NationsBank Wins DoD Travel Card Contract
By Staff Sgt. Alicia K. Borlik, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 20, 1998 NationsBank of Delaware will replace American Express as the Defense Department's travel card contractor Nov. 30.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service announced the two-year card contract April 2. DoD can renew the contract up to three times in one-year increments.
DoD cardholders should receive their new NationsBank Visa this fall, before the start date, said Cathy Ferguson, accounting service spokesperson. The American Express card is valid through Nov. 29. Military travelers should begin using the new card Nov. 30 even if travel began before that date, she added.
One change cardholders will notice is the increased acceptance of the Visa card, Ferguson said. "It is accepted worldwide at more than 14 million merchant locations and 340,000 [automated teller machines]," she said. American Express is accepted at about 4 million locations.
The travel card payment schedule will not change. Users must pay bills within 30 days to avoid late or delinquent accounts. The finance service will offer a new split-disbursement option to service members and civilians that allows for easier payment. Payments will go directly to the card contractor.
Service program managers will notice the biggest changes, said Paul Filla Jr., another accounting service spokesperson. The card service will be completely web-based, allowing program managers to track card usage more closely. Managers will also have the power to turn cards on and off to avoid improper usage, Filla said. "They can also limit the person to what types of vendors they can use," he said.
NationsBank also offers limited access and prefunded cards and travelers checks to further control cardholders' spending habits. Service program managers control these special options, Filla said.
Limited access cards are regular NationsBank Visa cards with a set limit depending on the temporary duty. This limit can be increased as necessary. A prefunded card has a set limit for one-time use only.
NationsBank and DFAS instructors will train service managers on the new system, Filla said. More details will be worked out over the summer when the individual services meet to discuss card issue and usage.
Military personnel and DoD civilians use the military travel card for official travel costs such as travel advances, permanent change of station moves, lodging, rental cars, meals and other expenses associated with travel.
More than 900,000 military travel cards are in use. In 1997, card charges totaled more than $2.2 billion.