Making a purchase under $5,000

In follow-up to the recent article, Purchasing goods and services at the U of A, this week's article provides more information on options for purchasing goods or services under $5,000, unavailable from a preferred supplier.

03 March 2022

In an earlier article, The Value of Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSA), information was shared on the benefits of purchasing through the Preferred Supplier Agreement Contract List. Though preferred suppliers should always be the first choice when looking to purchase goods and services, in the event those goods and/or services are not available through a PSA, there are other purchasing options available depending on dollar value.

This week we will provide more information on options for purchases under $5,000. When goods or services are not available from a preferred supplier and the purchase amount is under $5,000, you have the following options: (1) placing the order through SupplyNet or (2) placing the order on a Corporate Purchasing Card (PCard). The following table provides an overview of guidelines and examples of goods and services that are appropriate to purchase through each method.

SupplyNet Purchase Order (PO) Corporate Purchasing Card (PCard)
  • Most orders use this method
  • Contract for Services
  • Purchases where PCard is not an option and the Supplier accepts a PO (e.g. restricted or controlled goods - see eligible and ineligible expenses.)
  • Memberships and subscriptions (not licensing)
  • Registrations
  • Catering and hosting (with unit approval)
  • Books and subscriptions
  • Online purchases
  • Other allowable purchases where the Supplier accepts credit cards and a SupplyNet PO is neither practical nor warranted

Ordering through SupplyNet

The primary purchasing method at the University of Alberta is SupplyNet. More than 3,000 University Requesters have placed SupplyNet Orders electronically to over 15,000 different suppliers.

It is recommended that departments authorize access to SupplyNet for employees who anticipate placing five or more orders annually from our preferred suppliers and/or other suppliers. To request SupplyNet access, visit SupplyNet Requester Access.

For more information, visit our SupplyNet webpage.

Using a Corporate Purchasing Card

A Corporate Purchasing Card (PCard) is university-issued and should be used for purchases below $5,000 only and where the good or service is not available through a Preferred Supplier. Examples of purchases that should be made by PCard include memberships and subscriptions, registration, books, online purchases, one-time purchases, and in circumstances where the vendor does not accept a purchase order.

PCards cannot be used for the purchasing of restricted goods.

It is recommended that departments authorize access to a corporate purchasing card in situations where employees regularly purchase low dollar goods or services that are not available from preferred suppliers and that do not require a SupplyNet purchase order.

Individuals who procure infrequently and do not require access to SupplyNet or a Corporate Purchasing Card are encouraged to work with their Academic Department Manager, Faculty General Manager (for non-departmentalized faculties), or supervisor to determine the process to purchase goods and services.

Reconciling a corporate purchasing card

The corporate purchasing card reconciliation process was redesigned last year as a fully electronic process in PeopleSoft. For information on the reconciliation process, please refer to How to Reconcile Your Credit Card Statement, FAQs, and Demo - PCard Reconciliation.

Users who are given access to a corporate purchasing card should note that timely reconciliation of transactions is a requirement for all university cardholders. Credit card transactions are loaded daily and should be reconciled monthly once the credit card statement notice is received by email. 

The deadline to reconcile and approve transactions related to the current billing cycle (which occurs on the 16th of the month) is the last business day of the month. The Corporate Card Program Team reviews outstanding charges and will send notifications when charges become past due. If the card is not reconciled within two months of the billing cycle, the card will be suspended. In the unlikely event that cardholders record three card suspensions for non-compliance, they will no longer be eligible for a Corporate Purchasing Card.

For more information, visit Reconciliation Deadlines.

Connect with us

As of April 1, PCard reconciliation questions are to be directed to the Staff Service Center. Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) role will be compliance.

For questions on purchasing methods and processes, please contact Finance, Procurement and Planning (FPP), previously referred to as Supply Management Services (SMS), by email at or visit our website.