Purchasing Card Regulations and Procedures


last updated December 2017

1   Introduction
2   Cardholder Duty and Responsibility
3   Cardholders on Long-term Leave
4   Lost or Stolen Cards
5   New Cardholders
6   Transaction Limits

7   Approved Suppliers
8   Acceptable Use
9   Methods of Ordering
10 Cost Code Allocation
11 Compliance with Audit Requirements
12 Funds Prior Approval
13 Records & Documentation
14 Programme of Purchasing Card Audits
15 Equipment

16 Procedures for Reconciling and Approving Purchasing Card Transactions
17 Problem Transactions
18 Contacts

1 Introduction

The purpose of a Purchasing Card (Card) is to streamline the procurement process and expedite the delivery of goods and services. The administrative costs involved in purchasing such items are often disproportionate to the actual cost of the goods or services involved.

The product currently used by the University is the Barclaycard Government Procurement Card (GPC). It is operated by Visa and works in a similar way to a credit card but has strict security and control features placed on it.

Regulations and procedures for use of the Card are detailed below.

2 Cardholder Duty and Responsibility

Cardholders are permitted to nominate one individual to assist with undertaking and reconciling transactions. The main reason for this is to address cover requirements in the event of the Cardholder's absence.

The Cardholder (and his/her nominee, if applicable) has a duty and responsibility, to both the University and to Barclaycard (Bank), for the correct and proper use of the Card. Every Cardholder (and nominee, if applicable) is required to sign a Purchasing Card User Agreement to confirm that he/she agrees to comply with the terms and conditions of Card use and that they accept sole responsibility for the proper use of the Card.

If a Cardholder wishes to change his/her nominee, then a new Purchasing Card User Agreement will need to be completed.  Any references to 'the Cardholder' within the Purchasing Card Regulations should also be taken to refer to the Cardholder's nominee.

Card details should never be passed to others in the Cardholder's School/Directorate. Cards must never be used for personal use. In any instance where a card is accidentally used for a personal purchase, this should be reported immediately to the Procurement Office.

3 Cardholders on Long-term Leave

In respect of cardholders who are likely to be on leave for a period exceeding 3 months (for example, on maternity leave, a career break or long term sick leave), the card will be suspended until the cardholder's return.

In respect of those units which have more than one card, all transactions should be processed via the alternative cardholders.  In respect of units which do not have other cards, or where undertaking transactions through an alternative cardholder would be problematic (for example, where a unit is spread over several locations), the Head of School or Director should appoint a temporary cardholder and nominee by completing a cardholder application form in the normal way.  When the main cardholder returns, the card's suspension will be lifted and the temporary card cancelled.

In situations where a temporary card is likely to be required, as the normal processing time for card applications is 10 working days, the cardholder taking the period of leave - or the Head or Director where the cardholder is on sick leave - should contact the Procurement Office, at the earliest possible opportunity, to discuss requirements.  This will ensure continuity of card provision in the cardholder's absence.

4 Lost or Stolen Cards

It is the ultimate responsibility of the Cardholder to keep the Card safe and secure. If a Card is lost, stolen, or if the Cardholder feels that the Card details have been disclosed and could be used fraudulently, this should be reported immediately by telephone to the Barclaycard Lost/Stolen on Tel: 01604 230230  The Finance Systems Service Desk should also be notified.

5 New Cardholders

The Head of School/Director only has the authority to nominate a Cardholder. A Cardholder Application Form should be completed and returned to the Co-ordinator for processing.

6 Transaction Limits

Single Transaction Limit

A single transaction limit is set for the Card that provides an upper financial limit which Cardholders can spend with 'one swipe of the card'. In the University the current limit is £600 including VAT.

In certain circumstances, there may be a need to purchase goods or services that exceed this limit. If the Cardholder can provide evidence that the requirement is genuine, the limit can be increased for a period to allow the transaction to be processed by the supplier, after which it will return to £600.

The procedure for requesting temporary increases to single transaction limits is as follows:-

Email pcard@qub.ac.uk from Cardholder/Cardholder's nominee stating nature and value of purchase and supplier.

If request is accepted the increase will be made for the period agreed and the Cardholder will be advised when the limit has been increased

If request is declined the Cardholder will be advised of the reason.

It should be borne in mind, however, that the Card is designed specifically for the purchase of low value goods and services, therefore, for higher value purchases an official purchase order should be completed

Under no circumstances should a supplier be told to 'split' a transaction to force it through. This is in contravention of VISA rules. Spot checks on split transactions will be undertaken in conjunction with the yearly audit by the System Co-ordinator.

Monthly Transaction Limit

A monthly transaction limit is set for the Card to prevent the Cardholder spending more than an agreed amount each month. The monthly transaction limit is based on the procurement profile of the School/Directorate and is set in conjunction with the Co-ordinator.

The procedure for requesting an amendment to the monthly transaction limit is as follows:-

Email to Head of Procurement from Cardholder's Head or Director stating reason for increase and whether requirement is temporary or permanent

If the request is accepted, the Cardholder and the Head/Director will be advised when the limit has been increased

If the request is declined the Head/Director will be advised of the reason.

7 Approved Suppliers

The University has contracts and agreements with a number of suppliers for a wide range of goods and services. The commercial risk involved in transacting with these suppliers is reduced because relevant terms and conditions of purchase have been agreed between the University and the supplier.

Approved suppliers are not, and will not be, available for all goods and services required by the University but where they do exist, Cardholders should use them unless there is sound justification not to.

Expenditure on all cards will be reviewed on a quarterly basis to identify any maverick (non contract) spend. Spend outside the Purchase Card 'Acceptable Use Policy' will also be identified.

If such spend is identified, Cardholders will receive correspondence (copied to Heads/Directors and School Managers) requesting reasons why the spend took place.

Follow up meetings will be held with Cardholders as required either by Procurement or the buying team responsible for the School/Directorate.

8 Acceptable Use

The University's Procurement Regulations apply to all purchases made using the Card. There are restrictions on the use of the Card in relation to particular goods and services. These are detailed below:-

The card must not be used for the following:-

Hospitality and Entertaining

Due to Inland Revenue stipulations on tax dispensation, the Card must not be used for hospitality, entertaining, catering or catering services. It is permissible, however, for the Card to be used to purchase food and drink for meetings, conferences and seminars from retail outlets such as supermarkets but only when the goods being purchased are for entertaining guests on behalf of the University. Under no circumstances will the University contribute to the cost of entertaining when only staff are involved. Full details of such transactions are required to be provided on monthly statements and should, at all times, include details of all those present at the function.

Personal Expenses

The card must not be used for the payment of personal expenses such as professional memberships, subscription fees or any other costs which relate to an individual rather than to the business of the University.

PCs and Laptops (including Apple equipment)

In line with the University's policy for the procurement of computer equipment, the card should not be used for its purchase.  The Head of School or Director will be notified of any instances where this is not been adhered to.

The card may be used for the following, in certain circumstances:-

Gifts, Flowers and Sympathy Notices

The use of the Card for gifts for external parties such as students and other organisations is permitted. However, in accordance with the University's Financial Procedures, where possible, business gifts should promote the University (a range of suitable gifts is available from the Welcome Centre). Gifts being purchased for members of staff, for example, in recognition of retirement or other special occasions, may be paid for using the Card, but the University must be reimbursed in full by staff contributions which should be lodged against the project code to which the transaction is being charged.

The purchase of flowers and the placing of sympathy notices for members of staff or their family members may be paid for using the Card but again, the University must be reimbursed in full by staff contributions.


The Card can be used for the purchase of prizes on condition that there has been a transparent competition and the recipient is either a student or an individual external to the University.

In cases such as the above, the transaction details (on Qfis) should include an adequate explanation and appropriate justification for the purchase.

Blocked Expenditure Categories

The following categories are blocked for use on all University Purchasing Cards:-

- Catering and Catering Services
- Leisure Activities
- Restaurants and Bars
- Personal Services

Before approving any card transactions on Qfis, the Cardholder's Line Manager must review the supporting invoices and documentation and be satisfied that the expenditure is incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily for the purpose of the University's business.

9 Methods of Ordering


The Cardholder should contact the supplier and advise that the order will be paid for using a Government Procurement Card. Full details of the purchase should be given including description, quantity, delivery point and price. The Card details should then be given to the supplier including the number, expiry date and full name. As an additional security measure, the Cardholder may also be asked to quote the security code, which is the last 3 digits of the number printed within the signature strip on the reverse of the Card.

The Cardholder should instruct the supplier to despatch the goods with a delivery note and invoice clearly marked - 'Purchasing Card Order - Paid'.

Please note that the invoice is only used as evidence for VAT - it must not be passed for payment. VAT is explained in more detail in section 10.


Some suppliers may insist on receiving a faxed confirmation from the University of the order placed. Where possible, in order to minimise the risk of fraud, Card details should not be provided anywhere on the faxed confirmation. The Cardholder should telephone the Card details to the supplier after receipt of fax has been confirmed. The cardholder should confirm with the supplier that the credit card details are destroyed after processing and not retained by the supplier in any circumstances.


The Cardholder should not place an order using e-mail as it is not a secure method of transmitting Card details.


Whilst the use of Purchasing Cards for on-line transactions is now more common than other methods, there are risks associated with online ordering such as legal implications and website security.

Most on-line order facilities work on a 'shopping basket' basis where the Cardholder creates the order and proceeds to the 'checkout'. At this stage the Cardholder will be asked to input card details, delivery address etc. The Cardholder should use good judgement and ensure that the website is secure and has a valid security certificate. Cardholders should also satisfy themselves that suppliers are bona fide. The design of a website, creative and user friendly as it may appear, can often be a cover for poor quality or inappropriate goods and services. The cardholder should not save Pcard details on websites for future use.

The Cardholder should print out the 'order screen' and keep it for their records. The supplier should despatch the goods with a delivery note and, in most cases, with an invoice clearly marked - 'Purchasing Card Order - Paid' (see also section 14 'Records and Documentation' below).

Please note that invoices should only be used as evidence for VAT - they must not be passed for payment.

10 Cost Code Allocation

All financial transactions must be recorded on P2P using the standard accounting code structure. It is the responsibility of the Cardholder to allocate and record the relevant project code and account code against each transaction made using the Card.

11 Compliance with Audit Requirements

The University is subject to audit from various sources such as internal audit and external funders representing research granting bodies. Any such audits will review various areas and report on the adequacy of internal control arrangements. It is essential therefore that all Cardholders maintain adequate records and retain all original documentation associated with each transaction to provide an appropriate audit trail.

See also section 13 'Records and Documentation' below.

12 Funds Prior Approval

It is important that appropriate authorisation of requirements and approval to commit funds is obtained before the Cardholder uses the Card. 

Ideally, each transaction should be covered by a requisition form which should be signed by the budget holder for the project from which the purchase is being funded. (The University's standard Requisition should be used for this purpose.)

However, the University recognises that Heads/Directors may wish to delegate such authority to Cardholders so that every transaction does not require prior approval. In this situation, budget holders remain ultimately accountable and must ensure that clear guidelines and communications are in place to maintain financial control. Heads/Directors must therefore ensure that any authority given to Cardholders to commit funds have the approval of the budget holders for the relevant projects.

For audit purposes, an Expenditure Approval Form has been developed which all Heads and Directors are required to complete. This form will provide a record, to be held in the Procurement Office, of the procedures (as above) to be undertaken within each School/Directorate. Should there be a change to the arrangements specified in the form – including any change to the named Cardholder(s) or nominee(s) - a new form must be completed.

13 Records and Documentation

Until further notice, the cardholder must retain all original documentation relating to purchasing card transactions since his or her appointment as a cardholder. Anyone relinquishing responsibility as a cardholder should ensure that their Head or Director is make aware of the location, and reference system where appropriate, of such documentation in order that responsibility for its safe-keeping can be passed to the new cardholder.

As a guide, this includes the following documentation:-

  • Requisition (if used - see 12 above)
  • Delivery Note (Suppliers are required to issue a delivery or 'goods received' note [GRN] with all goods despatched, however, in certain cases, they may fail to do so. Where this is the case, and a delivery note is not readily available, then the quantity received should be recorded and the document signed by the cardholder and held with other documentation relating to the transaction for future inspection, if required. If the quantity received is not what was ordered, then the transaction should be disputed in the normal way.)
  • Invoice (The requirement for a VAT invoice depends upon the level of reporting capability of the supplier's card system. In simple terms, if the monthly card statement shows that a supplier is 'Not a VAT Capable Supplier', then a VAT invoice should be requested from the supplier, if one has not already been provided. This is a requirement of HM Revenue and Customs. For avoidance of doubt, no other document constitutes an invoice, other than the original document from the supplier, marked as such. The only exception to this requirement is where VAT is not applicable to the purchase, for example, air travel or books which are zero-rated, or where the supplier is not registered for VAT. Any enquiries relating to the requirement for invoices for such purchases should be directed to the System Co-ordinator.)
  • Visa Voucher (usually only available for point of sale transactions) (This is not a legal requirement but it is prudent to request this from the supplier if one has not already been provided. This is particularly important as there is always a risk of a transaction being disputed. It is also good practice for a supplier to provide the customer with a voucher and to retain a copy himself; indeed, this practice is likely to have been recommended by the supplier's merchant bank.)

In order to comply with audit requirements, when transactions are being reconciled, details of the transaction are required to be provided, for example - for travel, the name of the person travelling, the destination and dates of travel; for consumables, a brief description of the item.

14 Programme of Card Audits

A rolling programme of audits on documentation, retained in respect of card transactions, will be undertaken by the System Co-ordinator. Each Cardholder's transactions will be audited once every two years and the audit will review a sample of 10% of these transactions. Cardholders will be given at least 48 hours' notice of a visit.

On completion of each audit, the Cardholder will be notified, by email, of any instances of non-compliance - for example, missing paperwork.  This notification will be copied to the relevant School Manager or Directorate Head of Service for information and further action as required.

15 Equipment

All items deemed 'portable and attractive' of a value exceeding £500 must be registered on the University's Equipment Register. The Cardholder must inform their relevant Equipment Registration Officer (ERO) of the details of such items to ensure that it is correctly recorded.  

16 Procedures for Reconciling and Approving Purchasing Card Transactions

(1) Cardholders will receive an e-mail from the Procurement Office advising that they can view and reconcile their latest transactions via the Qfis Purchasing Card Module.  The e-mail will also advise the deadline for completion of the reconciliations.  Guidance on coding transactions is provided in the Purchasing Card Coding and Approval Manual.

(2) Cardholders must check their transactions against the information held in their Transaction Logs and the associated, original supporting documentation immediately. Any problem transactions should be reported to the relevant contact.

(3) Once transactions have been appropriately coded, they are sent, via a workflow process within Qfis, to the relevant approver(s).  Guidance on approving transactions is provided in the Purchasing Card Coding and Approval Manual.

(4) The following deadlines have been set for coding and approval:-

Coding - within 14 days of notification of upload of transaction to Qfis

Approval - within 14 days of coding deadline

Failure to comply with either of these deadlines will result in the immediate suspension of the Purchasing Card.  This suspension will only be lifted when the transaction(s) has been coded and/or approved.  It should be noted any outstanding transactions will not be re-charged to the relevant project code(s) until they have been approved.  This will undoubtedly affect the budget position of that project(s).

If a Card is suspended three times in any six month period, then it will be cancelled for a minimum period of 3 months. The Card will only be re-activated when a written commitment has been received from both the Cardholder and his/her Head of School/Director confirming that the required procedure(s) will be adhered to.

17 Problem Transactions

Most problems can be effectively solved by the Cardholder talking directly to the supplier involved.

Declined Transactions

The amount could exceed the Cardholder's single or monthly limits or could be invalid for a number of reasons. Contact the Cardholder Helpline or the Procurement Systems Co-ordinator.

Missing Transactions

If a Cardholder cannot see an expected transaction, then he/she should contact the supplier to ensure that the transaction has actually been processed. It is important to note that purchases made close to the monthly billing cycle (3rd of Month - 2nd of Month) may appear on a subsequent statement.)

Incorrect Transaction Amounts or Refunds Not Applied

The Cardholder should contact the supplier to resolve the discrepancy. If this is not possible, the Cardholder should contact the Cardholder Helpline and allow 45 days for a refund or amendment to appear on their statement.

Transactions not Recognised /Fraudulent Transactions

If the Cardholder does not recognise a transaction that appears on the monthly Card statement and definitely concludes that it is an error on the part of the supplier, then the cardholder should contact Barclaycard Lost & Stolen immediately at the following number 01604 230230.  At this point, the Barclaycard Fraud Team will become involved.

The Procurement Systems Co-ordinator should also be informed, in order to assist with liaison with the Barclaycard Fraud Team.

Disputed Transactions

If the Cardholder identifies a transaction which he/she did not make, the named supplier should be contacted directly.  Where a credit is due, the supplier should be asked to raise a refund voucher, which will then be refunded to the card account and will appear on the next month’s statement

If a query cannot be resolved with the supplier, then full details of the problem should be provided to, and discussed with, Barclaycard Commercial Customer Services on 0800 008 008.

18 Contacts

Mrs Lorraine Stobo
Financial Systems & Business Support
Queen's University Belfast
Tel: 028 9097 3396
e-mail: pcard@qub.ac.uk 



Barclaycard Commercial Cardholder Helpline

Customer Services
Tel: 0800 008 008
8.00am - 8.00pm, Monday to Friday

8.00am – 4pm Saturday

Barclaycard Lost/Stolen
Tele: 01604 230230

24 hours a day, 7 days a week