Purchasing Card Policy

Williams College is pleased to provide the Corporate Purchasing Card for Faculty and Staff. This purchasing tool will allow you to acquire the goods and services you use, and eliminate the need for out of pocket expenses. We believe the time you take to apply for and learn to use a purchasing card is an investment that will reward you many times over.

What is a Purchasing Card?

A Purchasing Card is a payment mechanism designed to help companies and institutions maintain control, while reducing the administrative cost associated with authorizing, tracking, paying and reconciling purchases.

How does a Purchasing Card Work?

To the end user, or purchaser, the Purchasing Card works just like a credit card. The Williams Purchasing Card is a MasterCard Corporate Purchasing Card supplied by Bank of America. Each card is assigned to a Williams account number, which can be a departmental account, grant, or other budgeted account.

Weekly or on a monthly basis, all cardholders, or their designated “approvers” must reconcile their card purchases and submit the documentation to the Finance Office for review and archival storage. Williams College pays the bank in full, on a weekly basis, for all transactions that have occurred during the weekly billing cycle.

Program Goals

  • Reduce costs associated with small dollar purchases
  • Maintain or improve accountability and control
  • Streamline administrative overhead and procedures
  • Replace paper-based systems with electronic solutions
  • Improve faculty and staff efficiency and effectiveness

Benefits to the Cardholder

  • Reduction of petty cash reimbursement and out-of-pocket expenses
  • More options for small dollar purchases conducted by phone, electronically, or from local merchants
  • Automated recording and notification of transactions through monthly statements

Benefits to Williams College

  • Consolidating invoicing and payments
  • Increase accountability and control of small dollar purchasing

Benefits to Vendors Doing Business with Williams College

  • Eliminates the need for local vendors to process time consuming billing to individual campus offices.
  • Payment received within 72 hours of transaction posting.

Cardholder Responsibilities

  • Application needs to be filled out for every candidate with the appropriate department manager as well as the Finance Office approval.
  • Cardholder reviews and retains policy and procedure information.
  • Cardholder reviews, signs and retains cardholder agreement.
  • The cardholder or the designated staff member is required to log into PeopleSoft Finance and reconcile all transactions daily or weekly (by the end of the day on Thursday) and monthly (by the end of day around the 4th of the month).
  • For cardholders who have monthly pcard activity, they or their staff person are required to return monthly reconciliations which consists of the PeopleSoft Finance Pcard Expense Report and required receipts by around the 10th of each month.
  • All Purchasing Card reconciliations must be submitted by the cardholder.  The individual preparing the reconciliation for the cardholder cannot submit it for the cardholder in absentia.  Administrators and Staff members are required to obtain the approval from their immediate supervisor/manager.  If the cardholder is a faculty member on leave away from campus and has pcard expenses he/she must reconcile their monthly activity in a timely manner.
  • If the cardholder has two or more overdue reconciliations, the credit limit will be reduced to one dollar ($1) and will remain there until the paperwork is brought up to date.
  • If there is a discrepancy in a charge it is the responsibility of the cardholder to initiate the dispute. It is also up to the cardholder to see that all credits from disputed charges are appropriately received in a timely manner.

General Policy Guidelines

Cardholder and Cancellation of the Purchasing Card: Purchasing cards are issued at the discretion of the department supervisor with the approval of the Controller.

Ownership and Cancellation of the Purchasing Card: The Williams College Purchasing Card is the property of Bank of America. It may not be transferred to, assigned to, or used by anyone other than the assigned Cardholder. Bank of America or Williams College may suspend or cancel Cardholder privileges at any time for any reason. The Cardholder will surrender the Williams College Purchasing Card upon request, to any authorized agent of Williams College or Bank of America. Use of the Purchasing Card or account after notice of its cancellation may be fraudulent and may cause Williams College to take legal action against the cardholder.

Separation from the institution: It is the cardholders responsibility to turn in their card upon separation from the institution to their immediate supervisor or to the Finance Office.

Spending limits: Each Purchasing Card will have a preset limit. This amount can be increased or decreased depending on the departments buying needs.

Purchasing Card Abuse: Abuse of the Purchasing Card will result in revocation of the Card and appropriate disciplinary action that may include termination.

Policy violations include, but are not limited to:

The Finance Office may cancel or suspend the Purchasing Card if the cardholder habitually fails to submit a monthly reconciliation report by the monthly deadline.

Other possible reasons for card cancellation are:

  • Purchasing items for personal use.
  • Failure to return the Purchasing Card when terminated, or upon request.
  • Failure to maintain proper records in accordance with proper college guidelines.


It is the Purchasing Cardholder’s responsibility to obtain transaction receipts from the suppliers each time the Card is used. The required receipts along with an original invoice with the items or services listed in detail should be submitted with the expense report.

Recommended Uses for the Purchasing Card

The following is a short list of examples of items that can be bought with a Purchasing Card:

  • Small local purchases (i.e. Staples, Hot Tomato’s, Thai Garden)
  • Items ordered from catalogs or on the Internet
  • Charges at local restaurants
  • Travel expenses (hotel, car rental, airfare, meals)
  • Items formerly purchased with petty cash

A Purchasing Card is a credit card for Williams College faculty and staff to use for college business only. Williams Purchasing Cards are issued by Bank of America, and are a MasterCard product. Authorized vendors that accept MasterCard for payment can accept Williams Purchasing Card.

Each Williams Purchasing Card has a specified limit set by the Finance Office. Cards are initially assigned a default account number and object code. For a given transaction, however, account numbers and object codes can be changed and charges split among several accounts, if so desired. Instead of paying numerous individual invoices to various vendors, Williams makes one consolidated payment to Bank of America each month.

Up-Front Authority

For the Purchasing Card to have its most beneficial impact on the way Williams conducts its purchasing and payment processes, we have designed it so that the purchasing authority is up-front. Essentially, the cardholder is delegated the authority (by management or their supervisor) to purchase certain goods and services. Transactions are reviewed by the cardholder (if they have been delegated that authority by their management), or by a designated verifier and reconciled. Misuse of the card may result in revocation of the card or other disciplinary action.

The card should be kept in a safe place. If the card is lost or stolen please notify Bank of America – Customer Service immediately at 1-888-449-2273.

College Contact

Lisa Gazaille (597-4002) Controller’s Office [email protected] or [email protected]