Business Services

Service Hours

Business Services Hours:

8:00-4:30 Monday-Friday
7:30-4:00 Monday-Friday

Cashier Hours:

8:00-4:00 Monday-Friday
7:30-3:30 Monday-Friday

Business Serivces

[Purchasing] Purchasing Card

Download complete Purchasing Card Policy and Procedures Manual (PDF: 12 pages) or view sections below.

How to Obtain a Purchasing Card
Blocked Vendors
Guidelines for Card Use
General Instructions
Returns, Credits and Disputed Items
Credit Card Security
Failure to Comply with Policies
If the Card Holder Leaves the University
Card Cancellation due to Inactivity
Cardholder Credit Rating
Who to Contact with Questions

Forms (PDF)

Request for Purchasing Card Set Up - email for updated forms
Delegation of Authority for University Credit Card Users (pdf)
Notice of Card Suspension


The purchasing card allows a cardholder the authority and capability to purchase low dollar value items directly, enabling the cardholder to purchase faster and easier than before. The program is to be used to purchase most low dollar value items under $15,000. The card can be used anywhere VISA is accepted. The cardholder can order in person, over the phone and on the web. System procedure prohibits retail store or vendor-specific cards.

It is not necessary for the cardholder to create a purchase order request in PCS when the purchasing card is used.

When items are purchased with the card, a pending transaction is processed. The transaction is automatically approved for payment when items have been shipped or picked up. This eliminates the need for the vendor to invoice and reduces invoice discrepancies.

The cardholder is responsible for obtaining the original itemized receipts at the point of sale, indicating each item purchased. These receipts should be matched to each transaction on the monthly cardholders activity report, and submitted to Accounts Payable in Business Services. It is advised that an internal procedure be set up by each department to assure the purchasing card polices are followed.

All purchases on the card are required to follow St. Cloud State University purchasing policies & procedures. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System policies & procedures are specifically mandated but not limited to Minnesota Statutes 471.345, 16A and 43A. Established procedures for using the purchasing card must be followed. Failure to do so may result in the loss of privileges or other disciplinary actions.

The purchasing card is available to state employees only. Contractors, contracted employees and students are not eligible.

How to Obtain a Card

The employee must complete the Request for Purchasing Card Set-Up form (PDF) and Delegation of Authority form for Purchase Card (PDF) to obtain the necessary approval. The cost center must have at least $1,000 in non-salary object codes (within the scope of purchasing card policy) and have an expected usage of at least once per month. A card with 6 months of inactivity will automatically close.

The Request for Purchasing Card Set-Up form is submitted to the Purchasing Department in AS 122. The form will be reviewed and employee status will be verified.

On the Delegation of Authority form, print the employee’s name in block 2 and sign the form on block 6. The form can then be submitted to Finance and Administration Department in AS205. The form must be processed and approved by the President before you are allowed to use the purchase card.

The set-up information will be submitted to the card company for approval. The card will be sent to the Purchasing Department for distribution. The employee will be required to attend a training session prior to receiving the card.

If you are an existing cardholder and adding new cards, be sure to register the new cards in your Access On-Line account and call the activation number on the card. See instruction on the Access On-Line link.

Blocked Vendors

The purchasing cards have been encoded to block out certain vendors that do not fall within the purchasing card mission. The purchasing card will be declined by a vendor if the vendor has been blocked or if the credit limit on the card has been exceeded. If the cardholder is certain neither situation applies, please contact the Purchasing Department, Purchase Card Program Administrator, ext. 8-4001.

While certain vendors are blocked, others may sell items which are not allowable as purchases with the card. Just because the card is accepted by a vendor does not make the item purchased allowable.

Guidelines for Card Use

The purchasing card is to be used to purchase most low dollar items under $15,000. To ensure the program is utilized to its potential and to streamline normal day-to-day transactions, any purchase that requires additional documentation or approvals will not be allowed on the card.

The purchasing card is the property of St. Cloud State University and is not to be used for personal transactions under any circumstances regardless of reimbursement to the University. Using the card for personal use will automatically revoke the card privilege and subject the employee to disciplinary action, including reimbursement of all personal charges and/or termination of the employee. All charges that are not authorized and approved by the University will be the responsibility of the employee to whom the card is issued. The employee, by statute, will reimburse the State of Minnesota at St. Cloud State University for all incurred charges and any fees related to the collection of those charges.

A cardholder who makes an unauthorized purchase with the card or uses the card in an inappropriate manner will have their card revoked and may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination of employment and criminal prosecution.

If the cardholder is unsure whether a purchase can be processed with the card, please call the Purchasing Card Administrator, ext. 8-4001. Do not charge and inquire after the purchase. You may risk having your card deactivated and be required to return the item purchased.

Per MN Statutes, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities policy and/or St. Cloud State University policy the following types of purchases are NOT allowed by purchase card:

  • Travel costs, including airlines, hotels, travel agencies, retreats, resorts and registration fees
  • Food, refreshments
  • Restaurants, catering
  • Purchases requiring a Special Expense form (see exception below)
  • Equipment over $10,000
  • Anything that requires a Certificate of Insurance
  • Professional/Technical Contracts
  • Entertainment/Recreation (see exceptions below)
  • Recruiting expenses for faculty & students
  • Employee relocation expenses
  • Items of personal nature – all clothing, fans, heaters, microwaves, air-conditioners, coffee makers, artwork, pictures, frames, decorative items of any sort (dept. or office, etc.), flowers, awards, gifts and plaques for employees, volunteers or University supporters, etc. (contact Card Administrator for clarification)
  • Personal memberships in social, non-professional organizations
  • Political contributions or events
  • Charitable contributions or events
  • Alcohol/Tobacco
  • Weapons/Ammunition
  • Gift cards
  • Cash or cash advances
  • Parking tickets
  • 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
  • Software or licensing (includes web based data programs where they charge a monthly fee. Any time you are on a web page and they have “terms & conditions” would be an indicator that you need to do a PO or contact IT Purchasing.)

Entertainment and Recreation exception:

Use of purchasing cards for entertainment and recreation is prohibited except for:

  • 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

In all cases above, the special expense form is required.

Special Expense purchases exception:

All purchases requiring a Special Expense form must be approved in advance by the Business Services Director regardless of method of payment. Generally, a purchasing card is not allowed as a method of payment for any items requiring a special expense form, however, the Purchasing Director may grant an exception to this policy on a case by case basis.

The cardholder requests the use of the purchasing card prior to purchase by e-mailing the request to the Purchasing Director. If approved, the directive is to print the approval e-mail and attach it to the cardholder activity report along with the itemized receipt and approved special expense form.

Examples of allowable purchase card purchases include:

  • Office supplies
  • Subscriptions, memberships or professional licenses for one year only, both new and renewals
  • Webinars-these are fees and not travel
  • Rental of equipment (when a certificate of insurance is not required)
  • Repairs done off-campus

General Instructions

Any establishment that accepts Visa can accept the Purchasing Card. Most cards are created with a $15,000 transaction limit. Please keep in mind the following:

  • All purchases must follow the St. Cloud State University Purchasing Policies and Procedures. Violation will result in revocation of the card. All transactions are audited for compliance.
  • The cardholder is responsible for the safe keeping of the card and the resulting transactions on the card.
  • If you have more than one card, be sure you are using the correct card. This will prevent charging the wrong account for your purchase.

Step 1 Determine if the transaction value is greater than $15,000 or equipment over $10,000.

If over $15,000 or equipment over $10,000, process a purchase order request through PCS following the usual purchasing procedures.

If under $15,000 and not equipment over $10,000, go to step 2

Step 2 Using the card for Purchases

  • Know where you want the package shipped. You can have it delivered to your department or through central receiving.
  • Give the vendor the purchasing card number and expiration date, or present the card.
  • Identify your purchase as tax-exempt. The tax-exempt number is on the card but the exemption is not automatically processed. Be sure to double check your itemized receipt at the point of sale to make sure tax was not applied.
  • Ask the supplier to print the “cardholder’s name/VISA” where they would normally print the purchase order number on the invoice/packing slip and on the package.
  • If the material will be shipped or delivered, be sure the delivery instructions are clear and ask the supplier to e-mail or fax you the itemized confirmation. Get the name and phone number of the person you are talking to in case you need to call back.
  • If the material will be picked up, obtain the itemized receipt indicating the purchase price. Again, be sure to double check your itemized receipt at the time of purchase to make sure tax was not applied.
  • Put original itemized receipts in the transaction/log envelope. Affidavits will not be accepted as this is the only document for auditing.

Step 3 Monthly Cardholder Activity Report

A cardholder activity report for each purchasing card is available through Access On-Line. The report will show all transactions posted to the account. The cardholder will reconcile the monthly report and send to Business Services for processing. Print report after the 3rd of every month. The report is due to Business Services by the 10th of the month. 

It is the responsibility of the employee cardholder to verify the correctness of the billing by performing the following reconciliation:

  • Print your monthly cardholder activity report from your Access On-Line account.
  • Verify that all items included on the cardholder activity report are correct.  Compare your individual receipts to the activity report.  Make sure your itemized receipt MATCHES the amount on your report.  It is your responsibility to get the correct receipt from the vendor.  Make sure all returns/credits and disputed items are taken care of.  See below for instruction on handling returns/credits or disputed items.
  • Staple the original itemized receipts in order behind the report. Do not paperclip!
  • The cardholder must sign the report to verify the correctness of the billing.
  • The individual designated as the responsible person for the cost center must review, sign as "supervisor" (the bottom signature line) and send the report and receipts to Accounts Payable - AS 122. If the cardholder is listed as the responsible person for the account then the supervisor signature would be the Department Chair or the Dean. The responsible person's signature indicates that all charges for the cardholder have been reviewed and are in compliance with University policy and procedures. Reports will not be accepted without proper signatures.
  • Retain a copy of all receipts and reports.  This will be your documentation for returns and verification of disbursed transactions against the cardholder's cost center.
  • Submit reconciled reports to Business Services- Purchasing Department-AS 122. They must be received no later than the 10th of the month. Vacation or extended leave conflicts are your responsibility to resolve. Your internal procedure should include a backup plan for submitting reports on time in your absence. Violation of this deadline will result in deactivation of the card.

Returns, Credits and Disputed Items

If you have a problem with an item or billing resulting from use of the Purchasing Card, you should first try to reach a resolution with the supplier that provided the item. In most cases, disputes can be resolved directly between the cardholder and the supplier. Identify on the cardholder activity report any action you have taken (i.e. called vendor to reimburse sales tax). All returns and credits must have a credit document attached to the cardholder report. Do not adjust the report – but do document the problem on the report, so the Card Administrator knows what you are doing to correct the problem. Any documentation should be written directly on the report and not attached on a post-it note.

  • Returns: Returns are handled just like any credit card purchase. Bring or ship the item back to the supplier, along with the purchase receipt and request that a credit be placed on your card account. If the item is shipped, keep a copy of the shipping form (RMA) in case further follow-up is required.
  • Credits: The supplier should issue credit for any item that has been resolved and/or returned. The credit will appear on a subsequent statement. Any item purchased with the Purchasing Card that is returned must be returned for credit. Do not accept a refund in cash or any other manner.
  • Disputed Items: If you have a disputed charge and cannot reach resolution with the supplier, contact the purchasing card administrator to assist in the resolution.


Within three (3) working days of the receipt of all computers, regardless of cost, contact Inventory @ 8-4002 so state numbers can be affixed to the property. Failure to comply will result in deactivation of the card.


Each cardholder prints a monthly cardholder activity report for information and reconciliation purposes only. The cardholder submits the report with supporting documents to the Card Administrator for post-audit purposes. Chargebacks are downloaded bi-weekly to the cost centers through the ISRS Cost Allocation System. This results in JG transactions to the cost center.

Credit Card Security

The Purchasing Card should be treated with the same level of care as personal credit cards.

  • The card must not be loaned to another person. The only person authorized to use the purchasing card is the person whose name appears on the front of the card.
  • The purchasing card account number should be guarded carefully. Do not post it or write it in any location that is accessible to others.

Consequences for Failure to Comply with Policies & Procedures

There is a zero tolerance policy for failure to comply with the purchasing card procedures. Violations of purchasing card policies and procedures will result in deactivation of the card until the violations are corrected.

Examples of non-compliance:

  • Splitting charges to avoid the spending limit
  • Multiple purchases from one vendor in a short period of time
  • Monthly cardholder activity report not turned in before the 10th of the month
  • Illegal purchases
  • Failure to provide proper receipts
  • Failure to provide proper signatures

Multiple violations will suspend the cardholders privileges for all cards held. The minimum suspension is three (3) months. The cardholder, responsible person for the account, dean, and vice president will be notified in writing of the suspension by the “Notice of Card Suspension” form (attachment). To reactivate after suspension, the form must be signed by all the people who were previously notified. The cardholder must attend training before reactivation. If the card is reactivated and another violation occurs, the card will be cancelled. The employee will be ineligible for future cards.

What if the Cardholder Leaves the University

When cardholders leave (sabbatical, medical, termination) the University they must return the purchasing card to the Purchasing Department. If the cardholder will be returning, the card will be reduced and filed until the return. If the cardholder is not returning, cut the card in half prior to sending to Purchasing. Returned purchasing cards are not reissued to other employees for use. Do not allow anyone else to use the card.

Card Cancellation due to Inactivity

Purchasing cards are automatically cancelled after 6 months of inactivity. A card cancelled due to inactivity cannot be reactivated, these cardholders will need to reapply for a new card.

Cardholder Credit Rating  

The use of the purchasing card results in a liability for the University, not a personal liability for the cardholder. The cardholder’s credit rating will not be affected. Please remember that the cardholder signs an agreement prior to receiving the card and as such is responsible for any abuse as outlined in this document.

Key Contacts - Who to Call  

The following resources are available to provide assistance with questions or problems that arise with your purchasing card.

Call the Purchasing Card Program Administrator, ext. 8-4001:

  • To apply for a purchasing card
  • To replace damaged purchasing card
  • To cancel or report a lost/stolen purchasing card (during business hours)
  • Malfunctioning card
  • Monthly activity reports/receipts - Auditing and compliance issues
  • Questions about purchasing policies and procedures
  • Problems with Access Online

Call the Purchasing Department, ext. 8-3136:

  • Cost allocation transactions

 Call Inventory, ext. 8-4002:

  • To inventory new computers upon delivery to your office.