Frequently Questioned Purchases

If you are unsure if something is an appropriate purchasing card purchase or not, please review the list of Frequently Questioned Purchases below.  Some of the items listed are allowable, some are not, and some are allowable under certain circumstances.  If you cannot find the item/service you are looking for, please contact the Purchasing Card Program Manager.

Common Topics

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Airfare

A Purchasing Card may be used to purchase airfare pursuant to UW-3016 Air Travel Policy

Alcohol

It is allowable for the University to pay for wine and beer to be served with a dinner included at a University-sponsored conference where these costs are included in the participant fee for the conference.  All other alcoholic beverage purchases are prohibited on the purchasing card. See UW-3043 – Exceptions/Approvals/Special Handling.

Appliances

Appliances required for lab/research use are allowable. Appliances for use in break rooms, mothers rooms or other general shared spaces are allowable. Appliances for individual use in private offices are not allowed.

Awards

Awards that meet the criteria found in UW System Administrative Policy SYS 330: Prizes, Awards and Gifts are allowable on the purchasing card.

Capital Equipment and Fabrication Materials

Capital equipment components and fabrication materials less than $5,000 are allowable on the purchasing card provided they are reconciled appropriately. Purchases of materials for capital equipment fabrications must be reported to UW Madison Property Control. Allocate the expenses to Account Code 4670 and reference the appropriate Asset ID number within the documented business purpose. Contact the Department Property Administrator or property@bussvc.wisc.edu if you have questions.

Cash Advances

Cash advances are technically not possible with a purchasing card. If a cardholder attempts to obtain cash from an ATM with their purchasing card, the request will be declined.

Catering

If the requirements outlined in UW-3049 Catering Policy are met, the catering expense is allowable on the purchasing card.  Note: Catering does not include food purchased and prepared by University staff or prepared food (box lunches, sandwiches, cheese trays, pizza, cookies, fruit or similar items) purchased from a licensed restaurant and/or catering operation and served by University staff on property owned/leased by the University.

Cell Phones/Service

Cellular service and equipment purchases are coordinated by DoIT in accordance with the State of Wisconsin cellular contracts and, therefore, are not allowable on the purchasing card. See UW-Madison Information Technology Cellular Service.

Copiers

Copiers are not allowable on the purchasing card and must be purchased through the state contract.  See How to Purchase a Photocopier (Copier).

Cylinder Gases

Cylinder gases are not allowed on the purchasing card. They must be purchased through MDS for safety and tracking purposes.

Decorative Items/Flowers

The purchase of decorative items (e.g. plants, artwork) is only allowable if the items are placed in a general reception area frequented by students and/or the general public. Decorative items for employee lounges, assigned offices or other work areas are not allowable on the purchasing card.

Ebay Purchases

The purchasing card may be used to purchase items from an online auction source, such as ebay, provided the risk of loss has been minimized to the maximum extent possible and University procurement requirements are met. Cardholders should do everything possible to determine the true condition of the item being purchased. When purchasing an operating piece of equipment, it is expected that an independent person or company be used to validate the operating condition. Cardholders are encouraged to contact the Purchasing Specialist that handles the particular commodity prior to making an online auction purchase.

Fines

Fines, including parking tickets on or off campus, are not allowable on the purchasing card.

Gasoline

Gas may only be purchased on the purchasing card if it is going into a rental vehicle being used for University business. If an individual is driving their personal vehicle, mileage should be claimed on an expense report.

Gifts

Gifts that meet the criteria found in UW System Administrative Policy SYS 330: Prizes, Awards and Gifts are allowable on the purchasing card.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are allowable on the purchasing card provided the purchase is pursuant to UW-3027 Gift Cards Policy.

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Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations are only allowable on the purchasing card when they are placed in open public areas, such as at a student union, student dormitory, or student health center.

Hospitality Expenses

Hospitality expenses (e.g. sympathy flowers, baby gifts, retirement gifts) are not allowed on the purchasing card unless pursuant to UW-3075 Official Functions and Expenses Policy.

Insurance

Insurance is not allowable on the purchasing card other than for Cultural Insurance Services International program, Special Events Insurance, contracted rental vehicle insurance coverage (when necessary) or other approved insurance purchases. Contact Risk Management for more details or discussion on insurance purchases. Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) payments are processed by University Health Services.

Meals

Business meals are allowed on the purchasing card provided the purchase is pursuant to UW-3039 Business Meals Policy. Individual meals, which are reimbursed to travelers as part of a Meals & Incidentals (M&IE) per diem allowance, are not allowed on the purchasing card.

Memberships

Membership renewals are allowable on the purchasing card; however the initial payment of a new membership must be processed on a requisition, a Direct Payment Form or via e-Reimbursement to allow for appropriate approvals.

Amazon Prime Memberships are not allowable on the purchasing card without prior approval from the Purchasing Card Program Manager and the cardholder’s Divisional Business Office.

Parking

The following parking expense are allowable on the purchasing card:

  • Employees: Parking costs incurred outside of the employee’s headquarters city or at the airport.
  • Non-employees: Parking costs incurred for UW business.

Postage/Stamps

Postage/stamps are allowable on the purchasing card.

Printing

The only time printing should be charged to the purchasing card is if the print order is less than $50 and the service is provided by an external vendor. Print orders provided by internal vendors (e.g. DoIT, Student Print, campus library) should be paid via an internal billing method, not the purchasing card. Print orders with external vendors that exceed $49.99 must be competitively bid by Purchasing Services. See UW-3044 Printing Related and Printing Purchases.

Prizes

Prizes that meet the criteria found in UW System Administrative Policy SYS 330, Prizes, Awards and Gifts are allowable on the purchasing card.

Recurring Payments

Recurring payments setup on an automatic payment cycle are not allowable; however, once an invoice has been reviewed and approved, the purchasing card can be used as a mechanism for payment.

Registrations

Registrations are allowable on the purchasing card.

Services

Services are allowable on the purchasing card as it is the payment processor who is required to report on taxable credit card transactions.  Prior to commencing service work on campus, the vendor must have a valid insurance certificate on file in the Risk Management Office.  See https://www.busserv.wisc.edu/Certs/Certs_Main_Menu.aspx to determine if the required documentation is already on file.

Sponsorships/Donations

Sponsorships or donations are not allowable on the purchasing card.

Subscriptions

Subscriptions are allowable on the purchasing card.

Tax Reportable Purchases

Tax reportable payments are allowed on the purchasing card as it is the payment processor who is required to report on taxable payments made with a credit card.

Weapons/Ammunition

Weapons/ammunition are not allowable on the purchasing card. All purchases of weapons/ammunition must be approved by UW-Madison Police Department. Please see UW-3043 Exceptions/Approvals/Special Handling for further instruction.