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AF clubs no longer will require MasterCard

TOKYO — Starting this summer, joining an enlisted or officer’s club on an Air Force base won’t require getting another commercial credit card, according to Air Force officials.

Currently, club membership cards are directly tied to an application for a Chase Bank credit card, according to Kenny Pruitt, spokesman for the Air Force Personnel Center in San Antonio. Those memberships are required to get discounts on club activities and use of certain on-base gaming rooms.

The new system — which begins July 15 — allows people to apply only for a "proprietary card" linked directly to Air Force Services, according to Pruitt.

In the past, applicants were required to apply for a MasterCard through Chase. Only if the applicant did not meet the credit requirements for a MasterCard were they issued the proprietary card, Pruitt said in an e-mail this week.

"The change is in response to individuals indicating if they could choose the proprietary card they would become club members," Pruitt said.

Membership is required to gamble on slot machines on all Air Force base clubs, Pruitt and other Air Force officials said. If nonmembers win on the slot machines, they may not keep their winnings, Pruitt said.

Non-club members, however, may use the gaming rooms at other locations on base and keep winnings. At Yokota Air Base in Japan, for example, non-club members may use the slot machines at the bowling alley, according to spokesman Capt. Chris Watt.

The new club application will still require a credit check, even if the applicant wants only a proprietary card, according to Pruitt. The proprietary card is similar to a department store card and carries a credit limit of $500. Members’ dues are automatically charged to the card, Pruitt said.

The Air Force has used the credit card system for its club memberships since 1994, according to Pruitt. Before, clubs around the world ran individual membership lists and collection services. "The lack of standardization among those systems became increasingly cumbersome, making it more costly for clubs to operate effectively," Pruitt wrote. "At the urging of Congress to operate military clubs more businesslike, the Air Force opted to get out of the credit business."


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