Before the Trip

Can I receive a cash advance?

In accordance with agency policy, you may obtain cash to cover all anticipated out-of-pocket cash expenses for the trip before you leave. The preferred and most efficient method to obtain a cash advance is by using your government travel account to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. As a reminder, do not withdraw cash for personal use.

How do I get my airline tickets?

Most TMCs/ CTOs use e-ticketing and will send your itinerary and ticket confirmation through email. With e-ticketing, you will not get a physical ticket, only information about the reservation. If your TMC/CTO mails airline tickets, pick up your ticket as close to the date of departure as possible.

Note: Federal employees may retain, for personal use, frequent flyer miles earned while on official government travel.

Travel Checklist

When packing for your trip, don’t forget:

  • Your Government issued picture ID card/ badge or driver's license.
  • A copy of your travel authorization.
  • Your GSA SmartPay travel account to pay for official travel expenses.
  • Personal cash or personal credit cards to pay for personal expenses.
  • Lodging tax exempt forms; if required.
  • A record of expenses - write them down and save receipts. Lodging receipts are required by all agencies. Follow agency policy with regard to other receipts.

Below is a quick snapshot of what is and is not reimbursable while on your trip:

 Is Reimbursable

 Is NOT Reimbursable

Airfare and baggage fees

Business or First Class air fares without prior written approval

Maximum lodging amount allowed for the per diem locality excluding lodging tax

Amount in excess of lodging amount allowed for the per diem locality unless previously approved

Meals (up to the rate for the per diem locality)

Meal costs over the rate for the per diem locality

Personal calls (per agency policy)

Personal calls (per agency policy)

Work related telephone calls and faxing

Gifts and souvenirs

Laundry and dry cleaning (at the TDY location and only after consecutive nights lodging on official domestic travel)

Postcards and postage

Car rental (approved)

Personal Expenses

Shuttle, taxi, and tips


ATM fees if allowed by your agency (cash advances for official travel only)


During the Trip

Remember, ONLY use your travel account for authorized official travel expenses.

What happens if my GSA SmartPay account doesn't work?

If your GSA SmartPay travel account does not work, there may be several possible reasons this may occur including:

  • The transaction may be denied due to an authorization control such as a Merchant Category Code, or MCC block. An MCC is a four-digit code used to identify the type of business a merchant conducts (gas stations, restaurant, airlines, etc). The merchant chooses their MCC with their bank. Program coordinators use MCCs to control what purchases are allowable. If your account does not work due to an MCC block, contact your program coordinator for advice or to get the block lifted. Note: The bank cannot unblock a merchant category code or raise your credit limit without approval from your program coordinator.
  • Your travel account may be suspended or cancelled due to delinquent payment. If you recently paid the bill, it may not have posted yet, or there may be other payment problems. Call the bank's customer service for advice:


U.S. Bank:

When should I use the ATM while on travel?

Use the ATM feature of your GSA SmartPay travel account to obtain cash for official travel expenses authorized on your travel authorization. If you need assistance finding the nearest ATM, contact the bank's customer service at the number on the back of your GSA SmartPay travel account. If you lose or forget the PIN, you must apply for a new one and it will be mailed to the address provided in the application. Bank personnel are not able to look up the PIN for you. Your agency limits ATM use to a maximum dollar transaction over a specified period of time. Contact your agency program coordinator to find out your ATM limits.

What are ATM fees?

  • The contractor bank may charge a minimal fee for ATM use. The amount of the fee is listed in your Account Holder Agreement and is reimbursable.
  • The ATM machine you use may charge an additional fee. It will be posted on the receipt and is also reimbursable, if allowed by your agency.

Remember: Do not use the ATM from your GSA SmartPay travel account to obtain cash for personal expenses.

Can I use the GSA SmartPay Travel Account internationally?

Yes, your travel account may be used for official government international travel at any merchant who accepts VISA or MasterCard.

  • You may obtain foreign currency from a bank or an ATM using the GSA SmartPay travel account.
  • Foreign currency transactions will be converted to U.S. dollars using a favorable conversion rate in existence at the time the transaction is processed. Processing may or may not take place on the date of the transaction, and the rate may differ from day to day. The contractor bank shall not assess foreign currency conversion fees on purchases made in foreign currencies under the GSA SmartPay Program and will identify the conversion rate and any other third party fees related to foreign purchases charged on the statement.

Some agencies offer Foreign Currency Accounts to account holders, where payment solutions are offered in foreign currencies. All administrative functions, including billing and settlement, shall occur in the foreign currency desired by the agency/organization.

Returning from the Trip

When you return from your trip, you will have to fill out a Travel Voucher (TV) or a similar form at your agency to present your travel claim for expenses.

Here are few key tips to remember:

  • Within 5 working days of your return from official travel, complete and submit the travel claim/voucher.
  • Provide all necessary information from your trip including receipts as required by your agency.
  • Understand the sign-off process at your agency and follow-up to help speed your claim through the approval process.
  • Set up direct deposit to your bank account ahead of time to speed up the reimbursement process. This way you will not have to wait for a check to be mailed.
  • Use the amount reimbursed by your agency to pay the statement in full by the payment due date. If you do not pay the balance on your travel account bill, it will become delinquent.


How do I pay my GSA SmartPay Travel Account bill?

You will receive a statement notification, either electronically or through the mail, from the contractor bank once a month for your GSA SmartPay travel account. The bill will be issued for all travelers in your office on the same date each month, called the billing cycle date. When you receive the statement, verify all of the charges listed. The full amount of undisputed transactions is due to the contractor bank by the payment due date indicated on the statement, whether or not you have been reimbursed by your agency.

Important Note: The GSA SmartPay travel accounts are charge card accounts, not credit card accounts. Therefore, no minimum payment can be made to keep the account from becoming delinquent. You must pay the full amount listed on the statement by the payment due date. If payment is not received in a timely manner, you may lose your charging privileges and adversely affect your ability to perform your job responsibilities.

You can pay your bill electronically, through the mail, or by phone/ mobile app.

  • For electronic bill paying services: Make sure your account is set up with the correct account number, and make sure you know how many days the payment will take to reach the bank. Some networks send a check, so knowing the time frame is important to avoid delinquency. If your travel account number changes for any reason, don't forget to update the bill paying service with your new account number.
  • For mailing payments: Use the envelope provided by the issuing bank to mail your check and include the tear-off portion of the statement so that the amount you send will be posted to the correct account. Do not send checks to GSA. If your check bounces, the bank will charge a returned check fee, which is not reimbursable. If you have multiple returned checks, your travel account may be cancelled.
  • For mobile application payments: check with your agency program coordinator to see if this option is available for your agency and for instructions on how to download the mobile app.

Note: If you have no outstanding transactions at the billing cycle date, you will not receive an invoice. When all outstanding charges are paid, you will receive a statement the next month to reflect the payment.

When is the payment due date?

Payment for all undisputed charges must be made in full by the payment due date, which is 25 to 30 days after the closing date on the statement, depending on the contractor bank. The payment due date is printed on each bill.

When is my account considered past due?

An account is considered past due if payment for the undisputed principal amount has not been received within 45 calendar days from the payment due date.

Consequences of late payment include:

  • Bank representatives will notify you.
  • Your program coordinator is notified that the amount is past due.
  • Your supervisor may also be notified.

Can my account be suspended if I don’t pay the bill?

Yes, an account may be suspended if payment of the full amount of undisputed charges is not received and posted by the contractor bank 61 calendar days from the payment due date.

Consequences of suspension include:

  • You will be unable to use the travel account.
  • Bank representatives will notify you.
  • Your program coordinator is notified that the account has been suspended.
  • In many agencies, higher level officials are notified.
  • The suspension will count towards the two suspensions, which will result in cancellation of the travel account when it becomes delinquent a third time.

When is my account cancelled?

An account may be cancelled if:

  • It has been suspended two times during a 12-month period for undisputed amounts and is past due again; or
  • There is misuse on the travel account and the program coordinator has approved the cancellation; or
  • It is past due for undisputed amounts at 126 calendar days past the closing date on the statement of account in which the charge appeared. At day 120, the contractor bank will notify the account holder and A/OPC electronically and in writing that the account will be canceled if payment is not received in full by the close of the fifth calendar day after the notification. At day 126, the account will be canceled unless otherwise directed by the A/OPC.

The program coordinator and/or GSA SmartPay Contracting Officer reserves the right to cancel an individually billed account (IBA) under his/her purview and shall document the reasons for the cancellation.

Consequences of cancellation include:

  • You will be unable to use your travel account, and it will not be reinstated.
  • Your ability to do your job may be affected if you are not able to travel and obtain government discounts.
  • The cancellation may be reported to your manager/supervisor and to your human resources officer.
  • The cancellation may result in a personnel action such as a notice or letter being placed in your official personnel record.
  • The cancellation may be reported to credit bureaus and your personal credit rating may suffer.
  • A late fee may be imposed on the uncollected balance.
  • The contractor bank may begin collection actions.
  • You will be liable for fees related to collection actions.
  • The contractor bank may request salary offset from your agency.
  • At 180 days past due, the bank writes off the account as a bad debt, and credit bureaus are again notified.

In summary,

Calendar Days Past the Payment Due Date

Account Status/Action

45 Days Past Due


61 Days Past Due


126 Days Past Due


180 Days Past Due

Charge Off/Write Off