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Category Finance
Type Procedure
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, March 2013
Date Procedure Took Effect 1 January 2013
Last approved revision 28 July 2023
Sponsor Financial Controller
Responsible officer Team Leader Accounts Payable


The purpose of this procedure is to define the rules and procedures governing the use of Purchase Cards.

Organisational scope

This procedure applies to the University and its subsidiaries.


A University issued purchase card (i.e. credit card)
Goods and Services Tax
University of Otago, Christchurch campus
University of Otago, Wellington campus


1. Issue of Purchase Cards

  1. To be eligible for a Purchase Card, an employee must meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • Travel frequently in the course of their duties
    • Travel overseas in the course of their duties
    • Purchase significant volumes of minor goods and services on behalf of the University
    • Incur regular expenses of a kind appropriately paid for by a Purchase Card
  2. Prospective applicants, their immediate supervisor and delegated administrators completing Purchase Card coding on behalf of a cardholder are required to have read/completed all relevant trainings prior to a Purchase Card being issued. Required reading and training include:
  3. After successful completion of the required reading and training, the Purchase Card Application Form must be filled out and signed by the applicant, their Manager or Head of Department ( HOD ), and the Accounts Payable Officer.
  4. Note that in signing an application for the issue of a Purchase Card, the HoD is deemed to have given financial delegation/authority for expenditure approval to the cardholder and the applicant's supervisor agrees to review and sign all Purchase Card Statements on a monthly basis.

2. Distribution of Purchase Cards

  1. The issuing bankwill forward the Purchase Card directly to the Accounts Payable team. The Accounts Payable Officer will contact the applicant who will be required to collect the card in person (photo ID is required).
  2. The employee will also receive an email with all relevant links to the Policy and Procedures, including the Purchase Card User Guide. If the employee is located outside of Dunedin the purchase card will be couriered.
  3. The Purchase Card can be used from the commencement date printed on the face of the card. A PIN (4 digit number) will need to be applied to the card by going to a branch of the issuing bank with photo identification. The PIN selected should be unique to this Purchase Card i.e: should not be the same number as other cards. PINs should be unique and kept confidential to the holder. They should never be disclosed to anyone or written down.

3. Purchase Card limits

  1. Each Purchase Card will be issued with a monthly credit limit of $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000. If the credit limit is outside of these limits but under $10,000 this will be approved by an Accounts Payable Officer on a case-by-case basis. Such requests should clearly state the reasons for the higher limit.
  2. If a credit limit higher than $10,000 is required, approval resides with the Chief Financial Officer.
  3. Credit limits will be reviewed on a regular basis, and where a Purchase Card is being operated well below the assigned limit, that limit may be reduced at the discretion of the Purchase Card Administrator with agreement by the cardholder's Head of Department or Manager.
  4. Temporary limit increases may be applied for as and when required by emailing the Accounts Payable Officer with authoriser's approval, the amount to increase and the length of time required.

4. Use of the Purchase Card

  1. The Purchase Card can be used at any location displaying the Visa brand.
  2. The Purchase Card must only be used by the individual staff member to whom it was issued. Under no circumstances should the details of a Purchase Card be shared with another person or the Purchase Card be used by another person on the holder's behalf.
  3. Purchase Cards should not be used as departmental cards by several members of staff.
  4. Expenditure charged to Purchase Cards must be business-related. It must be reasonable, appropriate and in accordance with the University's policies and procedures related to expenditure. In particular, cardholders should be familiar with the Travel and Travel Related Costs Policy.
  5. Where expenditure is incurred on behalf of a number of cardholders, and one of the cardholders is the supervisor of the other card-holders, then the expenditure must be charged to the Purchase Card of the supervisor.
  6. A Purchase Card may be used to make purchases over the phone or internet. To reflect good security practices, such purchases should only be from established reputable companies known to the University. Purchase Card details should only be entered on an identified secure web site.
  7. Goods purchased online or by phone using a PCard should always be delivered to a University address unless prior approval from a HOD has been obtained. Approval (e.g. email) should be attached to the transaction in Finance One along with the appropriate invoice/receipt.
  8. A Purchase Card should not be used where the University has established specific procurement arrangements for certain goods and services with preferred or mandatory suppliers that do not anticipate the use of Purchase Cards. Examples of this include the purchase of stationery via UniMarket and the purchase of air travel which should be made via the University's mandatory travel agents, and the subscription to mobile phone accounts which should be made through the University’s agreement with One NZ.

5. Disputed transactions

  1. Disputed transactions must be resolved with either the supplier or the issuing bank by the cardholder.
  2. If the cardholder is unable to contact the supplier, they must contact the Accounts Payable Officer so that the bank can be advised immediately that the transaction is being disputed.
  3. The transaction must be coded as “in dispute” in the Finance One PCard module, and remain so until the issue has been resolved.

6. Cash advances

  1. Purchase Cards will only be issued with a cash advance facility if the cardholder has indicated the intention to travel overseas, although such a facility may be provided to other cardholders on request to the Accounts Payable Officer. Each request should state fully the reasons for needing to access cash advances.
  2. Where a cash advance facility is provided, the use of the facility must comply with the following:
    • Drawing cash within New Zealand is not permitted unless the cardholder is away from their campus at the time the cash is required. Approved koha for UOW or UOC may be withdrawn using PCard, and approval from the Office of Māori Development is to be provided as supporting documentation to the transaction
    • Prior to withdrawing cash, the cardholder should exhaust all other options of payment including using the standard Purchase Card functionality
    • Cash withdrawn must be accounted for as with all other expenditure, including appropriate supporting documentation
    • Unspent cash should be converted back to NZ currency, banked into the University bank account, and coded to the general or project ledger account used for the original advance. Evidence of this deposit should be included with the Purchase Card monthly statement
    • In the event that unspent funds cannot be converted back to NZ currency, such as with coins or an uneconomic amount, then the money should be returned to the Cashiers team.

7. Expenditure documentation

  1. Consistent with any purchase on behalf of the University, expenditure must be supported by appropriate documentation. Taxable supply information documents must be supplied for expenditure in excess of $50.00. Invoices and/or receipts must be legible and itemised.
  2. The requirements of a valid tax invoice issued by a New Zealand organisation can be found under the heading “University Expenditure – Claiming GST From Invoices Received” within the Taxation Guidance.

Coding of Purchase Card Transactions

  1. Purchase Card transactions will be loaded into the Finance One PCard Module on a regular basis using an import file provided by the bank. If a cardholder has new transactions requiring coding action, it is ultimately the cardholder's or designated administrator's responsibility to monitor and appropriately code all Purchase Card transactions.  The principal coder for that card will receive a reminder email alerting them to the fact that they have outstanding coding to action.  Coding needs to be completed by noon on the first working day of each month following the transaction date. If traveling for longer than 30 days at a time an exception may be granted. If an exception is given, the cardholder will receive an email from the Accounts Payable Officer advising them of this.
  2. Coding of transactions for posting to the University's general or project ledgers will occur in the Finance One OU My PCard Module. The process will include identifying any applicable New Zealand GST, the inclusion of suitable comments supporting each transaction and a summarised narration for transfer to the general/project ledgers.

    Note that both the comments and ledger narrations will appear on the monthly purchase card statement. Therefore it is important that they include sufficient detail to corroborate each transaction.
  3. Further information relating to this process can be found in the Purchase Card User Guide.

8. Monthly Purchase Card statements

  1. At the start of each month, cardholders will be emailed a statement of the previous month's Purchase Card transactions. This statement should be reviewed and signed by the cardholder, declaring that “the information contained on this form is correct and the expenses incurred were for business purposes in accordance with the University of Otago Purchase Card Policy”. Under no circumstances should a Purchase Card statement be signed on behalf of the cardholder – only the cardholder should make the above declaration.
  2. The Purchase Card Statement must be authorised by the cardholder's supervisor. The supervisor should record their name and position on the statement. In all cases this review and authorisation should be performed by a person senior to the cardholder. This is known as the 'One-up” principle and should always be applied.
  3. If a Purchase Card Statement contains expenditure relating to the supervisor, then it should be referred to a higher authority for approval.

The statement, along with all original supporting documentation should be forwarded to Accounts Payable or uploaded to the appropriate transactions in Finance One by the date specified on the statement.

9. Lost or stolen cards

  1. Purchase Cards are valuable and should be treated in the same way as a passport or cash.
  2. If a Purchase Card is lost or stolen during working hours, the cardholder must contact the Accounts Payable Officer immediately. They will arrange for the Purchase Card to be cancelled and a new one issued. In the event where the card is lost or stolen outside normal working hours, the cardholder should contact the issuing bank immediately to arrange for the card to be cancelled and then contact the Accounts Payable Officer to advise of the loss and initiate arrangements for a replacement card.

    Contact details are:
    In New Zealand call 0800 888 111
    From overseas call collect +64 9 914 8026

    The bank is liable for all charges incurred on the account once they have been advised of the lost card.
  3. In the event the lost Purchase Card is subsequently found by the cardholder, it should be destroyed as it will no longer be valid and a new one will have been issued.

10. Audit

  1. Audit of cardholder purchases will be performed on a regular basis by the Office of Risk, Assurance and Compliance and may be sample selected annually by external auditors as part of their procedures.
  2. If a cardholder is suspected of misusing their Purchase Card, then this will be reported to the cardholder's Divisional Head, the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Operating Officer for comment and/or resolution.

11. Misuse of Purchase Card

  1. Misuse of a Purchase Card could include, but is not limited to:
    • Inappropriate expenditure
    • Personal expenditure
    • Inappropriate or inadequate supporting documentation
    • Inappropriate use of a cash advance facility
    • Use of a Purchase Card by someone other than the cardholder
    • Failure to provide a correctly authorised monthly statement
    • Failure to comply with any other University policy or procedure related to the use of Purchase Cards
  2. Misuse of the Purchase Card by the cardholder will lead to:
    • Cancellation of the Purchase Card
    • A request for immediate reimbursement of the inappropriate expenditure if repayment has not been made per Clause 5 of the Purchase Card Policy
    • Possible disciplinary action
  3. Intentional misuse of a Purchase Card for personal gain is fraudulent behaviour under the University's Fraud Policy and will be referred to the relevant authorities for the purposes of investigation and possible prosecution.

12. Cessation of employment

  1. If a cardholder leaves the employment of the University (or its subsidiaries), or no longer holds a role where a Purchase Card is required, it is their responsibility to:
    • Reconcile all Purchase Card expenditure since the last statement and provide the necessary supporting documentation for this expenditure.
    • Advise the Accounts Payable Officer so the card can be cancelled. In the event a cardholder is not able to do so, the responsibility lies with their supervisor.
    • Return the Purchase Card to their immediate supervisor or an Accounts Payable Officer.

13. Review of continued use

  1. A monthly review of the Purchase Cards on issue will be performed by Accounts Payable personnel. The results of the review together with recommendations will be presented to the Senior Manager Operational Finance.
  2. If a cardholder no longer has a need for their Purchase Card, they should immediately return the Purchase Card to the Accounts Payable Officer, who will arrange for it to be cancelled.
    Purchase Cards that have not been used for a period of six months will be subject to cancelation.
  3. There is an expectation that legible and complete supporting documentation is to be provided within one month of expenditure being incurred; and if not received after 3 months, without an acceptable reason, this may result in a 6-month suspension of the Purchase Card.
  4. In all cases the cardholder must account for all outstanding expenditure incurred prior to the Purchase Card being cancelled.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

For further information, contact:

Accounts Payable team
Tel +64 3 479 8730
Web Pcard Blog

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