Meal and Incidental Expense (M&IE) Reimbursement Maximum

A meal at a restaurant

University of California’s Meal and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) meal cap guideline sets the daily maximum you can be reimbursed for meals and tips. It is used for all trips within the Continental United States that are shorter than 30 days. 

The M&IE Meal Cap Rate is currently $74

This meal cap is the maximum amount that UCI travelers can claim daily for meals and incidentals (tips) during short-term business travel in the continental United States. Claim only the actual reasonable costs incurred. Do not treat the $74 meal cap as a per diem and claim the whole amount every day. Receipts should be obtained for all meals and may be required if the traveler routinely claims the full M&IE amount rather than the actual costs incurred. Your department may also require receipts to calculate the actual amount to claim for reimbursement up to the threshold and to show compliance with grant and contract restrictions.

The $74 rate became effective on March 1, 2016.

M&IE Meal Cap Guidelines
  • Meal costs can be claimed only for travel longer than 24 hours and with overnight lodging.
  • You may only claim the actual amount spent up to the maximum listed above per day.
  • M&IE meal cap is not the same as a per diem, which applies to long-term U.S. travel (30 days or more) and travel outside the continuous 48 States
  • Receipts should be obtained for all meals and may be required if the traveler routinely claims the full M&IE meal cap amount rather than the actual costs incurred.
  • Departments may require receipts to calculate the actual amount to claim for reimbursement up to the M&IE meal cap and also to show compliance with grant and contract restrictions.
  • The incidentals portion of an M&IE meal cap rate includes tips for service (e.g., for waiters, baggage handlers, etc.)
  • For the full list of receipt requirements see the Required Receipts and Supporting Documents Guide

Use a Corporate Travel Card

UCI’s Corporate Travel Card is useful for keeping track of meal expenses —as long as the traveler remembers to charge only travel related expenses to the account.

Learn more about the card on the Corporate Travel Card page.

Trips Outside CONUS or More than 30 Days

A Per Diem is given to travelers for lodging and meal expenses when travel is 30 days or longer or when the destination is outside the continuous 48 States (CONUS).

Learn more on the Calculating Per Diem page.