Customers buying fuel at Army and Air Force Exchange Service stations across Europe will soon be able to save 3 cents per gallon when paying with Military Star Cards if an expanded test of the discount works as planned, according to the exchange.

A pilot version of the discount program has been running at the AAFES filling station at the Hainerberg shopping area in Wiesbaden, Germany, since September.

Starting Tuesday, the pilot will expand to include stations at Ramstein Air Base, Spangdahlem Air Base, Grafenwöhr, Patch Barracks in Stuttgart and Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt, all in Germany.

Barring any unforeseen problems at those locations, the discount will roll out to the rest of Europe beginning the first week of December.

"It was initially tested at one location only because of the specific software we use for the new AAFES/ESSO fuel card program," Lt. Col. David Konop wrote in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes.

The discount, which only applies to purchases with Military Star Cards at on-base filling stations, has been available to AAFES customers in the U.S. since August, and at most stations in the Pacific since September.

Though generally seen as positive, there has been some criticism of the discount in Pacific.

In a letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes, Brian Croker at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, called the move, "just a way to encourage servicemembers and their families to go into debt on behalf of AAFES."

That’s not an issue if customers pay off their card balances monthly.

The discount is seen as a win-win as , which has to pay fees for fuel purchased with commercial credit cards and expects to save a considerable amount of money. Since 2001, transaction fees to commercial banks have cost the exchange $384 million, according to the exchange.

"Because the Military Star Card is administered by the Exchange Credit Program, AAFES is not subject to the additional fees incurred through other ‘pay at the pump’ options," Konop wrote.

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