By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – For Defense Department travelers, the more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to the travel charge cards switch coming in November.
For 10 years, Defense travelers have used a Bank of America card while on official travel. As of, Nov. 30, the card in everyone’s pocket will be issued by Citibank, though that should be the only change travelers notice, the Defense Travel Management Office’s chief of special programs and outreach said during an interview today.
“The way the new Citi card will be used is exactly the same as the current Bank of America card,” said Nina Richman-Loo. “The cardholder agreement is the same cardholder agreement that our travelers read and signed when they got their Bank of America card.”
Citibank will offer some of the same features Bank of America cardholders are accustomed to, including an online payment option. In fact, aside from a different look, one of the only ways cardholders will realize a change is occurring is when the new card arrives in August or September.
“The most important thing … is, when travelers get the new card they need to call and verify receipt of it, because we’re going to be tracking delivery of the cards,” Richman-Loo said. “Then they should put the card away.”
Don’t get rid of the old card just yet, though. The Citibank cards aren’t officially active until midnight, Nov. 30. They should be put in a safe place, and travelers should continue using their Bank of America cards until 11:59 p.m., Nov. 29, she said. Personal identification numbers for the new Citbank cards will arrive on or around, Nov. 1.
Current Bank of America cardholders who have a balance on their account have a bit more work to do than other cardholders. They’ll have to pay the full amount by, Nov. 29. Any refunds also should be requested ahead of that date.
The only other possible snag would involve those on official travel when the switch from Bank of America to Citibank takes place. In that case, Richman-Loo suggests carrying both cards. “We are going to be providing much information and specific instructions over the next several months to cover all the contingencies involved with that (situation),” she said.
Questions are sure to arise, so tens of thousands of agency program managers throughout the Defense Department who oversee the travel card program on the local level will have the answers, Richman-Loo said. Travelers who can’t identify their local program manager should look to their agency’s Web site or the Defense Travel Management Office’s Web site for answers to frequently asked questions, she said.
By Samantha L. Quigley