Who should I contact for help with my account?
First contact your Agency/ Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC). A/OPCs can answer most account related questions including:
- How do I apply for an account?
- What is considered proper use of my account?
- What is my spending limit?
- What are merchant codes and how can I request lifting these codes?
- What is delinquency? What is fraud? What are the consequences for my agency?
- Why has my account been suspended or canceled?
- How do I get set up for online access?
Account holders can also contact the bank directly using the customer service phone number listed on the back of their card.
If your issue can not be resolved by your A/OPC or the bank, please forward it to GSA Program Support email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I get a GSA SmartPay account? Do I need to qualify?
Accounts, such as charge cards, need to be obtained through your agency’s payment solutions program. Each agency has different criteria for distributing accounts to employees. Contact your supervisor or your agency’s program management office for more information on applying for a GSA SmartPay account.
Depending on the type of payment solution and agency/organization, there are different qualifications for applicants to obtain an account:
- For purchase accounts, a supervisor must recommend an employee to apply. Potential purchase account holders must complete purchase account holder training before using their purchase account.
- Depending on the frequency of travel, agency or government wide policy may require that an employee obtain a Government travel account to make travel related purchases. Travel account applicants may be subject to a credit worthiness check and must complete travel account holder training before using their travel account.
- Fleet accounts are generally assigned to a vehicle, rather than an individual. Users of a Government vehicle should contact their fleet program manager to learn more about how to use vehicle fleet accounts.
What may be purchased with my GSA SmartPay account?
Purchase Account – Purchase accounts are the preferred contracting and payment mechanism for micro-purchases of supplies and services in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Only a few categories of purchases are excluded, such as:
- Long-term rental or lease of land or buildings;
- Travel related expenses (excluding conference rooms, meeting spaces, and local transportation services such as Metro fare cards, subway tokens, etc.);
- Cash advances (unless permitted as a value added service under the agency task order).
For purchases above the micro-purchase threshold, the purchase card may be used as an ordering and payment mechanism, not a contracting mechanism. These purchases will require a separate contract.
Travel Account – Travel accounts may be used by individual government travelers to pay for all official Government travel and related expenses. Account holders are expected to submit vouchers to their agency for all authorized travel-related expenses within five days after the travel is completed (or within 30 days if on continuous travel) and must pay their travel account bills.
Account holders are not authorized to make purchases for anything other than official government travel-related expenses. Some agencies authorize the use of travel accounts for local travel purposes - check with your supervisor or A/OPC to learn more about your agency/organization’s policy.
Fleet Account – Fleet accounts may be used for purchasing fuel and maintenance services for government vehicles.
What policies exist regarding the use of the GSA SmartPay payment solutions?
Treasury Financial Manual for Guidance of Departments and Agencies is the Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury’s) official publication of policies, procedures, and instructions concerning financial management in the Federal Government. It is intended to promote the Government’s financial integrity and operational efficiency.
There are a number of policies that govern the use of Government payment solutions. Policies include:
- Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR);
- Federal Travel Regulations (FTR);
- Federal Management Regulations (FMR);
- OMB Circular A-123 Appendix B;
- Public Law;
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Additionally, many agencies have regulations that are specific to their program and tailored to the agency's mission and operating procedures. Contact your agency program management office for more information regarding agency-specific policies. Visit our Policies page for more on the policies listed above.
What are the training requirements? How will my program coordinator know that I have completed my online training?
Per OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B all program participants must be trained and receive a training completion certificate prior to appointment. In addition, refresher training must be completed every 3 years (or more often if required by your agency training policy). Training certificates serve as proof that an account holder has taken the appropriate training course.
Free online training for account holders is available on the GSA SmartPay Online Training website. Account holders can complete the training and obtain a certificate there. If an account holder has previously taken the course and passed the quiz, a certificate can be reprint or save the original course completion date by logging into the online training. An account holder can also take the course a quiz again as refresher training. A passing score will enable the account holder to reprint the certificate with a refreshed date.
What is account misuse, and what are the potential penalties?
Intentional use of a government accounts for other than official government business constitutes misuse, and depending on the situation, may constitute fraud. Each agency develops and implements policies related to employee misuse. Examples of misuse include:
- Purchases that exceed the account holder's limit;
- Purchases that are not authorized by the agency;
- Purchases for which there is no funding;
- Purchases for personal consumption, and
- Purchases that do not comply with the policies.
Potential consequences for the account holder may include: counseling, cancellation of the account, a written warning, notation in employee performance evaluation, reprimand, and/or suspension or termination of employment.
In the case of purchase account or centrally billed accounts (CBA) travel misuse, the employee may be held personally liable to the Government for the amount of any unauthorized transactions. Depending on the agency and the circumstances, there are a number of applicable laws that can result in fines or imprisonment.
Additionally, the contractor banks are authorized to take certain actions against account holders whose accounts are cancelled for delinquency, such as:
- Assessing late fees;
- Utilizing collection agencies to recover the delinquent balance;
- Reporting the delinquency to national credit bureaus, and
- Salary offset.
What is my responsibility when it comes to paying taxes when using my GSA SmartPay account?
In some cases, when using certain types of accounts, government account holders are exempt from taxes on their purchases. Please visit the SmartTax section of the website for more information on taxes.
- Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA): CBAs are purchase accounts where payment is made directly to the bank by the Government.
- Individually Billed Accounts (IBA): IBAs are travel accounts where payment is made directly to the bank by the individual. The state determines the exemption status for Individually Billed Accounts.
- Integrated Accounts: Integrated accounts are considered CBAs
- GSA SmartPay Tax Advantage Travel Card Account: When using the Tax Advantage Travel Account, charges for rental cars and lodging will be automatically billed to a CBA for payment. Charges for other travel-related purchases such as meals and incidentals are billed to the IBA portion of the account.
How does the GSA SmartPay Tax Advantage Travel Account work?
The Tax Advantage Travel Account is issued to an employee designated by the agency/organization in the employee’s name. The agency/organization will work directly with the contractor bank to establish the billing and payment procedures for CBA versus IBA transactions. In addition, the agency/organization will work with the contractor bank to determine if credit checks or other creditworthiness assessments will apply. A/OPCs will work with their GSA SmartPay 3 contractor to identify Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) for rental cars and lodging to be excluded from taxes. When the account is used, invoices will be sent to the agency/organization and the account holder for payment. The agency/organization is responsible for the CBA charges on the account, and the account holder is responsible for the IBA charges on the account.
Is it mandatory to use a federal government travel account when traveling?
Yes. In accordance with the FTR, Section 301-51, Paying Travel Expenses, agencies/organizations are required to pay for official travel expenses using a government-authorized travel payment solution, unless granted an exemption in accordance with FTR policies.
For the DoD, see DoD Instructions 5154.31 and the JTR.
What is split disbursement?
The payment process called split disbursement as described in OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B. divides a travel voucher reimbursement between the contractor and the traveler, sending the balance owed directly to the appropriate party.
Note: Although OMB Circular A-123, Appendix B in Chapter 4.4 requires all executive branch agencies to implement split disbursement, it may not yet be operational in your agency/organization. Please contact your Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) for further details
Is a merchant allowed to photocopy a GSA SmartPay card?
Both VISA and MasterCard state in their guidelines that a merchant is allowed to make/store a photocopy of a card provided they do NOT record or copy the PIN and/or CVC data in any manner or for any purpose.
VISA guidelines state: A merchant must not require a cardholder to provide any supplementary cardholder information as a condition of honoring the card including photocopying the card, unless it is required or permitted elsewhere in the US Regional Operating Regulations.
MasterCard guidelines state: The merchant must absolutely not copy the back of the card because the merchant is not allowed to record the CVC data. Although there is no rule prohibiting making a copy of the card front, there are standards regarding storing and destroying account data, which would include a copy of the card front.
Note: According to US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 33, 701, it is illegal for a merchant to photocopy your Government ID.
What is the liability for lost or stolen cards?
Agencies/organizations and/or individual cardholders are not liable for charges made on a lost or stolen card after the card is reported as lost or stolen. In addition, the agency/organization has no liability for unauthorized use. Unauthorized use means the use of a GSA SmartPay solution by a person, other than the account holder, who does not have authority for such use and from which the account holder receives no benefit. A new card with a new account number will be issued to the account holder within 48 hours. Any previous authorized activity, disputed and undisputed, will be transferred to the new account.
Why do I need to provide documentation to change my name on my IBA card?
Since banks are required to conform to Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, they must confirm the identity of every applicant and account holder. KYC requirements are driven from the Bank Secrecy Act and Patriot Act. Documentation, such as a marriage certificate, is needed to support this requirement. This also allows the banks to maintain account accuracy throughout the life of the customer relationship. Supporting documentation also decreases the chance of identify fraud and assists the banks in insuring they are in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the event an account is reported to the credit bureaus.