Overview Overview

The use of Purchase Cards is intended to reduce the amount of administration involved in ordering and payment for goods and services, and to reduce the amount of time between ordering goods and receiving them. Purchase Cards obviate the need for ordering via the Financial Management System (ABW) and for paying supplier invoices (though funding bodies may require a receipt/invoice to be obtained).

Orders can be placed by telephone/fax, or via the Internet, or by the cardholder in person, leading to a shorter lead-time. Purchase Cards may also be used to pay expense-type bills, such as hotels, restaurants and petrol, but only by the cardholder in person.

Purchase Cards can be used (within the restrictions set out below) to order and pay for goods and services up to £500 per transaction (or such other limits as may be agreed with cardholders line managers and the Procurement office). Purchase Cards may not be used for:

  • Personal purchases
  • Cash advances unless these are agreed in advance with line managers and Procurement
  • Purchases intended to avoid 'Preferred Suppliers'

Each cardholder is required to maintain a log of transactions made and to reconcile this to the monthly statement. The cardholder should also obtain VAT invoices/receipts.

The monthly credit card statement is paid in full by direct debit and the balance for each cardholder is recharged to an agreed suspense account. It is for each Spending Unit to arrange for transfers to the appropriate project or cost centre.

How do I get a Purchase Card? How do I get a Purchase Card?

Please read the rest of this Procedure before requesting an application form, as the rules for the use and recording of transactions may affect your decision.

Cardholders must be 'Authorised Signatories' approved by the Head of Spending Unit to purchase goods and services from suppliers (see Financial Procedure No.001). The Head of the Spending Unit must also agree to the issue of each Purchase Card.

Purchase Cards will normally only be issued to members of staff who are likely to have an average spend of more than £550 per month. This is because the card issuer recovers the cost of producing and administering the card from suppliers, in the form of a small commission.

If you think you meet these criteria and would benefit from having your own Purchase Card, you should download the Purchase Card Request Form from the Finance Intranet (click Forms - Purchasing). This should be completed, approved by the Head of your Spending Unit and Faculty Finance and sent to the Purchasing Office.

If approved, the Purchasing Office will order a purchase card for you and advise you when it is available for collection (usually 2/3 weeks). You must collect your Purchase Card, in person. You will have to sign the card and a receipt before taking it away.

Can I have a Departmental Card? Can I have a Departmental Card?

No. Purchase Cards are issued to individual members of staff and their name is embossed on it. The Cardholder should not give details of the Purchase Card to anyone else, even when on holiday. The Cardholder is responsible for all transactions made using their Purchase Card and will find it difficult (and time consuming) to reconcile the monthly statement if the card details are known to, and used by, others.

If other staff in your Spending Unit need a Purchase Card, they should seek approval for their own card.

You can use your Purchase Card on behalf of another member of staff. They should provide you with details of their requirements and details of how to place the Order (telephone number, contact name, website etc.) and you should place the Order. You must ensure that the person making the request is authorised to incur the expenditure, before placing the Order.

What are the restrictions on using my Purchase Card? What are the restrictions on using my Purchase Card?

You may not use your Purchase Card:

  • For personal purchases - even if you intend to repay the University;
  • To obtain cash, unless authorised in advance by your head of department and Procurement;
  • To purchase goods or services, unless you are authorised to do so and have confirmed that adequate funds are available;
  • To purchase goods or services, from other than a Preferred Supplier where one exists (refer to the Buyers Guide on the Finance Intranet);
  • In some cases your Purchase Card may be restricted to certain types of product (such as stationery/office equipment) or to certain suppliers (which will have been agreed when you complete the Application Form);
  • For purchases which exceed your Single Transaction Limit (which will have been agreed when you complete the Application Form);
  • If the total outstanding on your card exceeds your Credit Limit (which will have been agreed when you complete the Application Form) the balance is only reset to zero when the monthly direct debit is processed - about the 3rd of the month.

Please note that the Purchasing Office monitors all expenditure on Purchase Cards and reserves the right to cancel any card being used in violation of these restrictions.

How do I use my Purchase Card? How do I use my Purchase Card?

Subject to the above mentioned restrictions, you can use your Purchase Card to purchase any goods or services that you would normally buy on behalf of UEA using a Purchase Order,  You can use the Purchase Card:

  • By telephone;
  • By fax;
  • By post;
  • On the Internet;
  • In person

Except where the Purchase Card is used in person, goods must be delivered to the University. However, to avoid parcels going 'astray', please ask the supplier to mark the package with your name, room number and Spending Unit.

When placing your Order, remember to ask for a VAT Receipt or Invoice marked 'Paid'. This is particularly important where funding bodies require copy invoices before reimbursing the University or for audit purposes.

Always inform the supplier that this is a university purchase and ask if they offer a discount to education/government bodies or for using the Purchase Card.

If you have a regular supplier who does not accept VISA cards, please advise the Purchasing Office who will approach the supplier as to future business.

What records must I keep? What records must I keep?

As with any purchase, it is essential that both parties are absolutely clear about what is being supplied, the price (including any packing/insurance/delivery charge), the delivery date and the delivery address.

When ordering by telephone, make a note of these details along with name and telephone number of the person you are talking to. If faxing, keep a copy of the fax and note on it the date sent and fax number.  Keep a copy of any instructions sent by post, including date sent and address. With Internet purchases, you should print a copy of the page and any acknowledgement screen.

In addition to the above you must keep a log of each transaction as it is made. An example log sheet is shown at Appendix 2, or a spreadsheet (Excel 2000) can be downloaded from the Finance Intranet (click on Forms - Purchasing).

What do I do with the Monthly Statement? What do I do with the Monthly Statement?

Once each month, provided that there are charges on your account, you should download your statement from Nat West showing each transaction on your Purchase Card. For payments made in a foreign currency, the payment is shown together with an exchange rate and the sterling equivalent. Currently statements are dated around the 25th of the month, so you can expect to see it around the end of the month.

The Card Issuer collects the total amount shown on the statement by direct debit and Finance Division will charge this to the ledger code agreed with you when the Purchase Card was issued.

You must check each transaction against your log to ensure that (a) the goods or services ordered have been received; and (b) the correct price has been charged. NB. Suppliers are not allowed to charge for goods prior to dispatch. See below for problems at this stage.

Sign your log-sheet (noting any discrepancies) and pass it along with the statement and invoices/receipts to the person responsible for approving your expenditure. Once approved the log sheet should be passed to the person responsible for re-charging your accounts.

Any transactions on your log sheet, but not included on the current statement, should be carried forward on to the following month's log sheet.

This procedure should be carried out every month to enable the expenditure on your purchase card to be recharged to the appropriate codes. If your log-sheet is outstanding for more than 2 months we reserve the right to cancel your card.

To register with Nat West to download your statements each month: 

Log in: www.natwest.com/cardsonline

Or ring Nat West on 0870 909 3702 for assistance.  

What if I do not agree with a transaction on my statement? What if I do not agree with a transaction on my statement?

If you have a query, relating to price or delivery, you must take it up with the supplier in the first instance. Remember to keep a note of any conversation. If you are unable to resolve the problem with the supplier you should inform the Purchasing Office using the Complaint Form, which can be downloaded from the Finance Intranet (click Forms - Purchasing).

If you find a transaction on your statement that you cannot identify, you should ring the Card Issuer's helpline (0870 909 3702). They are sometimes able to provide a little more detail. You should then contact the company who has raised the charge to verify that the charge is correct or to raise a credit. In extreme cases, contact the Purchasing Office who will arrange for the charge to be cancelled by the Card Issuer.  

Note, however, that there will be a cost if the charge was properly raised in the first place.

What if I lose my Purchase Card? What if I lose my Purchase Card?

As soon as you become aware that you have lost your Purchase Card you must telephone the Card Issuer's Help Line (Tel:  0870 909 3702). This is open 24 hours per day, and will arrange for the immediate cancellation of the Purchase Card and for a new card to be issued in your name.

The telephone number for International emergencies is 0044 1268 508 020.

You should also inform the Purchasing Office of the loss as soon as practical and, if theft is suspected, the police (or the University's Security Services if lost from UEA).

Your Purchase Card is a valuable document and you must take care of it.  When not in use it should be kept on your person or in a locked drawer or safe. You should not leave your Purchase Card with another member of staff nor give the details to anyone else.  

Please note that you may be held personally liable for the fraudulent use of your Purchase Card unless you have reported it lost.

What if I change my job or name? What if I change my job or name?

If your job changes such that you are no longer responsible for ordering goods and services (or if you leave the University) you should cut the card in half and return it to the Purchasing Office, in person, under no circumstances should you put the Purchase Card in the post or pass it on to your successor or any other person.

Please note that you may be held personally liable for the fraudulent use of your Purchase Card unless you have returned it to the Purchasing Office.

If you move to another Spending Unit where you will be responsible for ordering goods and service, it may be possible to keep your existing Purchase Card. However, this must be agreed with the Heads of the Spending Units concerned and with the Purchasing Office. In any event the ledger code to be charged will need amending.

If you change your name, you must inform the Purchasing Office so that a replacement Purchase Card can be issued. You will normally be able to continue using the old card until a new one is received.

What happens when my Purchase Card expires? What happens when my Purchase Card expires?

The Purchasing Office will automatically obtain your replacement Purchase Card about 2 weeks before the old one expires and will inform you when it is available for collection. You must collect the replacement card, in person. You will have to sign the new Purchase Card and a receipt and destroy your old card before taking it away. If you do not receive a replacement card at least two weeks before the old one expires, contact the Purchasing Office.

Why has my Purchase Card been refused? Why has my Purchase Card been refused?

When paying for goods or services using your Purchase Card, the supplier may then (or later) seek authorisation from the Card Issuer. Authorisation may be refused because:

  • You have provided an incorrect card number, expiry date or cardholder name;
  • You have provided incorrect security information (last 3 digits from the magnetic strip or the numbers from the UEA postcode);
  • You have asked for delivery to an address other than UEA;
  • The total cost of the purchase exceeds your single transaction limit;
  • The purchase would put the total outstanding on your Purchase Card over your monthly credit limit;
  • You are trying to buy goods or services which have been 'barred';
  • You are trying to use a supplier who has been 'barred'.

Forms Forms

Application Form (Excel)

Please fill in the form online, making sure to enable the macros, and then print off.

Monthly Log Sheet (Excel)