Learn About Using the P-Card (Reconciling and Approving Transactions)

Learn about using the Purchasing Card (P-Card) at Columbia University, including reconciliation and approval workflow.


Once a P-Card holder has been trained and has activated his/her P-Card, the P-Card holder may utilize the P-Card to make purchases as authorized by his/her department. 

Purchases may be made in-person, over the telephone, or online. When making a purchase, the P-Card holder should always advise the merchant that the University is sales tax exempt (where applicable) and should always obtain a receipt for the transaction. Sales tax exempt forms may be obtained from the Finance Service Center. Please refer to Appendix A in the P-Card Policy for items that cannot be purchased using the P-Card.

The cardholder is the only person authorized to use the P-Card issued to him or her. All transactions on the P-Card are the responsibility of the cardholder.

P-Card use is strictly prohibited for the purchase of any and all goods and services from the suppliers included in the NDAA link provided: https://research.columbia.edu/economic-sanctions-and-restricted-parties#/text-18182

Please review the listing to verify that the P-Card activity is in compliance with the University requirements.  

Prior to making a P-Card Purchase take the following steps:

  1. Determine whether the P-Card is the appropriate method for that purchase. Please refer to the full P-Card Policy to determine the appropriate method.
  2. Determine if there is a University-wide Preferred Vendor (UwPA) that can be used for this purchase.
  3. Obtain departmental authorization.
  4. Determine if the purchase is tax-exempt. Access Columbia's Tax Exempt Certificates.

1) P-Card holder uses P-Card to make a University-authorized purchase. 

Note:  The Cardholder is the only person authorized to use the P-Card issued to him or her. All transactions on the P-Card are the responsibility of the Cardholder.

The P-Card can be used as a regular credit card; charges can be made in person, online, or over the telephone. Please refer to the P-Card Policy concerning items that cannot be purchased using the P-Card.

2) Within 4-7 days after the purchase, the transaction will be available in ARC for reconciliation. P-Card holder (or Reconciler) should verify the items have been received and should match the receipt to the information posted in ARC. P-Cardholders must provide supporting comments and attachments and update distribution as necessary. Finally, P-Cardholder should confirm acceptance of the transaction by changing the status of the transaction from “staged” to “verified”.

3) P-Card transaction itemized receipts are filed centrally within each department. (Receipts are scanned and attached in ARC for all food and local hotel transactions). Please refer to the Records Retention Policy for more information. 

4) Once the P-Cardholder has placed a transaction in the “verified” status, the Approver may approve the transaction. The Approver reviews comments, receipt, and allocation. Note: When approving transactions, the Approver should not approve any transactions with budget or Chartfield Errors. If transactions are placed in the "approved" status with errors, the transactions will not post to the Financials. All errors must be corrected before approving.

5) All approved P-Card transactions will post nightly to the Financials.



Columbia maintains several policies related to using the P-Card, including:

Reconciling P-Card Transactions

For general guidance on how to reconcile a P-Card transaction —

Tax Exemption Status

To view Columbia's state tax exemption certificates, visit the page – Access Columbia's Tax Exempt Certificates.

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