Military Star Card Rollout Starts at Commissaries

by Amy Bushatz
Military.com

Commissary shoppers will be able to use the Military Star credit card at stores systemwide by Nov. 9, officials announced Thursday.

Fort Lee, Virginia, on Thursday became the first commissary to accept the card at checkout.

Five additional commissaries -- Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; Key West National Air Station, Florida; Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia; and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine -- will start accepting it early next week.

The remaining stores will be added in eight batches between now and Nov. 9, with locations in Hawaii, Japan and Korea among the last to allow the card, officials said.

The Military Star card, operated by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) through the Exchange Credit Program, is a popular credit card choice among young service members because approval does not require a long credit history or a good credit score.

The card, which historically has been accepted only at exchange facilities across the services, often carries a low credit limit starting at $800 and does not have a yearly fee. Users also accrue points on purchases, which are redeemed for AAFES gift cards.

A 2016 law ordered AAFES and the Defense Commissary Agency to expand the program to be accepted at the more than 200 commissaries worldwide. DeCA has tied the Star Card rollout to a previously planned point of sales system upgrade.

There are currently about 2.1 million Star Card holders, AAFES officials said.

Although the card comes with perks for users, including 5 cents off per gallon at exchange gas stations and rewards points that are converted into exchange gift cards, failure to pay a bill can bring serious ramifications. For example, unlike most credit card debts, Star Card default can result in military paycheck garnishments.

Prior to fall 2015, the Star Card could be paired with a co-branded Chase Bank credit card. Although both accounts were included on one physical card, they appeared as two lines of credit on users' credit scores.

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