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.
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.
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.
- Appendix to Policy: Information on Minnesota State Sales Tax.
- Additional guidance is available from the Tax Management Office on sales tax, including Sales Tax and Making Purchases in Other States.
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:
- First Suspension – Card suspended until ALL of the cardholder’s transactions have been reconciled and approved.
- 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.
- Third Suspension – Card canceled.
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.