May 4, 2012

Edwards to go back to Government Travel Card

by Kenji Thuloweit
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Team Edwards members who hold a Controlled Spend Account travel card will experience a seamless transition this summer.

The Air Force recently decided to transition existing CSA travel cards, or the “blue card,” to an enhanced Government Travel Card by the end of fiscal 2012.

“The conception of CSA happened a little over a year ago and Edwards was selected as a pilot site,” said Rebecca Perez, 95th Comptroller Squadron financial technician. “We were one of a handful of Air Force bases that were using the CSA system.”

“All CSA holders will convert back to the GTC around August and September.”

The amount of funds put on a employee’s CSA travel card is determined by their travel orders beforehand. The servicemember or government civilian traveler was allotted that amount to spend on their travel expenses during temporary duties or business trips.

The GTC, on the other hand, carries a constant balance, which is determined by the cardholder’s credit rating.

“The GTC is credit driven, so based on your credit score you could have an available credit limit of up to $4,000 for travelers with lower credit and up to $10,000 for those with good credit ratings. The available credit limit remains constant, no travel orders are needed,” said Perez.

Perez said the CSA program faced complications with frequent travelers and “on-demand” travelers. Employees who had to leave on short notice would not be able to receive travel orders right away and would not have funds put on their CSA card.

“The CSA, a pilot travel card program, provided some enhancements for travelers, but also brought about significant challenges for our most frequent travelers and those with unique mission sets,” said Joan Causey, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Operations. “We recognized that for any travel card program to work, it has to work for all travelers. In the end, we were not satisfied that any proposed changes to the CSA program would get us to the desired state for our most frequent travelers.”

Until the change occurs, CSA cardholders should continue to use their cards as normal. The transition strategy allows travelers to continue using their “blue cards” without interruption.

The card functionality will be converted to a GTC by CitiBank without the need to get a new card. Also, travelers will once again be provided with a permanent credit limit, and there will be no need to call for “temporary spend limit” increases.

Perez said it’s important to stress that the conversion will be seamless and cardholders do not need to do anything. When the transition occurs, there will be both the blue travel card and the original GTC, which is gray.

Although Edwards is going back to the “old” GTC program, there will be some improvements.

One of the enhancements being pursued for the GTC program will be via the Defense Travel System. Default settings will be changed to automatically align most non-mileage expenses to the card. Additionally, the traveler can split-disburse any residual funds to his/her personal account. Finally, as a carryover from the CSA program, Citi will upgrade their GTC online system to allow travelers to request electronic fund transfers of credit balances directly to their bank accounts.

Perez added that right now, Citi is verifying e-mail addresses for account holders and cardholders will be notified this summer when their CSA cards will be converted to GTC accounts.

Citi will not process any early transitions and should not be contacted to do so. Further questions by Airmen regarding the transition should be directed to their unit Agency Program Coordinator or the 95th Comptroller Squadron.

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