I. Policy Statement

All gift cards must be purchased with a Declining Balance Card. Cash advances for human subject-related payments will no longer be allowed.
Gift cards can be purchased in denominations up to $100 using a Declining Balance Card. 
Gift cards issued to Faculty/Staff  
All Gift Cards, regardless of value, are considered cash or a cash equivalent gift or award and will be reported as taxable compensation to the employee, subject to appropriate federal, state and employment tax withholding, and must be included in the employee’s year-end Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement.  Please contact Human Resources for more information. 
Gift cards issued to Students
All prizes and awards which are given to students for educational expenses and/or are educational in nature (laptops, lab supplies, textbooks, etc.), are considered a scholarship, and require financial aid reporting. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information. 

II. Purpose

Gift cards are restricted items and have bank limitations that will not allow cardholders to purchase them on a standard university issued bank card. Therefore, for the limited activities in which gift cards are required for approved university activities, below is the procedure for requesting a US BANK Declining Balance Card (DBC). When approved, UPST will issue a US BANK Declining Balance Card to the cardholder. This card will be issued to allow only gift card purchases for the time frame and amount approved.

III. Process

All grant-related DBC requests should be processed through the Office of Sponsored Programs. Use Declining Balance Docusign form.
All non-grant related DBC requests should be signed off on by the respective Chairs or Deans. Use Non-Grant Declining Balance Docusign form.
Once the appropriate sign offs have been received, the form should be sent to the Controller’s office at controller@uml.edu. The Controller’s Office will forward the application to UPST.
Bank cards are issued in approximately 10 business days. 
UPST sends the cardholder the Cardholder Agreement, including card documentation requirements and reminder that bank statements must be loaded to BuyWays. Cardholders may request an alternate mailing address at this point.
Card limits are set with the requested spending limit. The expiration date of the card is either within a year of the request for non-sponsored projects or for sponsored projects, the project end date noted on the request form.
UPST orders approved card from the US Bank.  USB sends the card to UPST. UPST will then send the user a cardholder agreement through DocuSign. When the signed form comes back to the UPST, the card will be mailed to the cardholder. 
Tracking Log
A spreadsheet must be kept of all gift cards that are distributed. All gift card recipients should also sign the Gift Card Exchange Form acknowledging receipt of the gift card. Quarterly, the Controller’s Office will review the Gift Card Tracking Log for compliance. 
When using an E-Card for a gift card, the receipt or email showing the recipient received the gift card can serve as back up instead of the actual Gift Card Exchange Form.
For confidential studies, the Controller’s Office requires a memo which states, “This is a confidential study, all receipts and required documentation will be kept in a secure location at the department rather than being uploaded in Buyways. I understand that the receipts may be required for audit, and they will be available upon request.”
The memo must be signed by the PI and Department Head. 
Reconciling and Approval Requirements-Monthly Statements
Cardholder: The cardholder is responsible for submitting a bank card statement and backup documentation within Buyways, within a month of the statement end date.  If a cardholder has access in Buyways, as a requisitioner, no additional access will be needed. If a cardholder requires access, they need to request access via campus Information Technology Department.
Card User: UPST adds all cardholders and other users(Buyways statement access) to enter on their behalf or for another cardholder at setup. This role allows a proxy (think records manager) to submit bank card statements and backup documentation within Buyways on behalf of the cardholder.  Cardholder approval cannot be delegated, and the card user needs to obtain the cardholder approval on the statement prior to uploading in Buyways.
Card statements are available on the 16th of the month at US bank. If you want to access statements for cardholders on behalf of your department, email UPST. When no activity occurred during the statement period, no statement will be available for zero dollars, and no action will be required.
At a minimum, two approvals are always required (Cardholder and Supervisor).
Monthly statements should be uploaded and fully approved within 30 days of the statement's end date.
The cardholder must authorize their monthly statement in Buyways by submitting the statement OR if a card user/proxy is submitting the statement, the cardholder can E-sign their statement prior to upload. The cardholder could also be added as an additional approver in workflow to sign off once the statement is submitted. The supervisor role must authorize the statement in Buyways (no offline approvals). Credits on a Bank Card statement can be entered into BuyWays as follows: Enter “.01” in the Statement Amount field, and enter the credit amount in the Comments field.
In addition, when cards are mapped to sponsored grants, the PI (or delegate) must authorize the statement by submitting the statement as a cardholder, as a supervisor of the cardholder, or as an additional departmental approver.  If the PI is not set up for these roles in Buyways, an E-signature can be accepted (but not preferred).
We recommend that the PI (or PI delegate) be added as the supervisor/approver or additional departmental approver to approve statements in Buyways (if they are not the card holder) to avoid missing the PI approval.
Regardless of whether a card is mapped to a sponsored project or an unrestricted source, PI authorization is required whenever charges are posting to their grants, including when charges are reallocated to their grants.  That documentation must be retained in Buyways for audit.
Unused Gift Cards
The cardholder should use discretion when purchasing the gift cards to prevent excess gift cards.   Any gift cards purchased that have not been distributed are the responsibility of the cardholder.  The cardholder will be responsible for reimbursing the university for the face value of the excess gift cards at the completion of the study/project/event.  
The following documentation must be submitted to Cash Management, Wannalancit Suite 415:
  1. Declining Card application
  2. Personal check from the cardholder
Check-Issued Payments
For payment to be issued in the form of a check to specific research participants, the Direct Payment Process must be followed. Please refer to UPST website for instructions on the Direct Payment Process. This will need to be completed for each research participant and submitted to UPST when:
  1. Total payments to a research participant during the study are equal to or greater than $600 for the calendar year; or
  2. Payments are made to individuals outside of the immediate vicinity, thereby requiring payment to be mailed. 
Any questions, please email the Controller’s office at controller@uml.edu.