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About the CPCP Program & FAQs
 CPCP Overview 

The CPCP credential is awarded to P-Card professionals who have demonstrated experience and understanding of the body of knowledge necessary to administer a Purchasing Card program. This credential focuses on individual skills and knowledge of specialized P-Card functions. Achieving this designation allows P-Card professionals to be recognized for their exemplary level of expertise.

  • Professional recognition distinguishes individuals as having mastered the relevant body of knowledge and shows a commitment to the industry.
  • It defines the benchmark standard for professionals in the P‑Card industry and provides evidence to employers that you have been examined by a certifying organization.
  • It also establishes the level of knowledge required to administrate a program and encourages personal and professional growth.
  • Certification differentiates those that are knowledgeable, trained, competent and dedicated to their profession.
 Frequently Asked Questions

If, after reviewing the FAQs, you have a unique inquiry that is not addressed herein, please submit your question to heather_miller@napcp,org.



1. What is the name of the credential?

The Certified Purchasing Card Professional (CPCP) credential is the designation a professional will receive upon passing the written certification examination.


2. Why was the credential created?

Industry interest led the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals (NAPCP) Advisory Board to form the Purchasing Card Professional Certification Council (PCPCC) to investigate the viability of professional certification and ultimately bring the credential to fruition. The CPCP credential was developed to recognize professionals who possess the education, skills and experience necessary to be successful Purchasing Card professionals. Additionally, the CPCP credential was developed to increase the proficiency of Purchasing Card professionals in any component or sector of the industry by:

  • identifying the body of knowledge
  • establishing a level of knowledge and performance necessary for certification
  • stimulating the advancement of the art and science of Purchasing Card management
  • increasing the value of practitioners to their employers
  • recognizing and raising industry standards, practices and ethics
  • maximizing the value received from the products and services provided by certified professionals

3. Who benefits?

End-users and providers; employees and employers; public and private industry. Individuals gain not only the credential, but additional skills and confidence to advance their careers. Hiring managers are able to find and retain skilled individuals. Certification ensures that professionals perform duties according to standards and implement programs successfully. Providers achieve a competitive advantage by developing a pool of experts and advocates that support the expansion of the industry.


4. When did the credential begin?

The first examination was offered in October 2006. Testing occurs three times annually.

Program Administration

1. What is the role of the Purchasing Card Professional Certification Council (PCPCC)?

Industry interest led the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals (NAPCP) Advisory Board to form the PCPCC to investigate the viability of professional certification and ultimately bring the credential to fruition. The PCPCC benchmarked with other credentialing organizations, reflected upon the needs of the Purchasing Card industry and, together with the NAPCP, partnered with the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) to create the CPCP credential. The functions of the PCPCC are to:

  • establish, monitor and revise requirements for certification
  • continue research efforts relating to the certification of Purchasing Card professionals
  • do all things necessary and proper to promote and ensure professionalism in the Purchasing Card industry

2. What is the role of the NAPCP?

The NAPCP provides general oversight and administrative support for the CPCP program. At least one NAPCP staff member participates on the PCPCC.   


3. Who is the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC)?

The NAPCP selected PTC as its business partner to ensure that the credentialing process is psychometrically sound and in general meets appropriate standards for professional designation. For more information about PTC, visit


4. Who is PSI?

PSI, a partner of the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC), offers proctored computer-based test administration for occupational and professional licensure and certification, including the CPCP program. They offer several hundred computer-based testing centers across the United States, Canada, and Internationally. For more information about PSI, visit

Reasons to Pursue and/or Support the CPCP Credential

1. Why should I pursue the Certified Purchasing Card Professional (CPCP) credential?

The CPCP credential is a milestone for professionals who take ownership of their careers, providing a basis for continued personal and professional growth. It provides documented evidence to a current or potential employer that you have been examined by an independent certifying organization and found to possess a mastery of the body of knowledge in the specialized field of Purchasing Cards. Pursuing the credential allows you to leverage your knowledge and experience into career advancement and improve your value to your employer. The CPCP credential also provides a standard of experience and knowledge requisite for certification, thereby assisting employers, the public and members of the Purchasing Card profession in the assessment of Purchasing Card professionals.

2. Why should my organization support my pursuit of the credential?

Organizations have communicated to the Purchasing Card Professional Certification Council (PCPCC) and the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals (NAPCP) that they value the CPCP credential as evidence of a solid baseline of Purchasing Card program knowledge. The credential represents individual competencies and allows professionals to demonstrate a clear understanding of the many facets of program operations. Qualified professionals will be more likely to not only seek out and implement best practices and procedures—resulting in more effective programs for their organizations, but will also be more effective in interacting with users, suppliers, providers and customers.

Initial Eligibility and Application Process

1. I am interested in earning the CPCP credential—where do I start?

You will need to apply for eligibility prior to taking the examination. First, ensure that you have at least two years of Purchasing Card experience prior to applying. Then review the application process and, for complete details, the Handbook for Candidates


2. Other than meeting the eligibility requirements, how can I determine my readiness for pursuing the credential?

Consider the depth of your work experience and P-Card industry knowledge. For example, familiarity with industry best practices, which may not always align with how your organization does something, is beneficial. Having general business experience and knowledge of a variety of functions (e.g., procurement, accounting, etc.), in addition to P-Card experience, may also improve your readiness.


The NAPCP offers a six-question survey to help individuals assess their readiness.


3. Does having extensive P-Card work experience increase an individual's likelihood of passing the examination?          

The type of P-Card experience that someone has can be even more significant than simply the number of years of experience. An individual whose experience is limited to P-Card program operations (i.e., policies and procedures) for one particular organization may not be as successful as an individual who:

  • has been involved with all aspects of implementing and managing a program
  • possesses a broad understanding of the P-Card industry at large

Appropriate preparation for the exam is another important factor for CPCP success. 


4. Can an individual outside of the United States apply for the examination?

Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria, described within the Handbook for Candidates, can apply to take the examination. However, the examination is offered in English only and contains some questions that are based on the United States’ regulatory requirements. See also the frequently asked questions on the Examination Appointment and Testing Facilities.


5. How do I document my work experience?

Candidates cannot self-validate their work experience. You will be required to provide supporting documentation in the form of a letter on letterhead from your current and/or previous employer(s) stating your applicable job titles, the months and years you held each title (from and to) and Purchasing Card responsibilities of each job title. This should be written and signed by either your supervisor or an HR representative. Click here to view a sample letter.


For companies that are no longer in business, you are allowed to have your work experience documented by either a co-worker, subordinate or even a supplier—provided they can relay the requested details about your position(s). If your work experience was gained in the military, provide a copy of your DD-214 as documentation of work experience.


6. Do you really need a copy of my college diploma or transcripts? What if my employer already verified and can attest to it via a letter? 

The short answer is "yes." We understand this can sometimes be challenging to find, especially if your degree was earned decades ago. However, this requirement helps prevent false claims and support the integrity of the process. Even if an employer rigorously reviews an individual's background as part of the hiring process, someone could still falsify a letter that accompanies the CPCP application. 


7. What if I do not have a college degree?

A formal degree is not required for eligibility. There are a variety of avenues for reaching the minimum number of points needed in order to be eligible to sit for the examination.   


8. On the application, can I claim a master's degree other than an MBA?

If the master's degree is business-related, it can be claimed using the row designated for MBA.


9. How do I earn points for CPCP eligibility?

Points can be earned many ways; examples of point-eligible items include:

  • relevant work experience (e.g., P-Card program management)
  • having another professional certification (e.g., C.P.M., CPA)
  • industry participation (e.g., fulfilling a speaker role at a P-Card conference)
  • professional development/continuing education (e.g., attending relevant events)

Review the list of point endeavors for initial eligibility. All claimed points require supporting documentation


10. What are some examples of professional certifications that qualify for CPCP eligibility points?

 The maximum that can be claimed is one (for five points total).












11. Do I need to be an NAPCP member to apply for the CPCP examination?    

No. Both NAPCP members and non-members may apply. (NAPCP members receive a discount on the fee.)


12. What is the application fee and what is the purpose of it?

  • $330.00 for NAPCP members testing in the U.S.
  • $430.00 for NAPCP complimentary subscribers and the general public testing in the U.S.
  • + $100.00 fee for those testing outside of the U.S. 

The fee helps to offset the costs of ongoing CPCP program administration (e.g., application processing, examination development, exam proctors, etc.).


13. What is the refund policy?

There is no refund of fees and no substitution of candidates. Fees may be transferred once from one testing period to the next immediate testing period only. For more information about refunds and changing your examination appointment, review the Handbook for Candidates.


14. Where do I send my application, supporting documentation and payment?

First, the Purchasing Card Professional Certification Council (PCPCC) recommends that you make a copy of all documents before submittingthe information. Then review the application process, including where to send your information. Applications must be postmarked by the specified deadline to be considered for the next testing period.


15. How long does it take the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) to process my application?

The standard processing time for applications is five to ten business days from receipt. This is when PTC typically processes the payment. Once the application period closes (e.g., end of April or end of August), approved candidates will be sent an electronic "Scheduling Authorization" with complete instructions on how to schedule their examination date and location.


16. What happens if my application is missing something or it is declined?

If a candidate's application and/or supporting material is missing anything (i.e., insufficient documentation), PTC will contact the individual by e-mail. You will be given an opportunity to submit missing documentation. If the application deadline passes and the candidate has failed to provide the required documentation, all materials, including payment, will be not be processed. Because of this risk, individuals are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible, well ahead of the deadline.


If a candidate is deemed ineligible due to an inability meet the eligibility requirements (e.g., lack of the required Purchasing Card experience), all materials, including payment, will not be processed.

Examination Appointment and Testing Facilities

1. When can I schedule my examination?

Once a candidate’s application has been approved, an electronic notification will be sent with complete information on how to schedule the examination. You will not be able to schedule your examination appointment until you have received an eligibility notice from the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC). Schedule your examination for any available date and time during the designated two-week testing window.    


2. How do I find a test center?

All testing is done at PSI Testing Centers.

  • Click on the link for Certification/Professional Associations.
  • Select the sponsor name, which is the Purchasing Card Professional Certification Council.
  • Click on the link for Test Centers.
  • Complete the provided form to find a testing center. (You will need to select the examination sponsor again.)

You may also call (800) 733-9267.   


3. What can I expect at the test center?

First, familiarize yourself with the test center location and allow plenty of travel time. Ensure that you bring your confirmation and a valid, government-issued photo ID (such as driver license, military I.D. or passport) with you to the testing facility. Dress in layers due to possible temperature variances at test centers.


Test centers vary by location, but there are commonalities. You will be observed by a proctor (either in-person or via a surveillance camera) to maintain the integrity of the exam process. You will not be allowed to bring personal items, especially reference materials and signaling devices (e.g., pagers, cell phones), into the testing area. This may also include handbags, water bottles, watches, notebooks and so on. Please check with your selected test center if you have unique needs.


Be aware that other exam participants, whether for the CPCP exam or other exam, may be entering and exiting the testing area while you are completing your exam. Please let the proctor know immediately if there is excessive noise in your testing area.


4. Can I take the CPCP examination at my place of work?

Onsite testing is not offered because of the need to check proper identification and have all examinations monitored by qualified proctors. All testing is done at PSI Testing Centers


5. What if I have to cancel or reschedule my examination appointment?

There is no refund of fees and substitute candidates are not allowed. However, the fee may be transferred once for the approved candidate—from one testing period to the next immediate testing period only. For more information about refunds and changing your examination appointment, review the Handbook for Candidates.


6. If I want to change my test date from the original testing period to the next testing period, do I need to reapply and/or obtain a new eligibility notice?

First, follow the "changing your examination appointment" instructions within the Handbook for Candidates. You do not need to reapply, but you will receive a new eligibility notice from PTC sometime after the application deadline for the next testing period.

Preparing for the Examination

1. What will the examination test on?

A detailed exam content outline, including the approximate weightings for each subject area, is available for your review.


2. Does having extensive P-Card work experience increase an individual's likelihood of passing the examination?

The type of P-Card experience that someone has can be even more significant than simply the number of years of experience. An individual whose experience is limited to P-Card program operations (i.e., policies and procedures) for a particular organization may not be as successful as an individual who also possesses a broad understanding of the P-Card industry, including the players, process and industry best practices. In addition, having general business experience and knowledge of a variety of functions (e.g., procurement, accounting, etc.) is beneficial.


Comprehensive experience and knowledge plus appropriate preparation are important factors for CPCP success. 


3. How have other people prepared for the exam?

Over the years, the NAPCP has gathered comments from individuals who passed the exam. Some prepared for months (or even a year), while others studied for several weeks. Some found it helpful to take notes versus simply read material. Most have indicated that work experience alone is not enough; studying is important.


4. Is there a study guide or review course for the exam?

No, it is not considered a good practice to teach to a test. However, the Purchasing Card Professional Certification Council (PCPCC) and NAPCP developed Purchasing Card Essentials: The NAPCP's Guide to Establishing and Managing a Program, which provides solid information regarding all aspects of Purchasing Cards. This guide, offered for sale by the NAPCP, is just one of many resources included in the reading references list for the CPCP exam.

Also refer to the online study tips when preparing for the exam.
5. How was the reading references list developed?

Prior to the launch of the CPCP program in 2006, the PCPCC researched the market, seeking relevant resources (i.e., industry information) that may aid exam preparation efforts. This research included reviews of educational materials offered by many different organizations, such as card issuers, networks, other product and service providers, consultants, research organizations, etc.

The PCPCC routinely updates the list, when appropriate, as new industry resources become available. If you are aware of good P-Card references not already on this list (that align with one or more topics on the exam content outline), please contact the PCPCC via


6. How do I obtain the information listed in the reading references list?

The reading references list includes the name and author and/or sponsoring organization of each document. Many are available through the NAPCP website; others you can find on the Internet; and for some, you will need to contact the author or sponsoring organization to obtain a copy. Some of the materials are available for purchase, or you may borrow them from a colleague, or you and a colleague may want to purchase them together and share them as you prepare for the examination.

7. Am I expected to read all the material in the reading references list?

It’s not necessary to obtain or read everything on the reading references list. The list does not attempt to include all acceptable references, nor is it suggested that the examination is based entirely on these references.The PCPCC recommends that you review the exam content outline first and concentrate on those areas in which you think you are weak.

8. Why are there so many NAPCP resources on the reading references list?

Because the NAPCP's primary focus is the P-Card industry, the association naturally offers many resources relevant to P-Card program management—many of which are good choices for study purposes. The PCPCC does not attempt to limit the reading references list in any way, striving to include a variety of current resources from a variety of organizations. As such, the PCPCC welcomes your support on this endeavor. If you are aware of good P-Card references not already on this list (that align with one or more topics on the exam content outline), please contact the PCPCC via


9. Besides the NAPCP, who else provides good P-Card resources?

The NAPCP and PCPCC cannot comment on the quality of other organizations' resources, as this can be subjective. Nevertheless, many organizations, while not focused primarily on P-Cards per se, offer resources that provide P-Card coverage. Some resources are complimentary and others are fee-based. Consider:

  • your card issuer and/or network for reports, brochures, studies, etc.
  • business publications that your organization may receive
  • resources (e.g., newsletters) from other organizations with whom your organization has a membership or subscription
  • sources that provide regular news "feeds" that cover the payments industry, such as Payments News

Note that, even if a P-Card resource does not explicitly cover one of the CPCP exam topics, it may be beneficial for increasing your industry knowledge and/or aiding your program management efforts.


Examination Results

1. Will examination results be available immediately?

An unofficial pass/fail result will be given onsite for June and October testing periods. At the April conference, the exam results will not be available immediately.

Once the two-week window of testing is completed, the official results must be tabulated and validated before the actual examination results are released to the candidates. Results will be provided within four to six weeks after the two-week testing window has closed.


2. How are the examinations scored? What is passing?

Please refer to the "Scoring Procedure" section of the Handbook for Candidates.


3. Will I be able to ascertain which questions I answered incorrectly?

Individuals will be given a breakdown of the number of questions answered correctly in each of the major categories covered on the exam. To uphold the integrity of the exam, you will not be able to see which questions you answered incorrectly; all of the items are confidential and are not released once the examination has been taken.


4. If I pass the examination, what is the proper way to denote the credential after my name?

Individuals who pass the certification examination will become Certified Purchasing Card Professionals and are eligible to use the registered designation "CPCP" after their names for as long as the credential remains valid. See also the frequently asked questions about the Certification Period and Recertification.


5. What do I do if I fail the examination?

In order to re-test, you will need to submit another application and appropriate payment to the Professional Testing Corporation (PTC). There is no discount on re-tests. In regard to the supporting documentation component, if you plan to re-test:

  • within 12 months of your last exam, there is no need to re-submit supporting documentation; please include a note with your application, specifying when you last took the exam
  • more than 12 months after your last exam, then appropriate supporting documentation is required (just like the initial application process)

6. I failed the exam, but was really close to the passing score. Is there a way I can make up the difference in order to earn the credential?

You should be proud of your effort, but we understand this is disappointing. The minimum passing score provides a clear line, enabling a consistent process, that we need to uphold to avoid managing exception requests.


7. If I fail the first time and pursue taking it again, how can I improve my chances of passing?

Consider your first exam effort, evaluating how your preparation could be improved. For example, did you: 

As a starting point, review your results from the first time to identify your weakest areas.

Certification Period and Recertification

1. What is the "statement of use" concerning the CPCP designation?

Please refer to the Statement of Use policy.


2. How long is my credential valid?

Your credential is valid for three years, at which time you need to recertify in order to maintain it. Refer to your CPCP certificate for the dates of your particular certification period and/or view a list of CPCP groups and the associated expiration.


3. Is it possible to achieve a "lifetime" CPCP credential?

A lifetime credential is not available. The profession is continuing to increase in complexity; as a result, continuing education will play a significant role in making sure Purchasing Card professionals stay current on the latest program management best practices.


4. How do I keep my certification valid if it expires in three years?

The process for maintaining the CPCP credential is called recertification. A current CPCP must recertify through one of two methods:

  • accumulate a minimum of 18 points during the three-year certification period or
  • take and pass the certification examination again


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Certified Purchasing Card Professional Credential 
The next application due date is September 3, 2019, to take the exam during the September 2019 testing period.
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