Prepaid Card - Advance Process

This covers the end to end process, from issuing a new Prepaid card, and adding funds, through to the preparation of a reconciliation after travel.  It also details guidelines for when spend is incurred and the required evidence for any such expenditure. There are 5 stages to the process as follows:

  1. Requesting the issue of a new Prepaid card
  2. Adding funds to a new or existing Prepaid card
  3. During travel – incurring spend
  4. After travel – completing reconciliation
  5. General Ledger reconciliation & journals (Department Finance Office)

Circumstances for making an advance

Advances can be requested where an individual may otherwise be significantly disadvantaged by using the expenses process. Wherever possible, direct payments by the University should be made (e.g. via a purchase order and/or invoice) before considering an advance request. Further information on the circumstances where an advance is appropriate can be found on the advances guidance page.  

  • The charge for Prepaid cards is:
    Single use card    £20
    Reloadable card   £10 plus monthly fee of £3
  • Please allow sufficient time prior to your first day of travel when submitting a request for a new card and requisite advance form – Cashiers need a minimum of 7 working days’ notice to issue and load a new card.
  • For any new Prepaid cards, download and complete the prepaid card application form.
  • Once completed, print out and sign the form, which should be approved, and forwarded to the Cashiers, who will issue the card.
  • Cashiers will then make contact by email to advise when the pre-paid card is ready for collection from the Finance Division, Hythe Bridge Street. The named cardholder should call in person to collect and sign for the card, within 14 days of the email.
  • Once the new card is received, the cardholder must activate it by calling MasterCard, who will then provide the PIN. The card cannot be used until this has been actioned. In addition, the cardholder should register for online access to the account, which is required in order to monitor expenditure and obtain a card statement for reconciliation purposes. Full information on how to do this is provided with the card.

All previous advances are to be fully cleared before any new request is submitted. Where a reconciliation and a further advance request form is submitted from a cardholder, a minimum of 5 working days is required to complete the reconciliation and action the new request.

All requests to add funds to a pre-paid card should be properly authorised, and sent through to the Cashiers, allowing at least 2 working days for them to load the funds onto the card.

  • Complete stage 1 of the Advance Request Form – Cash or Pre-paid Card, ensuring that you include with the following details:
    • Advance type – select Cash or Pre-Paid Card as necessary
    • Risk and Insurance – complete as necessary and attach evidence (if applicable)
    • Advance details – give a brief description of estimated expenditure.
      • Please note - flight and hotel costs should ideally be booked beforehand using the University’s preferred supplier.
    • Reason for advance – 3 notes required:
      • Detailed reason, including purpose and dates of travel;
      • ‘For PRE-PAID CARD’ should be clearly indicated on the form
      • The department cost centre to be charged (e.g. ZT0000)
  • Once completed, print out and sign the Advance Form, obtain approval from the relevant budget holder (if applicable), then send to your Department Finance Officer/Administrator for final approval. 
  • When approved, the form should be forwarded to the Cashiers, who will upload funds onto the card. An original, signed form is required, not a scanned copy.

The Advance Request Form – Cash or Pre paid card provides the means to record actual expenditure incurred against an advance, either as the money is being spent, or immediately after the event. As there is a requirement that all advances are fully accounted for, individuals in receipt of advances should ensure that these details are recorded as promptly as possible and supporting receipts retained.

  • All expenditure should be in respect of bona fide business expenses, incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily on behalf of the university.
  • Expenses incurred using funds provided by means of an advance of expenses must comply with the general rules for expenses as well as specific rules for advances, as defined in the University Expenses Guidance.
  • The preference is that purchases should be paid for by card. Cash can be withdrawn for small ad hoc purchases, and if you are visiting a cash dependent country. If this is likely to be the case, consideration should be given to mentioning cash handling in your risk assessment, and arranging suitable insurance cover.  Se also the Travelling for Work Guidance for further information.
  • If cash is required for smaller purchases:
    • Avoid exchanging currency at airports due to the very poor exchange rates
    • Withdraw cash once you arrive at your destination. This will provide you with local currency and mitigate the risks involved in carrying large amounts of cash while travelling
    • Cash withdrawals (ATM) – obtain and retain the withdrawal receipt from the machine as evidence.  This will help to reconcile the withdrawals to the transaction list, and provide the exchange rate required for the reconciliation process.
    • Only withdraw the amount of cash required – the Cashiers can’t exchange leftover coins and certain currency notes back into GBP, so any left-over that can’t be changed will be charged back as a loss to your cost centre.
  • Receipts should be obtained as proof of purchase for all expenditure. This is a basic accounting and tax requirement. Claims that are not supported by receipts may be refused and the claimant asked to reimburse the University for the amount unaccounted for.
    • Written or printed receipts providing evidence that specific goods or services have been received and paid for are considered valid for this purpose.
    • Credit Card receipts or copies of credit card/bank statements only are NOT valid receipts for this purpose.
    • Any ‘non-qualifying’ purchases, or amounts not reconciled need to be repaid to the University, otherwise they may be classed as a taxable benefit i.e. subject to Tax and National Insurance via Form P11D.
  • On returning from business travel, the cardholder must ensure that all original supporting information is gathered together to account for the expenditure incurred (i.e. receipts and other documents).
  • The reconciliation should be completed and sent to the Department Finance Officer within 1 month of return from travel.
  • Any instances where the reconciliation is not received within a reasonable time frame, and after subsequent reminders by the department and/or central finance, may be referred to payroll and classed as a taxable benefit that is subject to Tax and National Insurance via Form P11D.
  • Complete stages 2 and 3 of the Advance Request Form to show actual expenditure incurred against the original sum advanced.
  • Print out a full card statement from the online reporting portal – from this you will be able to calculate the expenditure total.
  • Identify the breakdown of spend by card purchases, fees, and cash purchases/cash leftover – separate card purchases from cash.
  • It is helpful to number the receipts and entries on the card statement for purchases (i.e. card 1, card 2).
  • List these on stage 2 by entering a suitable category of expense, putting a valid description and then the GBP value as shown on the Card statement.
  • Identify the fees incurred for any cash withdrawals, and card purchases. Highlight on the statement and total them.  This should then be entered on a line of stage 2 with category of expense as ‘other items’.
  • Turning to cash transactions - the full amount of currency withdrawn needs to be accounted for, so you should have receipts and/or cash adding up to the relevant amount.
    • Always use the exchange rate(s) as received when withdrawing or exchanging cash. Multiple withdrawals in the same currency can be combined to produce an overall (average) exchange rate
  • List cash receipts on stage 2 by entering a suitable category of expense, adding a valid description, and then the respective currency and value of the receipt(s). These can be amalgamated under expenditure type, rather than all listed individually.
  • If you have cash left over, this must also be listed, again using the actual exchange rate obtained. This will ensure that the form balances to the value left on the card.
  • Once all receipts have been entered this will then give you the total expenditure and will be transferred to the final page of the Advance Request Form (Stage 3).
  • This final page will summarise the amount advanced, total expenditure and the outstanding balance, which should represent the balance left on the card – any difference will need to be investigated, including ensuring cash transactions balance to the amount withdrawn.
  • Once completed obtain approval from an authorised signatory before submitting the completed pages, plus supporting documentation and any returned cash to the Department Finance Officer, for checking and forwarding to the Cashiers.
  • Cashiers/Treasury will post the original advance request to relevant cost centre and natural account 14100 (Advances General)
  • Once the reconciliation has been agreed, Cashiers will post the card balance and any cash returned that has been converted to GBP to relevant cost centre and natural account 14100 (Advances General)and return the paperwork to the department
  • Once all transactions above are posted the balance for that particular card should be journalled out of natural account 14100 and to the relevant natural accounts/project codes that the expenditure relates to
Expenses Principles Logo. 1: value for money. 2: cannot pay directly.  3: no personal benefit. 4: evidence required.

Contact Us

 : Cash & Banking Team
       Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2ET

 : Senior Cashier -
       01865 (6) 16032
       Finance Administrator -
       01865 (6)16120
 : For further information please
       visit our contact page