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Common Purchases and Restrictions

See a list of routine items you can buy with the Express Card and restricted purchases.

You can use your Express Card to obtain a wide range of goods and services for your department. However, some goods and services cannot be purchased using the card due to funding or policy restrictions. The Express Card, UCSD's procurement card, is the partner tool to Marketplace and provides departments a way to purchase and pay for routine, low-cost products and services from suppliers that are not part of Marketplace, MyPayments or other on-campus retailers. See a list of common routine items you can buy with the Express Card and restricted purchases.


Common Purchases

  • Abstracts
  • Advertisements
  • Audiovisual supplies materials
  • Books, CDs, DVDs
  • Bottled water delivery
  • Break room appliance & supplies
  • Cell phone purchase with the service plan billed through ITS
    • The Express Card can also be used to purchase a UCSD business cell phone through an outside vendor; however, the service plan for the phone must be billed to UCSD.
  • Certification fees
  • Classroom supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cloud services
  • Copy services
  • Employee clothing/uniform
  • Computer - desktop, laptop, peripheral
  • Delivery fees
  • Equipment < $4,999 without a signed agreement
  • Film processing
  • Food for student only programmatic activities
  • Gasoline for UC owned vehicles when it is not possible to refuel on campus
  • Instructional supplies
  • International purchases that do not have to be routed through U. S. Customs
  • International purchase without duty papers
  • Journals - print and online
  • Laboratory supplies
  • Magazines/Newspapers
  • Marketing materials
  • Memberships fees
  • Newspaper delivery (including online)
  • Office supplies
  • Online training
  • Periodicals
  • Photographic prints, processing and supplies
  • Printing services
  • Promotional materials
  • Professional or technical organization dues
  • Publications
  • Registration - conference or seminar without travel
  • Reprints
  • Research supplies
  • Shipping
  • Software - off the shelf & digital, no signed license agreement
  • Subscriptions for periodicals
  • Teaching supplies
  • Utilities


Restricted items

Certain items, regardless of their value, may not be purchased with an Express Card. The table below lists the most common items (and is not limited to) along with alternative ways to obtain them. Alternate payment methods do not reflect Express Card policy. Please refer to policies in place by each alternate payment method or visit Common Purchases within the Procure to Pay matrix for assistance.

Restricted from Express Card Alternate payment method
Goods or services in excess of $4,999

Place your order in Marketplace

Note: Any attempt to avoid the High Value process by artificially dividing purchases into individual orders less than $4,999 is prohibited and subject to suspension of cardholder privileges

Catering including alcohol and\or bar service for a meeting or hosted event

For an entertainment event, see
Meeting and Entertainment: Overview

To use UCSD Catering Services, see
Recharging UCSD Catering 

Conference Registration

Use your Express Card to prepay conference registration in the following situations:

  • When no additional travel expenses will be incurred (i.e., parking, mileage, meals, etc.); or
  • The registration does not include any additional items in the cost such as lodging
  • When the attendee is a non-UCSD employee and the registration fee can only be made online
  • If the conference only accepts credit card payments and payment is due within 3 weeks

Use the Travel Card for all other scenarios

Consultant, independent contracting, professional and personal services

Refer to Independent Contractors/ Consultants. Place your order in Marketplace using the Independent Contractor Services iRequest

Contributions/Donations See Gifts and Awards: Gifts for Non-Employees
Controlled substances, regardless of cost See Ordering Controlled Substances
Equipment repairs on equipment not owned by the University Place your order in Marketplace


  • Inventorial
  • Rental
  • Straight lease
  • Fabrication with a purchase value in excess of $4,999 total

See Ways to Acquire Inventorial Equipment and How to Handle a Fabrication for more information

Place your order in Marketplace to ensure proper recording of the asset

Export Restricted Items and Foreign purchases that require duty papers or are shipped FOB Origin

Place your order in Marketplace using an iRequest; Orders must be reviewed by Export Control to ensure the proper technology control plan or export licenses 

Facilities Management Services:

  • Building alterations, maintenance & repairs
  • Lock & key services
  • Landscaping

See How to Request Facilities Management Services

Gasoline or diesel fuel

If mileage was not incurred while on travel status, submit a mileage voucher by using MyPayments

If mileage was incurred while on official travel status, request reimbursement through MyTravel

Note: The Express Card cannot be used to buy gasoline in lieu of mileage. Gasoline for UC owned vehicles is allowed when it is not possible to refuel on campus.

Gifts and awards

Gifts and awards including but not limited to:

  • Donor gifts
  • Gifts
  • Gift Cards
  • Gift Certificates
  • Greeting Cards
  • Flowers
  • Plaques
  • Prizes
  • Raffles
  • Tickets
  • Volunteer Gifts

See Gifts and Awards for alternative payment options.

Please see our FAQ page for a full list of all prohibited gifts and awards.

Gift Cards Should never be purchased on the Express Card. See Gifts and Awards.
Goods or services from any officer or employee of the university or from a near relative of any officer or employee See Employee-Vendor Relationships
Meeting or Entertainment expenses See Entertainment
Personal purchases Personal purchases are not allowed under any circumstances

All purchases of postage stamps from the U.S. Postal Service must be obtained through UCSD Mail Services

Radioactive materials (regardless of cost)

Refer to Buying Radioactive Materials; Place your order in Marketplace

Recharge available goods and services:

  • Animal Care
  • Bookstore
  • Catering Services
  • Facilities Management
  • Imprints
  • Mail Services
  • Self-store

See Recharge to find departments on campus that provide goods and services through the recharge process.

Restricted Goods/Services:

  • Alcohol for ships operations or specialized inventory
  • Chartering of boats, buses, planes, shuttles, etc.
  • Firearms, explosives, ammunition
  • Precious metals
  • Outside vehicle rentals or purchases

Place your order in Marketplace using the Restricted Goods/Services iRequest

Subcontracts, sub-awards, or agreements involving sponsored projects

See Subawards

Supplier Contract (DO NOT SIGN A SUPPLIER CONTRACT), including  maintenance or service agreements.

See Signing Contracts and Agreements; For single transaction purchases less than $4999 place your order in Marketplace using the Restricted Goods/Services iRequest. For purchases above $5000 place your order in Marketplace using an iRequest.

See Listing of Commodities by Procurement Teams for Professional Buyer contact information.

Vehicle rentals, leases, or purchases

See Vehicle Services; For Fleet Services place your order in Marketplace using a Fleet Services iRequest


Allowable Exceptions

The Express Card team can provide certain exception with prior approval. To request an exception please submit an ASK (Login required, Category: Buying Goods and Services; Sub-Category: Express Card) case with a descriptive business purpose and why the preferred method was not used or is not available.

  • Flower Arrangement: Décor for University function
  • Gasoline - UC vehicle
  • Postage - Off campus usage
  • Rentals - No contract required (Conference booths that do not include sponsorship, equipment, location space)
  • Software - Requiring signed license agreement
  • Student Programmatic event or expense (also see in Travel & Entertainment)
  • Visa – International employee travel