How Can I Get a Government Travel Card for My Military Move?

Government Travel Card (U.S. Air Force/Amanda Delisle)
Government Travel Card (U.S. Air Force/Amanda Delisle)

Like many military finance issues, the mandate within some services to use the government travel credit card (GTC) for a permanent change of station (PCS) move is confusing.

Here’s one such example:

I heard that the government travel card is supposed to be used for all military moves, but my unit says it’s only for temporary duty travel, so they won’t issue me one. I’m headed overseas with my family of five the government travel card would really help my finances. How can I convince my unit to give me one?

All four services -- the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps -- require the use of the Government Travel Card for a PCS. And each service handles the use and distribution of the card differently.

Which means, for you, there's a catch: both the Army and Air Force only mandate use if you already have a card on hand. That’s very different from issuing a card to every PCSing soldier or airman.

Related: Government Travel Card Rules

And that’s probably why you’re finding problems. If you don’t already have a card, which your specific unit only plans to issue if you are going on temporary duty (TDY), they don’t have to give you one just for your PCS, according to Army policy.

So what are your options? You’re going to have to PCS the old fashioned way — with advanced payment against what you should be receiving for reimbursement later, or with the cash you personally have on hand.

For everyone who already has a GTC, the Army and Air Force does mandate that the card be used for PCS expenses. That means you really aren’t supposed to be paying out of pocket or on a personal card for anything reimbursable.

If you do have a card and are worried about getting reimbursed in time, the DoD has made things a little bit easier on you. Paying off the GTC can be notoriously difficult thanks to the glacial pace of some units’ finance offices, so the card can be placed in a “PCS mission critical” status. That status comes with longer payment windows and a credit increase, for example.

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