Facts about the Military Star card, which will be accepted in commissaries beginning this fall:
1. Reward-eligible. Cardholders receive a $20 rewards card for every $1,000 in purchases. The rewards card can be redeemed at the exchanges’ brick-and-mortar facilities, wherever exchange gift cards are accepted.
2. Commissary, with a catch. Some commissaries will begin accepting the card in October as part of a global rollout that will continue into November. But those stores won’t accept exchange gift cards or rewards cards, a Defense Commissary Agency spokesman said.
3. Pay that bill. Unlike other credit card issuers, the administrator of the Military Star card doesn’t have to get a civil judgment against a card holder to garnish a service member’s pay through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
4. Doing some good. When cardholders use the Star card instead of another credit card, they help exchanges and other installation entities avoid costly added fees. When customers use credit cards from other companies at such locations, the entity receiving the payment has to pay a transaction fee, often around 2 percent or 3 percent, to the credit card company. In 2016, AAFES alone paid nearly $80 million in credit card transaction fees, which means that much less money is pumped back into the services’ morale, welfare and recreation programs.
5. Doing more good. The commissaries don’t pay their transaction fees; that cost is covered directly by the U.S. Treasury. But the Military Star card has no fee, so taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill. The Treasury doesn’t provide full data on the fees to DeCA, an agency spokesman said, but estimates suggest annual fees can reach $40 million to $50 million.
Learn more about the card here.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.