Purchasing Card Basics


Purchasing Card

Why Have A Purchasing Card?

  • This program has been established by the State of North Carolina to allow rapid purchase of low dollar goods, reducing paperwork and handling costs associated with the small purchase process. The UNCW purchasing card is essentially a standard Visa card in which the liability rests with the University instead of the individual cardholder. (This is different from the American Express travel card, in which the liability is solely the cardholder's.) The purchasing card is issued to an employee, empowering this person to purchase goods on behalf of the University. Under no circumstance may this Visa card be used for personal purchases.
  • The Purchasing Administrative Card System (PACS) has been established by UNCW to manage purchasing card transactions.It isa web-based system designed to interact with Banner. PACS will set up transactions for departmental review on a daily basis as well as allow for account number modifications. See the PACS Reference Manual for complete details.

How To Obtain A Purchasing Card

  • With Budget Authority/Designee and Department Head approval, complete a CARDHOLDER SETUP FORM (PDF) and obtain the appropriate information and signatures. Please see Role Definition in the next section. E-mail at purpacs@uncw.edu or call (910 962-3849) our Purchasing Card Administrator with questions.
  • Forward the completed form to Kim Reardon,   Purchasing Card Administrator. Upon receipt of the complete setup form, the Administrator will submit to bank and contact you to schedule required training when card is received.
  • Cards will be distributed upon signing an Agreement Form at the completion of the scheduled training session.
  • Copies of the executed Agreement Form are given to the Cardholder. The original Agreement will be filed with the Cardholder's records in Purchasing.

Role Definition And Responsibility

  • Cardholders are responsible to place orders that comply with all limits and guidelines, to safeguard the card and report any lost or stolen card, to ensure receipt of goods, and to retain original receipts for every purchase.
  • Cardholders are also responsible for reviewing and signing statements, notifying the bank of errors on the bank statement and resolving disputes with suppliers in a timely fashion.
  • Card Coordinators are designated by the department head andplay an important role in program monitoring.

Responsibilities are:

  • Ensure timely credit card statement reconciliation and approval for all cardholders;
  • Review and update fund information (using the PACS system) before charges are reconcile into Banner:
  • Assist Purchasing, Accounting, plus any other reviewers and auditors in examining the Purchasing Card Program. Note: The card coordinator can be a key person who is designated by the budget authority to assist in other program management activities as identified below.
  • Notify Purchasing (send e-mail to purpacs@uncw.edu or call 910-962-3849 when there are changes in permissible and/or default funds. Note: Changing default funds may be particularly critical with Grants. Close attention to these funds are absolutely necessary.
  • Notify Purchasing (send e-mail to purpacs@uncw.edu or call 910-962-3849) when there are changes in roles within the department (e.g., new/replaced card coordinator or a change in the designee to views transactions).
  • Know to whom cards are distributed within the department. Retrieve cards when a cardholder leaves the university, transfers to another department, or when card use is no longer a need.
  • Budget Authorities and/or designee manages the Purchasing Card Program within a department. They sign statements and view transactions in PACS.

Minimum responsibilities include:

  • Oversee appropriate use of the card.
  • Ensure sufficient budget for purchases (i.e., change default funds, or change card limits when appropriate). Changing default funds is particularly critical for Grants.  As the budget authority, you will automatically have access to view transactions online as they accumulate during the month. If desired, designate business manager or other, who may view the transactions online for your department's cards.
  • Designate permissible funds; that is, the funds that may be selected when changing the funding for an individual transaction in PACS.
  • Identify one or more individuals to be a card coordinator. Card coordinators can make online funding changes in the PACS system and are a principal contact for the Purchasing and Accounting department. If you are a small department, you may identify yourself as a card coordinator.
  • Ensure Card Coordinator and Cardholder responsibilities are managed well.

Benefits And Costs

Cardholder Benefits

  • It is easier to make small purchases. The Visa card is accepted virtually anywhere.
  • The cardholder may make purchases as needed. There are no delays associated with processing a purchase order.
  • No Petty Cash / No Personal Cash / No Requisitions
  • Complete transaction reporting is provided every month to the cardholder. Each cardholder receives a monthly statement.
  • Transactions can be viewed/modified on PACS system.

University Costs

  • There is currently no fee to the University associated with the program. Every transaction made using the purchasing card carries a fee that the vendor must pay to the credit card network. This is what finances the credit card industry, and the process is basically the same for all credit cards. There is no cost, therefore, passed on to departmental budgets.

Tax Exemption

  • The State of North Carolina has authorized the University with a tax exemption number.  This exemption number constitutes authority for vendors not to charge North Carolina sales and use tax on sales to the university.

Cardholder Policies

Limitations Specific To Your Card

The following limits have been assigned to your purchasing card:

1. Single transaction limit of $1,000 (over w/special approval).

2. No daily purchase limit.

4. Monthly card limit is set by Budget Authority.

5. Monthly limit over $10,000.00 subject to Budget office approval.

If these limitations burden your purchasing patterns, please contact the purchasing card administrator to discuss modification. In addition to these limits, the University has blocked a number of Merchant Category Codes (MCC). MCC numbers are not foolproof, but they may prevent your card from being accepted if presented to one of these blocked vendors. MCC numbers are used to identify the dozens of different types of vendors served by Visa; for example, airlines, off-track betting, and music stores each have a specific MCC number.

The University has blocked many of these numbers (primarily services, travel and entertainment). Decisions by the University to block vendor categories is based on whether or not purchases from a category are deemed appropriate. Questions in this area can also be directed to the Purchasing Card Administrator.


When a State or University contract is available, the contracted supplier must be used. Contracts may be reviewed by visiting the NC Department of Administration Purchase and Contract home page or Purchasing's home page under "State Term Contracts" . See "Tips for Purchasing Card Holders on How to Find Vendor and Price Information" , under "Cardholder Procedure", Section 6.D.

Additional Guidelines

It is the cardholder's responsibility to ensure that purchases are made only from legitimate companies. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of a vendor or individual, DO NOT PROVIDE YOUR CARD NUMBER. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a vendor, you may contact the appropriate Purchasing agent for that commodity. Purchasing agents and their assigned commodities are identified on Purchasing's Web site. Further guidelines may be accessed in the Administrative Policies and Procedures, available in hardcopy or on the Internet via Business Affairs home page and also on Purchasing's home page under Purchasing Policies & Procedures

Change In Department OrTermination Of Employment

A new purchasing card will be issued to you as you enter the program. Your card must be surrendered immediately upon change in department. Also, your card remains the property of the bank and must be surrendered upon termination of employment or upon the request of either your supervisor, your card coordinator or the purchasing card administrator.

Cardholder Guide

Always keep your purchasing card in a secure place. Treat it like cash. To report a lost or stolen card, call the bank at (888) 449-2273. Help is available 24 hours a day. The cardholder must call the bank immediately upon discovering that the card is missing. Also, call the purchasing card administrator as soon as possible at (910) 962-3849 and your card coordinator.  Leave a message if it is after hours.

Please remember that the cardholder is the only person authorized to make purchases using the card. Giving your card or card number to another person or using someone else's card is not allowed. To assist in keeping track of transactions and receipts, know your Card Coordinator and how to use PACS.

How To Make Purchases - All UNCW and State guidelines remain intact. This is just an optional method of payment.

Follow Proper Iinternal Procedures specific to your department for determining that a purchase is required and authorized.

Determine whether the purchasing card is the most appropriate tool to use for the purchase. Only order items that are to be picked up or shipped right away. Remember the bank pays the vendor two to three working days after the vendor processes the purchase.

Purchases may be made in person, by phone, fax or mail. Remember that the card is simply another method for making purchases, and that the rules already in place have not changed

Determine that the total amount of the purchase (the amount that will be shown on the statement from the bank to the University) including shipping, handling, postage, freight, insurance, etc., does not exceed the limit on your card.  REMEMBER-WE ARE TAX EXEMPT - If a limit is exceeded, the bank will automatically refuse the transaction and the purchase will not proceed.

Determine that the price quoted is the best you can obtain. You may use the card to purchase materials on state contract. Always ask for educational discount.

The cardholder is responsible for obtaining receipts. Receipts may be given immediately to Card Coordinator in your area depending upon your department's internal program procedures. In conjunction with the Card Coordinator, the cardholder should perform a monthly review and reconciliation of all new purchases. Receipts for credits should also be included.

Obtain a receipt at the time of purchase or pickup. If an item is being called in for shipment, ask "up front" for a receipt and the packing slip should be kept. Sufficient detail to describe both the items purchased and the amounts paid is required. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable receipts are enclosed in this package

Remember to give the supplier your name, department, phone number, and complete delivery instructions. Instruct the vendor to include your name and department name (institutional address on the outside of the package. Remember also to request an invoice/receipt with your name and department on it. Please use the following address:

University of North Carolina Wilmington
601 S. College Road (or appropriate Satellite Office)
Wilmington, NC 28403
(Phone Number)

Improper information for shipping could result in refusal and delay of receipt of goods.

Returns, Damaged Goods, Credits

Items purchased with the purchasing card will periodically need to be returned for one reason or another. A few tips to make the process easier:

Always retain boxes, containers, special packaging, packing slips, etc., until you are certain that you are going to keep the items. Some items, such as software or fragile pieces, cannot be returned without the original packing materials.

Read all instructions carefully. Often a critical phone number and other instructions are included on the packing slip and/or receipt.

In some cases there may be a restocking fee. The purchasing card may be used to pay this fee as long as it does not exceed any of the card limits.

Dispute Of Statement Items

Most billing problems can be resolved with the vendor or supplier. If unsuccessful with the supplier, purchases appearing incorrectly on the monthly statement from the bank may be disputed with the bank up to sixty days from the statement date. A “Dispute Form” will need to be filled out and sent to the bank. Please include a full explanation with contact names of the vendor/merchant and their response.

Contact the Purchasing Card Administrator regarding the dispute. You may be contacted by the bank to discuss details of the dispute. If a credit is issued, it will occur when the investigation is complete. If you are not satisfied with the outcome or have problems, please contact the Purchasing Card Administrator.

A Few Words of Caution Regarding Information Technology Purchases (software, accessories and peripherals):

A) Computers and/or laptops can not be purchased with the purchasing card due to being tagged items.

B) Many software programs are available free of charge to UNCW faculty, staff, and students. The UNCW ITS maintains a list of this software on their website: http://www.uncw.edu/itsd

If the software you wish to purchase is not on this list, there is a list of vendors offering educational discounts for faculty and staff purchases.

C) For computer accessories and peripherals, you may use the vendor of your choice. These items are also available from any of the state contract vendors for office supplies. Be cautious of scams when purchasing Ink and Toner Cartridges. If you would like a recommendation on which vendor to use, please consult Purchasing.




1. Statements should be received by the 17th of each month. Please date stamp statements upon receipt. Match all original receipts (invoices, cash register receipts, packing slips, credit card slips) in order by transactions on the statement. If Card Coordinator already has receipts, please work with him/her to accomplish this step.

  • Receipts must have a dollar amount and itemized description listed
  • If documentation is less than half the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, tape to a clean sheet of paper
    • (Recycled paper can be used)
  • Cardholder must sign off on statement as approval. (Full signature is required).

2. YOU ARE FINISHED!! Give your signed statement with attached receipts to your Card Coordinator.


1. Card Coordinator should proof statement and receipts to make sure all purchases were legitimate and that receipts are acceptable and match transactions.

2. Budget Authority/Designee must sign paper statement as final approval that everything is correct. (Full signature is required).

3. Access "PACS" system for any appropriate modifications.

4. Each month forward original "Signed" statements and receipts, no later than five (5) working days after receipt of statement to Rhonda Diggs, Purchasing Card Administrator, Purchasing.

Compliance Policy

In order to ensure compliance with the policies and procedures of the program, the following actions will be taken by the Purchasing Office when infractions are discovered during monthly audits. Infractions are classified as Minor Infractions, Major Infractions, and Criminal Activity. General descriptions and discipline measure are listed below:

Minor Infractions:

  • Late statement – Less than 30 days
  • Missing/inadequate receipt
  • Other infractions deemed as minor by the Director of Purchasing Services.

1st offence: Card is frozen when error is discovered and remains frozen until correction is received by Administrator.

2nd offence: Card remains frozen for 30 days from time correction is made.

3rd offence: Budget Authority must justify in writing how departmental function would be impaired if said cardholder’s privilege is revoked. Also required in letter is a description of actions taken to prevent future infractions from occurring. Card remains frozen until justification is approved by Director of Purchasing Services.

4th offence: Card revoked. Cardholder blocked from new card for twelve months. 

Major Infractions:

  • Late statement – 30 days or more
  • Split transactions (to circumvent single transaction limit)
  • Inappropriate purchase (i.e.: entertainment, gift card/certificates, prepared food, (see xxxx.com for details.)
  • Failure to comply with State Contract Terms (without explanation)
  • Personal purchase -  made in error
  • Other infractions deemed as major by the Director of Purchasing Services.

1st offence: Cards stay frozen until mistake is resolved and documentation and repayment received by Card Administrator.


2nd offence: Budget Authority must justify in writing how departmental function would be impaired if said cardholder’s privilege is permanently revoked. Also required in letter is a description of actions taken to prevent future infractions from occurring. Card remains frozen until justification is approved by Director of Purchasing Services.


3rd offence: Card is revoked. Cardholder is not eligible for future PCard use.

Criminal Activity

  • Personal purchase – Intentionally made

If a personal purchase is intentionally made, a theft of state property has occurred. The card will be immediately revoked, Division head and University Police will be notified, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. Cardholder is not eligible for future PCard use.

Where To Get Help

The Bank

We have an agreement with Bank of America for Visa card services. To report a lost or stolen card, billing questions, or any customer service questions in general, call (888) 449-2273.  Help is available 24 hours a day. To dispute a transaction on your statement, please refer to Section 5 of this guide.

University Names and Addresses

The University Purchasing Department provides support and assistance to cardholders and departments in the distribution and processing of new card applications. We process all changes in cardholder information, schedule training, update all documentation, and audit all aspects of the program. Please call whenever you have questions.

Purchasing Card Administrator: (Customer Service)
Kim Reardon
UNCW Purchasing Services
(910) 962-3849, fax (910) 962-2134
email: purpacs@uncw.edu

Associate Director-Purchasing Systems/Operations
Delmar "Starkey" McGowan, III

UNCW Purchasing Services
(910) 962-3190, fax (910) 962-2134
email: mcgowand@uncw.edu



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