Printed on: 11/20/2019. Please go to http://policy.umn.edu for the most current version of the Policy or related document.
University of Minnisota  Administrative Policy

Using the University Travel Card

Responsible University Officer(s):
  • Controller
Policy Owner(s):
  • Director of Purchasing Services
Policy contact(s):
  • Beth Tapp
Date Revised:
Jun 19, 2019
Effective Date:
Apr 18, 2019

Policy Statement

The University provides a corporate travel card for employees traveling on University business. Cardholders must assume all responsibility for its use.

Travel expenses must be approved by a person who has been authorized to approve or deny travel expenses. Normally, the authorized approver is one level senior to the traveler, but it may be another person(s) in the department or unit who is not one level senior, but has delegated financial transaction authority to approve or deny travel expenses.  Under no circumstances should the delegation of approval authority create a situation where an employee is approving the expenses of their supervisor. See Administrative Policy: Financial Transaction Approvals and Routing.

All travel expenses must comply with University travel and purchasing policies, and requirements of the sponsor if traveling on sponsored funds. Failure to comply with this policy and all associated procedures may result in card suspension, card cancellation, and disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Cardholders must document a commitment (annually) to ethical purchasing practices by signing a Purchasing Code of Ethics for Department Employee Responsible for Purchasing.

Card Eligibility

Employees who travel frequently (three or more trips a year) or who are likely to incur substantial travel costs should use a travel card. Cardholders must be current active employees (on payroll) and must have approval from the employee’s academic/administrative unit head. Employees must submit a signed “Travel Card Cardholder Agreement” with their application.

Cardholders who transfer between positions or units may retain their card if their new position includes travel. The cardholder must notify the Department Card Administrator of the new unit that they have a travel card. New applications are not required.

Cardholders who leave the University or transfer to a department where they no longer need a travel card must report the cancellation to the Department Card Administrator.

Use of the Travel Card

The travel card pays for an individual’s own travel expenses. Typical examples of allowable expenses include airfare, lodging, car rental, other ground transportation, conference registration/memberships, and miscellaneous travel-related expenses.

Business and hospitality meals are allowable on the travel card and must follow meal appropriate meal limits per policy. Alcohol may be charged only on non-sponsored private funds (1780, 170X, 175X, and 1030). If any other funds are paying for the alcohol, the travel card may not be used.

Card limits are set at $2,500 per transaction/$10,000 per month for domestic travelers and $5,000 per transaction/$15,000 monthly for international travelers. Department Card Administrators and Chief Financial Managers (CFMs) may request a different limit for individual cardholders.  Cardholders must not split purchases with a supplier in order to avoid the transaction limit.

Unallowable Travel Card Expenses

Cardholders are responsible for reimbursing the University for expenses on the travel card that are deemed unallowable.  At a minimum, below is a list of unallowable expenses:

  • Travel Meals (travelers must pay for meals out of pocket and claim as per diem)
  • Expenses for other employees
  • Personal expenses

CFMs have discretion to consider employee requests for an exception to this policy.  See section Oversight/Compliance for additional information.

Amounts owed the University will be collected:

  • by deducting from any amount to be reimbursed to the cardholder on the expense report that includes the unallowable expense(s); or
  • if the expense report does not include an amount owed to the cardholder, the cardholder must choose one of the following to pay for the unallowable expense:
    • receive a bill from the University or
    • a one-time payroll deduction.

Bills and payroll deductions for unallowable activity are generated centrally. Amount due from the cardholder for unallowable activity may include the related sales/use tax when applicable. Departments must not pay for unallowable expenses on the cardholder’s behalf or create other methods for the cardholder to reimburse the University for unallowable expenses.

Sales Tax

The University of Minnesota can purchase many items exempt from state and local sales taxes.  In the state of Minnesota, this exemption does not apply to lodging, prepared food, candy, soft drinks, motor vehicles, waste disposal services, or alcohol.

Cardholders must understand and comply with applicable sales tax rules.  If sales tax was charged and the University would have been exempt, CFMs may require the tax amount to be claimed as unallowable and the employee will have to repay the University for the tax charged.

Documentation

Cardholders must submit detailed merchant receipts for all travel card purchases of more than $25.

Cardholders must submit complete documentation for hospitality expenses to include business purpose, names of attendees, and business relationships in accordance with Administrative Policy: Documenting Financial/Accounting Transactions.

Reconciliation & Payment

This is a corporate card program, paid directly by the University. A travel card does not affect a cardholder’s credit. 

Cardholders must reconcile and submit their expenses within 60 days of the expense loaded into Chrome River. 

Cardholders must review travel card activity to ensure that charges are legitimate, assign appropriate Allocation/ChartField string distributions, add justifications for each expense, submit receipts (over $25), and process a dispute or contact a merchant directly regarding unidentified items. See Administrative Procedure: Reconciliation and Approval of Travel Card Activity

Transactions not reconciled and submitted within this period will result in the following suspensions:

  1. First Suspension – Card suspended until ALL of the cardholder’s transactions have been reconciled and approved.
  2. Second Suspension – Card suspended until ALL of the cardholder’s transactions have been reconciled and approved and then will remain suspended for an additional 30 days.
  3. Third Suspension – Card canceled.

Oversight/Compliance

Chief Financial Manager (CFM)

  • The CFM may require that travelers within their campus/college/vice presidential unit use the travel card. The travel card does not replace the Procurement Card (PCard) or purchase orders.
  • The CFM is responsible for monitoring compliance and may suspend cards for any reason. CFMs have discretion to consider employee requests for an exception to this policy; for example, in situations of financial hardship, to allow travel meals on the card. Exception requests should be infrequent and require approval from the unit’s Chief Financial Manager before the trip begins.  Travel meals must still follow per diem limits per the Administrative Policy: Traveling on University Business.

Department Card Administrator (DCA)

  • The DCA must report cardholder transfers and card cancellations to Purchasing Services.
  • The DCA must work with cardholders to reconcile outstanding transactions.

Traveling with students or non-employees

Cardholders who are traveling with students or non-employees may pay for the lodging expenses of the students or non-employees on their card. Meals and other travel related expenses are allowable with prior approval of the Chief Financial Manager.  Travel meals must still follow per diem limits per the Administrative Policy: Traveling on University Business.

Student Athlete Team Travel

Employees traveling with student athletes must not use personal funds (cash or personal credit cards) to pay for team travel. Cardholders who are traveling with a team may use their travel card to pay for any team-related travel expenses.

Reason for Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the issuance, use of the travel card, and ensure that sufficient controls are in place to mitigate risk. Responsibility for financial control of the use of the travel cards rests with each campus, college, or vice presidential unit.

Procedures

Forms/Instructions

Appendices

Frequently Asked Questions

Contacts

SubjectContactPhoneEmail
Policy & Procedure Questions Financial System Inquiries University Financial Helpline 612-624-1617 controller@umn.edu
Card Application University Financial Helpline 612-624-1617 controller@umn.edu
Provider Bank US Bank TDD/TYY 1-800-344-5696 1-800-685-5065
Sales Tax Exemption Tax Director 612-624-1053 612-626-0876
taxhelp@umn.edu
Other Purchasing Options Purchasing Services 612-624-2828 purchase@umn.edu
Hotel/Conference Space Rental Real Estate Office 612-626-3445 pete9118@umn.edu
Sponsored Projects Sponsored Financial Reporting 612-624-3848 npilman@umn.edu

Definitions

Academic/Administrative Unit Head
Individuals who provide overall leadership for the unit and the University in general. They participate in policy formation and ensure policy implementation for their unit. They are also responsible for their unit’s overall financial management.
Card Program Administrator
An employee of Purchasing Services who has overall responsibility for the University's Procurement Card Program and the Travel Card Program.
Cardholder
An employee who has been delegated purchasing authority and authorized by the administrative head within their unit to have a travel card to pay for individual travel-related business expenses.
Certified Approver
A department or collegiate staff person who has been given authority by the Vice President for Research and who has been appointed by the Collegiate Research Associate Dean to review and approve high risk financial transactions involving sponsored funds.
Chief Financial Manager (CFM)
The person who has the primary accountability for the financial activities in a Resource Responsibility Center. The CFM has a dotted-line reporting relationship to the University’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and is the primary point of contact at the Resource Responsibility Center level on financial matters for the CFO (and the offices reporting directly to the CFO).
Contract Vendors/Suppliers
Vendors/suppliers that have a contract with the University that generally include preferred pricing/rates and service levels.
Department Card Administrator
A person who acts as coordinator for procurement or travel card activity in their department. This individual is designated by the Chief Financial Manager (CFM) or designee.
DeptID Approver
Individual assigned by department who is responsible for approving, or returning (denying) a transaction. The approver ensures transactions are in compliance with department, unit, and University policies and procedures, and are accurate and properly accounted for.
Employee
A current active employee (on payroll).
Non-Sponsored Funds
Funds available for use on activities that are not externally-sponsored research. For a list of non-sponsored funds numbers, see Chart of Accounts, Fund Types.
Private Funds
Those received from individuals or external entities primarily through gifts. Funds cannot be considered private if they have been received from activities that are part of the University’s primary mission (teaching, research, and outreach). Private funds include gifts from University recognized foundations, individuals, business and industry, and unrelated foundations. See Chart of Accounts, Fund Types.
Provider Bank
The bank selected by the University to provide banking services required for the program.
Sponsored Projects
A sponsored project is an externally funded activity governed by specific terms and conditions. Sponsored projects must be separately budgeted and accounted for and are subject to the terms of the sponsoring organization. Sponsored projects may include grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for research, training, and other public service activities.
 Travel Card
A University paid card program for business-related purchases. 

Responsibilities

Academic/Administrative Unit Head
Authorize University employees to obtain corporate travel card. Approve card application for employees in their unit who are traveling on University business.
Approver
Approvers are determined by the DeptID used on the ChartField string of a transaction, based on EFS department approval delegation. (A cardholder may NOT approve his or her own transactions.)
  • Review and take appropriate action on travel card activity (Expense Report).
  • Ensure documents are consistent with department and University policy and procedures.
  • Determine the transactions' propriety, accuracy, and compliance.
  • Ensure the appropriate ChartField string is used.
Card Program Administrator
  • Manage the procurement and travel card programs for the University of Minnesota.
  • Act as program liaison between provider bank and University units and departments.
  • Represent the program to the University community and outside agencies.
  • Have detailed knowledge about associated University financial policies and procedures.
  • Promote card program awareness and appropriate utilization.
  • Develop and maintain University-wide procurement and travel card policy and procedures.
  • Ensure monitoring and follow through of reconciled statements and supporting documentation.
  • Reconcile and submit monthly payment to provider bank.
Cardholder
  • Activate and maintain the card in a secure manner.
  • Ensure purchases are allowable according to University policies and procedures, department policies and procedures, and if on sponsored funds, sponsoring agency guidelines.
  • Take action to resolve disputed items (bank requires resolution within 60 days of transaction date) or returns in a timely manner. Ensure that credit or resolution has occurred.
  • Report immediately any lost or stolen cards to the bank (1-800-344-5696) and Purchasing Services (pcard@umn.edu).
  • Return travel card to DCA upon termination of employment.
  • If transferring to a different department, alert new unit administrative director that cardholder already has a travel card.
Certified Approver
Review and take appropriate action on travel card activity charged to a sponsored ChartField string. http://www.research.umn.edu/regulations/sproles.html (select Certified Approver)
Chief Financial Manager
The Chief Financial Manager (CFM) for each college or administrative unit has been delegated oversight responsibility and monitoring for violations. CFMs may delegate responsibility for managing travel card activity and suspending and canceling cards. CFMs may also require the use of a travel card and have discretion to consider employee requests for an exception to this policy.
Controller’s Office
Primary contact for this policy and administers the Travel Card program. Grants exceptions to policy in situations where one is allowed and requested by a CFM.
Department Card Administrator
  • Develop department procedures regarding card program and provide assistance within the department.
  • Act as a liaison between Program Administrator and cardholder.
    • Process applications
    • Receive and distribute replacement cards.
    • Serve as primary contact for communications from the Purchasing Services regarding missing Expense Reports, audit compliance memos, etc.
    • Request changes to transaction limits.
  • Notify Program Administrator in writing or email of employee name or address changes, department transfers, card cancellations, and lost or stolen cards.
  • Maintain current knowledge of University of Minnesota Procurement and Travel Card policies and procedures.
Provider Bank / Card Company
  • Produce procurement cards.
  • Generate University billing.
  • Replace lost/stolen cards.
  • Monitor and follow up on activity for fraud.

Related Information

History

Effective
June 2019 -New Policy under 30 day review.
  1. Switches from an individual liability card (American Express) to corporate liability card (US Bank)
  • UMN pays the bill each month
  • Establishes the parameters for using the card.
    • 60 days to reconcile and submit expenses for approval
    • Receipts required for purchase more than $25
    • Allow alcohol (only on non-sponsored private funds)
    • Chief Financial Managers may require the use of a travel card for their campus, college, or vice presidential unit
    Supercedes:
    Using the Corporate Travel Card

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