Travel and Credit Card Business Practices

Travel and Credit Card Business Practices
Updated: 8/1/16
Contact: Office of the Controller

Credit and Procurement Cards
The issuance of College-provided credit and procurement (aka purchasing) cards is limited to employees whose job duties require regular travel or frequent purchase of supplies, goods, services, and/or equipment on behalf of the College. The purchasing card program is managed through the Accounts Payable staff of the Business Office. Any request for a purchasing card should be approved by the cardholder’s supervisor.

In general, all normal expenditures that can be paid by College-provided credit and procurement cards should be.

Cardholders may not use College-provided cards for purchases of goods or services of $500 (five-hundred dollars) or more without prior pre-approval.

If an employee does not have a College-provided credit or procurement card, then it is acceptable to use a personal credit card and submit a reimbursement for approval.

Issuance of Cards

  • Requests for a College-provided credit or procurement card should be submitted to the Accounts Payable Clerk in the College Business Office.
  • All monthly card, vendor, or transaction limits are managed by the College Business Office.
  • Credit and procurement cards have the employee’s name embossed on them and may only be used by the cardholder. No other person is authorized to use the cards. Although a card is issued in an individual’s name, it is the property of the College.
  • When an employee retires or terminates employment with the College, his or her direct supervisor shall work with the Office of Human Resources to ensure that credit and procurement cards are returned prior to the employee’s last day of work. The card(s) should be forwarded to the College Business Office for cancellation.
  • A comprehensive list of college credit card account names and numbers is maintained by the College Business Office.

Card Controls

  • Procurement and credit cards are to be used for College business purposes and activities only and never for personal purchases. Abuse of this policy may result in immediate termination of card privileges.
  • Cash withdrawals using procurement and credit cards are strictly prohibited.
  • Individual procurement and credit card charges must always be supported by an original receipt whenever attainable.
  • It is the responsibility of individual department heads and chairs to review for accuracy all card charges allocated to their budgets. Problems and errors should be reported immediately to the Controller in the College Business Office.
  • Card holders should keep their cards in a secure place. Theft or loss of a College credit card should be reported immediately to the credit card company so further card usage can be blocked, and then reported as soon as possible to the College Business Office. A replacement card with a new account number will be provided.

Cardholder Billing Responsibilities

  • The billing cycle ends on first day of each month. Cardholders will receive a monthly statement. Cardholder should review and submit the electronic transaction envelope by the 5th day of each month.
  • Cardholders must print a copy of the transaction envelope, attach all receipts to the statement, and forward this report to Accounts Payable in the College Business Office.
  • Budget managers will be notified by e-mail when statements are awaiting approval, and should login periodically to complete approvals electronically.
  • Card members are responsible for reconciling their monthly card statements, noting identification of any fraudulent or unreported charges. Fraudulent charges must be reported to the bank who issued the card within sixty (30) days following the billing statement to ensure the College is not held liable. Any and all problems and/or suspicious or fraudulent charges should be reported immediately to the Controller in the College Business Office.

Cardholder Misconduct
Immediate termination of card privileges will result if an employee deliberately uses a procurement card for non-College-related expenses. Also, disciplinary or other corrective action will be taken whenever it is determined that an employee has falsified an expense report or failed to pay their credit card bill after receiving reimbursement if the College thereafter becomes liable for payment of the employee’s account.

Expense Reports
Out-of-pocket expenses will not be reimbursed unless the employee requesting reimbursement submits a written expense report with proper business justification.

Expense reports should be prepared and submitted as soon as possible after the expenses are incurred and in no event more than 15 days after the expenses were incurred.

Relocation and Moving Expenses
When William Jewell College asks new or current employees to relocate to a new city or country, relocation benefits are available to offset the normal costs associated with moving household goods and personal effects. Due to Internal Revenue Service deductibility constraints, some or all of College-paid moving and relocation expenses may be added to the employee’s W-2. The employee will be responsible for all related income taxes. For specific information regarding the terms and extent of relocation benefits, hiring managers should contact the Director of Human Resources.

Travel Advances
Travel advances are generally discouraged, since it is expected that most traveling employees will have a College-provided credit or procurement card that will eliminate most cash needs. For infrequent travelers without a College-provided card, travel expenses can be charged to personal credit card(s) and reimbursed. For eligible employees without the means to pay travel expenses personally, the College may provide financial assistance in the form of a travel advance for (a) travel for College business and/or approved student activities, or (b) attendance at approved educational conferences and conventions.

All expenses must be reported exactly as incurred on a timely basis upon completion of an event or trip. Any unused travel advance funds must be returned to the College. Please contact the College Business Office for any specific questions regarding reimbursable expenses, pre-approval steps, and/or substantiation requirements.

Travel, Business Meals, and Entertainment
Travel, business meals, and entertainment expense is one of the College’s largest controllable expenses. Prior approval by a member of the President’s Cabinet must be received before any travel arrangements are made. Please also refer to the Vehicle Policy for further information.

One of the key elements in controlling travel costs is the frequency and necessity of individual trips. Always discern whether a trip is actually necessary. Can College objectives be accomplished in another way: conference calls, e-mail, express shipment of documents, or through local options? Can fewer traveling individuals accomplish the objectives instead of sending a larger group? All employees have a duty to be innovative in planning College travel. Limit and combine trips whenever possible.

Employees may make travel arrangements, including airfare, car rental and hotel reservations, through the many options available on the Internet. When booking reservations over the Internet, credit card information should only be provided if signed onto a secured site.

Airfare

  • Employees are encouraged to plan ahead so reservations may be booked in a timeframe where discount fares are available. Discretion is urged, since discount fares are normally non-refundable and can cause significant expense to the College if the trip is cancelled. However, if travel plans do change after the ticket has been issued non-refundable tickets can normally be changed for a fee. Unused tickets are usually good for at least one (1) year from the date of issue.
  • Consider flying to a major airport and employing ground transportation to your destination rather than flying at a much higher cost to smaller regional airports.
  • All travel for the College must be by the most direct route. If an employee travels by an indirect route for convenience or personal preference then any additional costs are the personal responsibility of the employee.
  • Employees should use discount, economy or coach class on all airfare. Business class may be used on international flights if the cost differential is not significant and if the cost difference is approved in advance. Employees may use frequent flyer upgrades if there is no additional cost to the College.
  • On all flights, use the “lowest logical air fare”, which is defined as departure or arrival within two (2) hours of the desired time and there are clear hard-dollar savings over other routings or carriers.
  • All unused airline tickets or refunds should be channeled back through the College Business Office to ensure proper refund credit is received by the College.

Special Weekend Airfare
In cases where the employee can document the airfare savings gained by staying over a Friday and/or Saturday night before returning from a College-approved trip, the College will incur the extra hotel costs of reasonable accommodations, limited to the amount of documented airfare savings. However, the College will not pay for the additional costs of other expenses such as meals, car rental, etc.

Lodging

  • Hotel accommodations should be reasonably priced at mid-range establishments in the city of travel. Avoid luxury hotels and resorts, unless attending a convention or seminar headquartered there. Whenever possible, stay at a nearby hotel offering rates that are more economical.
  • To obtain the lowest rate at hotels, always ask, “Is this the lowest rate available?” Generally hotels when asked will offer their “corporate” rate.
  • Employees may stay on executive or club floors if there is no additional cost to the College.
  • When checking out of the hotel, be sure to pay for any personal expenses separately so they are not included as College expenses or charged to College-provided cards.

Phone Charges

  • Avoid use of room billed long distance or local telephone calls whenever possible.
  • Employees are encouraged to use cell phones when traveling (if available) with reimbursement for cell phone usage in accordance with College reimbursement policies.
  • Personal telephone calls and fees from hotels or pay phones are permitted up to the daily rate in Appendix A while traveling away from an employee’s hometown and only when the trip necessitates an overnight stay.

Business Meals

  • The general rule of thumb should be to eat on the road as you do at home. Ordering expensive or exotic meals on the College’s tab is prohibited.
  • Travel-related meal costs are reimbursable only when a trip necessitates an overnight stay, unless approved in advance. On travel days, partial reimbursement as further described in Appendix A, applies on meals required while away overnight from the employee’s hometown. Meals for day trips where there is no overnight stay are to be paid personally by the employee, unless approved in advance.
  • The College has established a general daily guideline for ordinary and reasonable meals while traveling and entertaining, including any beverages. Please refer to Appendix A for the most current rates.
  • The College does not make per diem reimbursements for meals, but will pay for breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are ordinary and reasonable for the location to which employees travel. Employees will be reimbursed only for amounts they actually expend. Daily meal costs for an entire trip should average no more than the College guideline; therefore when necessary a given day during a trip may exceed the guideline. Please seek guidance from the College Business Office for high cost areas such as New York City prior to travel.
  • Attach original credit card receipts to Expense Reports for all business meal and entertainment expenses. If paid in cash, obtain an itemized cash register receipt. Photocopies and / or “tear-tab” receipts are not acceptable for expense reporting purposes. Listing “per-diem” type charges of the same amount for each meal is specifically not acceptable. Employees will be reimbursed only for amounts they actually expend.
  • The Internal Revenue Service requires the following information be disclosed for all reimbursable meals and entertainment expenses:
    • A valid receipt, as described above.
    • Names of all College employees in attendance and third party individuals entertained, including their title, company name and College affiliation.
    • The name, city, and state of the establishment where the meal or event took place.
    • The specific topics covered and / or College purpose of the expense.Employees must ensure this information at a minimum is provided for all meals and entertainment expenses submitted on credit card reconciliations, expense reports and reimbursement requests.
  • In general, College-paid meals with co-workers are not permitted except when traveling out-of-town or when the meal period is used to conduct College business. This does not apply to business meals where the entertainment of appropriate guests is involved.
  • At times it is necessary to conduct business over a meal period with only College employees in attendance. These meals may be related to training, group meetings, or working lunches, etc. Budget managers should show restraint in scheduling meetings that involve a meal and should do so only when necessary to accomplish a College business objective. When reporting these costs through either expense reimbursement or credit card reconciliation, a clear description of the purpose and the people in attendance of these infrequent meetings is required (refer to IRS requirements described above). Costs per person of such meals shall be scrutinized based on the general daily guideline for ordinary and reasonable meals while traveling and entertaining, including any beverages. Please refer to Appendix A for the most current rates.
  • The highest-ranking employee should always pay a consolidated bill whenever a College meal or entertainment event is held with more than one College employee in attendance and/or when separate bills are impractical or unavailable.

Out-of-town Ground Transportation

  • Note: please also refer to provisions under the Vehicle Policy.
  • When traveling by car, a rental car should be used instead of a personal vehicle when the reimbursement for personal mileage would exceed the cost of a rental car. Please refer to guidelines in Appendix A.
  • Public transportation and car pooling is encouraged if available and practical.
  • Vehicle rentals while on out-of-town trips are permitted when the total cost of the rental plus parking, gas and tolls is less than other reasonably available ground transportation options, such as taxis and shuttle services.
  • When a vehicle rental while on out-of-town trips is not cost effective, the College will generally reimburse taxi fares and shuttle services while in the destination city including to and from the hotel, restaurants, airport, and work assignments.
  • When renting a vehicle, College employees must always rent the least expensive vehicle possible from a reputable and well-known rental company.
  • Upgrades to the next largest (and presumably more expensive) vehicle are permissible only if you are traveling with more than two (2) persons or when a larger vehicle costs the same. Never rent a vehicle that has an estimated fair-market value of more than $50,000.
  • Avoid one-way rentals unless absolutely necessary as one-way service fees and additional drop off charges are typically very expensive.

Parking, Mileage, and Related Costs

  • Individual charges must be supported by a receipt whenever attainable for tolls, bridge fees and parking charges. Original receipts should reflect the exact payment made and date incurred.
  • When traveling on College business or activities, park in the least expensive parking at airports and at your destination whenever possible, but do not put your safety in jeopardy to save a few dollars.
  • In general, when parking a car at an airport for more than twenty-four (24) hours, you should park on remote lots whenever possible. When parking at an airport for less than twenty-four (24) hours you may choose a long-term parking option close to the terminal. Short-term parking near airport terminals are normally cost prohibitive and should be avoided.
  • Avoid costly on-site and valet parking at your destination whenever possible. Use less costly nearby public parking facilities and take advantage of locations with complimentary parking or locations that validate parking passes.
  • In one’s hometown, employees may take advantage of shuttle services to and from the airport when the cost is less than reimbursable mileage and airport parking.
  • A member of the President’s Cabinet must approve all mileage reimbursements for College use of employee-owned vehicles. Please note: not all departments reimburse mileage. Any department within the College can choose (a) not to reimburse mileage or (b) reimburse at a lower rate than the current College reimbursement rate (i.e. gas only). A department cannot elect to reimburse at a higher rate or elect to use a different reimbursement method.
  • Commuting mileage between campus and an employee’s home is never reimbursable. If an employee’s commute from home to a destination(s) other than campus is less than the mileage from home to campus then no mileage is reimbursable (in other words, it is considered a normal commute). Any and all reimbursable mileage is over and above the roundtrip distance between an employee’s home and campus.
  • The College does not reimburse mileage when transported gratuitously by another person.
  • The College does not reimburse fines, court costs, parking tickets, traffic or other violations, nor does the College reimburse repairs, maintenance, insurance, or other costs associated with non-College owned vehicles.
  • The College pays the following expenses on College-owned vehicles: gasoline, oil changes, maintenance, insurance, licenses, tag fees, and personal property tax (if applicable).
  • A mileage and usage log must be maintained for any vehicle assigned to an employee for an extended period of time to substantiate business mileage vs. personal usage. The absence of the contemporaneous record or log may result in taxable fringe benefit.

Spouse & Companion Travel

  • Spouses and companions seldom accompany employees who travel and seldom travel at College expense except when it is appropriate because of alumni or donor relationship. Prior advance approval by the VP for Finance (CFO) is required for College paid spousal or companion travel.
  • Due to Internal Revenue Service deductibility constraints, any spousal or companion travel reimbursed by or charged to the College may be added to the employee’s W-2. The employee will be responsible for all applicable income taxes.
  • When a spouse or travel companion, whose expenses are not reimbursable, accompanies a College traveler, then lodging claimed on an expense report should be no more than the single occupancy rate.
  • Meal expenses should be prorated to include only College-related costs.
  • Any other incremental charges for the spouse or travel companion should be deducted from the expense report.
  • The comparison of College-related vs. non-reimbursable costs should be well documented and accompany the expense report.

Travel Outside of the U.S.

  • A passport is required when traveling outside the U.S. on College-related business or activities.
  • You may purchase travelers checks in either U.S. dollars or the currency of your destination country. The College strongly urges employees and students to carry a minimum of cash at all times and use credit cards whenever safe and practical.
  • Before the trip, agree on a reasonable general guideline per day (not a per-diem) for meals with your direct supervisor or chair that is appropriate for the destination city and country. The Internet has many sources that may help.
  • Use a reliable exchange rate source to convert foreign currency to U.S. dollars for expense report purposes. Attach a copy of the source to the expense report.

Club Dues
The College will pay the dues and assessments for civic clubs such as Rotary, Lions, Optimist, etc. where the President’s Cabinet believes it is in the best interest of the College to have participation in such organizations by employees.

Reimbursable and Non-Reimbursable Expenses
Below is a list, although not intended to be exhaustive, of reimbursable miscellaneous and other travel expenses and a separate list of common misconceptions that will not be reimbursed by the College at any time.

Reimbursable Miscellaneous and Other Travel Expenses

  • College related faxes, e-mail, text messages, and telephone charges incurred while traveling away from an employee’s hometown.
  • Fees charged by hotels for in-room Internet access when other less expensive or no-charge options are not available.
  • Personal long-distance calls and fees (up to daily limit in Appendix A) while traveling away from an employee’s hometown and only when the trip necessitates an overnight stay.
  • Specifically identified College long-distance calls made from personal home telephones.
  • Specifically identified College use of personal cell phone airtime if outside of a normal monthly call plan.
  • Room service (when other hotel restaurant meals options are unavailable).
  • Snacks, in lieu of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Include in the average cost of daily meals for that trip.
  • Tipping out-of-pocket for taxis, valets, bellman, baggage handling tips, typically $1 (one dollar) per bag and other personal services is covered to the extent that the tips are reasonable and customary. Please obtain receipts for these payments whenever possible.
  • Dry cleaning or laundry, when a trip exceeds five (5) consecutive business days and includes a weekend without returning home.
  • Day-only health club memberships up to $50 (fifty dollars) per week, when a trip exceeds three (3) consecutive business days.

Non-Reimbursable Miscellaneous and Other Travel Expenses

  • Meals and entertainment with individuals having no direct business purpose or relationship to the College.
  • Reoccurring meals and entertainment of vendors or other individuals that have become reciprocal.
  • Excessive tipping. Limit tips to the general rule of no more than 15 to 20%, based on the quality of service.
  • Any cost of airline, hotel, car rental or other travel-related clubs or rewards programs.
  • Travel or flight insurance.
  • Credit card fees of any kind.
  • Limousine travel.
  • Hotel no-show penalties.
  • Hotel in-room movies, games or mini-bar items (i.e. soft drinks, liquor, beer, food)
  • In-flight movies, games, or headset fees.
  • Acquisition costs or activation fees of cell phone equipment or plans.
  • Excessive personal long-distance charges or fees while traveling.
  • Any portion of the basic monthly usage charge of personal telephone charges or personal cell phone plans.
  • Luggage, briefcases and / or suitcases.
  • Pen and pencil sets.
  • Alarm clocks.
  • Electronic organizers, PDA’s, calendars, or calculators.
  • Cigarettes, cigars or any tobacco products.
  • Alcohol related expenses inconsistent with College alcohol policies.
  • All personal items and services, including any incidental expen­ses, that would normally be the responsibility of the individual if incurred at home (barber, hairdresser, manicurist, shoe shine or repair, medical expenses, etc.)
  • Baby-sitting or other family care costs.
  • All articles used in personal grooming including shampoo, deodorant, soap, etc.
  • Personal entertainment expenses (i.e. golf, theater, movies, sauna, massage, steam bath, sporting events, etc.)
  • Pet boarding.
  • Apparel purchases (business or casual).
  • Personal reading material, including newspapers, books and/or magazi­nes.
  • Car washes for rental cars and personal vehicles.
  • Repairs, operating costs, insurance or maintenance of personal vehicles used for College-related purposes.
  • Fines, court costs, and other expenses for parking, traffic, and other violations.
  • Damage to or loss of personal property.

Travel Reimbursement Rates (Appendix A)

  • Daily guideline for ordinary and reasonable meals is up to $50 (fifty dollars) per day, including any beverages. Partial-day meal costs should not exceed a guideline of $10 (ten dollars) for breakfast, $15 (fifteen) for lunch, and $25 (twenty-five dollars) for dinner. Receipts are required as this is not a per diem.
  • Personal telephone calls from hotels or pay phones are permitted up to $5 (five dollars) per day while traveling away from an employee’s hometown and only when the trip necessitates an overnight stay.
  • The current maximum rate for mileage reimbursement for travel is 48.5 (forty-eight and one half) cents per mile. Please note: Not all departments reimburse mileage. Any department within the College can choose (a) not to reimburse mileage or (b) reimburse at a lower rate than the current College reimbursement rate (i.e. gas only). A department cannot elect to reimburse at a higher rate or elect to use a different reimbursement method then described herein.