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Card/Account Holders and Approving Officials Purchase Training

Lesson 6: Transaction Types

What are the types of transactions when placing your order?

There are two types of transactions: card-present and card-not-present transactions.

What are card-present transactions?

Card-present transactions occur when you purchase an item in person using your GSA SmartPay® card as payment. You physically choose your item in the shop and take the item to the sales clerk, identifying it as an official government purchase.

All GSA SmartPay Purchase cards/accounts are centrally billed accounts (CBAs) and should be exempt from state taxes. However, there may be additional requirements in your state, such as a form or presenting federal government identification. Review the GSA SmartPay website for any additional state tax exemption requirements before making your purchase.

When making a card-present transaction, double check that:

  • You received an itemized receipt.
  • Sales tax was not charged.
  • You signed the receipt.
  • You safeguard the receipt for reconciling your monthly invoice statement.
  • You record the purchase in your purchase log.

Please note that all purchase documentation should be kept for your records, in accordance with agency policies and National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) General Records Schedule (GRS) 1.1 [PDF, 9 pages].

What are card-not-present transactions?

A card-not-present transaction takes place without a physical card. Examples include purchase by phone, fax or online.

Phone or Fax Orders

To place your order by phone or fax:

  • Contact the merchant and identify yourself as a federal government employee who is making a purchase with a GSA SmartPay Purchase card/account.
  • Indicate that the purchase will be tax exempt on a CBA.
  • Review the price of individual items as well as the total purchase price.
  • Be mindful when potentially giving out your account number. If placing an order by fax, we recommend that the fax asks for the vendor to contact the card/account holder for account information.
  • Identify the items to be purchased and reach an agreement as to the price of each item and any shipping charges.
  • Record the purchase in your purchase log.
  • Give your name and address for shipment, making sure your name appears on the mailing label and that an itemized shipping document or invoice is included in the shipment.
  • When the item arrives, make sure you have what you ordered, at the price you agreed to pay.
  • If there is any discrepancy, call the merchant immediately.
  • Keep all purchase documentation for your records, in accordance with agency policies and NARA’s GRS 1.1 [PDF, 9 pages]

Online Orders

Before placing an order online, review the merchant’s policies for placing orders and processing returns, as well as their security and privacy policies. If the website’s terms of use appear acceptable, proceed to place your order.

Please note that if the website is not government managed (such as GSA Advantage! or DoD eMall), registering your account is not recommended.

To place an online order:

  • Identify the merchant you want to use and bring up the merchant’s ordering screen.
  • Make sure the site is secure before transmitting any information. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The “S”’ at the end of HTTPS stands for “Secure”. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.
  • Enter the requested data and indicate that you are a federal government employee and your purchase will be tax exempt.
  • Use your business address only.
  • Make sure the merchant will include an itemized shipping document or invoice with the shipment.
  • Record the purchase in your purchase log.
  • When the items arrive, make sure you are satisfied with the purchase. If not, notify the merchant immediately.
  • Keep all purchase documentation for your records, in accordance with agency policies and NARA’s GRS 1.1 [PDF, 9 pages].

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