If I want to refer to a sum of money that someone can get to make up for travel expenses, do I refer to it as "reimbursement for travel expenses" or as "compensation for travel expenses"? When I google the two, the version with "reimbursement" gets almost four times as many hits as the one with "compensation", but on Google Ngrams, the version with "compensation" is the only one to get any hits at all. A bit confusing, in other words!
Checking my dictionaries, I get the impression that the two differ a bit in meaning, so that "reimbursement" refers to a paying back of the amount of money that was spent, whereas "compensation" would perhaps rather mean that the person is compensated, but not necessarily with the amount that was actually spent, but rather at a set rate – is this intuition correct? So that the the choice between the two depends not on frequency, but on meaning?
Addition to the original post:
The situation I'm after is one where a person can apply for money to cover travel exepenses, and based on the exact kind of situation, the person gets a certain predetermined amount, according to a tariff, with no receipts or the like involved at all, so it seems "reimbursement" wouldn't really fit after all.
Perhaps "travel allowance" would be a better fit?