MIT's new Travel Card Policy is in effect on January 3, 2017

What is the new Travel Card policy? How is it different than current policy?

The new Travel Card Policy has very specific requirements for filing travel expense reports, and consequences—from warnings to card suspension to eventual card cancellation—for cardholders who use the card, but do not file travel expense reports on time.

Specifically:

  • Travelers are required to submit a travel expense report via Concur, MIT's online expense reporting tool, within 30 days after the completion of a trip.
  • If no travel expense reports are filed, travelers will be notified every 30 days reminding them of late reports. Once travel expense reports are more than 90 days past due, notifications will be sent to the Administrative Officer in the traveler’s DLC and the Assistant Dean in the traveler’s School.
  • If a traveler does not submit a travel expense report after more than 120 days following a trip, the MIT Travel Card will be suspended.
  • If a travel expense report is not filed after 150 days, the MIT Travel Card will be canceled.
  • If a traveler wants to have his/her card reinstated following suspension, they will need to file all outstanding travel expense reports.
  • A canceled card cannot be reopened or reactivated. Travelers can reapply for a new MIT Travel Card after all outstanding travel expense reports have been filed. Terms of accepting a new card will require travelers to agree to the same reporting requirements in the MIT Travel Policy (above). Please be aware that the policy above is in force at all times.

Why is it being implemented now?

While most travelers file their expense reports on time, there is a growing amount of outstanding travel expense reports for trips taken but never expensed by the traveler. Travel and Card Services staff in the Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF), administrative and financial officers, assistant deans and other administrators have attempted various forms of outreach to encourage the filing of travel expense reports, but it has become evident that a change in the Travel Card Policy is needed to address this issue.

As stewards of the Institute’s financial resources, we cannot allow the card to be used if there is no follow-up documentation (reports) on specific trips and charges to the MIT Travel Card.

Doesn’t MIT have a responsibility to fund my travel so I don’t have to use my own funds?

The MIT Travel Card is available for the convenience of MIT’s travelers and makes it easy for MIT travelers to travel without having to use personal funds for a trip. Cardholders, therefore, have a responsibility to properly report on the charges and reconcile them to the proper cost object/account within 30 days of the completion of travel.

Using an MIT travel card is a privilege (not a right) and comes with certain responsibilities.  This policy is designed to make sure cardholders uphold their reporting responsibilities and file expenses in a timely manner.

How does the credit card company get paid? If I haven’t filed my travel expense reports, are late charges being incurred?

MIT pays the credit card bill directly, and on time. Expenses are then reconciled to your specific cost object/account when travel expense reports are filed.

How does this policy compare to our peers?

Our peers have similar policies, though most have a much shorter timeline for expense reporting. Some universities suspend a card as early as 30 days after trip completion if the travel report is not filed. (MIT Policy is 120 days). Some universities report the unexpensed travel charges as taxable income for the cardholder. MIT does not do this but expects that all travelers will file travel expense reports and adhere to the reporting timelines.

Our goal in implementing this new policy is to balance the need to expense charges in a timely manner to maintain compliance while still allowing travelers sufficient time to prepare and file complex travel reports.

Why is this important?

Filing travel expense reports in a timely manner is a sound financial practice that keeps MIT in compliance with sponsor requirements, IRS rules, federal and internal auditors, and our own internal financial reporting obligations. These reports serve a crucial role in financial accounting by keeping charges allocated to appropriate cost objects/accounts, and enabling financial administrators to accurately forecast expenses.

If my card is suspended or canceled, will that affect my personal credit score?

No. Use of this card is not connected to your personal financial records or credit score.

Why can’t we just go back to getting cash advances?

Use of the MIT Travel Card makes it easier for the Traveler to pay for business travel expenses by eliminating the need for travel advances and eliminating most out-of-pocket expenses. The Card represents MIT’s method of advancing travel related expenses.

Why do you involve AOs and Assistant Deans about my travel expenses? I don’t want others involved in my travel expense reporting.

AOs and the Assistant Deans need to be aware of all financial and compliance issues as these outstanding charges can have financial implications for departmental expense reporting, budgeting, and audits.

Why can’t I expense airfare before I take a trip? If I buy a ticket far in advance to get a lower fare and put it on my personal credit card, I have to pay for it and then wait for MIT to reimburse me.

MIT cannot reimburse until after you take the trip. The Institute needs to receive the benefit of your travel before you can be reimbursed for it. This is common accounting practice.

In addition, since trips are sometimes planned, booked, and then later canceled, MIT does not want to pay you for a trip you didn’t take and then need to pursue reimbursement.

I’m too busy to file my expenses. Can someone do it for me?

Yes. You will need to authorize someone and then set up their status as your delegate in Concur (for assistance with this, email your request to add an authorized delegate to travelsupport@mit.edu). Once set up, your delegate can proxy into your Concur profile and submit your reports.

If someone does it for me, can they also approve my expenses?

The system is designed to follow the approval flow assigned to the cost object you are using. Concur will automatically identify the approver required to approve your report and forward it to their approval queue. Once they approve, the report will automatically route to VPF Travel and Card Services for final approval.

I made a purchase on my MIT Travel Card for a trip three months from now. Why is this showing up in a dunning report? Doesn’t MIT policy state that I cannot expense the charge(s) until the trip has been completed.

We recognize that some charges that show up in our reports may be for trips which have not yet occurred. We recommend you create a trip report now with the correct dates, and keep this report in your profile. Do not submit this report until you complete the trip.

There is a fraudulent charge/refunded charge on my card/account. Do I need to do anything about this?

Yes. Contact VPF Travel and Card Services to report fraud. MIT Travel Card charges cannot disappear or be removed from your profile. If you have a charge and a refund for that charge, you should put both of those charges into a report, explain the situation and submit for approval. As long as these zero out, you should have no problem getting the report approved. This charge will disappear from your account after your report is approved.

I’m an Administrative Officer or an Assistant Dean. I notice that some people appearing on my list are not associated with my department. Why are they appearing here?

The system reports based on the cost object/account associated with the charges. If charges are in a report, the system will use the cost object/account in the report header. If the charges are unassigned, the system will use the default cost object/account associated with the cardholder’s profile.

A cardholder may be appearing on your report because they have used one of your cost objects/accounts in their report header. The only way to remove them from your Dunning Report is to change the cost object/account in that report. The system is designed to make sure you are aware of any travelers who may be planning to use funds under your jurisdiction to pay for a trip. The best course of action is to contact that traveler and discuss the trip in question.