University Credit Overview

Overview on University Credit Cards

The California State University (CSU) allows authorized employees to pay for certain types of expenses using campus credit cards.  The use of campus credit cards provides an alternative to traditional procurement methods and offers a number of benefits, including reducing the administrative expense associated with procuring and paying for low-dollar goods and services, allowing for greater flexibility in selecting vendors, and expediting the receipt of purchases.  CSU credit card programs are not intended to replace traditional purchasing methods, but rather to supplement them.

CSU credit card programs began with the implementation of the CSU Procurement Card (PCard) program for the purchase of low-dollar goods and services.  Since then, credit card offerings have expanded, and a variety of programs are now available.  CSU credit card programs can generally be divided into two types of offerings: university liability credit cards and personal liability credit cards.

University liability cards are those in which the campus pays the bill centrally.  Common types of university liability cards employed by the campuses include PCards, used for the purchase of low-dollar goods and services; travel cards, used for business travel expenses; fleet cards, used for fleet-related expenses such as fuel, vehicle maintenance, and repairs; and one-cards or hybrid cards, which allow employees to use a single card to pay for more than one category of expenses.  Some campuses also use P-Cards in the accounts payable department to make payments on traditional invoices.  This reduces operations costs by eliminating checks and increases credit card rebates earned by the campuses.

Personal liability cards are obtained by an employee through a CSU contract; however, the employee pays the bill, and is personally liable, for the credit card. Such cards minimize the burden on an employee's personal finances when business expenses must be incurred by the employee and subsequently reimbursed.  Personal liability cards are commonly issued for business travel expenditures.

Overview on USBank Procurement Card - PCard

The systemwide Contract Services and Procurement department at the Office of the Chancellor (CO) is responsible for managing the US Bank credit card contract, communicating credit card industry trends to campuses, verifying and distributing campus rebates, and administering components of the credit card program.  Systemwide Financial Services at the CO is responsible for maintaining CSU accounting policies, including those policies related to credit card usage.  Executive Order (EO) 760, Procurement Cards, dated October 16, 2000, establishes the CSU policy regarding the use of procurement cards.  It provides minimum standards for the use of procurement cards and gives the chief financial officer of each campus the responsibility for developing and maintaining policies and procedures governing the use of procurement cards to ensure strong internal controls and observance of good business practices.

Overview on Stanislaus State PCard

Stanislaus State participates in the CSU systemwide contract with USBank to issue corporate cards for CSU staff and faculty.  It is a simple and easy-to-use payment method that increases efficiency and reduces costs at the University.  It helps reduce the number of purchase requisitions, purchase orders, petty cash transactions, and other time-consuming purchasing activities.  However, it is not intended to avoid or bypass appropriate purchasing guidelines.  The requirements and approval limits must be adhered to at all times.  Failing to abide by the guidelines violates CSU Contracting and Purchasing Policy and Stanislaus State Purchasing policy.

The PCard program allows managers to set cost guidelines and monitor card use. Cardholders simply use their account number or card to make qualified purchases and then verify the monthly charges.  If there are discrepancies, it is the cardholder's responsibility to report them.  Once vendors have obtained authorization from U.S. Bank via the authorizing system, they receive payment within three days.  The PCard program handles invoices and payments electronically, reduces the number of accounts-payable invoices, and automatically posts transactions to the general ledger (G/L).  It also supplies consolidated management reports for tracking purposes and spending trends.

Each cardholder is set up with a single transaction spend limit and a monthly aggregate spend limit.  These limits are established by the cardholders Approving Official.

Overview on PCard Cardholder

The Cardholder accepts the authority and responsibility to utilize the PCard for University expenses within the limits established by the department.  The Cardholder agrees to prepare a monthly statement to verify the accuracy of the PCard billings using US Bank Access On-Line.  The Cardholder further agrees to forward the statement for each billing cycle (the 23rd of one month through the 22nd of the next month) by the first business day of each month, with supporting itemized receipts to the Cardholder's Approving Official.

Overview on PCard Approving Authority

The Approving Official is responsible for authorizing the staff or faculty member to obtain a PCard, and for assigning the single transaction limit and the monthly spend limit.  The Approving Official is also responsible for reviewing, signing, and forwarding the monthly authorized reconciliation statement to the PCard Accounting Administrator, to arrive on or before the first working day of each month.

Overview on Acceptable PCard Uses

A Stanislaus State PCard is for University business use only. The following types of purchases are acceptable:

  • Subscriptions; must be sent only to the University address, not the subscriber's home address
  • Dues & Memberships for professional organizations only. Recreational clubs such as travel, sports and entertainment, memberships for personal use, and donations are not authorized.
  • Display advertisement for management recruitments posted online through services such as the Chronicle of Higher Education. Note: All recruitment advertising for staff positions must go through Human Resources.
  • Conference Registration & Training For faculty, staff, and student employees only.
  • Goods or merchandise that are not a restricted item and are within your spending limits.  These might be items you would have used petty cash, or a direct pay reimbursement for prior to obtaining a PCard.
  • Foodservice (Catering) requires all charges to be paid using PCard.  A Hospitality Form must be completed and signed for all foodservice purchases.  Please contact the PCard Program Administrator if the charge is over the Cardholder's monthly or single purchase limit.  A one-time increase can be arranged with approval from the appropriate Vice President.
  • Service and Repairs Off Campus, low risk services such as dry cleaning.
  • Equipment costing less than $500: Tax and shipping must be included as part of the purchase price.  If you wish to have equipment tagged and placed on inventory for security reasons, please notify Property Control.
  • Purchases over $1,000 (non-equipment) require a signed PCard Pre-Purchase Authorization before the purchase is made or it will be considered an unauthorized purchase.  The signed Pre-Purchase Authorization is attached to the receipt at the time the statement is reconciled.

Overview on Unacceptable PCard Uses

The following types of purchases are unacceptable:

  • Personal uses
  • Services and Repairs On Campus. Some exceptions can be made by special permission in advance by the PCard Coordinator or the PCard Program Administrator.  Any vendor that comes on campus must have a current certificate of insurance on file PRIOR to any work being performed.  The cardholder is responsible for obtaining the certificate and attaching it to the receipt at the time their statement is reconciled. Insurance requirements are located at
  • Capital Purchases (Items over $5,000 that need to be depreciated)
  • Travel related expenses such as airfare, rental car, hotel for travel, fuel purchases related to travel, alcoholic beverages, restaurants, theatres, and clubs are not permitted.  Corporate Travel Cards can be obtained by a department for Stanislaus State travel. 
  • Firearms, explosives, radioactive materials, controlled substances
  • Food, gifts, gift cards, flowers, parties, etc. (unless it's in accordance with the University Hospitality Policy)
  • Donations
  • Transactions that circumvent established controls
  • Purchases for other departments
  • Splitting of purchase to circumvent transaction limits
  • Cash advances/Travelers checks
  • Purchases of construction and construction related services (require approval from General Counsel)
  • Minor and Major capital outlay
  • Architect & engineer services
  • Purchase of electronics costing less than $500 that contains sensitive data (iPads, tablets, computers, etc.)
  • Purchase of equipment items that are over $500 and a useful life of one year or more.  For information on what constitutes equipment go to Property Management Link. Note: Exceptions can be made with special permission. Please contact the PCard Program Administrator with questions.

Overview on Managed Spend PCard

The Managed Spend PCard is the same concept as the PCard except it is a declining balance card.  It is to be used in place of setting up a Blanket Purchase Order (purchase order established at the beginning of a fiscal year for multiple purchases to be made from a specific vendor by a specific University department throughout the year).  This Managed Spend PCard is set up with a card limit that is good for fiscal year. When a charge is made, the transaction amount is subtracted until the card balance reaches $0 or the fiscal year ends.  At this point, the card will automatically be deactivated.  Applications to renew a Managed Spend Card should be submitted by May 1st for the next fiscal year.  Managed Spend cards are preapproved for non-equipment purchases over $1,000 and therefore do not require a pre-purchase authorization.  Equipment purchases must be purchased through the requisition process.  How to Requisition

Overview on the Corporate Travel Card

Only staff and faculty who travel frequently (more than 3 times a year) should apply for a Corporate Travel Card.  Occasional travel is more efficiently handled through the regular travel procedures.

The Corporate Travel Card program offers a timely and reliable way to pay for travel.  It eliminates the need to pay for travel personally and then seek reimbursement.  The Travel Card charges automatically go against the departmental chart string that was established at the time of card setup.  If the traveler wants to allocate the charge to a different chart string that option is available through U.S. Bank Access Online web site. How To Reallocate

The Corporate Travel Card is not intended to avoid or bypass the Travel Policy and Travel Procedure.  Failing to abide by the Travel Policy and by the guidelines set forth in the Travel Card Handbook violates California State University, Stanislaus Contracting and Purchasing Policy.

Overview on Corporate Travel Card Policy

  • All Cardholders must sign and accept the terms and conditions of the Stanislaus State Travel Cardholder Agreement.
  • All purchase transactions processed against a Travel Card must be made by the individual to whom the card is issued.
  • The Travel Card can ONLY BE USED to pay for PRE-APPROVED travel.
  • Travel must be for the benefit of the University.
  • Use of the Travel Card will be governed by the most current version of the Stanislaus State Travel Policy, Travel Card Procedure Handbook, and the Travel Card Cardholder Agreement.
  • The Travel Card cannot be used for purchase transactions exceeding the designated transaction dollar limit.
  • A Travel Card Statement of Transactions, signed by the Cardholder's Approving Official (see Cardholder Agreement), must be filed with Stanislaus State Financial Services in a timely manner (first business day of each month).
  • A monthly audit and review of Cardholder purchases will be conducted by Financial Services. Appropriate action will be taken for any misuse of the credit card (see Audit Procedures).
  • Use of the Card is subject to review by the University, California State University, or the State of California auditors at any time.

Overview on Acceptable Travel Card Uses

The Travel Card can be used for all expenses incurred in travel situations.  However, an authorized Travel Request must be approved in Concur PRIOR to the card being used.
Travel Service Group

Overview on Unacceptable Travel Card Uses

The following types of purchases are unacceptable:

  • Personal uses
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Transactions that circumvent established controls
  • Purchases for other departments
  • Cash advances/Travelers checks

Overview on PCard and Travel Card Audits

The PCard and Travel Card Program Administrative Team performs a monthly post-audit review of all Cardholder reconciliation statements.  The Cardholder is notified via email if non-compliance occurs.  The Approving Official is copied on the email sent to the cardholder.

Each of the following is an example of what constitutes a policy violation (audit finding):

  • Failure to obtain an itemized receipt/invoice.
  • Purchase of equipment costing $500 or more.
  • Purchase of items identified as restricted.
  • Failure to submit your reconciled and approved Cardholder Transaction Report to Account Payable, or submitting it after the indicated deadline.
  • Failure to obtain correct Approving Official signatures on the monthly Cardholder Transaction Report.
  • Additional documentation, when required, missing or deemed otherwise non-compliant with University policy (Missing Receipt Affidavit, Hospitality Form, Pre-Purchase Authorization).
  • Failure to attach a current Certificate of Insurance when required.

If you receive a total of four (4) points in audit findings within the 12 month fiscal year, your PCard or Travel Card may be revoked or you may be required to attend additional training.

Your PCard account may be cancelled immediately in the following situations:

  • Using the card for personal purchases.
  • Splitting a transaction to avoid purchasing limits.
  • Using your card to purchase an item identified in "Unacceptable Uses".
  • Allowing someone else to use your card.
  • Not attaching a current Certificate of Insurance to the receipt for any vendor providing a on campus service or repair
  • Not reporting a lost or stolen card.

Your Travel Card account may be cancelled immediately in the following situations:

  • Using the Travel Card prior to submitting an authorized Concur Travel Request.
  • Using the card for personal purchases.
  • Allowing someone else to use your card.
  • Not reporting a lost or stolen card.

Overview on PCard and Travel Card Fraud

One increasingly common form of credit card fraud is "phishing".  This is when criminals send e-mails or host websites posing as legitimate financial institutions asking for your personal information and account numbers.  To protect yourself and our organization:

  • Never give out your account number or other personal data to someone who contacts you via phone or e-mail.  US Bank and the credit card association already have the information they need to maintain your account.  They never contact you to ask for verification.
  • Do not reply to a fraudulent e-mail under any circumstance. Also, do not click on the link in the e-mail.
  • Send a copy of suspicious e-mail to In your e-mail, please tell US Bank that you have an account relationship with them, what Internet Service Provider (ISP) you use, the type of connection you use to access the Internet, and whether you have a firewall installed on your computer.