Digging out of GTCC debt

by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The convenience of a Government Travel Charge Card is it can ease the transition to a new duty station or assist during a temporary duty assignment in a different country, but if left unattended, that convenience could hurt your wallet and career.

Though the use of a GTCC is restricted for official government travel expenses, debt can be accumulated if neglected, leading to a collection of non-reimbursable late fees and suspension or cancellation of the account, preventing further travel until resolved.

“Upon completion of a TDY or permanent change of station, the member has five days to file a voucher to start the process of paying off their GTCC,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Hazen, 86th Comptroller Squadron section chief of financial services. “Unfortunately, people are not doing this, causing their account to become delinquent.”

By November, the 86th CPTS accounted on average more than 20 delinquency cases a month. The debt accumulated by these members as a whole totaled more than $412,000 of debt for that year.

“To try and prevent this situation from occurring, we notify the members after 30 days,” Hazen said. “This is around the same time they should have received their reimbursement to pay off the card if they had not received it sooner.

“We will also require constant updates depending on the individual’s squadron until the debt has been paid off,” Hazen continued. “This way we will be able to assist if a problem arises. For example, if the Airman is away for a deployment or training, they will be notified that their voucher needs to be taken care of either by lump sum or in increments and the ways they can do so.”

Though preventive measures are in place, it is the cardholder’s responsibility to be aware of how to properly use their GTCC and the regulations associated with it.

“Something we hear a lot is the GTCC should be the government’s responsibility,” Hazen said. “However, it is under the cardholder’s name, meaning those late fees will be theirs to pay off, and it is their credit score taking a hit. Their command will also be notified to ensure proper actions to alleviate the debt will be taken.”

Taking initiative, such as inquiring on the terms and agreements of the travel card, is the first step in preventing the accumulation of avoidable debt.

For questions on the GTCC, cardholders should contact their unit’s GTCC agency program coordinator for assistance.