Paycheck Chronicles

Commissary Users Rack Up $4 Million in Rewards in First Year With Star Card

Military Star Card

It's been a year since Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) stores on military bases worldwide started accepting the Military Star Card as a form of payment.

In the past, the Military Star Card, a private line of credit run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), was only accepted at facilities run by the base Exchange system, including gas stations and Shopettes. Users earn rewards points good for gift cards that can be used at those stores.

A few years ago, Congress ordered that the Military Star card be accepted at commissary stores as well. That extension started in October of last year, with all commissaries accepting the card starting in November.

Since then, shoppers have spent $204 million on groceries with the card, AAFES officials said in a press release sent today. That's about $4 million in AAFES rewards gift cards.

The Star Card is a good deal for the Exchange and commissary systems because it saves them money by not charging the fees associated with processing other credit cards. Financial advisors, however, tend to be split on whether or not the card program is good for troops.

While the interest rate is low for an in-store card -- 12.24 percent -- the system used for payments can be glitchy, although that has improved in recent years. And unlike normal credit cards, not paying can result in your command being notified or your pay being garnished.

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