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5.4.3 Travel Cards

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Approved by the Senior Associate Vice President for Finance.
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This Guide Memo contains policies on the use of Stanford Travel Cards (TCards) to pay university travel costs. This policy establishes the rules and guidelines for the appropriate use of the Stanford-issued Travel Card.  It applies to all Stanford University employees and departments applying for or holding a Stanford-issued Travel Card. This policy is based on and in alignment with the expectations set forth by Administrative Guide Memo 1.1.1: Code of Conduct, specifically with regard to employing sound business practices and exercising prudent financial management in the stewardship of university resources. For detailed guidance and supporting resources, see the Stanford Travel Card (TCard) Program overview on Fingate. The Stanford PCard policy is documented in Administrative Guide Memo 5.3.3: Purchasing Cards.

1. Purpose

Stanford Travel Cards (TCards) are university-liability credit cards issued to authorized and trained Stanford employees, who currently have active status on payroll, to pay for travel and travel-related services in support of Stanford University business. Only permissible business travel expenses may be charged to the TCard. The TCard may not be used for personal expenses, except for incidental expenses that cannot be easily separated from a business charge. The cardholder is personally responsible for ensuring payment to Stanford University for any non-reimbursable TCard charges in a timely manner after the completion of travel.

The TCard is the recommended payment method for any travel costs not reimbursed through the per diem method. Reimbursing per diem expenses charged to a TCard creates an administrative burden for all parties involved in processing the transaction (i.e., preparer, beneficiary, approvers) due to the steps required to reconcile TCard charges to per diem reimbursement amounts. For more information about purchasing and reimbursement methods, visit the Business and Travel Expense Policies page on Fingate.

All TCard transactions must be reviewed and verified in the Expense Requests system and substantiated by adding a detailed and appropriate business purpose for the entire trip and receipts and other supporting documentation. See detailed policy and guidance for the Stanford Travel Card on Fingate and Administrative Guide Memo 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses for university policies.

There are two types of TCards: an individual TCard and a Department TCard. The same policies apply for both individual and Department TCards unless specifically noted. The process for the issuance of new cards is defined below in section 2, Eligibility and Authorization to Use a Travel Card.

  • The Individual TCard is issued to and used by a specific individual who is an active Stanford University employee and travels frequently on Stanford business.
  • The Department TCard is issued to an individual who is an active Stanford University employee and is assigned as the cardholder for the department in order to facilitate travel for occasional travelers, students, or non-employees. The cardholder uses the card to arrange and pay for business travel on behalf of the department. The Department TCard must remain in the cardholder’s possession and should not be given to the traveler.

a. Responsibilities

Travel Card transactions must be expensed within 60 days of completion. If transactions are not expensed within 60 days of completion of travel or the posted date, the expenses may be tax reportable to the traveler or cardholder and may result in card suspension. To clear TCard transactions in a timely manner, an expense report should be completed and submitted within 10 days of completion of travel or the posted date (the date the expense posts to the credit card).

If a TCard transaction is not verified and approved within 60 days of the completion of travel, the transaction will be force cleared by Financial Management Services at the end of the next fiscal quarter to the department guarantee account (PTA). Budget units will be charged a fee for each transaction that is force cleared. The department is then responsible for allocating the force cleared transaction, via the iJournals system, to the appropriate account (PTA) and expenditure type. For more information, visit Managing Aging and Outstanding Expense Transactions on Fingate.

b. Verification and Approvals

Travel Card (TCard) verifiers are individuals who process Travel Card Transactions through the Expense Requests system. Cardholders may also verify their own transactions; however, all Expense Request transactions must route to an approver set up in the Authority Manager system who meets the following criteria:

  1. Has authority over the account (PTA) charged,
  2. Does not report directly or indirectly to the cardholder, and
  3. Is not the beneficiary of the transaction and does not report, either directly or indirectly, to the beneficiary.

A detailed description of all roles and responsibilities is available on the Stanford Travel Card (TCard) Program overview on Fingate.

c. Misuse

Participation in the Travel Card (TCard) program is considered a privilege that carries the responsibility to ensure appropriate use and stewardship of university funds. Inappropriate use of the TCard may result in the loss of the privilege, disciplinary action and/or in termination of employment. Fraudulent use may additionally result in criminal prosecution. The cardholder or card user will be held personally liable for all unauthorized charges.

2. Eligibility and Authorization to use a Travel Card

a. Basic Criteria

The Travel Card (TCard) is available to active Stanford University employees. Eligibility is based on a departmentally-determined business need and requires:

  • Completion of an online application providing:
    • A guarantee account (PTA)
    • The monthly spending limit for the TCard
    • The individual responsible for verifying TCard transactions
  • Approvals from the requesting cardholder's manager or department chair/dean and the appropriate financial approver for the guarantee account (PTA) provided
  • Completion of required online training

For more information, see Stanford Travel Card (TCard) Program on Fingate.

b. Delegation of Authority

Individuals who have been authorized by their department for Travel Card (TCard) use may charge travel-related business transactions in accordance with the TCard policy details on Fingate. These expenditures must be reasonable and necessary, consistent with established university policies and practices, applicable to the work of the University, including instruction, research, and public service, and must be consistent with sponsor or donor expenditure restrictions. Charges must comply with Business and Travel Expense policy details on Fingate.

c. Department Responsibility

Delegation of authority comes with the responsibility to adhere to university policies, including Business and Travel Expense policies and TCard policy details on Fingate. Department management must give careful consideration to who should be provided a Travel Card (TCard) and disseminate any local business rules to users. They should regularly monitor TCard use for compliance. Refer to the information on Fingate on the OBI Dashboard: Expense Requests and SU Card Activity for more information on monitoring TCard activity.

3. Permissible and Non-Permissible Charges

Cardholders may only use the Travel Card (TCard) for university travel-related business transactions. Individual and department cardholders are responsible for ensuring that all charges comply with policy and are properly itemized, have the appropriate documentation, are supported by a business purpose, approved, and submitted via the Expense Requests expense reporting process.

Generally, costs charged to an individual TCard must be for the travel of the cardholder. Costs of transportation (including airfare), lodging or conference registration may be charged to a Department TCard for occasional travelers, including students, groups or university guests.

Travel Card expenditures must comply with the following:

Expenditures should also comply with any department, school or unit restrictions that may apply.

The following list provides examples of travel-related business transactions that are permissible on the TCard:

  • Local and destination transportation, including air, rail, bus, taxi and shuttle.
  • Rental car and van reservations and gasoline for rental vehicles.
  • Travel meals, which are ordinary meals that occur while traveling for Stanford business
  • Business meals while traveling
  • Hotel lodging reservations, deposits and/or guarantees
  • Incidentals, including phone calls, faxes, hotel parking and internet connectivity
  • Registration fees for non-local and in-person conferences.
  • Event venue deposits, such as for hotels and other facilities.

The following list provides examples of travel-related business transactions that are not permissible on the TCard:

  • Expenses that are not related to travel. For example, local business meals and local or virtual conference registration (where no travel is involved) should be charged to a Purchasing Card or be processed as a reimbursement.
  • Lodging or meal expenses when the traveler will request per diem reimbursement for those costs.

4. Roles and Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the individual incurring the expense(s), those who assist others with incurring expenses and those involved in the preparation and approval of financial transactions to exercise good financial stewardship over university funds, including adhering to all university policies. See a detailed description of all roles and responsibilities for the Stanford Travel Card (TCard) Program on Fingate.

The cardholder is responsible for staying current with all TCard policies and procedures, including seeking assistance prior to making/authorizing travel expenditures if there are questions. All roles below should also be familiar with and refer to Administrative Guide Memo 3.5.1: Financial Irregularities as well as the related university resources.

a.TCard roles and responsibilities include:

  1. Individual TCard Cardholder: An individual TCard cardholder is an authorized and active Stanford employee and frequent traveler who has a TCard issued in their name to make travel purchases.
  2. Department TCard Cardholder: A department TCard cardholder is an authorized and active Stanford employee who makes travel-related purchases for occasional Stanford travelers and visitors.
  3. Preparer and Verifier: The preparer is the originator or another individual who prepares and submits expense reports to properly record travel-related expenses and to request payment on behalf of Stanford-authorized travelers. The verifier is the cardholder or another individual who is responsible for reviewing the charges on the TCard Outstanding Transactions tab and immediately reporting or disputing any fraudulent charges to the cardholder. The department is ultimately liable for any unresolved fraudulent or erroneous charges.
  4. Cardholder’s Authorized Manager: The cardholder’s authorized manager is responsible for monitoring the use of the individual and/or Department TCard and assisting with any TCard audits or investigations. The manager is also responsible for notifying Card Services when a cardholder is no longer active, for example, has left the department or is on extended leave.
  5. Financial Approver: A financial approver, who must not report to the individual who made the purchase or be the beneficiary on whose behalf the purchase was made, has the responsibilities of the Cardholder’s Authorized Manager; establishes and monitors department-level procedures to ensure that expenses and amounts charged to departmental accounts comply with department and university policy; reviews, examines, approves, or rejects TCard transactions; approves spending limit changes; and uses reporting tools to review recorded transactions.
  6. Departments and Unit Finance Managers: Departments and Unit Finance Managers (financial managers, officers and deans) provide oversight of TCards issued in their organization. Budget unit level oversight includes the person granted Expenditure Escalation Authority for the organization.
  7. Card Services Team: The Card Services Team administers the Card Services program and initiates additional training, suspension of TCard privileges or revocation of the TCard due to recurring incidents of non-compliance with policy or unauthorized charges.
  8. Business Expense Team. The Business Expense Team is responsible for reviewing TCard transactions on an audit basis and communicating non-compliance or unauthorized charges to the department for escalation, approval and resolution.

b. Audit

All Stanford Travel Card (TCard) transactions are subject to additional review by the central Financial Management Services department, as well as by internal and external auditors for financial stewardship including compliance with institutional policies and procedures, and any applicable laws and regulations.

c. Assistance

The Fingate website provides process and procedural information for Travel Card (TCard) holders, verifiers and approvers. See the Stanford Travel Card (TCard) ProgramStanford Travel Card (TCard) policy and Reimbursements and Expense Reports pages.

The Financial Support Center (FSC) is available to consult with departments on the application process, training, and use of the Travel Card.

See AGM 3.5.1: Financial Irregularities for procedures to follow when a suspicion or discovery of financial irregularities arise, as well as resources to report potentially suspicious activity. 

5. Alternatives to the Travel Card

All business travel costs are processed through the Expense Requests System. When a traveler’s personal credit card is used for travel expenses, the traveler, not Stanford, is responsible for any service fees or interest accrued to that personal card. These fees will not be reimbursed. In rare circumstances, a travel cash advance may be obtained if the traveler does not have access to a Travel Card (TCard). Please refer to the overviews of Reimbursements and Expense Reports and Advances for more information on Fingate.