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Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of questions and corresponding answers that may help to further explain the purchasing card program. If you have additional questions, contact the PCPA at

Q: What is the purpose of the purchasing card?
A: To improve the purchasing process by streamlining small-dollar purchases and increasing efficiency in order to get the best value for the University. The largest benefit is to the Purchasing Cardholder in time savings and flexibility.

Q: What should I do if one of my suppliers does not accept Visa?
A: Find another supplier that provides the product or services required. Have the supplier contact our office.

Q. Can someone other than the cardholder make purchases on the Purchasing Card?
A. No. The purchasing cards are individually held, centrally billed. Use of the purchasing card is prohibited by anyone other than the cardholder. Remember, the cardholder is responsible for the charges on his/her card.

Q. At the department level, who is involved in the purchasing card process?
A. There are several roles at the department level. The department head approves cardholder agreements and any financial changes associated with the purchasing card. The cardholder is responsible for making purchases and completing required documentation. The authorized reviewer is responsible for reviewing the appropriateness of the charges and ensuring proper documentation is received from the cardholder.

Q. What are the cardholder's responsibilities?
A. The cardholder is responsible for:

  • Making only authorized purchases
  • Obtaining a detailed receipt for each purchase
  • Completing the transaction log with a brief description justifying the purchase
  • Reconciling the monthly Visa statement
  • Resolving any discrepancies
  • Ensuring credits are received
  • Signing and dating the log
  • Passing the paperwork to the assigned Authorized Reviewer for approval

Q. What are the Authorized Reviewer's responsibilities?
A. Authorized Reviewers are required to ensure that charges are authorized, within MSU Purchasing Card policy and procedures, and appropriately documented. The Authorized Reviewer is the cardholder's immediate supervisor or someone within the cardholder's chain of command. An Authorized Reviewer may not review his/her own transactions. The Authorized Reviewer signs and dates the monthly transaction log and monthly bank statement for all cardholders for whom they review certifying all transactions are authorized and that policy and procedures have been followed.

Q. What reviews/controls are in place to protect the University from fraudulent charges?
A. Several controls are in place for this purpose. Cardholders sign a cardholder agreement, approved by the department head, and attend a comprehensive training session prior to receiving a purchasing card. Transactions are posted in BANNER P-Card for review by the cardholder and reallocator. The cardholder is assigned an Authorized Reviewer who is responsible for ensuring charges are authorized and policy and procedures are followed - the review process is critical in the prevention of fraud. The Purchasing Card Program Administrator and the Comptroller's Office receive an automated transaction detail daily.

Q: Are there restrictions associated with the purchasing card? (EXHIBIT G)
A: Yes. These restrictions are detailed in the User's Guide and highlighted during the purchasing card training session. Restrictions are categorized as 1) restricted at point of sale and 2) restricted at other than point-of-sale.

  1. Point of Sale Restrictions - transaction will not go through (decline):
    • Exceeds single purchase limit
    • Exceeds monthly credit limit
    • Travel charges (airlines, trains, travel agencies, restaurants)
    • Liquor stores (package stores)
    • Entertainment
    • Cash advances (ATM machines)
    • Some personal services (photographic studios)
  2. Other than at Point of Sale - transaction may go through but violates law, policy, or procedures and should therefore not be made:
    • Personal purchases
    • Alcohol
    • Gifts of sentiment (examples: flowers for Professional Administrative Assistant's Day - formerly Secretary's Day, retirements, birthdays)
    • Purchases delivered to Non-University addresses
    • Office furniture purchases unless a waiver is received by the Office of Procurement Services from Maryland Correction Enterprises (formally State Use Industries)
    • Modifications to the building structure (mechanical, electrical, or life safety systems). Contact Facilities Management for clarification
    • Purchases that involve signing of an agreement, license, or contract (send the document to the Purchasing Card Program Administrator for review)
    • Splitting of purchases to avoid the $5,000 competition requirement.

Q: Can the Purchasing Card be used for travel?
A: No. The purchasing card cannot be used for travel. Contact the Comptroller's Office, the Travel Coordinator at 443-885-3045

Q. Can I put hotel charges on my purchasing card?
A. Yes, you can pay for lodging. No room service or extracurricular charges are allowed.

Q: Can personal purchases be made with the card?
A: No. Personal purchases cannot be made with this card. Keep your personal credit card purchases and the purchasing card completely separate.

Q. What do I do if I accidentally make a personal charge on my card?
A. Notify your Authorized Reviewer of the mistake. Attempt to have the charge reversed (credited) to the MSU card account. If the vendor will not cooperate, make a payment at the cashier's office. Place a copy of the payment slip indicating reimbursement for transaction along with the supporting documentation with the transaction log.

Q. What do I do if I accidentally make a restricted charge on my card?
A. Contact the Purchasing Card Program Administrator for advice as this is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Who pays the monthly Visa bill and how will it be paid?
A: The State pays Visa automatically. The University is assigned its portion of the charges, which are distributed electronically to the individual cardholders by the Office of the Comptroller and reflected on the default account assigned to the card.

Q: How is the purchasing card transactions posted to the proper University account?
A: A default account, 09950 for credit card purchases, is assigned to each purchasing card. All purchases are charged to this account and may be electronically reallocated by the cardholder or designated reallocator prior to the charges being posted.

Q: What should I do if I am unable to obtain a receipt?
A: Document the purchase and the circumstances that prevented obtaining a receipt. Maintain this documentation in your departmental files. Lost or unobtainable receipts must be repaid to the university account.

Q: Will I receive a monthly Visa statement?
A: Yes. A monthly statement is sent to the cardholder at their University address unless there aren't any transactions during the month.

Q: Will I receive a Visa statement if I don't have transactions during a billing period?
A: No. You will only receive a Visa statement for the billing periods in which you make purchases. If you don't have any transactions in any given billing cycle, please note it and place them in the file for audit purposes.

Q: Will my personal credit history be reviewed if I apply for a purchasing card?
A: No, your personal credit will not be reviewed, nor will it be affected.

Q: What happens if I leave the University?
A: The cardholder is responsible for bringing the card back to Purchase Card and turning it in. Once returned the card will be canceled in the banks' system.

Q. What do I do if I change departments?
A. You still need to cancel your card (see the answer to the question above). You will need to complete a new cardholder agreement and obtain approval from the department head of your new employer to obtain a purchasing card within the new department. You will not be required to attend the training again.

Q: What is the maximum limit I can charge to the purchasing card?
A: The maximum amount that can be charged per transaction is $5,000. However, depending on how your department head set up your account, the amount could be less. Your department head also determines the monthly credit limit assigned to your card; it is identified on your cardholder agreement.

Q: What if I need a higher monthly credit limit for my departmental purchases?
A: A Change Request Form must be completed and signed by all appropriate parties and submitted to the Purchase Card office. The final decision on the monthly credit limit assigned rests with the Procurement Card Program Administrator.

Q: Can I use the purchasing card to make Internet purchases?
A: Yes but make sure you are on a secured site. One indication that a site is secured is that an "s" appears after HTTP in the vendor's URL (i.e. https://www.), another is that a "lock" symbol appears in the bottom left-hand corner of the website. Most secured sites place an announcement on their site.

Q: What happens when my card expires?
A: Cards are active for two years from the date of creation. Each card has an expiration date identified by month and year (01/07 for January of 2007) printed on the card. The card expires at the end of the month. Two weeks prior to the expiration date the Bank will issue a new card and send it to the Purchasing Card Program Administrator who will, in turn, notify you that your new card is available. The cardholder isn't required to do anything to generate the new card; it's an automatic process.

Q. What should I do if my card is declined at the point of sale?
A. You have a couple of options. You may contact the bank's customer service department at -
800 - 344 -5696, give the customer service representative your account number, the name of the vendor, and the amount of the transactions that were declined. The representative will be able to tell you why the charge was not accepted. If the reason for the decline is the Merchant Category Code (MCC), regardless of information provided by Customer Service, the merchant can't be unblocked. MCC's are blocked by the State Comptroller's Office and they will not unblock them.

Q. Under what circumstances my card might be declined?
A. Your card may be declined because:

  • You may have exceeded your single purchase or monthly credit limit
  • The vendor you are using is restricted from use by its *Merchant Category Code (MCC).
  • The bank has a security concern due to a use pattern (i.e. if you haven't used the card in a long time). A "fraud alert" may be placed on your card and cannot be removed until the bank is satisfied that you are the cardholder and all transactions are authorized

Q. What do I do if I don't recognize a charge made on my card?
A. You may contact the bank's customer service department to get more information about the vendor who charged your account. Contact the vendor to get the charge credited. If the vendor is non-cooperative, dispute the charge with the bank.

Q. What do I do if my purchasing card is lost or stolen?
A. Contact the bank immediately, presently US Bank at -800 - 344 - 5696; this number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Then contact The PCPA.

Q. Is there a minimum amount of times I must use my card.
A. Yes. You must use your card at least once within a sixth-month period. Cardholders will be contacted and must use their card or the card will be canceled.