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Express Card Program Overview

Learn about using Express Card and managing Express Card accounts, roles, and transactions.

The Express Card process involves the cardholder, U.S. Bank, and several of UCSD's financial systems, including ECManager and the operating ledger in FinancialLink.

Express Card Benefits

  • Accepted by all vendors that take Visa
  • Ensures payment to vendors within 48 hours
  • Eliminates purchase order and invoice processing
  • Combines ordering and paying into a single process
  • Includes payment information such as Transaction Date, Posting Date, and Vendor Name

Special Features

  • Limits transaction amounts to $4,999 (including tax, freight, and handling charges)
  • Limits monthly cycle limit to $10,000
    • The monthly cycle is the 16th of the month through the 15th of the following month
  • Includes built-in controls that prohibit restricted purchases

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Is your Department ready for the Express Card program?

Check with your Department to make sure your department is ready to participate in the Express Card program. Questions to ask:

  • Has your central business office approved participation and indicated commitment to following program guidelines?
  • Has your department authorized one or more employees to become ECDAs?
  • Does your department have processes and controls in place for these situations?
    • Accepting transactions without identifying Purchase Order (PO) number reference
    • Reviewing individual purchases for procurement policy compliance
    • Prompt submission of receipts and packing slips by cardholder
    • Verifying charges in a timely manner by reviewing transactions
    • Proper record retention using the Attachment Tool
    • Consideration of any special funding conditions
  • Is your department willing to complete the following?
    • Invest time in learning a new process
    • Accept a program that is evolving (through changes and refinement)
    • Participate in ECDA and Cardholder training classes
  • Does your department understand that the Express Card is a valuable tool for purchasing a broad range of products and services, but with necessary controls due to policy and best practices? Controls include:
    • A single transaction purchase is limited to $4,999 (including tax, freight, and handling charges).
    • Built-in controls prohibit restricted commodities such as transaction reviewers
    • Personal purchases are not allowed.
    • Not all fund sources are appropriate for use with the Express Card.
    • Cards can be assigned only to a person, not to a department or unit. Cards may not be lent or shared.
    • Use of the Express Card should not replace procuring items from campus sources, such as Marketplace.
If your department answered yes to the above questions and statements the please follow these steps:
1. Ask your business officer to assign the ECDA role to one or more qualified members of your department.
  • The ECDA(s) will oversee program compliance and administration for your department.
  • Read about R&R for more information.
2. Enroll the ECDA(s) in Express Card administrator training via UC Learning Center.
3. Identify cardholder candidates who either have or will be given purchasing authority.
4. ECDAs, follow these steps:
  • Access ECManager.
  • Click Add a New Card.
  • Complete the online form for each account.
5. Receive cards and request that cardholders activate them.
6. Assign these additional Express Card roles, if necessary, to support program use in your department:
  • Administrative support
  • Transaction reviewer

Express Card Transaction Process

  1. Cardholder purchases goods or services
  2. USBank submits transactions to UCSD
  3. Transactions are imported into ECManager
  4. Cardholder, administrator, and reviewers receive email notification of pending transactions
  5. Department administrator and reviewers have 10 days to review transactions
  6. Transactions are exported and posted to the operating ledger

Express Card Reference Guide

The Express Card is the preferred method for buying many types of goods and services under $4,999. This reference provides basic guidelines and helpful information about your card:

Topic Description Need More Information?
Cardholder Responsibilities Cardholders given the authority to use the Express Card agree to comply with these procedures:
  • Keep your card safe and secure.
  • Obtain documentation on every purchase upload to attachment tool and forward to your Express Card Department Administrator (ECDA).
  • Know policies regarding the application of California Use Tax (link to ECManager).
See Program Roles.
Types of Purchases

You can use your Express Card for most goods and services under $4,999, including but not limited to:

  • Books and subscriptions
  • Cell phones, utilities, and other monthly fees
  • Computer supplies and peripherals
  • Electrical supplies
  • Equipment maintenance and repair
  • Food for student only programmatic activities
  • Lab supplies
  • Membership fees, certifications, online training and Professional dues
  • Office supplies
  • Publications
  • Rentals - No contract required (Car rentails, Conference booths, equipment, and location space)
See Common Purchases & Restrictions.
Purchasing Inventorial Equipment

Exceptions can be made to purchase inventorial equipment with the Express Card. At UCSD, inventorial equipment refers to items that:

  • Are non-expendable
  • Stand alone
  • Have a normal useful life of one year or more
  • Qualify as tangible personal property (can be appraised for value) with an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more
If you need to use the Express Card to make an inventorial equipment purchase, review the Listing of Commodity by Procurement Teams to determine which strategic team might be able to assist you and request an exception to use the Express Card.
See equipment management basics.
Restricted Purchases

These goods and services cannot be charged to the Express Card:

  • Alcohol
  • Awards, employee incentive awards, gifts, and gift certificates
  • ATM/Cash withdrawals and money orders
  • Catering
  • Controlled substances and radioactive materials
  • Cylinder gases
  • Equipment
  • Flowers
  • Gasoline or diesel fuel
  • General purchases greater than $4,999
  • Independent contractor or consultant services
  • Meeting refreshments
  • Moving expenses
  • Personal expenses
  • Postage
  • Purchases that require the signing of contractual documents, including maintenance or license agreements and leases
  • Split purchases
  • Temporary staffing services
  • Travel and entertainment
See Common Purchases & Restrictions.

Cardholders are responsible for following up with a vendor regarding any erroneous charges, disputed items, or credits that should appear on their statements.

All disputed transactions must be submitted within 60 days of the transaction date.

See FAQs
Lost, Stolen Card or Fraudulent Charges
Report your lost/ stolen card or fraudulent charges to your ECDA immediately. Immediately after please contact U.S. Bank fraud department: (800) 523-9078 See FAQs
Declined Transaction

A card may be declined if the vendor does not have the correct billing address. 

Your card may also be declined if the:

  • Purchase amount exceeds the single purchase limit or cycle limit
  • Supplier is restricted
  • Card is inactive
  • Account number is transposed during the sales transaction
  • The transaction falls within USBank’s fraud parameters

If you need assistance with a declined card, please contact U.S. Bank Customer Service at (800)344-5696 before submitting an ASK case.

See FAQs
Bulk or Large Shipping Purchases

If your purchase is being shipped to Receiving, request that the vendor use this shipping address:

University of California, San Diego
Attn: Cardholder's full name, phone #, building, and room #
7835 Trade Street
San Diego, CA 92121-2460

USBank Contacts

U.S. Bank Customer Service: (800) 344-5696

U.S. Bank fraud department: (800) 523-9078


Training and Authorization

Authorization and training requirements differ, depending on whether you're a cardholder or Express Card Department Administrator (ECDA). See the table below for more information:

Express Card Program Roles Required Authorization Forms Required Training via UCLearning


See How to Become a Cardholder for complete instructions.

Express Card Agreement with signatures required from:

  • Cardholder
  • Supervisor

Note: If the MSO/DBO/PI serves as the supervisor please ensure signatures are provided in both locations.

Express Card Cardholder Orientation
Express Card Department Administrator

See How to become an Express Card Administrator for complete instructions.

ECDA Authorization form with
signatures required from:

  • ECDA
  • Supervisor
  • MSO or DBO

Note: If the MSO/DBO/PI serves as the supervisor please ensure signatures are provided in both locations.

Express Card Department Administrator training


Transaction Reviewers and Administrative Support personnel are not required to attend training to serve in their respective roles but it is advised. Both trainings will serve as a great guide to completing assigned Express Card duties.


The Express Card program is designed to simplify buying and paying for goods and services, but some types of purchases are restricted. Some purchases may be restricted regardless of cost. Goods or services that exceed the $4,999 transaction limit, for example, must be paid with a high value purchase requisition.

For foreign purchases, UCSD uses Restricted Party Screening (RPS) on VisualCompliance.com, escalation and export license reviews to ensure compliance with federal export control regulations. The cardholder is responsible for ensuring that all vendors located abroad are screened by Visual Compliance prior to completing any transaction. More information can be found on Blink by searching Restricted Party Screening. RPS training is also available via UC Learning.

The U.S. government restricts collaborating with or shipping to certain individuals or organizations. These restricted entities include terrorists, weapons proliferators, and denied or debarred parties. Certain transactions with restricted entities are prohibited, require an export license or require further review. Form more information please visit Export Controls.

Cardholder & Administrator Responsibilities

The Express Card is a Visa purchasing card issued by U.S. Bank to UCSD employees who have authority to buy goods and services on behalf of their departments. Each Express Card bears the cardholder's name but is actually issued to UCSD. Therefore, UCSD is responsible for making prompt payment to U.S. Bank.

However, cardholders are responsible for ensuring proper use of the card. Cardholders are responsible to use the Express Card in accordance with the cardholder agreement and Express Card Cardholder responsibilities.

Employees who have been designated as Express Card Department Administrators (ECDAs) are responsible for the proper use of Express Cards by overseeing department implementation and use of the card.

For detailed information on cardholder or administrator responsibilities, see:

  • Express Card Program Roles & Responsibilities

Index & Account Code Assignments

Each Express Card is assigned a default index and account. However, ECDAs and Transaction Reviewers can distribute or split transaction amounts between other indexes and accounts using the redistribution feature in ECManager. Therefore, ECDAs can either:
  • Issue one card per cardholder and redistribute transactions when necessary
  • Issue multiple cards with different indexes to cardholders who buy items for different indexes


You should file a dispute when you:

  • Are billed for merchandise that you never received
  • Have duplicate or incorrect charges that the vendor will not credit
  • Are not credited for a return

In case of a dispute, the merchant should be contacted directly by the cardholder.

The bank will take these actions on your behalf:

  • Work with the vendor to determine if the charge is valid
  • Contact you if further information is required
  • Credit your account while researching the dispute


If the dispute is valid, your account will be adjusted accordingly.

Express Card Team Audits/How Do I Comply

Learn about the post-transaction review process for Express Card audits.

The Express Card Program Team conducts ongoing reviews of transactions to ensure the Express Card program controls are being followed. This review process identifies transactions that might be considered high risk, as well as trends and usage to manage associated risks for procurement card activity. Card misuse includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Cardholders and departments comply with Express Card policies and UC Business and Finance Bulletin BUS43 (PDF)
  • Purchases are properly authorized as official University business
  • Taxes are correctly applied
  • Purchases are not shipped to addresses other than UCSD locations
  • Detailed business purpose
  • Missing or non-itemized receipts
  • Split transactions
  • Restricted purchases
  • Personal purchases
  • Purchases that should have been processed using a different payment tool or application

If you are an Express Card Department Administrator or Cardholder, you may receive an e-mail asking you to provide documentation, receipts and/or a detailed business purpose for selected transactions. If you receive one:

  • Attach the requested documentation or update the business purpose using the ECManager Attachment Tool immediately
  • Provide any additional information requested by the auditor


If the documentation, receipt, or additional information is not uploaded the cardholder's buying privileges will be suspended.

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