Making Purchases

It is important to understand the limits on purchase account use and to manage your purchases against those limits.

You are allowed to purchase any commercially available supply or service not prohibited by either Federal or agency-specific procurement regulations. To find out your agency specific procurement requirements regarding purchase amounts, receipt documentation and approvals contact your A/OPC or contracting officer. An approval may be required prior to purchase and may be needed in conjunction with a subsequent review of the purchase activity. If a purchase appears questionable, consult your A/OPC or contracting office.


Government-to-Government Transactions

Government-to-Government Transactions are payments between different agencies (inter-governmental) or within the same agency (intra-governmental). In most instances, these transactions are classified under Merchant Category Code 9399, Miscellaneous Government Services. 

Effective June 1, 2015 the Treasury Department lowered the maximum dollar amount allowed for intergovernmental transactions to $24,999 per day (not per single transaction). This change does not impact agency purchases from commercial vendors, either via open market or through GSA Advantage. It does apply to purchases from GSA Global Supply or GSA's retail stores, as well as purchases from Personal Property or GSA Fleet. A few notes to keep in mind:

  • Customers cannot divide transactions into smaller pieces to evade this limit. For example, a buyer cannot make two purchases of $15,000 each, because that total on a given day would exceed the $24,999 limit.
  • Transactions that exceed the limit will be denied by Vantiv, the contractor Treasury uses to manage transactions.
  • Treasury retains the option to lower the limit further at a later date. One goal is to reduce the fees government pays when it accepts the purchase account for large transactions.

Placing Orders

There are two basic types of transactions when placing your order: Card-present and card-not-present transactions.


Card Present Transactions means that you purchase an item in person using your GSA SmartPay charge 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 Accounts are centrally billed (CBA) and should be exempt from State taxes. However, there may be additional requirements in your state, such as a form or presenting a Federal ID.


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, and
  • You record the purchase in your purchase log.

Note: All purchase documentation should be kept for your records, in accordance with agency policies and NARA’s GRS 1.1

A Card-Not-Present Transaction is a transaction conducted without a physical card. Examples include purchase by phone, fax, or online.

When placing your order, make sure you:

  • Identify the purchase as an OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT PURCHASE so that it will be exempt from federal taxes and, if applicable exempt from state/ local taxes
  • Get a copy of the itemized receipt
  • Place the receipt in a safe place to use in reconciling your monthly invoice statement
  • Record the purchase in your purchase log
  • Verify that the item and price are correct upon arrival and if there is any discrepancy, call the merchant immediately