HBP Part 7.8.3 Guidelines for Use

Handbook of Business Procedures

Date published: October 22, 2018
Last revised: December 21, 2018
Issued by: Purchasing


Procard cardholders not abiding by The University of Texas at Austin procurement and payment procedures and policies will have their card privileges suspended or cancelled.

University procurement and payment and State of Texas Comptroller’s Office procedures must be followed by all Procard users. Using the ProCard does not exempt the cardholder from procurement and payment procedures and policies.

Any additional documents, (OOEF, etc.) required by the university, (procurement and payment services, EHS, trademark licensing etc.) or CSUs must be completed prior to any purchase and retained as part of supporting documentation.

CSUs may have internal policies that are more prohibitive than university policy related to Procard use. This is allowed so long as the internal policies do not conflict with university policy. 

A. Allowed Purchases

CSUs may use Procards for the payment of items that are routinely required for and in support of their university mission. This excludes any items listed on the Disallowed Purchases list.

Cardholders may also be required to obtain written permission from their dean or chairman in advance of the purchase of some items.

Procards may be used by cardholders to purchase items up to the maximum single transaction limit on their individual card. Some examples of allowable purchases include:

  • Reference books and materials
  • Printing and duplicating services
  • Conference registration fees
  • Office supplies through Office Max/Office Depot
  • Small computer purchases
  • Professional memberships
  • Periodicals

Any attempts to use the Procard to avoid other Procurement or Payment Procedures will result in the cancellation of the Procard.

  1. Limits

    The total amount of any purchase cannot exceed a cardholder’s single transaction limit. The following Procard limits are flexible and customizable per individual cardholder.

    Billing cycle periods are posted on the Purchasing Office site.

    If a CSU does not wish to specify limits, the default values will be applied to all cards.

    • Single transaction limit: The total amount allowed for an individual purchase.
    • Cycle limit (or “billing limit”):  The total amount allowed within a cycle period.
    1. Default limits

      • Default single transaction limit = $999.00
      • Default cycle limit = $5,000.00
    2. Increasing limits

      To obtain an increase greater than the default limits (single transaction or cycle limit), an individual with signature authority on the Procard default account number must send a request to the Procard Administrator. The request must include the cardholder’s name, the last four digits of the card, and the new limits. The request must indicate if increases affect the single transaction limit, the cycle limit, or both, with the new dollar value for each limit clearly stated.  Note the maximum limits listed below:

      Cardholders may not approve their own increases. Increases must be approved by someone with signature authority for the card and who is the manager of the cardholder or hierarchically above the manager in the CSU’s management chain.

      Additional approval requirements may apply depending on the unit.

      • Maximum single transaction limit = $4,500.00
      • Maximum cycle limit = Not a restricted dollar value, to be determine by cardholder’s CSU.
  2. Gift Cards

    Gift cards may only be purchased for an award as defined in HPB 9.1.8.A or for research/study purposes. Gift cards may not be purchased as a gift or present for any individual.

    The purchase of gift cards for employees and student employees is strictly prohibited. These items are taxable to the recipient, and it is administratively infeasible to assess and collect the required taxes and fringe benefits. Gift cards are disallowed for student employees if the award is based on their role as an employee.

    Please review the related sections of the HBP listed below to ensure all policies relevant to the associated gift card purchases are followed:

a. Purchase of gift cards for an Award:

Gift card purchases for an award must follow the requirements outlined in HPB 9.1.8. Awards.

ProCard policy requires that the following information be retained as part of the supporting documentation for each approved gift card purchase and be included in the VP7 documentation:    

≤$50.00: Documentation must include the name of recipients.
≥$50.01: Documentation must include the name and address of recipients. 
If award is over the $50 fair market de minimus amount, the social security number of the individual should also be retained. The completed information must be sent to Accounting and Financial Management, Contractor Services, campus mail code K5300.

Also, refer to HBP 9.1.6. Use of Credit Cards for Official University Business subsection C.

b. Purchase of gift cards for research/study purposes:

Please refer to HBP 9.1.7 Advances for Research Subjects and Survey Participants, section F and Section G for acceptable supporting documentation requirements related to gift card purchases for research/study purpose.

    3. Online Purchases

Often online vendors have specific guidelines that must be followed in order to do business with them.

If you must create a login in order to make an online purchase, the account created must be associated with a UT Austin email address. The card or account information created for the purchase should never be associated with a personal email or login. Additionally, all purchases must be shipped to a university address (refer to Part 7.8.4 Making a Purchase).

Disregarding these policies can result in the Procard being suspended or cancelled.

  • Amazon – Amazon.com purchases must follow the specific instruction on the Tax Exempt Information page.
  • Apple –Apple purchases require use of the Apple Volume Purchasing Program offered through the Campus Computer Store.
  • eBay -  eBay purchases require prior approval from the Procard Administrator and, if approved for purchase, will be treated as used equipment.
  • PayPal – Procard cardholders cannot have a PayPal account, but can use PayPal. The cardholder must use the ‘check out as a guest’ option and not create an account. If it is discovered that a cardholder has been using a PayPal account to make Procard purchases, the Procard will be cancelled. 

B. Disallowed Purchases

Certain types of purchases cannot be made using the Procard, and certain vendors cannot be paid using the Procard.

The procurement card is NOT for personal use! The Procard has the State of Texas Seal and the wording "For Official Use Only" clearly indicated. This card is for business purposes only and may NOT be used for personal purchases. Violation of this policy can result in severe penalties.

This list is not comprehensive, but includes both “always” prohibited and “typically” prohibited purchases. Any questionable purchases or vendors must be reviewed in advance by the Procard Administrator. Additional approvals may be required depending on the request.

Any exceptions granted will be given on an individual basis and a copy of that exception must be kept with the supporting documentation for that purchase. Blanket exceptions will not be granted.

If you have any questions about whether a type of purchase or vendor is allowed, contact the Procard Administrator

Improper use of the Procard can result in the cancellation of your Procard and possible lawful action taken against the offending party.

  1. Always prohibited

    The table below includes items that must never be purchased with a Procard. Purchase of any of these items will result in the immediate cancellation of the Procard. Additional actions could be taken against the cardholder as well.



    Additional Information/Other University Requirements


    Guns, Bullets


    Cash Advances

    Cash advances for any purpose (travel, etc.) is strictly prohibited.


    Personal Items

    Adult entertainment, Charitable Donations, Dating Services, Funeral Services, Health & Beauty Spas, Barbers, Hospitals, Laundries, Massage Parlors, Insurance

    These items/services, even if for business use, must never be purchased using the Procard.

    Purchases involving the trade-in of university-owned equipment

    Resale stores


    Specific Scientific Equipment

    Animals, Controlled Substances, Cylinder gases, Hazardous chemicals, Liquid nitrogen, Radioactive materials, Radiation Producing Equipment, (e.g., x-ray machines), Lasers: Class 3B & 4

    Approval from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety is required to purchase these items. These items are regulated by the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) and purchases must be approved in advance in order to maintain compliance with TDSHS regulations.


  2. Typically prohibited

    To purchase typically prohibited items such as the examples listed below, the cardholder must request an exemption in writing from the Procard Administrator (email is permissible). The request must be made and approval received prior to the purchase. The response must also be retained by the cardholder and kept as supporting documentation for that purchase.



    Additional Information/Other University Requirements

    Office Supplies

    Labels, Pencils, Papers, Paper clips, Staplers, Toner, etc.

    The university has an exclusive and mandatory contract with Office Max/Office Depot. Any in-store purchases require a “Store Purchasing Program” card.

    The purchase of office supplies from any other vendor is prohibited.



    Total amount of the licensee cannot be greater than $1000.


    Service Providers: Cash Disbursements, Financial Institutions, Insurance, Security, Tax Preparation Services, Rental Agencies, Construction, Mechanics

    Many such purchases require the signing of a contract, terms, conditions or agreements. The cardholder does not have authority to sign these agreements on behalf of the university. 

    Consulting for Professional Services:  Architects, Engineers, Doctors, Nurses, Surgeons, Lawyers, Lectures, Real Estate Agents, Veterinarians

    Communication and Design: Website design and development, print collateral design, brand and logo development, copywriting, photography, videography, signage and wayfinding advertising and other communication vehicles that represent the university.

    The Procard cannot be used to purchase any of these services.

    Tuition/Membership Organizations

    The University of Texas at Austin, Austin Community College

    While you can register for conferences, continuing education, or short courses as part of an employee’s job duties, any extended courses or tuition cannot be charged to the Procard.



    Alcoholic beverages: Bars, Cocktail Lounges, etc., Duty-free, Liquor stores, Nightclubs

    Guidelines for purchase of alcoholic beverages are available at: https://utexas.box.com/v/official-guidelines or HBP Part 9.1.1. Entertainment and Official Occasion Expenses section M.1.b.

    Flowers/Plants: Florists, Nurseries, Landscaping

    OOEF Required: Flower and plant purchases are restricted to institutional funds only and may not be purchased on state funds per the Purchasing Guidelines of the State Comptroller.

    Event flowers should be placed on a VPE, not a ProCard.

    Food: Catering Services, Fast Food, Restaurants

    Catering/Restaurants or event food purchases must not be placed on the Procard. Catering services includes vendors that stock breakroom items such as tea and coffee services. 

    OOEF Required: Food may be purchased on the Procard ONLY if from grocery stores or bakeries, and only if the OOEF has been approved prior to the purchase. As long as these terms have been followed, additional approval from the Procard Administrator is not required.


    Event Rentals, Dining Out, Catering, Restaurants

    OOEF Required: Most events and entertainment related purchases must not be placed on the Procard. See HBP Part 9.1.1. Entertainment and Official Occasion Expenses


    Airlines, Airports, Bus Lines, Cruise Lines, Hotels, Lodging, Campgrounds, Parking, Railroads, Service and Fuel Stations, Taxis, Ride-Sharing Companies, Timeshares, Travel Agents, Tour Operations, Vehicle Rentals, Visas

    While the Procard can be used while traveling for allowed purchases, it cannot be used for these travel expenses.

    Speak to Travel Management regarding a Travel Card for any such expenses.

    Leases and any usage/maintenance charges associated with leases

    Storage Units, Vehicle Rentals, Furniture Rentals

    Many such purchases require the signing of a contract, terms, conditions or agreements. As the cardholder, you do not have authority to sign these agreements on behalf of the university. Signing any such agreement may open cardholders up to personal liability if they are not an authorized signer for the university. 


    Gasoline, Parking, Tolls, Valet, Repair, Maintenance, Leasing or Rentals, Traffic or Parking Violation fines

    Any university purchase related to university vehicles, such as maintenance, repairs, or fuel, should be placed on a Voyager Card, not the Procard.

    The university is not responsible for employee violations of traffic or parking laws while operating personal or university-owned vehicles. Such fees should be paid by the person who was operating the vehicle at the time of the violation.

    Any purchases listed may not be made towards a personal vehicle either, as that is considered a personal purchase.

    TXTag Toll road tags

    TXTag Toll road tags may be purchased for university vehicles by Fleet Management only. Personal use of a university vehicle or its state-issued TXTag is a violation of university policy.

    University parking permits

    This is considered a personal purchase and should not be placed on the Procard.

  3. Contracts, Terms, Conditions, or Agreements.

    Some purchases may include contracts, terms, conditions, or other types of agreement. As a cardholder, you do not have authority to sign any such agreement on behalf of the university. If there are any contracts, terms, conditions, or other types of agreements included in a purchase, consult with your CSU Business Office, the Business Contracts Office, and the Procard Administrator prior to making the purchase. The Procard does not offer the same protections that other purchase methods have at the university. Using the Procard for payment of such purchases opens both the university and the cardholder to liability.

    Do not “click” to agree or accept terms when purchasing items in store or online. These are still considered a contract.

  4. Tipping

    Tipping on the Procard is strictly prohibited. If a tip charge is found on the Procard, the cardholder must reimburse the cost to the account that was charged.

    Delivery fees are not considered tipping but are considered shipping costs and should be calculated in the total cost of an item.

  5. Split transactions

    A split transaction is the intentional splitting up or breaking down of a purchase so that the total amount of the purchase remains under the cardholder’s single transaction limit. This is not the same thing as a split charge.

    The total amount of any individual purchase cannot exceed the cardholder's single transaction limit. If the cardholder attempts split transactions on the Procard, it will result in loss of card privileges.



Part 7. Purchasing - Table of Contents