Purchasing Services

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. 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.
  • WORKS is the reconciliations sytem UNCW utilizes with Bank of AMerica. It is a web based application from which transactions, once reconciled and approved, are fed to Banner. Approved transactions are fed to Banner once a week from July through May and daily during the month of June.

How To Obtain A Purchasing Card

  • With Budget Authority/Designee and Department Head approval, complete a Purchasing Card Application/Enrollment 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 pcard@uncw.edu. 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, notifying the bank of errors on the bank statement and resolving disputes with suppliers in a timely fashion. It should also be noted that Approvers cannot be a cardholders unless another approver is identified.


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. Staples packing slip has pricing and will act as a receipt.
  • If documentation is less than half the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, tape to a clean sheet of paper.

2. YOU ARE FINISHED!! Send your statement with receipts to Purchasing.

Card Coodinators/Reconcilers

Card Coordinators/Reconcilers are designated by the department head and play an important role in program monitoring.


  • Ensure timely credit card statement reconciliation and approvals for all cardholders;
  • Review and update fund information in WORKS and follow through with Budget Authority for proper approvals.
  • Notify Purchasing (send e-mail to pcard@uncw.edu or call a p-card team member) when there are changes in permissible and/or default funds.
  • Notify Purchasing (send e-mail to pcard@uncw.edu or call a p-card team member) when there are changes in roles within the department.

Approvers: Budget Authority/Budget Manager/Grant Officer

Budget Authorities and/or designee manages the Purchasing Card Program within a department.


  • Oversee appropriate use of the card.
  • Approve transactions in WORKS.
  • Ensure sufficient budget for purchases (i.e., change default funds, or change card limits when appropriate).
  • Designate permissible funds; that is, the funds that may be selected when changing the funding.
  • Identify individuals to be card coordinator. Card coordinators can make online funding changes in the WORKS system and are a principal contact for the Purchasing and Accounting department. You may identify yourself as a card coordinator/Reconciler.
  • 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 in WORKS 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.

Tax Exemption

  • The State of North Carolina has designated the University as Sales Tax Exempt and issued 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 $2,500 (over w/special approval).

2. No daily purchase limit.

4. Monthly card limit is set by Budget Authority, greater than or equal to $5,000.

If these limitations burden your purchasing patterns, please contact a p-card team member 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" .

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.

Termination Of Employment

Your purchasing card must be surrendered to Human Resources or Purchasing upon termination of employment.

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 (800) 822-5985. Help is available 24 hours a day. The cardholder must call the bank immediately upon discovering that the card is missing. Also, contact the p-card team as soon as possible at pcard@uncw.edu and your card coordinator/reconciler.

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.

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

Follow Proper internal Procedures specific to your department for determining that a purchase is required and authorized. Be certain that item(s) are not on a State Term Contract and that the vendor is not on the state or federal debarred vendor list.

Determine whether the purchasing card is the most appropriate tool to use for the purchase.

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.

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)

It is not appropriate/permitted to have items shipped to an address other than a university authorized address. 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: https://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 several of the uShop catalogs. If you would like a recommendation on which vendor to use, please consult Purchasing.


See Compliance Infraction Guide.

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 (800) 822-5985. 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 Team:
Kim Reardon - Customer Service - 910-962-3849
Dian Smith - System (WORKS, Banner) - 910-962-3153
Amanda Rose - Monthly Statements - 910-962-4249
email: pcard@uncw.edu