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Smart Bulletin No. 009

GSA SmartPay® – Clarification Regarding Selected Uses of Purchase and Travel Charge Cards

This Smart Bulletin was Archived on July 18, 2023


DateVersion History Action Log - Summary of Action/Changes
May 20, 2009Implementation of Smart Bulletin #09
July 18, 2023Archived
Refer to Smart Bulletin NO.014
March 22, 2024Revised for administrative updates

Effective Date

From Issuance through July 18, 2023

Business Line(s) Affected

Purchase, travel, and integrated (purchase & travel)


The Center for Charge Card Management (CCCM) frequently receives inquiries from customer agencies regarding the proper use of GSA SmartPay charge cards for local travel, on official business transit fare purchases (such as Washington, DC Metro farecards and SmarTrip card reloads, taxis, and rental shuttles (vans, buses, etc.), and the rent of conference meeting space for conferences and other purposes. This bulletin, therefore, provides clarifying guidance regarding selected uses of the GSA SmartPay purchase and travel charge cards. CCCM intends to add other selected charge card uses to this Smart Bulletin from time to time as needed in order to provide clear information to customer agencies regarding proper charge card use.


  1. Travel Charge Card - Use for Official Travel Only - Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) Section 301-51.6 states that the “Government contractor-issued travel charge card may be used only for official travel-related expenses.” As a result, the GSA SmartPay travel charge card may not be used for local travel expenses, as the employee is not in official travel status. CCCM is working with the GSA Office of Government-wide Policy in support of removing this language from the FTR. When and if the FTR is so modified, OCCM will issue operational guidance regarding using the GSA SmartPay® travel charge card for local travel.

  2. Purchase Card – Use for Purchasing Transit Services in Support of Local Travel on Official Business – Use of the GSA SmartPay purchase card to acquire-subway tokens (farecards, SmarTrip card reloads, etc.), taxi fares, rental shuttles, vans, and buses for employees to accomplish local travel on official business is permitted. Use of the purchase card for other than official business is prohibited and could result in the cardholder facing disciplinary and criminal penalties.

  3. Purchase Card – Use for Obtaining Rental Conference Space – Use of the purchase card to obtain short-term conference/meeting space for official business is permitted. Section CP.3.6 of the GSA SmartPay master contract states that GSA SmartPay purchase charge cards may not be used for travel or travel-related expenses.

  4. Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) were updated in 2010 to remove the restrictions on utilizing the GSA SmartPay Travel Card for local travel. Account holders traveling locally and not under an official travel authorization may use their GSA SmartPay Travel Card for local travel expenses only when expressly authorized by agency/organization-level policy.

Section C.2.1.3 (1) Travel Business Line Scope of Work of the GSA SmartPay 3 master contract states that IBAs may be used for local travel only if authorized by the written policy of the agency/organization.


Agency/Organization Program Coordinators (A/OPCs) shall ensure their charge card programs are operated and managed in accordance with applicable GSA and agency regulations, policies, and procedures, including those provided above.

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