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How to Save More with Your Commissary Benefits

Ellie Kay
tagged: benefits,military life
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Does the commissary save you more money than civilian stores? The answer is yes… and no. Here’s the inside scoop on the making the most of this military benefit.

Generally, consumers save 30% when they shop at the commissary compared to civilian stores—assuming they shopped like the average shopper. But on occasion you’ll find the same items cheaper at civilian stores. And because many civilian stores allow you to combine store and manufacturer’s coupons, you can potentially save even more. Here are a few reasons you may find items cheaper in civilian stores:

--No Loss Leaders -- Commissaries are required by law to sell items at cost and are not allowed to sell higher or lower than that cost. Therefore, they cannot offer "loss leaders."  Whereas, civilian stores can sell products at a loss, in order to get you in the store.

--Not Enough Special Deals --  Civilian stores and commercial firms may buy into cost-effective deals that are offered by suppliers that are not available to DeCA. Commissary buyers negotiate vigorously to get the best possible price, but there are times when the buyers cannot develop a good business case for accepting certain deals offered by suppliers.


Extra Commissary Savings

The extreme savers that you see on television know the store policies and strategies for maximizing their grocery dollars. For example, if you go to you’ll find civilian deals where you can layer the savings. The military-version of these kinds of savings is available to commissary shoppers if you know what to look for when it comes to getting the best deals. For example:

--Shop the Sales – If you go to and if you live in the continental United States, you may view promotional prices for your commissary by hovering over the above "Shopping" tab and selecting "Savings Aisle", then clicking the "Login" link on the following page.

--Hurry Up or Wait – Expect stateside commissaries to change prices twice a month, on the 1st and the 16th, as opposed to the private sector, where prices are changed weekly. The sales are usually in effect for 30 to 45 days.

--Overseas Shoppers – If you are stationed abroad, be sure to take advantage of the fact that you can redeem manufacturer’s coupons for up to six months after the expiration date. Go to your local on-base family support office to find these donated coupons.

--Commissary Loyalty Card – There is a new loyalty card program that offers digital coupons that customers can download to their card through a website. You are able to use printed coupons in the store, but you CANNOT combine them with the digital coupons. So only plan on using one of these coupons.

--Case Lot Sales – Twice a year, in May and September, you’ll find case lot sales that can be combined with coupon savings to save enough to last for months.

Extra Exchange Savings

The commissary is a great way to save and so is shopping at the nearby exchange. Here are the ins and outs of saving even more at your local Exchange.

--Coupon Booklets – The “Toyland Book” is a coupon book promotional that saved consumers more than $446,000 with an average savings of $13 per coupon last year. The “Clip & Save” exchange booklet also offers 20 to 50 special deals once per quarter. So look for these special promotional booklets in your exchange and don’t forget to combine these offers with vendor coupons whenever possible.

--Print Deals – Look for exchange coupons in local sales flyers or in your mailbox. They are also available at the store, or you can sign up to receive them at .

--Coupons Codes for Military – If you live in the continental US, you can opt to get these codes and sale info via text messaging. Just text “Exchange” or 95613.

--Local E-Blasts – You can get info on local specials and AAFES wide deals, plus coupons by subscribing  signing up for regular email blasts in your area.

--Social Media – Go to facebook and twitter and sign up for AAFES coupons and special alerts. They post every Friday and can be used worldwide starting the next day. You can also sign up for twitter notifications at

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