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Finance & Accounting

The policies on this webpage have been streamlined and reformatted, and are now available on the University Policies webpage. We ask that you use this new resource, as future changes, additions to or eliminations of these policies will only be made to the University Policies webpage, and policy manuals you may have used in the past will no longer be updated. 

BPM-220 Gift Card Policy

Revised December 15, 2015

Gift Card purchases are allowed to the extent they are governed by an established program and the expense is reasonable and necessary to carry out the mission of the University.  This policy outlines the processes to ensure appropriate controls are implemented to ensure appropriate authorization, documentation, and physical security over gift cards are maintained.  


Gift Card: Includes gift cards and gift certificates redeemable for a stated dollar value at a retailer or bank.

Program Administrator: individual responsible for overseeing a gift card granting program at the department-level.  Responsible for authorizing transactions (purchases and distributions of cards) within program guidelines.  Administrator must be separate from Custodian and Record Keeper.

Custodian: individual responsible for the safekeeping of the gift cards.  Ensures gift cards are appropriately stored and distributed to proper individuals.  Custodian must be separate from Administrator and Record Keeper.

Record Keeper: individual responsible for maintaining records of card purchases, inventory, and distributions in compliance with this policy and Business Policy Manual (BPM) 216.  Record keeper must be separate from Administrator and Custodian.


Gift Cards may only be purchased, received, and distributed through an established program:

  • Employee Awards: See BPM 216 for detailed policy over employee awards. For each campus or University of Missouri Health Care (MUHC), the President, Chancellor, MUHC Chief Executive Officer, or their delegate, is responsible for approving programs that provide gift cards to employees.  Payments are subject to applicable state and federal tax withholding.
  • Payments to Research Subjects:  Gift cards are an allowable form of payment for research subject incentives.  The payment must be allowable from the funding source and all payment programs will be managed by each Campus IRB.
  • Awards and Prizes: See BPM 216 for the detailed policy on prizes and awards to nonemployees.  Campus Accounting Offices will approve and oversee the issuance of gift cards as an award or prize. 

The use of gift cards outside of the above mentioned programs is prohibited unless approved by the Campus Accounting Office.


Gift Card purchases must be approved by the program administrator with a purchase plan.  All gift card purchases will be routed and fulfilled through the Show-me-Shop or made through a Campus Bookstore.  Cards may not be purchased by any other method, unless approved by Supply Chain.  Each program will maintain a maximum gift card inventory sufficient to fund a 60 day cycle of payments or $500, whichever is greater. 


Each program maintaining cards should designate a gift card custodian responsible for the card’s safekeeping.  Cards should be treated as cash, and kept in a locked and secure location until they are distributed.  The custodian should only distribute cards upon request of the program administrator for within the guidelines established for the applicable program.  Gift cards should be treated like cash and follow cash receipts manual 401 minimum safekeeping standards.

Required Records

A separate person from the program administrator and card custodian should keep a record of all card purchases and distributions by individual card.  The log should have a separate line for each card.  Once purchased and received, the cards should be logged with the following information:

  • Date Received or Purchased
  • Vendor
  • Amount of Card
  • Card Serial Number or Other Identifying Number

If the gift cards are mailed to the recipient, the record keeper and custodian (separate individuals) should verify the card is mailed to the proper address for the recipient. 

Once distributed, the following information should be logged for employees:

  • Employee ID
  • Name
  • Date of Distribution

Upon distribution, the following should be logged for non-employees, unless confidentiality is required.  The confidentiality exception only applies to IRB approved programs where confidentiality is necessary for the study, and the total value of the gift card must be below $600.  Exceptions are only granted by the Campus Accounting Office.

  • Tax ID number
  • Name of Recipient
  • Permanent Mailing Address
  • Date of Distribution

The Gift Card Log & Receipts Form can be used to assist with the documentation requirements.

(http://www.umsystem.edu/ums/fa/management/records/forms/finance/).  All logs should follow University security policy related to retention of Tax ID number and other private information.  On a monthly or more frequent basis, the list of gift cards given to employees should be sent to the payroll office so the appropriate earnings and payroll taxes can be recorded.  On a quarterly or more frequent basis, the gift cards given to non-employees should be provided to the AP Shared Services.


At a minimum of a monthly basis, an individual separate from the record keeper and card custodian must perform an inventory of the current cards on hand and compare to the log.  At least once per year, a surprise review of the log and inventory must be performed by the Program Administrator.  Any discrepancies between the log and actual card inventory must be resolved with the Program Administrator.  This reconciliation should follow the purchase of the cards to the distribution, and ensure the completeness and accuracy of the log and the current card inventory.  The reviewer must sign or otherwise authenticate the log as evidence of review.