Military ExchangesUpdated: March 30, 2021
Are you a newbie or an old pro at using the Exchange? Either way, you’ll learn a few extra ways to save money and utilize all the benefits that it has to offer. The Military Exchange is a retail mega store, similar to a strip mall, that offers the brands and products that you would find in department stores or malls, all in one convenient (and cheaper) location. While other services are included in the Exchange, often times there will be a uniform shop, food court, and specialty shops, as well as an online military exchange.
Who can use the Exchange?
Active-duty, retired personnel, National Guard members, Medal of Honor recipients, honorably discharged veterans (online only), authorized family members and any military member of foreign nations are allowed to use the Exchange. The Exchange is available on most bases and online.
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act expanded the pool of eligible exchange, commissary shoppers to include all service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and primary veteran caregivers. The benefit will also extend to MWR “revenue generating facilities”. Find out more about the expanded on-base commissary & exchange privileges for veterans and caregivers.
At shopmyexchange.com has daily specials and shows the current savings and offers. The convenience of online shopping is matched only by using a Military Star Card for your purchases. Military Star promotions, specials and weekly ads, daily deals, and limited promotions are a few of excellent perks that shopping online offers. No matter where you are, the Exchange is available for you.
Military Star Card
One of the biggest benefits of the exchange is the Military Star Card. The card allows any reservists, retired or active duty service member to make purchases from the Exchange tax, overage, late, and annual fee free. When you sign up for the card, you receive a 10% discount on your first purchase, which is perfect for new service members that need to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of gear their first day at a new assignment. The Star Card can be used at the Marine Corps, Navy or Coast Guard Exchanges as well as AAFES.
When using a Star Card, you receive gift cards for the Exchange, restaurants, entertainment and travel. You also get 2% cash back rewards at Express Fuel Stations, MilExch.com, the Exchange, the commissary and MWR Merchants. When you acquire $20 you can start to transfer your funds for use. One of the biggest benefits is to those who live outside of the United States, doing business abroad, or traveling. There are no foreign transaction fees which can save a lot of money. The Armed Services save a lot of money themselves when you use your card. Millions of dollars in processing fees are saved by not paying their competitors. This revenue is put to better use in the morale, welfare and recreation programs.
What are the Exchange options?
More than 2,400 facilities are operated by the Army and Air Force Exchange in over 30 foreign countries. If you are eligible to shop at one Exchange you are allowed to visit them all or shop online, as long as you have the proper ID. Each branch has their own name, they are:
- Army & Air Force Exchange (AAFES) – aka “The Exchange”
- Coast Guard Exchange (CGX)
- Marine Corps Exchange (MCX)
- Navy Exchange (NEXCOM)
- Veterans Canteen Service
Savings and services
The main goal of the Exchange is to offer a variety of service, both home and abroad, to the service men and women working hard for our country, along with their families that work just as hard to support them. Prices at the Exchange are generally cheaper than anywhere else and the convenience of centralized shopping makes getting everything you need for any occasion a breeze. There is no sales tax which ensures that you are paying for quality with your money, not all of the extra tax associated with the items you’re wanting. If the Exchange doesn’t have the lowest price, they are happy to ad match with any business that sells it cheaper in town. Fine jewelry and gasoline are excluded for ad matching.
Most Exchanges have a uniform shop for all uniform needs. There will be someone that can help you navigate all the pins and bars that you or your soldier will need. All major credit cards along with the Star Card making shopping online in one spot a safer alternative to putting all your information into various sites. Dry cleaning services are offered on base, with a specialty in military uniform care, can be a great way to get your dress uniforms in tip top shape with no worrying about mistakes. Calling cards can also be purchased for a discounted price to family members that have a soldier that is stationed overseas, helping to ease the burden of high priced minutes.
Along with saving the military community immense time and money, they also give back to the community. The Exchange provides funds for installation activities and employment for the military family members. The MWR activities that are utilized by thousands of soldiers and their families are reason enough to take your business to the Exchange. Even without knowing it, you have probably benefited from the profits of the Exchange. Have you ever gone bowling, watched a movie, or used the gym on base? If so, thank the Exchange for providing the funding for the entertainment that we have all grown to love.