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Purchasing Card

Departments may find it convenient to pay for expenses authorized for University business by means of a purchasing charge card, rather than other methods of payment such as accounts payable cheque (i.e. purchase order invoices, certified invoices, payments without invoices processed through FIS), petty cash, or imprest expenditure bank account.

A purchasing card is issued to an individual in the name of the department. Charges are paid directly by the University on a monthly basis. There are some restrictions on the type of expenditure for which a purchasing card may be used. It cannot be used for:

  • expenses greater than $5,000
  • travel expenses (use the Travel and Hospitality Card instead)
  • other expenses where specific instructions or exemptions are required on a purchase order

This section covers the requirements for obtaining and using a purchasing card:



Statements and Reports



Policy Objectives
To provide a convenient and less administrative method of procuring and paying for low value goods and services by simplifying the procurement process, reducing paperwork, speeding up vendor payments and empowering faculty and staff who have procurement responsibilities.

Policy Statement
It is University policy to use purchasing charge cards for departmental procurement and payment of goods and services within the local procurement authority where it is efficient, economical and operationally feasible to do so.

The University views inappropriate use as a very serious matter and expects cardholders to act with strict prudence and professionalism. Willful misuse of the card will subject the employee to dismissal and criminal prosecution.

Policy Requirements – General

  1. Departmental Responsibility – Departments using purchasing charge cards must obtain them from the company with which the University has established a master supply agreement. Departments using purchasing charge cards will be responsible for any fees and charges identified with the card.
  2. Departmental Card Coordinator – Each department head must designate a senior staff member to act as the departmental card coordinator to authorize, monitor and control the issue and use of all departmental cards.
  3. The use of purchasing charge cards is subject to the following restrictions:
    1. Each card may be used only by the person whose name is on the card.
    2. Appropriate Use of the Purchasing Card – The card may be used for the procurement of low value goods and services for authorized university use and purpose in accordance with the parameters and limitations in this administrative policy and within any specific grant or restricted fund limitations of a sponsor.
    3. The card may not be used for any the following kinds of purchases:
      • Personal or private use travel
      • Non-University use
      • Transportation expenses (e.g.Airline, rail, bus, car rentals and other transportation) – use instead the Amex Travel and Hospitality Card
      • Accommodation and lodging expenses (e.g. hotel, motel and other accommodation) – use instead the Amex Travel and Hospitality Card
      • Food and beverage expenses (e.g. restaurants, fast food outlets, and alcoholic beverage stores)
      • Cash Advances
      • Financial instruments of any kind such as money orders or bank drafts
      • Temporary help
      • Purchases in excess $5,000 including taxes, currency exchange and all other charges – see Purchasing
      • Maintenance contracts
      • Laboratory and research animals
      • Radioactive material (see Purchasing of Restricted Substances)
      • Hazardous material
      • Extended rentals or leasing of equipment
      • Internal university purchases such as Facilities and Services work orders, computing services etc. The exception is MedStore , which can accept the Purchasing Card.
    4. Cards will not be accepted by certain merchant categories and may be prohibited at point of initiation for merchant categories included in these guidelines.
    5. A personal identification number (PIN) will not be issued to allow access to automated tellers and cash advances.
  4. The departmental card coordinator in every department must ensure that every card holder is informed of his or her responsibilities and the policy and restrictions regarding the use of the purchasing charge card and that each card holder agrees and acknowledges them in writing prior to receiving a card.
  5. The cardholder must pick up their card in person from the departmental card coordinator and present identification prior to receiving the card.
  6. Cardholder status changes such as a transfer, termination, retirement, expired funding and credit limit changes must be reported to the departmental card coordinator by the cardholder. The cardholder will prepare a PCard Change Request form and forward it to the departmental card coordinator with the proper one-up authorization prior to processing the status change by the campus card coordinator. Note: if a temporary credit limit change is necessary, please inform your departmental card coordinator as soon as possible in order to avoid a merchant declining the card. If the purchasing card is declined, please refer to Purchasing Card under PCard Declined Charges”
  7. There is no fee to obtain and use a purchasing charge card. Liability for charges from use of the card rests with each department, not the individual cardholder.
  8. The purchasing charge card must be returned to the departmental card coordinator or campus card coordinator on the request of the card coordinator.
  9. Records of purchases made with the purchasing charge card must be kept by the cardholder and /or the department card coordinator for audit trail purposes and to facilitate reconciliation and account verification (i.e. packing slips, card vouchers, transaction log, card statements).
  10. A PCard Request form must be approved by the person to whom the cardholder reports. In addition, an employee acknowledgement of responsibilities and obligations must be signed by the cardholder and filed with the card coordinator prior to receipt of the card.
  11.  A PCard Request form for a card in the departmental coordinator’s name must be authorized by the department head prior to issuing of the card.
  12. The cardholder will reconcile expenditures made using the card upon receipt of the cardholder monthly statement.
    In the event of a disputed purchase that does not accurately record a transaction made by the cardholder (e.g. wrong amount, incorrect account number, multiple postings etc.), this should be reported immediately by the cardholder by contacting the University of Toronto corporate client representative during normal working hours ( 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) for removal from the account until resolved. Please note that problems with merchants (e.g. late delivery, etc.) are not a disputed item and must be settled directly with the merchant.
  13. The University is legally liable for any unauthorized use of the card until notification of loss, theft or cancellation has been reported to the card company by the cardholder. This liability is automatically the responsibility of each department. Lost or stolen cards must be reported to both the campus card coordinator and the card issuer. The Customer Service and Lost or Stolen area can be reached outside of normal working hours at the telephone numbers on this link to the Procurement Services website.
  14. Purchases made using the card are subject to the normal application of HST.
  15. Foreign Purchases – Purchases made outside Canada will be converted to Canadian funds by the card issuer at a rate equal to the Interbank rate on the day the transaction is posted to the card account.
  16. With respect to research grants, normally each principal investigator will have a card. If a purchasing charge card is to be issued to anyone other than the principal investigator identified by the account name, then the principal investigator must provide written approval specifying the delegation of signing authority and the acceptance of responsibility for items charged to the research account(s).
  17. Responsibility rests with the department for promptly removing expenses considered to be ineligible by the research sponsor (including expenditures incurred subsequent to the grant/contract termination date) or causing the account to overdraw, out of the research grant account.
  18. Responsibility for ensuring that the purchasing charge card expenses are recorded in the cost center, fund and commitment fund center prior to grant / fund termination and any related University processing deadlines rests with the department.
  19. The department card coordinator in consultation with the cardholder and department head will determine the credit limit for each purchasing charge card issued. The credit limit should take into account the forecasted usage. Credit will not be provided beyond the credit limit.


Internal Audit reviews the use of purchasing charge cards to determine whether they are being used in accordance with this administrative policy.

The Director of Procurement Services or delegate conducts random reviews with the assistance of department card coordinators to determine whether the administrative policy objectives and regulations have been met, and identifies any productivity improvements.

Statements and Reports

The following statements and reports are currently mailed to departments and will be enhanced on an ongoing basis:

Cardholder Monthly Statement (Cardholder)
Similar to a credit card statement and used to reconcile vouchers, packing slips and to provide an audit trail.

Billing Summary Report (Departmental Card Coordinator)
The Billing Summary Report summarizes all departmental cardholder statements to one departmental summary.


1. Each cardholder must observe the following practices:

  • When not being used, the card should be kept in a secure location at all times.
  • When quoting the purchasing card number over the telephone for a purchase, every precaution should be taken to avoid the risk of unauthorized use of the card number.
  • Items in dispute should be settled promptly by notifying the card company and providing any information and assistance requested to settle the disputed item.

2. The department card coordinator, and campus coordinator should observe the following practices:

  • Review cardholder individual billing reports for propriety of use and follow-up on questionable purchases with the cardholder, head of the department and the Director of Procurement Services.
  • All cards held for pick-up should be kept in a secure location.

3. The Director of Procurement Services should observe the following practices:

  • Randomly review cardholder individual billing reports for propriety of use and follow-up on questionable purchases with the department head, the Chief Financial Officer and the Director of Internal Audit.
  • Review the changes to the master lists for cardholders and card coordinators on a monthly basis.
  • Review the changes to the cardholder credit limits on a monthly basis.
  • Arrange information and training sessions.

Travel and Related Expenses
For eligible travel and related expenses refer to Travel and Other Reimbursable Expenses section of this Guide.

Records Management
For information on retention of purchasing card statements, refer to Records Management – Payments to Vendors.

Last revision: January 18, 2018