholders may be approved for exceptions to these spending limits based on a valid business purpose and with approval from the department head or chair. Please complete a Departmental Purchasing Card Application, obtain approvals, and submit to the Financial Service Center for any changes to card limits.

Using the Departmental Purchasing Card

The Departmental Purchasing Card works like any other credit card with some exceptions. Make sure you are not charged state sales tax when you make a purchase. Scan your receipts and document the business purpose.

Billing Cycle, Timing for Verification, Approval & Recordkeeping

Departmental Purchasing Cards have monthly statements, starting on the first of the month and ending on the last day of the month. Statements should be substantiated and submitted for approval within 30 days of the statement end date.

Substantiating & Approving Transactions

For every transaction, you, or your expense delegate, must verify the transaction using Concur.

The substantiation process includes documenting the business purpose when required and ensuring that charges are correct, charged to the appropriate ChartFields, and do not include sales tax. Receipts should be attached for transactions of $50 or greater. Once your transactions are substantiated, a designated approver reviews the transactions to ensure that charges are appropriate and properly substantiated.

Even though expense delegates may assist with substantiation, only the cardholder may attach a missing receipt affidavit, if required. Also, only the cardholder may submit the substantiated report for approval.

Approval of Transactions

Every cardholder has a designated approver. Once transactions are substantiated by the cardholder,  or the cardholder's expense delegate, the cardholder must submit the report in Concur, the approver reviews the transactions to ensure that they are appropriate and reasonable, that the charges match receipts, and that the business purpose has been documented properly.

What Happens When Transactions are Not Substantiated on Time

Email reminders will be sent to cardholders when card transactions are overdue for substantiation and submission. Cards will be suspended (after routine reminders to the cardholder and supervisor), if there are three months in a 12-month period in which the cardholder or proxy has not verified their transactions through Works.

Resolving Errors & Disputes

Cardholders are responsible for initiating the process for resolving incorrect billing, missing deliveries, or other card purchase problems. Disputed charges remain on the cardholder’s account until resolved or credit is received.

First, contact the supplier directly when you notice an error. Ask for a refund to the credit card. Keep a record of all interactions with the supplier. If you are unable to resolve the issue yourself, contact the Financial Service Center at (609) 258-3080.

Transactions with possible errors or disputes should still be substantiated in Concur, including information about the possible error or dispute.  Any subsequent corrections or credits to the transaction in question will then offset the original transaction, and should also be substantiated and approved.

Annual Recertification Process

As part of our routine compliance monitoring program, the Office of Finance and Treasury conducts periodic recertification of Departmental Credit Card users. The purpose of the certification is to ensure that all users and their associated "profile" (e.g., buying and paying limits, and approvers), are valid, current, and approved by the Departmental Chair or Head. Departmental Chairs/Heads are asked to review and certify on a periodic basis that the individuals in their department that are authorized to use a Departmental Purchasing Card have a valid business need. Departmental Purchasing Card continued use requires the successful completion of the periodic recertification process as well as policy compliance.

Lost or Stolen Card

If your card ever is lost or stolen, immediately report this to the Financial Service Center or, on weekends, the bank at (888) 449-2273, or at (509) 353-6656 outside of the U.S. and Canada.

For more information



Tel (609) 258-3080
Fax (609) 258-0442

Princeton University
Office of Finance & Treasury
701 Carnegie Center
Princeton, NJ 08540

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7 New South
Tel (609) 258-3080
Fax (609) 258-5040
Open Monday through Friday,
8:45 am — 5:00 pm


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