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Travel card transition ready to begin

Government Travel Cards from Bank of America will soon be replaced by cards issued by Citibank.  Members of the 931st Air Refueling Group are expected to receive new cards in October, but cards from Bank of America should not be destroyed until the Air Force gives guidance to do so.  The Citibank cards are scheduled to be activated on Nov. 30.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason Schaap)

Government Travel Cards from Bank of America will soon be replaced by cards issued by Citibank. Members of the 931st Air Refueling Group are expected to receive new cards in October, but cards from Bank of America should not be destroyed until the Air Force gives guidance to do so. The Citibank cards are scheduled to be activated on Nov. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason Schaap)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The government plastic almost all Airmen are required to carry will soon get a face lift.

Citibank, chosen to succeed Bank of America as the Defense Department's travel card provider, is expected to start distributing new credit cards to servicemembers in mid-August.

Mary Borst, the budgeting officer for the 931st Air Refueling Group, said the first cards will go to troops overseas before those stateside.

"We should get ours in the October timeframe," Borst estimated, referring to 931st members who use the cards for expenses during temporary duties and deployments.

Government Travel Card holders need to do nothing, she added, except make sure their mailing address is updated with Bank of America. Citibank's plan is to distribute its cards using information provided by its predecessor.

"They say the transition is supposed to be seamless" Borst said of not just the new card's distribution, but also its activation and use.

Those with Bank of America cards should not go running for the scissors as soon the Citibank card arrives. Activation of the cards is scheduled for Nov. 30, at least a month after 931st Airmen and civilian employees are expected to receive their Citibank cards.

Do not do anything concerning the GTC transition without specific guidance from the Air Force or Citibank, Borst urged. Traci Teachout, a budget assistant in the 931st Financial Management office, said there are already rumors that Citibank will be activating travel cards sooner than Nov. 30. "That's not true," Teachout said.

More information about the transition to Citibank is expected to be available to the Defense Department's 1.2 million GTC holders in the beginning of August.

Servicemembers and civilian employees are required to use the cards to pay for any reimbursable expense while on official government travel. Only those who travel once a year or less are not required to use a GTC, Borst said.

The estimated value of the Defense Department's travel card task order over a 10-year period is $40 billion, according to an Air Force News story published soon after Citibank was chosen to take over the program in January. GTC holders accounted for 61 percent of total government-wide travel spending in 2006.