YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The U.S. 8th Army has one of the highest delinquency rates for travel credit card payments, but new measures are pushing the rate down, Army officials said Thursday.

In January, there were 144 delinquent accounts, 14.3 percent of “active” cards that month, said Col. Michael L. Waclawski, 8th Army assistant chief of staff for resource management. The number of delinquencies dropped to 55, or 6.8 percent of active accounts, totaling $33,000 by mid-August.

“It’s heading in the right direction,” Waclawski said. “That’s improvement.”

A total of 3,100 cards have been issued to 8th Army personnel.

A card is considered delinquent after 60 days, but the holder’s command is notified when a payment is 30 days past due.

Although Bank of America card charges no interest, a $29 late fee is assessed when a bill has gone unpaid 72 days. After 120 days, soldiers’ wages can be garnished.

“Our focus here is let’s not let it get to that point,” Waclawski said.

At 30 days, Waclawski’s office sends a note to the soldier and command officials.

That note requires a response, said Joel Madaio, 8th Army and U.S. Forces Korea resource management deputy.

“I’m confident that this level of involvement is going to make a positive impact,” Waclawski said.

Newly arrived soldiers will be advised they should pay their travel bills, Waclawski said, adding their commanders will also be briefed.

The Inspector General’s Office has oversight of the travel card program, he said.

Soldiers are being warned that missing travel card payments can jeopardize their credit rating and careers, 8th Army spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said.

The military has improved various aspects of the government travel card program, Waclawski said.

As of February, cards can’t be used for permanent change of station moves, he said.

A soldier’s travel card is also deactivated when he or she leaves as part of the regular checkout process, Madaio said.

Starting Sept. 1, soldiers must use a split-disbursement system allowing the 176th Finance Battalion to make direct, online payments to Bank of America, Waclawski said.

The payment can be made about a week after filing a temporary duty voucher, Madaio said.

“You have an incentive to file a travel voucher because you are going to get money back,” Madaio said. “So people will tend to do that very quickly.”

So far, 8th Army hasn’t had a significant problem with unauthorized purchases. Command audits about 10 percent of temporary duty vouchers, Waclawski said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now