Office of Sponsored Programs - 500.17 - PrePaid Cards


Office of Sponsored Programs - 500.17 - Prepaid Cards

Corresponding with:


Prepaid cards allow business to be conducted more efficiently and effectively in specific situations. It is necessary to determine the acceptable circumstances to use this process and the methods by which they must be managed.

Policy Statement

The University has the ability to authorize access to funds for prepaid debit cards for activities related to sponsored projects utilizing unrestricted University funds. Prepaid card expenses are reconciled to sponsored project funds once the cards have been utilized and the expenses are reviewed for allowability. Prepaid cards are strictly limited to the payment of study subject/participant incentives for sponsored projects. The request for prepaid cards must be authorized by the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) or their designee.                  

The prepaid card process is owned by UNC Finance Division (Finance), however, any advances involving a sponsored project require additional oversight by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

Expectations of Prepaid card management:

  • All prepaid cards distributed within a calendar month must be reconciled by the 15th (or next business day) of the following month unless required sooner for reporting purposes.
  • Prepaid card use is strictly limited to payment of study subject/participant incentives for sponsored projects.
  • Funds advanced for prepaid card use should not exceed the sponsored project’s budget for the expense to which the prepaid cards will be reconciled upon distribution.

I. Prepaid Card Request

Requests for prepaid cards are created by submitting Prepaid Card Set-Up Form to UNC Accounting Services. This form is then routed to OSP Research Administration for approval. Once approved by the applicable parties, the sponsored project is established in the Bank Of America (BOA) Prepaid Card System. Access to the BOA Prepaid Card System is limited to University employees.

The requester and the sponsored project’s PD/PI are responsible for the management of prepaid cards on the sponsored project. All required documentation for the transaction must be submitted with the request.  Requests exceeding the available budget in the applicable account code will not be approved. Prepaid cards should be reconciled to the sponsored project in a timely manner. Unless otherwise agreed upon by OSP and the responsible department before issuance of the prepaid card advance, prepaid cards distributed within a calendar month should be reconciled by the 15th (or next business day) of the following month.

II. Prepaid Card Reconciliation

Reconciliation is the responsibility of the Departmental Administrator, PD/PI, and the department staff responsible for prepaid card distribution. Distributed prepaid cards are considered reconciled once the prepaid cards have been distributed and the open request has been reconciled in the University’s financial system. Prepaid cards distributed throughout a calendar month must be reconciled by the 15th (or next business day) of the following month. The entire amount available for prepaid card use does not need to be reconciled at one time. Only the amount distributed should be reconciled - the balance of amounts on cards not distributed should remain in the advance account code.

The department submits documentation for the use of the prepaid cards, detailed information for the distribution of the prepaid cards, and any other required documentation. If reconciling to a sponsored project, OSP Pre-Audit approval of the reconciling journal entry is required. OSP reviews the documentation and transaction details to confirm that expenses meet all applicable regulations regarding allowability.

If approved, the prepaid card expenses are reconciled to the appropriate expense account and the reconciliation is posted. At the end of the sponsored project period, any unspent portion of the advance will be returned to University funds; any undistributed prepaid cards to which funds have been loaded should be brought to the attention of UNC Accounting Services.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences 

Unit Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

For questions regarding this procedure and its related operating standard, please contact SponsoredPrograms@unc.eduedu.

For questions regarding Pre-Award management or Post-Award administration, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS).

For invoicing, reporting and other financial matters, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Accountant. OSP Staff assignments may be found in RAMSeS or on the OSP website.


History Table
Date Description
07/01/2022 Revised to reflect new office name.
09/05/2021 Released new operating standard and procedure.

The operating standards in the Office of Sponsored Programs Operating Standards & Procedures Manual supersede any OSP operating standards, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.


Article ID: 134173
Wed 7/7/21 4:10 PM
Sun 2/12/23 4:16 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2023 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/07/2021 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Office of Sponsored Programs