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ARLINGTON, Va. — Defense Department travelers now can save a little money by using the Internet to pay incidental travel expenses on their government travel card not covered through split disbursement, officials said.

Bank of America, which holds the contract on federal travel cards, recently offered to federal workers the feature myeasypayment.com, letting cardholders pay bills online rather than by mail or phone, saving the $10 pay-by-phone convenience fee.

The option does not change the Defense Department’s policy on split disbursement, which is mandatory for all military cardholders and available for some federal civilians.

“We listened to our customers who wanted online bill paying, and we now deliver it to all 41 federal agencies to augment the different payment channels,” said Christopher Slack, the government card executive for Bank of America.

Cardholders can pay a bill, check their balance, and get the time and amount of their last payment by going to myeasypayment.com, and selecting the federal government charge card option. From there, they type in their card number and security code and proceed with options. Because there is no auto-memory feature, card and security numbers must be typed in each time cardholders use the service, Slack said.

Customers can pay online whatever charges are not covered by the government’s split-disbursement plan.

Generally, split disbursement covers expenses such as lodging, airline tickets and car rentals. The government pays that tab directly to the credit card company through electronic funds transfer, instead of reimbursing individual travelers for all expenses and having the traveler then pay the credit card company. Incidentals are not covered.

“It is the most convenient and most effective way for everyone to complete their vouchers and ensure travel vouchers are paid on time,” said Bryan Hubbard, spokesman for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Plagued by reports of delinquent or unpaid accounts, the department a few years ago stepped up safeguard and education programs, including canceling accounts not used in more than six months and the garnishment of funds from individuals’ paychecks. In 2001, a General Accounting Office report recorded the delinquency rate among Army cardholders to fluctuate between 10 percent and 18 percent.

More than 1.1 million DOD employees have travel cards, and of those, fewer than 2 percent now are delinquent on their accounts, Hubbard said. The number of delinquencies “has shown continued decline due to management actions and awareness programs,” he said.

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