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Credit Card Use Policies

This page provides examples of policies addressing the use of credit cards by local government staff and officials in Washington State.

For examples of policies and code provisions authorizing local governments to accept credit card payments from customers and members of the public, see our page on Credit Card Acceptance.

MRSC will be releasing much more comprehensive guidance on credit card use policies in June 2019. Check this page again in the next few weeks.


RCW 43.09.2855 allows all local governments in Washington to use credit cards for “official government purchases and acquisitions” and requires the legislative body to adopt a system for distribution, administration, and oversight. The statute also prohibits local governments from using credit cards for cash advances.

Each and every credit card purchase must be supported by documentation. If credit cards are used for travel purchases, local governments must also comply with RCW 42.24.115, which requires officials and employees to submit a fully itemized travel expense voucher upon billing or no later than 30 days past the billing date and provides procedures if a charge is disallowed or not properly identified. For examples of travel expense policies, see our page on Travel Expense Reimbursement.

For accounting requirements, see BARS Manual Section 3.8.4 on Purchase Cards (GAAP Manual and Cash Basis Manual).

Under no circumstances may an employee or elected official use a government credit card for personal expenses. According to a 2011 informal opinion letter from the state Attorney General’s Office, local government officials may not use a publicly issued credit card for personal purchases, even if they reimburse the government before the bill is due.

Examples of Credit Card Use Policies

Below are examples of credit card use policies and procedures adopted by local governments in Washington. These policies address topics such as allowable and disallowable charges, credit limits, receipts and documentation, card security, internal controls, and consequences or disciplinary action for cardholders who misuse the card or do not provide proper documentation.

General Credit Card Use Policies

Fuel Card Policy

Recommended Resources

Last Modified: June 10, 2019