UBC VISA Card FAQ


Q1: Important message for non-pilot groups

We know many of you are eager to apply for the new UBC VISA card and begin using the Online Payment Tool (OPT). We are committed to delivering a smooth transition and will be staging the rollout on a faculty-by-faculty and unit-by-unit basis to enable Finance Operations to provide support for faculty and staff. All the existing Finance processes remain unchanged until further notice, including the use of existing paper forms (TReq and QReqs) and Smart Forms. Please do not apply for the UBC VISA Card until you contact Ray Fahrun, Client Services Manager, Finance Operations via email or phone 250-807-9599.

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Q2: What is the UBC VISA card?

The UBC VISA Card, a single payment method for purchasing low dollar value goods, services and travel under $3,500. It replaces UBC's current credit card programs including P-Cards, Amex, and Diners Club and eliminates the need to use personal credit cards for university and/or research expenses. The UBC VISA Card is an enablement tool which complements existing purchase processes. Goods and services above $3,500 will require a Purchase Order.

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Q3: Who can apply for the UBC VISA card?

To determine if you should apply for the new UBC VISA Card, ask yourself 2 simple questions:

  • Do I purchase low dollar value goods and services?
  • Do I travel for UBC-related academic or business matters?

If you answered yes to either question, it would be beneficial for you to apply for the card to simplify purchasing and payment. Users must also have the written approval of their application and must also be willing to abide by the guidelines set out for their role as stated in UBC VISA Card Cardholder Handbook. Check with your manager or supervisor to determine if you should apply for the UBC VISA Card. Please note that only UBC faculty and staff can apply for a UBC VISA Card. Students are not eligible unless they are UBC employees.

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Q4: How and when can I apply for the UBC VISA card?

The card will be available to the campus community on a prescribed rollout schedule. When your faculty, department or business unit is contacted, as part of the campus rollout, you will have the opportunity to apply for the new UBC VISA Card on an individual or departmental basis. Please do not apply for the UBC VISA card until you have consulted with Finance Operations as to your department's readiness to use the new system. Please contact Ray Fahrun, Client Services Manager, Finance Operations via email or phone 250-807-9599.

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Q5: How long will it take to get my new card?

After the processing of your application, the UBC VISA Card will be mailed to your office location via Campus Mail within 5-10 business days. If your primary office location is off-site i.e. Faculty of Medicine faculty or staff who work in hospital or clinical settings, the location provided on your application form will be used.

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Q6: What are the benefits of the UBC VISA card?

There are many benefits to using the UBC VISA card for you and the university including:

  • one widely accepted payment method for goods, services and travel expenses
  • no more out-of-pocket expenses or use of personal funds
  • simplified expenses reporting and reconciliation to get funds back faster
  • reduced paper work and bureaucracy
  • improved accounting and budget management
  • improved accuracy of transactions
  • simplified purchasing approval processes
  • improved forecasting and reporting visibility of vendor spending patterns

In addition to simplifying purchasing, reconciling UBC VISA card charges we will be introducing the Online Payment Tool (OPT) that aims to:

  • import data into UBC's financial management system
  • populate credit card transactions automatically, reducing data entry
  • enable you to easily group expenses using the 'folder' feature>
  • track your expenditures
  • provide claim and approval status 24x7
  • route submissions automatically to designated approvers and signing authorities

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Q7: What can my UBC VISA card cover?

With the UBC VISA card you will be able to purchase

  • goods, services under $3,500
  • travel expenses
  • gas expenses

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Q8: Are there any UBC VISA card options?

The UBC VISA card has several options tailored to accommodate individual or departmental purchasing patterns:

Individual card:

  • goods and services per transaction, limit of $3,500 (card limit $15,000)
  • goods, services and travel per transaction, limit of $3,500 (card limit $35,000)

Departmental card:
The department card can be used for goods, services and travel. While the card limit is $35,000, UBC purchasing policies and procedures apply. If you are purchasing goods and services greater than $3,500, a Purchase Order is required. 

Important: Purchase transaction amounts may not be split into smaller amounts, or across time periods, in an attempt to suit the financial delegated authority of a staff member and to bypass submitting requisitions to Finance Operations. Any attempt to split a purchase transaction amount will be considered a breach of the policy.

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Q9: What is the difference between the Individual and Department card?

The Individual Card is for use by individual faculty and staff who purchase goods, services and/or who travel on UBC business. The Department Card is a centrally-held card for use by department administrators to purchase low dollar value goods and services less than $3,500 per transaction. The department card is also for booking group travel, on behalf of individuals who travel infrequently or for visiting guests. Applying for the Department Card is at the discretion of the Dean, Director or Department Head.

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Q10: Can I use the UBC VISA card for personal expenses?

No. The UBC VISA Card agreement clearly states personal charges are not permitted. If you inadvertently make a personal purchase:

  • Return the item for a refund.
  • If returning the item is not possible, declare it as a personal expense when you reconcile your credit card charges or when submitting a travel expense claim. If you fail to indicate the personal expense, your report will be sent back to you by your approver for correction.
  • When you make a personal expense declaration, you authorize the University to deduct the amount of the personal expense from your payroll for the next pay period.

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Q11: Can I still use my personal credit card?

Yes, however, faculty and staff are encouraged to apply for the UBC VISA Card. The benefits are faster turnaround, no out-of-pocket expenses. Using the UBC VISA card, transactions will be imported directly into the Online Payment Tool and with a few clicks you can select the credit card charges for reconciliation and/or transfer to a travel expense claim. The use of personal credit cards will result in delays in processing payments in a timely manner. If you use your personal credit card, you will need to manually enter each line item into the Online Payment Tool and get reimbursed for out-of-pocket expense via direct deposit. 

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Q12: What happens to my reward program points?

The UBC VISA Card does not accommodate individual cardholders to collect reward points for personal use. If you are personally a member of a frequent flyer loyalty program, you will be able to earn frequent flyer miles by providing your personal membership number when making your reservation.

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Q13: Can I continue to manage my manager's expenses?

Yes, your manager - known as an ‘initiator’ in the Online Payment Tool - can assign ‘delegates’ to enter data, upload digital receipts and specify accounting information. Once you have entered the claims on behalf of your manager, your manager will need to log-in to the Online Payment Tool to review and submit the expense report for approval. The claim will be automatically routed for approval to the one-over-one or signing authority.

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Q14: How will I reconcile my UBC VISA card charges?

At least monthly, log-in to the Online Payment Tool (OPT) - accessible via UBC’s Self-Service Centre using Campus Wide Login (CWL) - to prepare a detailed expense claim report and/or reconcile all transactions for accuracy. Each transaction should be assigned to the applicable speedchart, account code and PG, with the required level of detail for each transaction per UBC and Tri-Council policies and procedures. Attach digital receipts and provide business purpose for each transaction. For those expenses where a receipt is missing, a declaration will be requested stating that the expenses will not be submitted at a later date and/or by any other means. Retain support documents i.e. receipts for a minimum of seven (7) years (for unrestricted accounts) or a minimum of seven (7) years after final project payment and completion of final audit, or as otherwise advised by UBC. Please note that all transactions greater than 60 days in age that are not reconciled nor indicated as travel to be settled later, will be considered past due.

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Q15: What if I don't reconcile my charges each month?

Per the UBC VISA Card application, cardholders are required to reconcile charges at least monthly. In the event charges are not reconciled the following actions will be taken:

Non-Compliance Type     Action
Purchase of restricted items Email notification
Failure to reconcile UBC VISA card charges within 30 days     Will be flagged for review by Card Compliance
Failure to reconcile UBC VISA card charges within 60 days Email notification to cardholder and one-over-one approver or PG owner    
Failure to reconcile UBC VISA card charges within 90 days Potential card suspension and/or cancellation

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Last reviewed shim8/31/2016 3:45:21 PM