Business & Travel Expenses

Can we receive out of pocket reimbursements for non-travel expenses?

Buyways is considered the preferred method for purchasing. When Buyways is impractical, the bank card can be used. Out of pocket reimbursements for non-travel related expenses are restricted.  An exception request can be completed.

Are out of pocket travel reimbursements allowed?

Yes, out-of-pocket reimbursements are allowed for business travel expenditures (post-trip).

Does this mean all employees should have a bank card?

It is up to the department and an employee’s supervisor to determine if an employee should have a bank card based on purchasing needs.  The bank card does allow the cardholder to purchase for others.

Buyways is considered the preferred method for purchasing. When using Buyways is impractical or if the item(s) are not available, then the University Bank card can be used. What are some resources to learn more about Buyways and Bank card?

UPST offers guidance and training for Requisitions (Purchase Orders) and has information available about the bank card program.  Also, UPST has various resources (forms and job aids) and trainings.

Is there additional guidance for purchasing Gifts and Awards?

The Controller's Office has developed some additional resources for purchasing gifts and awards per the requirements of the new standard.

How do I purchase gift cards?

The US Bank Declining card (USBDC) is the only allowable mechanism to purchase gift cards as allowed in the standard (retirement, employee recognition, raffles and door prizes, volunteers, human subject participants etc.).  The USBDC is different from a standard University bank card in that it is a pre-loaded credit card that is automatically reconciled to one G/L account (no reallocation is available).  There are three accounts available (727100 Employee recognition, 743015 Gift cards, and 742000 human subject compensation).  The card remains active until the funds are exhausted or the card expires.  In order to apply for a USBDC, complete an application.  There is an application for human subject gift cards and an application for all other gift cards.  Please note:  for human subject payments, we also offer a cash advance option which is outlined in the question "How do I pay Human Subjects."

What is a US Bank Declining Card (USBDC)?

The US Bank Declining card is a pre-loaded credit card issued to employees which is automatically reconciled to one G/L account (no reallocation is available).  There are three accounts available (727100 Employee Recognition, 743015 Gift cards, 742000 human subject compensation).  The card remains active until the funds are exhausted or the card expires.  This card can be used to purchase gift cards as allowed in the Uniform Standard (Employee retirement, raffles and door prizes, volunteers).  In order to purchase gift cards for human subject participants with a USBDC, we have a card application specific for purchasing human subject participant gift cards.

Documentation for the USBDC is uploaded in Buyways and retained for audit.

How do I pay human subjects?

In order to purchase gift cards for human subject participants, the US Bank Declining Card (USBDC) can be used.  This card application can be completed.  This card is different from the University standard Bank Card in that it is a pre-loaded credit card that is automatically reconciled to one G/L account 742000.  There is no encumbrance and charges hit the account when gift cards are purchased.  Any unused funds on the card will expire when the card expires.  

In addition to the US Bank Declining Card, the Controller's Office offers cash advances which can be requested with the Controller's Office advance request form.  

For more information, please see this PPT presentation.  

How to Pay Human Subjects: A PowerPoint Presentation

**Bank card and out-of-pocket reimbursements should not be used to compensate human subjects


Is there guidance for paying students?

Students can be refunded through accounts payable SFAMH business unit. Students who are US citizens can be reimbursed through the SFAMH business unit. Foreign students need to be vetted through Glacier for anything except a refund because even reimbursements can be taxed for them in some circumstances. If determined taxable the transaction must be entered in Buyways.

All prizes and awards which are given to students for educational expenses or which are educational in nature are considered scholarship and require Financial Aid reporting.  Only travel reimbursements related to a student’s employment/work should be processed in Concur.

Visit the President's Office for guidance for student payments

Refunds: If the student has no balance due to the University they will receive a refund processed by the Bursar’s Office.  Refunds are processed via Excess Express. Students designate a US checking or savings account for deposit for refunds in SPIRE. When a refund is available, the student will receive an email from the Bursar’s Office. If a student has not set up Excess Express, they have a “To Do” on their SPIRE account to set up the account for refund deposits.

Graduate Assistantship Office, Katie Mooney, Graduate assistantships, non-working fellowships, prestigious fellowships: gradappt [at]

Financial Aid, Suzanne Schilling, educationally-related, travel awards, scholarship processing, sschilling [at]

University Advancement/Development Office, Academic Works, Jennifer Beane, acadworks [at]

Bursar’s Office, scholarship awards from organizations outside of UMass Amherst (i.e. Big Y, community foundations), Scholarship Coordinator, bursar [at]

What exactly is the dinner limit, is it per person, business meal, group meals etc.?

The Dinner meal limit is per person for business meals and catered events and is not inclusive of tax and tip.

Itemized receipts are required for all purchases, including restaurants. What do we need to do if a restaurant doesn’t provide an itemized receipt?

Cardholders should specify up front to the restaurant server that they need an itemized receipt for the business meal.  If the cardholder cannot obtain an itemized receipt from the vendor, a missing receipt form can be completed if the receipt total is $25 or more.  If the meal is being charged to a sponsored grant, an attestation that no alcoholic beverages were purchased must be included on the missing receipt form.

Has the alcohol policy changed?

The language has changed slightly.  Alcohol consumed at a business meal or meeting must be reasonable (generally not to exceed 25% of the total bill or a single beverage per person that is reasonably priced) and must be served with food.

How does the new standard impact travel?

The impact to travel related expenses are minimal.  

The changes are:

1.)The wording for allowable mileage has been updated to reflect IRS requirements

2.) Pre-travel authorization in Terra Dotta is no longer required for same-day out of state travel.

Please be sure to register travel in Terra Dotta, including travel which has a blanket pre-approval.  Include the Terra Dotta number on the expense report.

There are no additional requirements for prior approval with the new standard.

Will we be able to request blanket approval for domestic travel?

Yes. All domestic overnight travel must be approved and registered in Concur/Helix.

Has anything changed with Airbnb?

Travelers are expected to incur the least expensive lodging option for rooms and rates available.  Travelers may stay in rental accommodations (Airbnb) if the total cost is equal to or less than a standard hotel single room occupancy rate.  Documentation must be provided to show the cost comparison.  If Airbnb is used and the cost of the Airbnb exceeds the standard hotel room rates, the traveler can claim the lowest rate for reimbursement OR complete an exception form and provide a justification to support how the Airbnb was the lowest cost lodging available which could meet the travelers business and safety needs.  Airbnb is allowed on the bank card as a travel expense.

Will travelers who get per-diem need to turn in receipts?

No, a traveler who submits for per-diem is not required to turn in receipts.

Are meals going to be allowed on the bank card for employees in travel status?

Yes, only one method: receipts or per diem is allowed per trip.  Per diem is preferred. GSA per diem rates.

Is the Campus still requiring the use of a business expense form?

When using Concur we do not require a business expense form. A business expense form should still be used for purchases which are not documented in Concur. Here is a link to the campus form .

When do I need to obtain Prior-Approval for business and travel expenses?

Prior approval is required for 1.) events in excess of $500 and alcohol at events 2.) employee recognition gifts 3.) gifts and awards provided to external organizations (contributions) 4.) gift card purchases 5.) cash advance requests 6.) cell phone purchases 7.) overnight, out-of-state, and international travel (prior to booking) 8.) Most exceptions to the standard also require prior approval-see the Amherst approval Matrix.


How do I obtain prior approval for business and travel expenses?

Pre-travel, prior approval, and exception requests are in Concur.

Gift cards are pre-approved with either of these two forms:

US Bank Declining Card Application for Human Subject Participant Gift Cards
US Bank Declining Card Application for Purchasing Gift Cards

Cash advances used to pay human subject compensation are pre-approved with this form.

Cell Phone's-Each department has an official cell phone representitive who will request a cell phone and plan to IT.  If you do not know who your cell phone represetative is, email cellphones [at]  Cell phones require a  Business Use Statement form to the Controller's Office.