Use Lodging

Necessary and reasonable lodging expenses for business trips outside of the local area are paid by the traveler and may be reimbursed after trip completion. Lodging rates are governed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The listed rates assume single occupancy and exclude applicable taxes. Lodging taxes are reimbursable but are not included in the base or allowable rate restrictions. The base rate may be doubled (base rate x 2) as appropriate and approved by the department Org approver. Amounts above 200% of the base rate (base rate x 2) will not be reimbursed.

Lodging rates are built into the Mason Finance Gateway (MFG) for domestic and international locations. Travelers will search for the location and populate the base and/or allowable maximum rate for reimbursement. Travelers should review the rates prior to incurring lodging expenses to ensure the nightly rate is within the reimbursable range (base rate x 2). Please note that MFG is currently used for reimbursements only. If your Pre-Approval includes P-card purchases or is otherwise not reimbursable, you must delete those line items from the Expense report.

Check the Actual Location of the Hotel

When traveling to areas where higher than standard rates are applicable, travelers are reminded to carefully check the actual location/address of the selected lodging before confirming the reservation.

The Travel Office is authorized to reimburse travelers for lodging costs based on the actual location of the lodging and not a nearby city.


Travelers to the Boston area will be reimbursed at Boston rates only when the lodging is located in Boston, Cambridge or Suffolk County. Reimbursement for lodging in nearby Brookline, located in Norfolk County, is at the standard lodging rate. In the San Francisco area, the higher lodging rate is in effect for San Francisco and San Francisco County only. Many hotels near the airport, such as the San Francisco Airport Marriott, are actually located in San Mateo County where lodging is reimbursed at the standard rate.

Click here and search for the zip code of the hotel you will be staying in.

Travelers should check, request, and confirm government rates both at the time reservations are made and during check-in.

Hotel Folio/Lodging Bills

A legitimate itemized hotel bill must support lodging reimbursement requests. For hotel rooms obtained through internet providers, the traveler must attach the entire receipt from the internet site showing the total cost and confirmed services. No lodging reimbursement is authorized for informal lodging arrangements such as staying with friends, colleagues or relatives. To email, a receipt to your Receipt Gallery, simply attach the images or files to an email message and send the message to ( If you are sending the message from an account other than your Mason email address (e.g., you are forwarding a receipt that was sent to your personal email), ensure that you have set up the email as an Alternative Email in your Personal Settings. Please review the Submit Receipts guide for assistance with downloading and using the App(s), emailing receipts, or setting up an Alternative email.

Unallowable Expenses

No lodging reimbursement is authorized for informal lodging arrangements such as staying with friends, colleagues, or relatives. Also, an employee is generally not reimbursed for lodging within 25 miles of his/her workplace, office, or home.

The following list contains common expenses charged on a hotel bill that are not reimbursable. It is not all-inclusive!

  • Lost or stolen items
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Room service meals/beverages
  • Personal telephone calls*
  • Personal laundry expenses*
  • Damage to the room
  • Expenses related to personal negligence, such as excess cleaning fees
  • Rented movies or other entertainment services
  • Concierge or baggage handler tips*
  • Shuttle or other transportation service used for personal exploration

*These expenses are covered by the incidental portion of the daily per diem for the location

Local Area Lodging

Non-commuting travel expenses may be reimbursed when individuals must travel in the local area on official business. Normal commuting mileage and expenses are not reimbursable; only the net additional mileage or expenses may be claimed. An employee is generally not reimbursed for lodging within 25 miles of his/her workplace, office, or official station. If extenuating circumstances and budget permits, an employee may request an exception and obtain advanced approval for lodging in the local area. A Pre-Approval, approved by the traveler’s Supervisor and Org Approver, may be submitted to the Controller for consideration. To request an exception please contact the Travel Office at least 14 days prior to reserving local area lodging for an employee. No approval will be given after the trip has taken place.

Mason Guests and Candidates

Local area lodging may be paid for guests of the university (e.g., employment candidates, guest speakers) who are traveling to a Mason campus for university business. Contracts with local area hotels are available on the Local Lodging webpage. Visitors are limited to the appropriate local contracted hotel/motel rate when, in special situations, they obtain their own lodging.

Booking Travel Online

Procurement of Travel services through the internet is permitted. Travelers should use caution and prudent judgment when choosing an Internet travel service site. Hidden fees, significant prepayments, or non-refundable advances may apply that may not be reimbursable.

The following payment methods may be used:

  • Travel Charge Card (Individual Liability)- may be used for all types of purchases (i.e., hotel, transportation, etc.) The full Travel Charge Card balance is paid by the traveler on a monthly basis regardless of reimbursement status.
  • P-Card – may ONLY be used for transportation tickets (airline, rail) to the primary destination. May not be used for local travel such as shuttle, metro or taxi. May not be used for “packaged” services of “deals” that charge one price for combined airfare, hotel, and/or rental car.
  • Personal Credit Card – may be used for all types of purchases. Reimbursement is requested after the trip is completed. In many cases, a Travel Authorization must be completed prior to the trip to authorize the use of state funds.

When travel services are procured via the internet, the following supplemental documentation must be uploaded and attached to the Travel Reimbursement request in the Mason Finance Gateway.

  • All pages of the confirmation document generated when the internet reservation is completely showing the total cost and class of service (e.g. coach, business class) for electronic tickets.
  • Passenger receipt (ticket stub) when a paper ticket is issued.

Travel Service Providers

You may use one of the travel agencies or manage bookings on your own. In all cases, the Mason traveler is responsible for ensuring that they are complying with State and University travel policies. Additional pricing information is available in the Travel Service Providers Cost Comparison.

Covington Travel

901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4057
Phone: 804-344-3244 or 888-344-3244

Normal Business Hours: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday – Friday
After Hours Emergency Helpline: 877-685-4762 – Use ID code CU2
Email and Booking Assistance:

Covington Travel provides the option to conduct bookings through an online travel portal. The traveler will provide payment to Covington Travel. Options include the Purchasing Charge Card (P-Card), the Travel Credit Card, or a personal credit card. Covington Travel can direct bill airfare in excess of $2,000 to a centralized Mason Travel Card. A fee will be added to the cost of each airline ticket purchased. Covington Travel may also be contacted for domestic and international lodging and rental car reservations.

*Please note that Covington service fees are significantly reduced when using their Online Booking tool. Click here for the Covington Online Booking Resources.

Travel Service Providers Cost ComparisonCovington Travel
CATEGORY OF SERVICEService Fee (per traveler)
Domestic- Booked by Phone
Combined Air/Hotel/Car$28
Domestic Air Ticket Only$28
Domestic Hotel Reservation Onlyno charge
Domestic Car Reservation Onlyno charge
Domestic After Hours Assistanceno charge
Domestic Group Travel
Per-Ticket Fee for Group on Commercial airfare (10+ Tickets)
Bus Reservation with or without group air booking
Hotel Reservation with or without a group air booking
International-Booked by Phone
International Combined Air/Hotel/Car$28
International Air Ticket Only$28
International Hotel Reservation Onlyno charge
International Car Reservation Onlyno charge
International Rail Reservation Onlyno charge
International After Hours Assistanceno charge
International Group Travel
Per-Ticket Fee for Group on Commercial airfare (10+ Tickets)
Bus Reservation without group air booking
Hotel Reservation without a group air booking
Domestic/ International Online Booking Tool
Airline Booking$9
Car or Hotel only without Airline Booking$4
Online Booking - Agent Assisted
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