Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Best Credit Card to use on Base (Commissary, DFAC, Exchange, etc)

I'm writing this post because I eat at the DFAC every day at the hospital. I occasionally get frustrated because when checking out, there are always long lines and it's mostly because 75% of people pay with cash instead of a credit card. It takes literally 10X longer to pay with cash than just swiping your credit card. AND if you pay with the right credit card you get 2% off your purchase every time.

So let's compare some places on base and what credit card you should use:

1.) DFAC (Dining Facilities) - This is coded by credit card companies as "government services, not otherwise classified." AKA this means it's not a special category that will give you bonus cash back.

  • Recommendation: Use a 2% cash back credit card (Citi Double Cash, Fidelity Rewards, or the Mastercard Gold by Barclay are all examples of credit cards that give 2% back on every purchase)
  • My experience: Earlier this year, Discover had a promotion where they gave 10% back on all purchase made by ApplePay and they had a 2X promotion so I technically got 20% back on all my purchases. Unfortunatly that promotion only lasted 2 months and is over now.
2.) Commissary - This is coded by credit cards as a grocery store.
  • Recommendation: The American Express Preferred Card is hands down the best card in this scenario. It gives 6% cash back on all grocery purchases. It has a $75 annual fee but that is waived for military members.
  • If you are interested, I can send you a referral. I get $50 per referral and will split it with you. It comes with a $150 bonus if you spend $1000 in the first 3 months of having the card. Email if interested. 
  • A close 2nd place would be the the USAA American Express Cashback Rewards Plus Card that gives 5% back on all purchase on base. Chase Freedom will also be giving 5% cash back from April - June. 
3.) Exchange - The best card to use at the exchange is the USAA American Express Cashback Rewards Plus Card that gives 5% back on all purchase on base. There is the Military Star Card, but that only gives 2% back. 

4.) Gas Stations on Base - Again the USAA American Express Cashback Rewards Plus Card gives 5% back on all purchase on base. You could also use Discover/Chase Freedom when they do their 5% cash back quartly bonuses. Sams club and penfed also have essentially 5% cash back cards on gas as well.
  • Recommendations: There are alot of different choices that give 5% back on gas. Pick whichever one works best for you
5.) Food Courts on Base - This is typically coded as restaurants/fast food. Depending on locations, the Military Star Card gives 10% back on food purchases made at the food courts on base. If you don't have that card, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus Card gives 5% and Discover/Chase Freedom have 5% rotating categories with restaurants/fast food
  • If your base gives 10% cash back with the Military Star Credit Card then that is definitely the clear winner.
  • If you are going to apply for this card, I would do this at the Exchange in person. From March 18-March 24 they have a promotion going on that they will give 15% off everything on your first day. This includes uniforms.
Did I miss anything? Please comment below. Thanks

Like what you read? Want more deals for military?


  1. Do you still have the referral code for the American Express Preferred Card?

    1. Yes, just send me an email at

  2. I see this article is over 2 years old, is the referral code still available?

    1. Yes, just send me an email at


Please no spam or posting spam links