Approved by: President
History: Issued              -- February 3, 2012
Revised            -- March 11, 2020
Last Reviewed -- March 11, 2020
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


The University offers a card program as a tool to streamline and simplify the procurement and payment functions for general procurement and business related travel and entertainment. The card is intended to reduce transaction costs, facilitate timely acquisition, automate data flow for accounting purposes and offer flexible controls to ensure proper use. The Travel Card is designated for use to cover travel and related expenditures as well as business and recruitment meals.

The Catholic University of America travel card (also known as the corporate card) is issued to individuals through the University, and secured by a banking institution in the name of the University and the employee.  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 corporate card types: (a) card reserved for the University President’s Office and Executive Officers and (b) card used by faculty and staff.

The Cardholder should purchase from University-approved contract vendors, and whenever possible, Cardholders should take advantage of the pricing agreements and terms negotiated via the University consortium contracts with the Education & Institutional Cooperative Service (E&I), US Communities, General Services Administration (GSA) and other group purchasing organizations.

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 (P-Card). Please refer to the University's Procurement Card Policy for P-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. Definitions


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

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

C. Card Issuer:The issuing Bank for (a) card reserved for the University President’s Office and Executive Officers and (b) card used by faculty and staff .

D. Enterprise Spend Platform (ESP): Webpage and software provided by Card Issuer to review, code (allocate transactions to a chartfield), and approve transactions by Cardholders and Authorized Approvers.

E. Bank Statement: Statements from the Card Issuer(s) identifying transactions for the month. The statement summarizes all account activity for any given cycle period. The issuing Bank statement is available electronically online at the Enterprise Spend Platform (ESP) website.

F. 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.

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

H. Plan Administrator: The Travel Plan Administrator is responsible for issuing the Corporate Travel Card and managing other facets of the University Corporate Travel Card Program.

I. Corporate Travel Card: Credit card issued by the University to eligible officers, faculty, and staff. 

III. Eligibility


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 position, 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 cognizant Vice President. Application procedures are available at

IV. Allowable and Prohibited Transactions


The 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

Not Allowed.

Cell phone service

Not Allowed

Contributions to other organizations

Allowed only with advanced approval by cognizant Dean or Vice President or University President (see the Gift and Donations to External Parties Policy)

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

Gift cards

Allowed only with advanced approval from the Controller and Assistant Treasurer (see the University's Gift Card Policy)

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.

Personal expenditures of any kind

Not Allowed

Travel expenses for spouses

Not Allowed unless advanced approved by Controller and Assistant Treasurer; may result in IRS reporting requirements (see Travel Policy)

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

Any items listed in the University's Prohibited Transaction Policy

Not Allowed


V. 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.

A. Inadvertent Personal Charges


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 University deposit dropbox and should include the account and organization number of where the funds are being deposited with a brief description of the transaction.

B. University Liability


Charges to the faculty and staff Corporate Travel Card are the University's liability and have no impact on an employee's personal credit. Charges to the University President’s Office and Executive Officers 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 the Card Issuer and the University are not notified in a timely manner.

C. Responsibilities


1. Cardholder Responsibilities


  1. Only active University faculty or staff employees are eligible to be Cardholders. Because 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. The Cardholder is responsible for documenting that business purpose of each transaction within ESP as defined in Documentation Requirements below.
  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. 
  4. The Cardholder must protect the security of the Corporate Travel Card at all times.
  5. If the Travel Card is lost, stolen, or becomes compromised, the Cardholder must immediately notify the following:
  • The Card Issuer
  • Procurement Services
  • The University's Department of Public Safety
  • The appropriate finance manager

2. Cardholder Supervisor's Responsibility


The Cardholder's supervisor may identify the Authorized Approver for each cardholder. 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. 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 Policyand 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.
  2. 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.

4. Documentation Requirements


a. In general, original receipts are required for all transactions on corporate travel card and must be scanned and attached into the ESP system. Each transaction should include a valid business purpose. The "Business Purpose" must provide a specific justification for the purchase. The justification must include at minimum: 

  • Who attended or received the benefit from the expenditure;
  • What purpose the expenditure served, why the expense was necessary, or how it furthered the University's goals; and
  • When and where the expense took place.

For example, a receipt is required for purchases 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 or true copy must be retained by the division/department submitting the expenditure per the Record Retention Policy.

b. For faculty and staff 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.

c. 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.

D. Sales Taxes on Purchases


The Catholic University of America is exempt from sales tax in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia in addition to other states.  Call Procurement and Payment Services for further information. It is the Cardholder's responsibility to ensure that sales tax is not charged to the University. The tax-exempt numbers for each jurisdiction are located on the front of the travel card.

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 P-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.  If the merchant is uncooperative, a dispute can be initiated in the ESP system before the end of the month cycle.

E. Purchases with Terms and Conditions


Cardholders are responsible for reading and understanding any terms or conditions that accompany a Corporate Travel Card purchase. Questions regarding any terms or conditions should be directed to the Plan Administrator before proceeding with the purchase. 

VI. Travel Card Cycle Deadlines


Cardholder's have ten (10) days from the completion of their posting date, but not later than the end of the month in which the statement closes, 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. 

VII. Returning Travel Cards


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

VIII. 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 and must comply with the University's Conflict of Interest Policy.

IX. 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 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
  • Allowing someone other than the Cardholder to use the Travel Card without authorization
  • Repeatedly making personal purchases with 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.