Business Services

Purchasing Card

Pursuant to authority delegated and the parameters established in MnSCU System Procedure 7.3.3, St. Cloud State University has developed the following purchasing card program policies and procedures. Exceptions to local p-card program policies may be made via written email instructions from the Vice President of Finance & Administration, Business Manager, or Director of Purchasing, as long as the exceptions are within the parameters of MnSCU Board Policies & System Procedures.

When being considered for this program, the cost center must have at least $1,000 in non-salary object codes (within the scope of the purchasing card policy) and have an expected usage of at least once a month. A card with 6 months of inactivity will be purged and cancelled by Elan Card Services.

For additional assistance with Purchase Card policies and procedures please review the Purchase Card Training Guide.

The following manual has been produced to guide you through most of your purchase card needs.


Each Purchasing Card will be subject to:

  • a dollar limitation on the card
  • a dollar limitation of purchasing authority per transaction
  • a dollar limitation of purchasing authority for the total of all charges made during each monthly billing cycle
  • merchant category blocking

Application for Purchasing Card

Only permanent employees are eligible to apply for and be issued a purchasing card.

Complete the application using your on-campus mailing address. The application also requires approval from the employee’s supervisor (responsible person for the account) and the Procurement Card Administrator.

A Delegation of Authority form signed by the President is also required to specifically delegate authority to the employee to obligate the college/university to the specific dollar limit of the purchasing card. This delegation requires the employee’s ongoing compliance with applicable statutes, rules and board policies.

Cardholder Agreement

The following statement is part of the application process at St. Cloud State University.

As the cardholder I understand I am required to adhere to all St. Cloud State University purchasing policies and procedures. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System Policies & Procedures are specifically mandated but not limited to Minnesota Statutes 571.345, 16A & 43A applicable to the use of the card. The Supervisor (responsible person of the cost center) signature is approving the purchasing card issuance and agrees to fulfill the requirements as specified in the Purchase Card Policy & Procedures.

Cardholder Responsibilities

Card Security and Transactions

The Cardholder will be responsible for signing the card when it is received, the security of the card, and all transactions made against it. All purchase transactions processed against the Purchasing Card must be made by the employee to whom the card is issued and must be only for legitimate university/college business purposes. The card cannot be used by another person nor for personal use. The card cannot be transferred from one employee to another.

Training and Quiz Requirements

The Cardholder and the Supervisor will be responsible to attend purchasing card training, provided by the Purchasing Department and take a refresher training or quiz on an annual basis as long as they have a purchasing card and to score 90% or higher on the quiz each year in order to retain purchasing card privileges. Failure to take the annual training and quiz, or failure to pass the quiz, will result in the cancellation of the Cardholder’s purchasing card.

Proper Documentation of Transactions

The Cardholder must request a copy of the vendor’s sales receipt or cash register slip if over the counter, or a packing list on shipped orders that is itemized and tax free. Any credited amount must have a credit memo showing the reason for this credit. The Cardholder’s individual purchasing card number and his/her name must be given for all orders processed and specific delivery instructions must be provided to the vendor. 


Shipped or delivered orders must be directed to the designated area of the cardholder (building, room #) or the Central Receiving address: St. Cloud State University, 211 11th St. S, St. Cloud, MN 56301. 

Professional Institutional Accounts Required for Order Placement (Do Not Use a Personal Account)

When a vendor requires an account to be created for order placement, a professional institutional account must be set up. Orders must not be made using personal accounts. (Examples: Amazon and PayPal)

  • Professional institutional accounts must have a unique user name and password which are separate from any existing personal accounts.
  • Professional institutional accounts must list St. Cloud State University as to bill-to and ship-to address.

Compliance with Monthly Statement Process

The Cardholder must comply with the monthly report verification and reconciliation process and timelines as described in these procedures. 

Tax Exempt Status

When making purchases, the Cardholder must inform the vendors of Minnesota State tax exemption status. If tax is charged, the Cardholder is responsible to get a credit from the vendor for the amount of the tax.

Returns and Refunds

If an item purchased with a purchasing card is unacceptable or not allowed, arrangements must be made for a return for credit or exchange whenever feasible. A cash refund or check is prohibited unless the vendor insists that a refund must be by cash or check. In such cases, the funds must be deposited immediately in the appropriate university account. If a refund is issued in the form of a check, the check must be payable to the institution and also deposited in the appropriate university account.

Authorized Purchasing Card Use and Spending Categories

Purchasing cards may be used to purchase eligible products or services required in association with the duties or responsibilities of the cardholder at the university. The single transaction limit for general Cardholders is $15,000. The monthly limit for general cardholders is $15,000.00. (However, please remember the restriction for the purchase of sensitive equipment or equipment costing $10,000 or more and the restriction for the purchase of printers and printer/copier supplies. Please also be sure to read the restrictions listed in Part 6.)

  • Bookstores
  • Department stores  
  • Discount stores                              
  • General merchandise
  • Items that are classroom supplies or event driven and within the mission of the cost center should be indicated directly on the receipt. 
  • Maintenance and repair supplies (examples: auto parts, hardware, lumberyards)
  • Memberships, subscriptions for 1 year only, both new & renewals (page 4 of manual) no software license
  • Office supply and equipment stores
  • (Exceptions: sensitive equipment, printers/copiers and related supplies not allowed – see Part 6)
  • Office furniture stores
  • A P-Card may not be used if on-campus setup or installation of furniture or equipment is part of the purchase.  A purchase order and insurance certificate are then required.
  • Printing vendors (examples: letterhead, envelopes, business cards, brochures and postcards
  • Rental of equipment (when a certificate of insurance is not required)
  • Repairs done off-campus
  • Subscriptions, memberships or professional licenses for one year only, both new and renewals
  • Variety Store
  • Webinars-these are fees and not travel


Purchasing Cards may NOT be used for the following transactions:

  • Any service that requires a contract or Certificate of Insurance
  • Alcoholic beverages/tobacco
  • Cash or cash advances
  • Contracted Services
  • Contributions to individuals or organizations
  • Donations to individuals or organizations
  • Entertainment/Recreation
    Exceptions: With an approved special expense form
    • Student activities that will be paid for with student activity funds
    • Activities that will be paid for with grant funds as authorized by the grant agreement
    • Academic activities that will be paid for with course fees
  • Expenses for recruiting or entertainment of prospective employees
  • Food
  • Gift cards or gift certificates, or gifts to individuals and/or organizations
    • Exception: Promotional giveaways may be allowed with an approved special expense request. However, gift cards or gift certificates purchased as promotional giveaways must be purchased using a purchase order.
  • IT Purchasing – HuskyTech  308-4375
    • Computers, tablets, mobile devices, cell phones or smart phones (this includes Netbooks/notebooks, hotspots, MiFi, iPods/iPads/iPhones//iTouch, wireless devices or blackberry devices.)
    • Audio/Visual devices (including TVs, monitors, smartboards or projectors)
    • Printers
  • Items for non-college, non-university purposes
  • Items for personal use (e.g. tissues, aspirin, any over-the-counter medications, lotion, soap, paper plates, disposable utensils, flowers)
  • Licenses/License Renewals for individuals
  • Parking Tickets
  • Payments to any departments at SCSU (Husky Tech, Copies Plus, Printing Services, Medical Clinic, etc)
  • Personal memberships in social, non-professional organization
  • Political contributions or events
  • Pre-paid phones, minutes and phone cards
  • Printers, printer/copier supplies (toner, ink and paper)
    • (For specialty printer and supplies, seek approval via special expense form.)
  • Purchase or removal of hazardous or radioactive materials
  • Pyramiding (multiple transactions with one vendor that in total exceeds $15,000). 
  • NOTE - If you will be making purchases that in total will exceed $15,000 from any single vendor in one monthly period, you must obtain a minimum of 2 written quotes and process on a PO
  • Relocation expenses
  • Recreation, unless pre-approved for a student group via special expense approval process
  • Refunds of revenue
  • Restaurants, catering
  • Sensitive items as defined in System Procedure 7.3.6, Capital Assets
  • Time payments
  • Toner/Ink for printers/copiers (Managed Print Services)
    • (For specialty printers, seek approval via special expense request form.)
  • Travel related expenses (airlines, hotels, travel agencies, retreats, resorts, registration fees)
  • Tuition payments
  • Weapons of any kind or explosives


Cardholders must access and print their online reports each month when it becomes available. The CYCLE END DATE must have a date (“open” will not be accepted). This report can be printed by the 3rd of each month.

The cardholder must reconcile the printed report with their itemized receipts and his/her supervisor (responsible person for the account) must sign and date the report to confirm receipt and approval of all transactions on the report.

The signed report and receipts must be submitted by the supervisor to the Purchasing Office by 10th of the month. Not getting the report in by this deadline will violate the policy & procedures and action will be taken accordingly.


The Cardholder must contact Elan Customer Service at 1-800-344-5696 if there are discrepancies with any of the charges listed on the report. The Customer Service Representative (CSR) assists the cardholder in attempting to recognize the transaction prior to initiating the dispute.  If the cardholder does not recognize the charge, the CSR conducts a short interview to gather the necessary information and identify the appropriate dispute reason. The cardholder will likely not have to complete any additional paperwork. The CSR will simply use the information gathered over the phone to process the dispute.

If the reason for the cardholder’s dispute is one of the following types, the cardholder must contact the merchant prior to initiating the dispute with Elan Services:

  • Service/merchandise not received;
  • Paid by other means; and
  • Incorrect amount charged to account.

If any additional information or steps are required, the CSR will inform the cardholder of any action needed, but in many cases, the dispute can be processed and the transaction charged back to the merchant without having to contact the cardholder a second time.

Disputes must be reconciled within fourteen (14) days of the statement date. Final resolution of any dispute must be resolved within sixty (60) days of the statement date. The Cardholder must note any dispute information on the monthly report turned in to the Purchasing Office.

Lost, Stolen or Unauthorized Use

The Cardholder is responsible for the security of his/her card and any purchase made on the card. The Cardholder must immediately notify Elan Services 1-800-344-5696 if the card is lost, stolen or in the hands of an unauthorized person. Pertinent information regarding the lost or stolen card or improper use must be provided.

The Cardholder will make a reasonable attempt to recover the card from an unauthorized person. The card will be voided as quickly as possible. However, the Cardholder has primary responsibility for any unauthorized purchases made by the cardholder or any other person.

Account Maintenance

Any changes to a Purchasing Card must be requested through the Purchasing Office.

(Note: Supervisory approval is required for changes.)


Each Cardholder is responsible for the card issued to him/her. All purchasing card records are audited by the Purchasing Office upon submission and are subject to annual audit by external auditors like all other Minnesota State financial records. Minnesota State Auditors may conduct an audit at any time.

Failure to provide requested supporting documentation with the timeframe designated will result in a purchasing violation.

Cardholders that violate any part of these procedures, whether intentional or unintentional, will typically receive a written warning copied to their supervisor and their card status will be placed on probation for a 3 month period. A second violation within that probation period will automatically revoke the card for the rest of the three month period. Once a card has been revoked, the cardholder may apply for a new card after one year. Approval will be subject to review and approval by upper management. Reissued cards will not have a probationary period and any violation will result in permanent revocation.

Supervisor Responsibilities

Supervisors of cardholders are responsible for reviewing cardholder expenses and ensuring compliance with this procedure and any applicable college/university procedures. Supervisor duties include:

  • Approving employees for participation in the purchasing card program
  • Reviewing purchases to ensure they meet objectives and are within restrictions placed on the card.
  • Reviewing purchases to ensure card has not been used for unauthorized or inappropriate purchases.
  • Responding to any misuse of the card by the cardholder.
  • Ensuring closure of purchasing card at time of employee’s separation from employment or removal of purchasing card authority.


Any questions can be directed to:

Cindy James
Procurement Card Administrator
Business Services – Purchasing Dept. AS 123