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Travel Charge Card Policy

The Travel Charge Card provides a convenient means for employees to access low-cost government-negotiated fares and services, and to expense official government and other travel-related costs, while allowing greater managerial visibility into actual card usage. Every operating and staff division must adhere to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) policy and guidance, but may choose to implement policy in a more restrictive manner within its own operating or staff division.

credit card and plane tickets atop a computer keyboard.


HHS employees who travel five (5) or more times per year on official government business are required to apply for a government charge card. Please contact your agency/organization program coordinator (A/OPC) to discuss your eligibility to receive a travel charge card.

Card Holder Roles and Responsibilities

Cardholders shall

  • Use the travel charge card appropriately, in accordance with HHS policy, other laws, and governmental regulations.
  • Use travel card for authorized Government travel expenses only.
  • Contact their agency/organization program coordinator for questions regarding use of the travel card.
  • Register for PaymentNet online access.
  • Track expenses while on travel in order to have accurate information for filing travel claims.
  • Keep receipts for all transactions charged on the travel card.
  • File travel claim within 5 days of returning from temporary duty (TDY) travel.
  • Submit payment in full for each monthly bill.
  • Keep up to date with required program and agency-specific training, including refresher training.
  • Look out for communications from A/OPCs and take appropriate action.
  • Immediately report a lost or stolen card.

Cardholders shall not

  • Use the travel charge card for personal use.
  • Obtain ATM travel advances which exceed the expected out-of-pocket expenditures for a trip.
  • Allow monthly bill payment to become overdue; this could result in suspension or cancellation of travel card.
  • Wait for receipt of the monthly bill to file travel claims.
  • Pay for another individual’s travel expenses.
  • Write their personal identification number (PIN) on the card or carry in a wallet.

Travel Card Misuse and Abuse

The Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 and the HHS “Zero Tolerance Policy” on charge card use establish bright lines regarding proper use of the government travel card, as well as Departmental, agency, and managerial obligations for compelling individual compliance.

Use of the HHS Travel Charge Card for activities other than official federal government travel and travel-related expenses is considered misuse/abuse. In most instances, the agency/organization program coordinator is the first point of contact when misuse/abuse is suspected.

HHS employees who use an HHS Travel Card inconsistent with any of the provisions of the HHS Travel Policy Manual will be subject to revocation of the travel card, and/or may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including removal from the federal service.

Cardholder activity is monitored regularly to identify possible misuse/abuse. Some activity may appear questionable upon initial review, but with further investigation, it might be determined to be a valid government travel-related expense.

Examples of misuse/abuse may include:

  • Personal use
  • Use of the travel charge card for someone other than the specific cardholder
  • Use while not on official government travel
  • Use locally, if not on official government travel status under a travel order/authorization
  • Purchases from an unauthorized merchant
  • Excessive ATM withdrawals
  • Failure to pay undisputed amounts on time
  • Travel receipt details not matching, such as form of payment for lodging or airfare not matching travel reservations or authorizations

In accordance with the HHS Table of Offenses and Penalties, abuse of the government travel charge card might result in a recommendation for adverse administrative action, which could range from counseling to removal from government service.

To report fraud and misuse of an HHS Travel Card, please contact your agency/organization program coordinator (A/OPC).

The links and policies below are for those operating or staff divisions that have developed policies that are in addition to the HHS Travel Policy Manual. These policies are intended as a reference only. Please check with your operating or staff division for the most up-to-date version of your specific travel policy. They can also assist you with any operating or staff division policy-specific travel related questions.

Policy Manuals

CMS Travel Handbook
FDA Travel Policy
IHS Travel Policy
NIH Travel Policy
SAMHSA Travel Handbook

Supplemental Materials

When HHS issues supplemental policy or guidance, each OpDiv/StaffDiv must ensure that the information is distributed to the appropriate staff. Supplemental guidance to the HHS Travel Manual and related policies will be published here. These supplements clarify provisions and the requirements outlined in the Travel Manual and serve as timely updates to the manual. Always check the PSC Transportation services website for the most up-to-date information related to HHS travel policy.