1252.2 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Procedure on Using a Purchasing Card


This procedure states the scope of what the Purchasing Card (P-Card) can be used for to comply with state auditing rules. It details allowable and non-allowable uses of the P-Card, and defines the oversight of card use.

Allowable and non-allowable charges

The following is a sample list of allowable and non-allowable charges. If you have questions about a purchase, please contact the P-Card Office at pcard@unc.edu


  • Advertising (no contract/agreement involved)
  • Caterers or restaurants that are providing food/beverage for university meetings & events (if no contract required)
  • Conference Calls
  • Copying/Framing/Photo Developing (that produces a supply item)
  • Credential Verification/Background Checks
  • Conference Registrations (Financial donation/gift component when registering for a conference or other event are personal expenses and not allowed)
  • In-Restaurant Dining (Alcohol is not permitted)
  • Inventory Purchases
  • Medical License/DEA License/Passport Renewal
  • Professional Business Related Membership Dues
  • Newspaper/Magazine/Online Subscriptions
  • Postage/Shipping/Courier
  • Repairs from a vendor (a corporation or partnership)
  • Reprints
  • Rentals (If a Rental Involves a Contract with Terms and Conditions requires review by Procurement Services)
  • Services from a vendor (a corporation or partnership)
  • State Contract Purchases (must use contract vendor)
  • Supplies (office/shop/IT/lab)
  • Travel & Entertainment for Athletic Department, Student Travel, or Guest Travel upon on Request
  • Utility (power/water/gas/cable)
  • Zipcar
  • Uber and Lyft rides to and from the Clinics for Clinical Trial Studies using Departments Defined Dashboard


  • Any purchase that requires agreements or contracts.
    • Note: All agreements and contracts must be submitted for review and approval to Purchasing Services on a requisition.
  • Items otherwise available from BuyCarolina Vendor 
  • Alcohol/Tobacco
  • Anything costing more than $5,000
  • Avoiding State Contracts
  • Cash Advance
  • Cell phone or home Internet expenses
  • Contributions or donations
  • Gift Certificates/Gift Cards (Exception allowed for purchase eGift Cards for Clinical Trial Subject Study, Designated P-Card for each project and OSR approval required)
  • Moving Services
  • Personal memberships such as wholesale club memberships
  • Personal purchases
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Research Gases
  • Services from a Sole Proprietor (a Doing-Business-As Vendor - these are independent contractors)
  • "Splitting" of transactions to avoid purchasing thresholds
  • Travel (Exception allowed for Athletics, Student Travel, or Guest Travel upon Request)

Blocked Vendors

The University has also blocked several Merchant Category Codes (MCC). MCCs  are used to identify the different types of vendors served by Visa. The University has blocked many of these codes (primarily travel and entertainment), and your card will decline if trying to make a purchase with a vendor that is categorized within one of these codes.  Decisions by the University to block MCCs are based on whether P-Card purchases from a merchant category are deemed inappropriate by the Procurement department. Questions in this area should be directed to the P-Card Office at pcard@unc.edu.

In addition to the restrictions on use, additional restrictions may be applicable to an individual user as determined by the individuals department. The P-Card restrictions are covered during the required online training.

When a State Term Contract is available the contracted supplier must be used. State contract information is available at the N.C. Department of Administration website NC DOA: Purchase and Contract, or by calling the appropriate buyer in Purchasing Services.


Oversight of P-Card Use

The University's P-Card Office is charged with oversight of this delegation of purchasing authority to individuals. To ensure compliance with university policies and State purchasing laws and regulations, an after-purchase compliance review will be conducted on individual purchases. Using a random sample technique, the University's P-Card Office will screen the list of purchases and select certain purchases to review. The Office will request that the individual produce documentation to support all purchases. Violations of University policies and/or State purchasing laws and regulations will result in notification of the department head, Campus Unit Finance Lead and/or the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Finance and Budget as appropriate. Violations may result in disciplinary action against the individual or removal of the P-Card privilege, or both.

If the P-Card office or an approver finds misuse of a P-Card, they will contact the employee who allegedly misused the card by sending a copy of the P-Card Misuse/Abuse Notification. This serves as an official warning of misuse and could be followed by further corrective action if more abuses occur.

Related Requirements

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

External Regulations and Consequences

Contact Information

Primary Contacts
Subject Contact Telephone E-Mail
P-Card Purchases P-Card Office   pcard@unc.edu
Suspicious Transactions Bank of America fraud department 1-866-500-8262  
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Article ID: 131441
Thu 4/8/21 9:09 PM
Wed 10/25/23 2:24 PM
Responsible Unit
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Issuing Officer
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Travel and Payment Card Services Manager
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01/01/2000 11:00 PM