Approved by: President
History: Issued            -- February 3, 2012
Revised          --
Last Reviewed --
Related Policies: Procurement Card Policy; Travel Policy; Prohibited Transactions Policy
Additional References: Enterprise Spend Platform (ESP)-Cardholder User Manual
Responsible Official: Senior Director, Strategic Sourcing & Procurement, tel. (202) 319-5046

I. Introduction


This Policy establishes the general guidelines for using the University Corporate Travel Card (the Travel Card). The Travel Card is separate and distinct from the University Purchasing or Procurement Card (Pro-Card). Please refer to the University's Procurement Card Policy for Pro-Card use guidelines and for further information. This policy applies to all eligible University and affiliated personnel that have been issued a Travel Card.

II. Overview 


The Travel Card program is managed by the Procurement Services Department. The program provides a convenient means of charging travel-related expenses incurred while conducting official University business, generally eliminating the need for a cardholder to request a cash or travel advance. There are two primary card issuers:

  1. American Express issues the card reserved for the University's President's Office and Executive Officers; 
  2. SunTrust Bank issues a Visa card used by faculty and staff.

III. Eligibility


The Travel Card is designated for use to cover travel and related expenditures as well as business and recruitment meals. The Travel Card is available to University officers, faculty, and staff who meet eligibility requirements and have completed required training. Personnel who travel two or more times per year on University-related business or who, as part of their University positions, incur business-related entertainment or meal expenditures meet these requirements. Any other University employees not specifically mentioned above, who may travel frequently, may apply for a Travel Card with the written approval of the Provost or the relevant Vice President. Application procedures are available at

IV. Definitions


A. Authorized Approver: A person designated by a Finance Manager to review and approve Corporate Travel Card transactions

B. Card Approver: The President, Provost, or relevant Vice President who approves issuing the Corporate Travel Card to University officers, faculty, and staff that meet eligibility requirements

C. Cardholder: Person named on the Corporate Travel Card authorized to make purchases

D. Card Issuer: SunTrust Bank for VISA Card, American Express for AMEX Card

E. Enterprise Spend Platform (ESP): Webpage and software provided by SunTrust to review, code (allocate transactions to a chartfield), and approve transactions by cardholders and authorized approvers

F. Bank Statement: Statements from SunTrust Bank and American Express Corporation identifying transactions for the month. The statement summarizes all account activity for any given cycle period. The SunTrust Bank statement is available electronically online at the Enterprise Spend Platform (ESP) website.

G. Default Accounting Chartfield: The default chartfield represents the respective department (org) and account number where purchases are automatically charged, unless the purchase is reclassified by either the cardholder or the authorized approver in the ESP system. For Principal Investigators on projects funded by grants, the default accounting chartfield is a non-grant funded department (org), therefore all charges must be reclassified to the appropriate grant funded project account.

H. Finance Manager: Vice President, Provost, Associate Vice President, Dean, Chair, Director, Principal Investigator or Business Manager, with budget authority

I. Plan Administrator: The Travel Plan Administrator is supervised by the Director of Procurement Services and is responsible for issuing the Corporate Travel Card and managing other facets of the University Corporate Travel Card Program

J. Corporate Travel Card: SunTrust VISA or American Express credit card issued by the University to Executive Officers and eligible faculty and staff

V. Allowable and Prohibited Transactions


Following are examples of allowable and prohibited transactions for the Corporate Travel Card. Please refer to the University's Travel Policy for more detailed information. In addition, in order to conform to IRS rules and regulations, the Vice President for Finance has the discretion to allow or prohibit Corporate Travel Card transactions as necessary. The Provost, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Deans, Chairs and Directors, may establish additional controls on card use for individuals within their divisions/departments. Such restrictions should be monitored by the authorized approver or finance manager. Allowable transactions include (under the parameters of the University's Travel Policy):

  • Transportation expenses: airfare, train or bus fare, shuttle transport, car rentals and gas, use of personal car
  • Lodging expenses: hotel/deposits, parking, business centers, conference rooms, etc.
  • Business-related meals, catering, or entertainment expenses (travel or non-travel related). The business purpose and list of attendees must be documented.
  • Travel preparation expenses necessary for a foreign trip, such as passport fees, vaccinations, and currency exchange fees
  • Gas purchases for a University-owned car. Due to the fact that these purchases are taxable to the employee under IRS regulations, they must be tracked, logged and submitted to the Payroll Office in December of each year.
  • Other expenses related to University business travel. See the University's Travel Policy for guidelines.
Prohibited transactions not eligible for reimbursement that are the responsibility of the cardholder include:
Alcohol for grant-funded projects only Not Allowed
Cash advances, gift cards or other cash-equivalent purchases Not Allowed - However, the Controller's Office periodically grants exceptions for gift cards tracked in compliance with IRS regulations. Contact the Controller for more details.
Cell phone service Not Allowed
Contributions to other organizations Allowed only with advanced approval from the President's Office
Gas or car maintenance expenses for a personal car (non-University owned) on business travel Not Allowed - reimbursements of these related costs follow the official IRS business mileage rate
Increases to a Cardinal Card account Not Allowed
Membership fee for any airline club or card rewards program Not Allowed
Penalties and fees incurred because a traveler violated airline, rail, transportation ticketing, hotel or reservation rules Not Allowed
Per diems Travelers cannot request a per diem if meals are charged to the University's Corporate Travel Card. In addition, a meal receipt is necessary for reimbursement.
Personal expenditures of any kind Not Allowed
Reimbursement of travel expenses for spouses Not Allowed - IRS rules only allow non-taxable reimbursement if the spouse provides a significant non-clerical business role
Travel in a fare class above economy for airfare and above business for rail, unless approved by the Provost or relevant Vice President, or unless no additional expenses are incurred Allowed only with the prior approval of the Provost or the relevant Vice Presidentand explicitly noted on the receipt. Documentation must be followed to the letter due to IRS reporting requirements.
Any non-business related expenses if travel comprises of both business and non-business portions Not Allowed
Tickets/fines resulting from traffic, parking, or other moving violations Not Allowed
Payments to other University divisions/departments Not Allowed
Any items listed in the University'sProhibited Transaction Policy Not Allowed

VI. Cardholder Responsibilities and University Rights


University Corporate Travel Cards are issued based on the primary role of the respective University faculty or staff member (cardholder). The Travel Card is not a benefit of employment; it is a tool to be utilized in assisting University employees to carry out their functions as such. It is assumed that cardholders, along with their division Vice President, are responsible and accountable for using the Travel Card within the University's guidelines. The University reserves the right to terminate an individual's Travel Card privileges at any time, with or without cause. The University retains the rights to any incentives or rewards resulting from the use of the Travel Card. Bonuses, incentives, or rewards earned through the individual's use of a Travel Card may be considered taxable income by the IRS and the fair market value of such a distribution must then be reported as taxable income on the employee's annual tax return. For this reason, the University recommends that cardholders not participate in any promotional offers. University policy requires inadvertent personal charges made to the Travel Card to be settled by the cardholder within five (5) business days of the return travel date. Payments can be made at the cashier's window and should include the account and organization number of where the funds are being deposited with a brief description of the transaction.

A. University Liability


Charges to the SunTrust Corporate Visa Travel Card are the University's liability and have no impact on an employee's personal credit. Charges to the American Express card are the individual cardholder's liability and payment history of an individual cardholder can jeopardize the university's account status and incur stiff penalties and fees. The Corporate Travel Card is only issued to active eligible University employees, and although the card is issued to a specific University executive officer, faculty or staff member, the Corporate Travel Card is the property of The Catholic University of America. The University is not liable for transactions made by a terminated employee. In the event of employee termination, the Plan Administrator is notified immediately and the Travel Card account must be checked for any pending transactions. If pending transactions exist, they must be coded (with their attached receipts), and approved by the responsible manager prior to card cancellation. In addition, the University is not liable for fraudulent charges if SunTrust Bank and the University are not notified in a timely manner.

B. Responsibilities


1.  Cardholder Responsibilities


  1. Only active University faculty or staff employees are eligible to be cardholders. Because SunTrust Bank ESP system notifications are sent electronically to a cardholder's email account, every cardholder is required to have a valid University email address and to check that email account regularly. In addition, the cardholder is responsible for scanning and attaching receipts to their transactions in ESP as well as reclassifying charges from the default accounting chartfield to the correct chartfield within ten (10) days from completing travel. Cardholders are also responsible for being familiar with the University's Travel Policy. Cardholders traveling on sponsored funding have the additional responsibility of being familiar with the Grants and Contracts Policy.
  2. It is the cardholder's responsibility to manage their Corporate Travel Card, know their available funding, and spend within their budgeted limits. Travel Card transactions that exceed the amount budgeted for travel may result in temporary suspension of card privileges. Cardholders must keep in mind that they are committing University funds each time they use the Corporate Travel Card.
  3. It is the University's policy to use vendors who provide the lowest prices while maintaining quality, delivery, and the efficient use of the Cardholder's time. Accordingly, cardholder's must make a reasonable effort to compare pricing sources when making travel arrangements to ensure the university receives the best value. iv. The Cardholder must protect the security of the Corporate Travel Card at all times.
  4. If the Travel Card is lost, stolen, or becomes compromised, the Cardholder must immediately notify the following:
  1. For SunTrust Visa card - SunTrust Bank at tel. 1-(800) 847-2911
  2. For AMEX card - American Express Card Services at tel.1-(888) 800-7325
  3. Procurement Services at tel. (202) 319-5044
  4. The University's Department of Public Safety at tel. (202) 319-5111
  5. The appropriate finance manager

2. Cardholder Supervisor's Responsibility

The cardholder's supervisor may identify the authorized approver for each cardholder; however, anyone identified as a candidate requires ultimate approval by the Provost or relevant Vice President. The cardholder's supervisor, whether or not he or she is the authorized approver, is ultimately responsible for the cardholder's use and reporting requirements. The cardholder's supervisor is also responsible for notifying the Plan Administrator of any changes in the employee's status, including termination, transfer to another division/department or change in assignment within the University, change in last name, etc.

3. Authorized Approver Responsibility

  1. Travelers may not approve the reimbursement of their own travel expenses. In addition, an employee cannot approve the travel expenses of an individual to whom he or she reports to either directly or indirectly. Charges made by the Provost or University Vice Presidents can be reviewed by either the President or another Vice President.
  2. An Authorized Approver is responsible for reviewing all charges to ensure they are reasonable and reimbursable as defined by University policy. An Authorized Approver is also responsible for either authorizing and approving the expenditures submitted or rejecting them via the ESP system within ten (10) days from completion of travel. An Authorized Approver must therefore be familiar with both the University's Travel Policy and Corporate Travel Card Policy and Procedures. Because ESP transaction notifications are sent via email, an Authorized Approver must have a valid University email account that they check regularly.

4. Documentation Requirements

  1. In general, original receipts are required for all transactions on American Express or SunTrust Visa Corporate cards and must be scanned and attached into the ESP system. For example, a receipt is required for food purchases over $10.00 and materials over $25.00. Receipts for meals must be itemized and must include a description of the business purpose and a list of attendees. In addition, the original receipt (hardcopy) must be retained by the division/department submitting the expenditure for eighteen (18) months. Faxes and email notices from cardholders are not considered proof of payment and therefore, not accepted. However, they may be used as supplemental materials to explain unusual situations.
  2. For SunTrust cardholders, the Plan Administrator has the ability to view receipts and approvals electronically so the need for cardholders to send in their monthly statements is eliminated.
  3. For AMEX cardholders, statements with original receipts attached (vendor generated e-mail notices are acceptable as proof of payment) must be submitted to the Plan Administrator in the Procurement Services Department a minimum of ten (10) days before payment is due.

5. Taxes

Taxes associated with transportation, lodging and meals are allowable expenses and can be processed on the Travel Card. However, if sales tax is inadvertently charged to the Travel Card (or Pro-card), the cardholder is required to contact the merchant and provide them the University's tax-exempt identification number in order to have the tax reimbursed.

VII. Travel Card Cycle Deadlines


Cardholder's have ten (10) days from the completion of travel to reclassify or make any chartfield changes to a transaction. Therefore, the Cardholder must coordinate with the Authorized Approver to establish a regular approval timeline. Regardless of whether changes are or are not made to a posted transaction, the Cardholder must nevertheless enter into ESP and "save" the transaction, signifying that it is ready for manager approval. The best practice is to submit transactions for approval at least once a week. Any transaction(s) not processed after the ten (10) day deadline are automatically recorded in Cardinal Financials under the default chartfield. Changes cannot be made to a transaction in the ESP system after financial extraction is completed by the Controller's Office without the assistance of General Accounting. Late reclassification requests of this type should be kept to a minimum in order to avoid suspension of cardholder privileges. If more than three (3) late change requests are received by the same cardholder over a twelve month period, cardholder privileges may be suspended.

VIII. Returning Travel Cards


Upon separation, termination, or retirement, the Corporate Travel Card must be cut in half and returned to the Plan Administrator.

IX. Code of Ethics


University cardholders must refrain from any actions that could be construed as conflicting with the best interest of the University or to prejudice the University's reputation or mission. Cardholders are expected to be free of conflicts of interest or relationships which are, or could potentially be, detrimental to the best interest of The Catholic University of America and its mission.

X. Consequences Resulting from Violations of Policy


Violations of policies governing the use of the Corporate Travel Card are classified as minor or major depending on the nature and severity of the violation. Consequences vary in accordance to the infraction to the University's policies and may therefore include written notification, additional training, cancellation of cardholder privileges, or disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. The Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, in consultation with either the Provost or other Vice Presidents, has the ultimate authority to determine the appropriate action based upon the violation or the frequency of violations. The Vice President for Finance and Treasurer involves the Office of Human Resources in all disciplinary decisions. Examples of minor violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Failure to maintain receipts properly
  • Not reclassifying charges in ESP to the correct chartfield on a timely basis
  • Willfully exceeding the budgeted limit once given advance warning that the available budget is no longer available
A cardholder will receive two warnings for minor violations. A third violation will result in the suspension of Corporate Travel Card privileges. A major violation indicates a willful intent to disregard University policies. Examples of major violations include, but are not limited to:
  • Repeatedly making personal purchases with the Travel Card
  • Allowing someone other than the Cardholder to use the Travel Card
  • A repeated pattern of prohibited transactions, inappropriate charges, or transferring unauthorized Corporate Travel Card purchases to sponsored programs

As stated previously, the circumstances and severity of the violation will determine the appropriate action. The intentional use of the Corporate Travel Card to make a personal purchase will result in termination of employment.