Understand purchasing cards

United States

What is a purchasing card

A purchasing card, also known as a P‑Card, payment card, or procurement card, is a type of company card. Employees can use the card to charge goods and services on behalf of their employers without going through the traditional purchase request and approval process. A purchasing card uses existing credit card infrastructure to make electronic payments for business transactions. It is a consumer credit card; the card-using retailer must pay the card issuer in full each month.

Levels of data for processing of purchasing cards

There are three levels of data for processing of purchasing cards:

  • Level 1 data—Basic transaction information, including purchase amount, date, and retailer name. Commonly used for standard credit card transactions.
  • Level 2 data—Additional details beyond Level 1 data, such as order numbers, tax amounts, and merchant postal codes. Primarily used for corporate cards and B2B transactions.
  • Level 3 data—Primarily used for line-item details, including quantities, product codes and descriptions, freight amounts, and duty amounts. Relevant for large B2B transactions.

For more information, see Levels and processing of purchasing cards.

Processing of purchasing cards

The processing of purchasing cards is different from that of credit cards. The quantity processed by purchasing cards and the amount of information required to secure the transactions may require higher processing levels. The higher the processing level, the more transaction information is required. By capturing more data, businesses can take advantage of lower interchange rates.