Stanford Travel Cards (TCards) are university-liability credit cards issued to authorized and trained Stanford employees, who currently have active status on payroll, to pay for travel and travel-related services in support of Stanford University business.
The TCard is the preferred payment method for travel expenses. Expenditures must be consistent with the university’s purchasing policies and guidelines, as well as the guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to Business and Travel Expense policies. The below guidance is to be used in addition to Administrative Guide Policy: 5.4.3 Travel Cards.
Unauthorized or inappropriate use of the Stanford Travel Card may result in disciplinary action for the cardholder/custodian, which could include loss of credit card privileges and/or termination of employment.
Note: Beginning in Fiscal Year 2024, to support compliance with policies related to proper use of PCard and TCard, a suspension process will be implemented for individual PCards and Travel Cards (TCards) with certain force cleared transaction patterns. Learn more in the Fingate Announcement.
Cardholders may only use the Travel Card for university travel-related business transactions. Cardholders are responsible for ensuring that all charges comply with policy and are properly itemized, supported by a business purpose, approved and submitted via the Expense Requests expense reporting process. The following list provides examples of travel-related business transactions that are permissible on the TCard:
- Air, rail, bus, taxi and shuttle transportation
- Car and van reservations/rentals and gasoline for rental vehicles
- En route meals while traveling for Stanford business
- Hotel reservations, deposits and accommodations, including those for employees, groups or university guests
- Incidentals, including phone calls, faxes, hotel parking and internet connectivity
- Conference registration fees
- Venues for events, such as hotels and other facilities
Consult Business and Travel Expense Policies for a list of impermissible expenses that may not be purchased or reimbursed unless specifically noted.
Usage Guidance by Reimbursement Method
The Stanford Travel Card (TCard) is the recommended payment option for any travel costs that will not be reimbursed through the per diem method.
When the per diem reimbursement method is available and selected by the traveler (i.e., for meals or lodging), the traveler should not use the TCard for these expenses. Reimbursing per diem expenses charged to a TCard creates an administrative burden for both the traveler and the university.
See Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies for details on which travel expenses are recommended for purchase with the TCard depending on the selected reimbursement method.
It is the responsibility of the cardholder incurring expenses, individuals who assist others with incurring expenses and others involved in the preparation and approval of financial transactions to exercise good stewardship of university funds and to adhere to university policies. See detailed roles and responsibilities on the Stanford Travel Card (TCard) Overview.
The Travel Card may not be used for personal expenses, except for incidental expenses that cannot be easily separated from a business charge, such as charges for in-room movies on a hotel bill. When personal charges are incurred on the TCard in these exceptional cases, such charges must be paid directly by the cardholder to Stanford, and an expense report must be processed. A separate, wholly personal charge on a TCard is not allowed. Travelers should neither gain nor lose personal funds as a result of business travel on behalf of Stanford University.
The cardholder is personally responsible for repaying Stanford University for any non-reimbursable TCard charges after completion of travel. For details on how to pay back Stanford for Travel Card personal purchases, refer to How to: Return Personal Expenses Charged to Travel Card.
Repeated personal, non-reimbursable purchases will be considered a misuse of the TCard and may result in card suspension or having Stanford University cardholder privileges revoked. Misuse of the TCard may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
During the online application process, the monthly spending limit for the card is established by the department and approved by the financial approver for the associated account(s) (PTAs) and by the Card Services team. Changes to spending limits can be requested by submitting a limit change request through the Credit Card Profiles Change Request tool or by submitting a Support Request.
The Travel Card is set up for use with merchants selling travel-related goods and services, such as travel agents, transportation and lodging providers and restaurants. Refer to the university's preferred travel providers, Stanford Travel, for more information.
Compliance With Expenditure Policies
Travel Card expenditures must comply with, but are not limited to, the following:
- Expenditures must be reasonable and necessary. Costs for daily meals, daily lodging, transportation and other incidentals must comply with university policy.
- Airline tickets must comply with the Class of Fare policy described on the Airfare Policy page. Refer to Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses for more information.
- Travel Card transactions subject to California sales and use tax where tax was not charged at the point of sale may be assessed the tax by Payment Services and Business Expense.
For additional guidance, refer to Business and Travel Expense Policies.
Compliance With Sponsored Project Policies
Cardholders who are allocating expenses to a sponsored project account must be in compliance with their respective sponsoring agency’s policies. For example, TCard expenditures allocated to a sponsored project account must comply with the following:
- Government Unallowable Allocations must be clearly identified in the expense report in Expense Requests. Government Unallowable purchases cannot be allocated into a sponsored-project account.
- US Flagship Carrier Use. When federal funds are used for foreign travel, tickets must be purchased in compliance with the Fly America Act. This act stipulates that tickets must be purchased for travel on either (i) a U.S. flag air carrier or (ii) a foreign carrier that operates under a U.S. flag air carrier code-sharing agreement and identifies the U.S. flag air carrier's designator code and flight number. Refer to Federal Air Carrier Requirement (Fly America Act) for details and exceptions.
Cardholders allocating their expenses to a sponsored project account should direct questions regarding allowability to the fund specialists assigned to their department.
Timeline for Transaction Processing
Travel Card verifiers process Travel Card Transactions through the Expense Requests system. Processing transactions in a timely manner is important to ensure expenditures are correctly reported. Expense reports should be completed and submitted immediately upon completion of travel. TCard charges appear in Expense Requests within 1 to 5 business days of the transaction date.
Failure to complete verification and approvals within 60 days of the completion of travel may result in card suspension and/or expenditures reported as taxable income to the card user or the cardholder. Cardholders may verify their own transactions but must route transactions to an approver set up in the Authority Manager system who has authority over the account charged, does not report directly or indirectly to the cardholder, and is not the beneficiary of the transaction. A detailed description of all responsibilities is available on the Stanford Travel Card Program page.
If a TCard transaction is outstanding more than 60 days past the expense end date (if indicated) or post date, the transaction will be force cleared by Financial Management Services to the guarantee PTA. The department is responsible for moving that cleared transaction via the iJournals system to the appropriate PTA and expenditure type.
Effective with the first force clearing of 2024, an individual’s PCard or TCard may be suspended if a transaction is force cleared by FMS in any two quarters within a 12 month period. View the quarterly deadlines on the Clearing of Aging Transactions Policy page. Learn more about TCard suspension on the Travel Card Program page.
When transactions are force cleared, departments lose the opportunity to assign a business purpose and attach receipts to the transaction in the Expense Request System, and therefore must store receipts (or explanations for the lack of receipts) locally and ensure they are readily available in case of an audit. To learn more about force clearing, visit Managing Aging and Outstanding Expense Transactions.
Disputing Travel Card Charges
Cardholders or the assigned verifier are responsible for promptly disputing any unidentified charges with the merchant first and should try to resolve the dispute. However, if it cannot be resolved with the merchant, only the cardholder can dispute the transaction with JPMorgan Chase, which must occur within 45 days of the posting date of the transaction.
Since many merchants use centralized clearing houses for credit card processing, the name and location of the merchant on the statement may not initially be recognized by the cardholder. Before disputing any charges, the cardholder should check expenditure records carefully and/or work with the traveler to make certain that the charge is indeed an error.
Disputed charges must be resolved with the bank no later than 60 days from the date the transaction was posted. The Department is ultimately liable for any fraudulent and erroneous charges not resolved directly with the merchant. See: How to Record Disputed Travel Card (TCard) Transactions.
Using the Travel Card for purchases that do not comply with Stanford’s Travel Card policy and other university policies and procedures is defined as cardholder misuse.
The consequences of cardholder misuse may include card suspension (including suspension of a Purchasing Card, if the employee has one), card cancellation, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or other relationships with the university, and any other potential action identified following a university investigation.
Cardholder fraud is defined as intentionally using a Travel Card for financial or personal gain. This is not the same as fraud committed by a third party; for more information about how cardholders can protect a TCard from third-party fraud, see the Travel Card Program page.
The consequences of cardholder fraud may include card suspension (including suspension of a Purchasing Card, if the employee has one), card cancellation, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or other relationships with the university, and any other potential action identified following a university investigation.
Audit and Misuse Investigation
As described in Administrative Guide Memo 3.5.1: Financial Irregularities, departments must immediately notify the Office of the Chief Risk Officer or the Ethics and Compliance Helpline of suspected financial irregularities. Individuals wishing to report suspected incidents anonymously may contact the Ethics and Compliance helpline.
When warranted by information obtained during preliminary research, the Office of the Chief Risk Officer will commence a fact-finding investigation into the suspected financial irregularity. The Office of the Chief Risk Officer will plan and coordinate the investigation and will consult with the Office of the General Counsel as appropriate.
Audit investigations may identify cardholder misuse or fraud, and result in card suspension (including suspension of a Purchasing Card, if the employee has one), card cancellation, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or other relationships with the university, and any other potential action identified following a university investigation.