Everything you need to know about the Visa Travel card.

What authority requires that I use a travel card and where is it stated?

Public Law 105-264, the Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998, prescribes mandatory use of the government travel card and assigned the General Service Administration to issue the rules for use of the card. Those rules provide for exemptions under certain circumstances. Check your Department’s regulations for the rules that apply to your organization.

What authority requires me to split disburse my travel payments and where is it stated?

Public Law 107-314, Section 1008 gives DoD the authority to implement split disbursement. OMB Circular A-123 Appendix B also prescribes the use of split disbursement as a practice for managing government travel cards. Your department or agency may or may not be using or requiring the use of split disbursement. You can check with your Travel Card Component Program Manager to find out if existing policies apply to your agency.

What if I can’t pay my bill because I haven’t received my reimbursement?

Individually billed accounts are the obligation of the cardholder. Most travel card programs through the SmartPay contract provide for no interest on outstanding balances, delayed late fees, and accommodations for other unique circumstances. Check with your agency program coordinator regarding the policies that apply to your agency.

How can I be placed in salary offset without anyone notifying me?

In the case of salary offset, either the agency or the bank will send a notice for salary offset to the cardholder’s address of record 30 days prior to the enrollment in salary offset delinquency point. Individuals are responsible for ensuring their address is updated when they move either within or between departments. The notification requirement for implementation of salary offset is met by use of the existing address of record, whether or not it is current.

What if I prefer to use my own card instead of the government card?

Public Law 105-264 prescribed mandatory use because it saves the government money. The government saves mostly through reduced administrative costs by not having to issue and maintain cash advances. Savings are also realized through discounted airfares, strategic sourcing through analysis of card data, and through rebates. Individuals benefit from having a secure source of travel funds, added benefits, liability protection, and extended payment terms.

What if I agree not to ask for a travel advance and use my own card?

In implementing Public Law 105-264, the General Services Administration allowed exemptions from mandatory use of the card for certain circumstances, and your department or agency may have outlined additional circumstances. Generally, those exemptions pertain to security, frequency of travel, or other unique requirements. You can check with your agency program coordinator to find the rules governing your agency. Generally though, there is no exemption from mandatory use based on a personal preference to use your own card. The benefits to the government are achieved in large part based on volume of business.

What if I can prove that I can get a cheaper rate than the city pair rate on the Internet?

Check with your department or agency travel management section when determining whether or not you can purchase a non-city pair fare. You may be able to get a cheaper fare for a specific trip, however, it is unlikely that you will also get the last seat availability and fully refundable option that generally is included in a city pair rate. City pairs are negotiated with the airlines based on volume, so whenever government travelers do not use the city pair fare rates but fly to the same destinations, the government further loses its negotiating strength for future savings.

What if I can’t get a card?

Department and agency policies differ on eligibility for a travel card. Check with your agency program coordinator to determine the rules for your agency. Congress has passed creditworthiness requirements for the government when issuing a travel card to an individual. Those requirements can be met in different ways, including credit checks, use of restricted cards, and use of certification statements.

Will getting a Visa Government Travel card will hurt my credit rating?

Not unless you don’t pay your bill. Visa Travel card issuers generally do not report travel card activity to the credit bureaus unless the account charges off (i.e., delinquent amounts over 120 days not recoverable). Also, a salary offset procedure will likely be utilized before charging off an account. Simply having a government travel card will not harm your credit rating. While credit bureaus do take into account the amount of available credit and credit instruments in assessing a credit score, the typical $5,000 government travel card is not going to negatively affect that rating, if it is reflected at all.

How concerned should I be about identify theft?

If you are a frequent traveler, you will likely be using some form of credit card to make reservations. The government card is no more vulnerable to identity theft than any other kind of card. Card issuers may not sell or share personal information with entities outside of the SmartPay program. Both contract and government personnel are required to handle information in accordance with the Privacy Act. You are also not liable for fraudulent charges on your government charge card if you dispute them.

How do I know if my travel card program is compliant with government regulations?

The Travel Card Controls Gauge can help you determine if your program is in compliance with regulations or if it needs adjustments to meet those regulations. Take the online survey to assess the status of your current travel card program and get program improvement plans and relevant legislation based on the answers you provide.

Need further assistance with Visa Government products and solutions? Email us at: publicsector@visa.com. For questions regarding disputed transactions or other issues with your current card activity, contact your issuer.


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