Military Star Card generates thousands for Team Andrews|
Posted 5/29/2009 Updated 5/29/2009
by Pacifica Chehy
Capital Flyer staff writer
5/29/2009 - ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- You can get clothes, electronics, toys and more - at a discount and tax free. If military members and their families needed one more reason to shop at their local base exchange, the Military Star Card gives them one: profits from the card go directly back to the base community.
Military patrons using bank-issued cards at their local exchanges cost the base community millions of dollars annually that could instead be directed to Morale, Welfare and Recreation efforts. Unlike bank credit cards, profits generated from the Military Star Card maximize the exchange benefit and are shared with military communities through contributions to the base's MWR funds. The funds can be directed toward youth services and centers, recreation, and base parks like FamCamp.
"At Andrews, the AAFES dividends are received annually and are used for quality of life programs," said Judee Sanders, 316th Force Support Squadron deputy commander. "From those funds, we purchased the surrey at Outdoor Recreation, we repair non-appropriated funds, or NAF, vehicles, and we purchased the inflatable paintball contained field."
It is the dual mission at AAFES to provide quality merchandise at low prices while benefitting the base as a whole.
"Something as seemingly insignificant as a credit or debit fee can add up to a major quality of life issue," said Joyce Best, Andrews BX store manager. "Because banks charge an average of 1.5 percent of the transaction total when the credit or debit card is swiped, every purchase made with one of these cards impacts the exchange's ability to maximize the investment military families are making in their community."
Andrews members can help their local community.
"Using the Military Star Card is one of the easiest ways for authorized shoppers to directly impact their Exchange and MWR benefits," said Ms. Best. "Reducing unnecessary expenses such as bank fees not only goes a long way in strengthening the overall exchange benefit, but also the dividend operations annually generate for the military community."
Lindsey Drangstveit, Andrews Army and Air Force Exchange Service administrative assistant to the general manager, said banks charge fees to retailers.
"Let's say you buy $1,000 worth of electronics," explained Ms. Drangstveit. "You'll use your bank-issued card and the bank will charge a merchant's fee, say 3 percent for using your card, so the retailer would pay $30 for you to use your credit card at the store. Because the exchanges operate the Exchange Credit Program, these unnecessary fees can be virtually eliminated, and MWR funding could potentially increase when a Military Star card is used."
"The base gas station pays almost $30,000 per month in credit card fees, and that's for the Four Seasons and the gas station alone. If you go worldwide, imagine the hundreds of thousands of dollars of fees that would get cut if our military and their families switched to the Military Star Cards. It comes down to this: the less we pay on credit card fees, the more we can give to the military community," explained Ms. Drangstveit.
In 2008, AAFES Andrews facilities were able to give back $544,799 to the base, however, these operations also incurred $956,000 in bank-processing fees.
The Military Star Card is accepted at all AAFES, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Exchange activities, as well as the Exchange Catalog and the Exchange Online store at www.aafes.com.
Authorized exchange shoppers can learn more about the Military Star Card by visiting the BX at 1811 Brookley Ave., or by logging onto www.aafes.com and clicking the Military Star Card icon.