Policy Steward: 
Director of Vendor Payment Strategies
Format Updated: 
University Policy & Standards Converted: 
Revision Date: 
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

* This information replaces FIS 410-27 Gift Cards or Certificates


Throughout this policy the term “gift cards” shall include gift certificates unless otherwise specifically stated.

All gift cards purchased by Oregon State University must be pre-authorized and exhibit appropriate use of university funds.  A check will be issued directly to the vendor from whom the gift card will be purchased using the accounts payable process.  Personal reimbursements to OSU employees and payments to auto pay vendors, (including the OSU Bookstore) for gift card purchases are not permitted.  University credit cards may only be used to purchase gift cards with an individual value of $50 or less.

Each purchase of gift cards should not exceed the number of cards expected to be distributed at a specific event. Gift cards should be maintained in dual custody, with one individual assigned the responsibility for dispensing and tracking the gift cards purchased. If there are any undistributed cards, they should be returned to the vendor for credit when permitted. If the vendor will not refund the value of the gift cards, they should be secured and held in dual custody. A description of their planned future use including anticipated disbursement dates must be approved by the department head and included as part of the required supporting documentation.

Supporting documentation should include receipts or a log that record the following information:

  • A listing of recipients
  • Employee ID numbers, if applicable
  • Amount distributed to each recipient
  • Date(s) of distribution
  • Serial numbers of the gift cards, and
  • Recipient’s signature acknowledging receipt

This information should be included in FOATEXT or returned to the Business Center for inclusion in supporting documentation in Nolij.  Note: in the case of a confidential listing of recipients, the list or log should be maintained in a secure location within the department and a comment should be added to FOATEXT.

The value of the receipts or log and any undistributed gift cards must be reconciled to the authorized amount expended so that all cards are accounted for. 

Gift cards to employees (faculty, staff, or student) are considered a cash equivalent and must be accounted for and sufficiently documented since the value of the gift card is reported as taxable in the Payroll system. Use Account Code 20168 for gift card purchases which will be given to employees.  See fiscal policy-rule 03-140-507 Employee Recognition for information on approved funding sources and processing requirements for these awards.

Note: OSU Foundation will not process requests for direct payment or reimbursement (personal or direct reimbursements) for gift card purchases or other cash equivalent gifts or awards.  Gift card or certificate expenses paid by the University are reimbursable through the FS Index Reimbursement System using unrestricted funds.

Account codes for Gift Cards or Certificates:
20168 Awards – employees                                         20169 Awards – non-employees
20190 Testing Group Incentives – volunteers              25140 Research Subjects – volunteers