Gift cards are cash-like instruments used in lieu of cash or check. Departmental staff using gift cards must follow the cash control guidelines for proper handling and accounting. 

The use of gift cards must comply with all the guidelines associated with the PSC Procedural Statement: Gift Cards. Gift cards may be used to compensate study subjects who are U.S. persons and when payments are less than $100 or to recognize employees or other individuals. Gift cards may not be used for any reason other than the originally stated purpose.

The gift card authorization must be requested in advance by the individual known as the custodian. In most cases, the person responsible for dispensing gift cards should hold this responsibility.

To establish a gift card program, complete a Gift Card Authorization Request (GC) form available on the PSC Forms page. The form must be accompanied by any additional documentation according to the relevant procedures (e.g. Study Subject Payments or Recognition and Training). Submit the required documents to CCO at, preferably via DocuSign. CCO will return an approved copy of the GC to the custodian through a new DocuSign. The gift cards may be purchased upon CCO approval.

  1. The custodian must take appropriate measures to ensure the security of the gift cards at all times. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Keeping the gift cards in a locked box or in a locked cabinet/drawer
    • Restricting access to the keys for the box and cabinet/drawer only to the assigned custodian
    • Storing electronic gift cards, corresponding links, or serial numbers, in a password protected file in a locked folder on the department’s drive (or other secured drive) on the shared server.
  2. Gift card custodians will use the Gift Card Audit Log & Reconciliation Template provided on the Procurement Service Center website to track gift card distributions.  
  3. To transfer custody of the gift cards temporarily, an acknowledgement of responsibility must be signed and dated by the custodian and the temporal custodian. A copy of the agreement must be kept with the inventory.  
  4. When gift cards are distributed via mail, the supervisor, or another staff member to whom the supervisor has delegated authority, will witness the distribution of gift cards by mail. The witness will sign a Gift Card Distribution Form stating that they witnessed the mailing of the cards and citing the corresponding serial numbers.  
  5. When gift cards are distributed electronically (by email or other electronic means) and are not physically present in the department offices, the custodian will track the appropriate information related to gift cards being purchased and distributed.  For example, when Starbucks gift cards are distributed by Starbucks directly to recipients via email, the serial numbers are not given to the purchaser. In this case, the custodian will modify the Audit Log to track the Event information for the participant, the date of the card order, the date Starbucks confirmed they were sent, and the Order Number for the gift cards sent, in addition to the PeopleSoft Journal ID, and gift card purpose. 
  6. Before voiding gift cards, custodians will contact the vendor for related conditions and refund procedures. Any refund monies received from the vendor shall be deposited immediately to the appropriate university SpeedType against the original expense.
  7. If theft occurs, notify the University of Colorado Police Department (CUPD) and CCO, immediately upon the discovery of the discrepancy.
  8. For any of the following occurrences, a new GC must be submitted to CCO, preferably through DocuSign, along with a copy of the existing GC approval:
    • Custodian change
    • Increase or decrease in authorized amount
    • Changes in the location of the gift cards (including SpeedTypes)
    • Changes in the dates of the distribution period
    • CCO will return an approved copy of the GC to the custodian through a new DocuSign. 

For internal control purposes, the custodian should conduct monthly reconciliations to ensure that the cards purchased and distributed agree with those in the Audit Log. The custodian’s supervisor or other designated staff member should review and sign off on the reconciliation quarterly. The gift cards and Audit Log are subject to unannounced audits at any time by CCO staff, internal auditors, and external auditors.

At the conclusion of the gift card distribution period, notify CCO at of the gift card inventory status.