Using a Purchasing Card (P-Card) for Sponsored Projects

A purchasing card (P-Card) is a debit card with a one-time limit that allows a principal investigator (PI) or authorized project staff to purchase goods and supplies for sponsored projects with a budget of $2,000 or more. P-Cards are not for personal use and cannot be shared between individuals or projects. Each project requires a separate completed and approved P-Card application. The PI is responsible for all purchases made with P-Cards on their account.

P-Card Expiration

The bank issues P-Cards with a physical expiration date of three years embossed on the card. If the card expires on an active account a new card will be sent to the current address. If the grant ends before the physical expiration date, the card will become inactive on the grant end date. It is the responsibility of the cardholder to request a card renewal/extension if the project associated with the P-Card has been extended or renewed. The cardholder should notify the P-Card team they are destroying the card due to the project ending or separation from the College.

How the P-Card Encumbrance Works

The project account associated with the P-Card is encumbered as an advance using expense code 8260 for each individual cardholder. Advance encumbrances are reduced when transactions have posted from Concur after a reconciled report is approved by the PA. P-Card transactions must be reconciled in Concur within 35 days of the purchase and in a manner that provides the accountability of sponsor expenditures and compliance with all applicable restrictions imposed by funding sources and legislative bodies.

Reconciling the P-Card

Reconciliation must include the business purpose of the item, justification of the expense, and receipts. Special attention should be paid to items that may be used for personal purposes (e.g., CDs, videos, mobile electronics, meals etc.). P-Card purchases are exempt from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Missouri and Tennessee State sales tax (NYS tax exempt ID is located on the P-Card). If a vendor will not grant sales tax exemption, note the vendor's refusal on the receipt.

P-Card Usage and Transaction Limitations

Use of the P-Card must adhere to RFCUNY guidelines and policies as well as any special requirements of the project supported by the sponsored funds. In the event of non-compliance or abuse of the P-Card, P-Card privileges will be terminated or suspended. Project administrators, PIs (if not the cardholder) and grants officers are responsible for reporting non-compliance to RFCUNY P-Card Support.

The number of purchases on a P-Card is limited to 8 per day, unless a request is made to a PI’s project administrator to increase the number for special circumstances. The limit of any single transactions is $5,000, unless a request is made to RFCUNY for careful assessment of policy adherence. The intent of the card is not to circumvent the purchase order process which is obligatory for all items $5,000 and above. Splitting transactions in order to circumvent RFCUNY purchasing policy and procedures is strictly prohibited and will result in revocation of the card.

Projects may have various restrictions based on funding sources. NY State and NY City projects have very restrictive line-item budgets that require purchases and other activities to be carefully screened by RFCUNY before incurring certain encumbrances and/or expenditures. The purchaser may never charge unallowable costs or costs generally considered indirect, such as offices supplies, on Federal pass-through programs, unless specifically provided in an approved budget.

The P-Card is not to be used for unauthorized purchases including:

  • Late fees, fines and penalties.
  • Chemicals or hazardous materials as defined by federal, state and city laws. Hazardous materials may include compressed gases, radioactive materials, nucleotides, peptides, growth media, controlled substances, restriction enzymes, or biological organisms.
  • Cash advances, gift cards, and prepaid debit/credit cards.
  • Donations or contributions (including gift certificates, gifts for employee morale or gifts for services).
  • Costs incurred for, or in support of, alumni activities or fundraising activities.
  • Entertainment costs including amusement, diversion, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities).
  • Alcohol is never allowed to be charged.
  • Lodging or meal charges that exceed per diem rates when in travel status.

Essential Forms

Purchasing Forms


RFCUNY P-Card Support

RFCUNY P-Card Reconciliation Support

J.P. Morgan Commercial Card
Customer Service
(800) 270-7760

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