Purchasing Card (P-Card)

CentreSuite is the system used to track and code University of Waterloo Purchasing Card (P-Card) transactions before import into the central financial system (Unit4).

Goods or services up to $5,000 CAD (inc. tax, delivery, etc.) required in the normal course of business may be purchased without a Purchase Order either through directly invoicing the University or via P-Card. The P-Card empowers authorized cardholders to acquire goods easily and facilitates payment by credit card.

Reminder to use COVID-19 activities

In order to continue to accurately track and report on COVID-19 related expenses, please continue to use the appropriate activity codes for direct COVID-19 pandemic related expenses. 

The full list of activities available are outlined in the March 17, 2020 Unit4 Activities Set Up for COVID-19 Expense Tracking memo.

To set up a new P-Card work order and COVID-19 activity combination or if you have any questions relating to the setup of these activities in Unit4, please send a request to our Finance Jira Portal.

Frequently asked questions... 

Benefits to using the Purchasing Card

  • reduced turnaround time for acquiring goods
  • reduced payment time to suppliers, possibly resulting in lower costs
  • reduced personal reimbursements
  • increased flexibility for user to order via phone, fax, Internet or in person
  • increased assistance with account management

Training and Reference material

Login problems

All browsers are certified for use with CentreSuite, but the latest version may not yet be fully compatible.  If you experience problems, you may wish to try a previous version of the browser or a different browser to see if that fixes the issue.

I forgot my userid

  • CentreSuite requires you to sign on using your WatIAM userid with @waterloo.ca. 
  • Your email for the purposes of CentreSuite is your (max) 8-character userid followed by "@uwaterloo.ca". 
  • The userid is the same one you use to log into the university network (i.e. your nexus credentials). 
  • If you have a long last name, it will be truncated.
  • If you have forgotten your userid, visit the White Pages Directory website.

I forgot my password

  • Find out how to reset your password and unlock your account 
  • After 2 failed logon attempts due to an invalid password, you can reset your password from the CentreSuite logon page (a system generated email is sent to you with your new password). 
    • NOTE:  Your User ID is your original 8-character WatIAM email address (userid@uwaterloo.ca).  The email address associated with your account may be your longer "friendly" email address (if you have one set up) or your WatIAM email address.
  • When a 3rd failed logon attempt occurs, your account is locked and the Purchasing Card Administrator must both unlock your account and reset your password.
  • If you have forgotten your password and/or have locked your account, use the Reset Logon Credentials link to unlock your account and reset your password.  Remember that your userid and password are both your WatIAM with @uwaterloo.ca at the end.

Email any questions, problems or concerns you may have regarding the Purchasing Card to our Jira Portal.

Who can use my P-Card?

Only the authorized cardholder (the individual named on the card) may use the P-Card. They may purchase on another's behalf, but the physical card and card number cannot be given to anyone else to use, even another University employee. The card and card number must be safeguarded against use by unauthorized individuals in the same manner you would secure your personal credit card.

DO NOT share credit card numbers over email or leave credit card numbers on anyone’s voicemail.

Why was my P-Card declined/blocked?

The P-Card is not to be used to purchase meals, alcoholic beverages, furniture, airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses, to name a few, even if they are related to University of Waterloo business. In some cases, an expense that is otherwise allowable may be declined because the supplier has self-identified in a restricted category. A common example is a conference fee paid to a hotel or merchants who provide catering services may have been assigned a merchant category code of ‘Restaurants’ and the P-Card will be declined.

Scotiabank (in consultation with Finance) has put in place certain restrictions on the University P-Card based on the supplier's merchant category codes (MCC). All merchants that accept credit cards have identified their merchant category code (MCC) based on the industry they are in. Based on the University's P-Card restrictions, transactions with suppliers in certain MCCs will be automatically declined to ensure P-Card purchasing practices are aligned with University policies and other legislative requirements. These categories of purchases generally have an alternatively defined procurement method.  Please see the P-Card Restrictions for more details or the P-Card manual for more general information on acceptable usage of Purchasing Cards. 

If a card was declined unexpectedly, the cardholder should contact Scotiabank directly using the phone number on the back of the card.

For specific questions about allowable purchases on P-Card’s, please contact your Faculty Financial Officer or equivalent.

For assistance with alternative procurement methods, please contact Procurement & Contract Services at procure@uwaterloo.ca or 519-888-4501

Can I use my P-Card on campus?

The University's P-Card is not to be used for on-campus and interdepartmental purchases (i.e. Print + Retail Solutions, Conference Centre, Centre for Extended Learning, Advancement, Parking, Professional Development, Creative Services, Food Services, etc.).

Instead, follow the Internal Charges Procedure and provide the internal charge source department with a valid account number to be charged. Unnecessary HST and processing transaction charges are incurred when transactions within the University entity are charged to a P-Card.  These amounts are not charged on internal transactions charged via journal entry, which represents a pure cost savings to the department and the University as a whole.

I need an increase to my P-Card limit. 

If the standard limits are not sufficient for the purchasing needs of the Cardholder,  a written explanation, as well as approval from the cardholder’s approver, must be sent to Finance via our Jira Portal for review. See the Purchasing Card Manual for full details.

I'm going on vacation - can I submit my report before the billing period has closed?

CentreSuite will only allow the submission of a report after the period has closed on the 15th of the month.  If you are planning to be away during the whole period between the 15th and 25th of the month, we recommend that you ensure all transactions are allocated and reviewed (manually if necessary) before you leave so the coding is correct when they are imported to the financial system on the 25th of the month.

I have no activity on my P-Card this month - how do I submit the report showing this?

The system only creates an expense report when the first transaction is posted in the period.  Since there are no transactions, no expense report was created, and there is nothing to submit.

Did you know... a P-Card Reviewer is optional, but a P-Card Approver is mandatory?

Having a P-Card Reviewer for each Cardholder is strongly recommended, but not required. Having a P-Card Approver for each Cardholder is mandatory, as the Approver should generally have financial oversight over the accounts being charged and knowledge about the activity being undertaken. If someone has been delegated as a P-Card Reviewer, they're meant to help validate many of the detailed elements of a P-Card transaction, however, the Approver bears the ultimate responsibility for the financial transactions. In CentreSuite, the roles are slightly different than you may expect from the roles in other systems:

  • P-Card Reviewer can be responsible for ensuring that the Cardholder selected the correct work order, activity, account number, tax codes, and vendors, validates the business purpose of the purchases, and the amounts spent. If any of these elements are incorrect, the Reviewer can either correct/reallocate the error or notify the Cardholder that corrections need to be made prior to submitting to the P-Card Approver for final approval.

If you would like to set up a Reviewer on a P-Card or if you would like to set up online review/approvals for your Approver, please contact the P-Card Administrator.

I am the reviewer for a cardholder - why can't I change the coding on their expenses?

Coding can only be changed while the report is in progress (either Unsubmitted or Incomplete).  If the report has been submitted to the Approver in the system, it will have to be rejected and sent back to the Cardholder.  Then the Cardholder, or someone with Reviewer access, can update the coding before it is resubmitted.

I get the error message "No approvers were located. Please contact your system administrator." when I try to submit my expense report - what does this mean?

We are still in the process of working with some departments to set up electronic workflow in their areas.  If this is the case for your, please continue to print your reconciled expense report, attach your receipts, and have your approver review it manually.  The transactions will be picked up for import into the financial system regardless of the submission/approval status.

I can see my expense report from a previous month in my In Progress list - why is it still there?

Unless the expense report has been submitted electronically in the CentreSuite system, it will remain in your in progress list indefinitely.

I am unable to print my expense report - what do I do?

Since the report is generated as a PDF, some browsers will consider this a download and require you to either accept the download or view it in a separate page.  Look for a popup that may require you to click a button before the PDF appears or a yellow bar at the top or bottom of the screen asking whether you want to open or save the document or asking you to click the button to view the download.

If none of these seem to be the case, please send a screenshot of any error you are receiving to the Administrator using our Jira Portal.

What is the difference between a report status of "Incomplete" versus "Unsubmitted"?

We have been unable to obtain clarification regarding the difference between ‘Unsubmitted’ and ‘Incomplete’.  We have noted that it has no impact on how the transactions are used by Finance when they are imported into the financial system.  In our CentreSuite environment, a cardholder may submit an expense report if they reviewed the transactions, including the account and tax allocations, whether the status is ‘Unsubmitted’ or ‘Incomplete’.

What is Location of Consumption and why is it important?

What is Location of Consumption and what does it mean?

Location of Consumption is one of several elements associated with coding P-Card expenses in our P-Card system, CenterSuite. It specifically refers to the location of where a good or service is actually being used/consumed.

Why is it important that the Location of Consumption is correct?

Accuracy of Location of Consumption is important because CenterSuite, in part, uses the Location of Consumption selected by the P-Cardholders to calculate and back out applicable tax rebates and/or self-assessed tax. The University uses these tax calculations to prepare our monthly HST returns filed with the Canada Revenue Agency.

What happens when the Location of Consumption is incorrect?

Not correctly updating the Location of Consumption means we as an Institution may be over or under-remitting applicable taxes on purchases made on behalf of the University.

What does this mean to me?

P-Cardholders are responsible for ensuring all transactions have a valid business purpose, represent prudent use of funds, are compliant with Policy 31 University Expenses and appropriate procurement guidelines, and ensuring their transactions are allocated appropriately, including the work order, account number, tax code, and location of consumption. Most P-Cardholders have a default Location of Consumption set to Ontario, however, if you are making purchases of goods or services from outside of Ontario and are consuming or using the good/service outside of Ontario, the Location of Consumption should be updated using the dropdown menu in CenterSuite.

  • Ex: you are using your P-Card in British Columbia for supplies or equipment you are consuming while physically located in British Columbia.

P-Cardholder Approvers are responsible for verifying the prudence of Cardholders’ transactions, including the appropriateness of the work order/activity, account number, location of consumption and the tax code, the validity of business purpose (i.e. no personal expenses), and reasonableness of amounts.

Why can't I change the coding on my expenses?

Transactions are locked down on the 25th of each month and uploaded into the financial system.  Coding will not be editable after this date.

You can edit your transactions any time from the time they have been charged to the card until the 25th after the statement period closes.  If you had a transaction on October 16th, you could edit it from October 16th (assuming same-day posting) until November 25th.  If you had a transaction on the last day of the period, November 15th, you would still have to edit it by the 25th of November

I have an expense I purchased from outside of Canada so there was no HST charged on it - what tax code do I use?

  • If the item is an intangible item like software licenses, advertising, or services, use the I58 tax code
  • If the item is a tangible item that will be shipped here to Canada, use the T58 tax code
  • If the item relates to an event (training, workshop, conference, etc.), use the CNF tax code

I have an unknown expense on my Unit4 statement from a P-Card I don't recognize - what do I do?

First, have you engaged Procurement & Contract Services to make any purchases for you?  They often use P-Card to make small dollar purchases.  The first 6 characters of the Cardholder's last name should appear at the end of the invoice number.

If, after looking into the above, you still don't recognize the charge or can't determine the Cardholder, contact Finance using our Jira Portal

How do I turn in my P-Card if I am retiring?

You should complete a P-Card Change of Information Form (PDF).  Please note the Effective Date on the form and return it to the P-Card Administrator (attn: Jeff Lappin - Finance (EC5)) with the plastic (cut up) in a confidential envelope.

 Updated: 13-Jan-2023