AAFES ups savings for Star Card users
Stars and Stripes August 14, 2009
With gas prices again on the rise, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is offering customers a little bigger break, but customers need to be smart.
Last year, AAFES began offering a 3-cent-a-gallon break on gas prices if customers used their Military Star Card when purchasing the fuel. The exchange service upped that cost-saving measure to 5 cents a gallon last week, with special days planned for even bigger savings.
Motorists have pumped 59 million gallons of fuel since the program’s inception last September, resulting in $1.8 million in savings, according to Judd Anstey, public relations manager for AAFES.
Even bigger savings are in store: AAFES plans to give motorists who use their Star Card a 20-cent-per-gallon break for up to 20 gallons of fuel pumped between Aug. 21-23.
With gas prices jumping 9 cents a gallon this week at the pumps, every nickel counts.
AAFES can offer the 5-cent-a-gallon discount because the exchange service is not subject to third-party fees incurred when customers use debit cards or other credit cards, an official said when the program was first announced.
One financial expert said that using a credit card can be financially dangerous, but he said critics shouldn’t dismiss the savings possibilities of the campaign.
It’s true that "credit card companies want every penny they can get from the soldiers since they know soldiers have a steady paycheck," said Herman Hurd, Financial Readiness Program manager on Panzer Kaserne in Stuttgart, Germany. But, people can save money through the program if they are smart.
Hurd, who has been in the military, personal financial business for more than 40 years, said the type of person who gets into trouble with debt will be in trouble with or without AAFES’ marketing device. People who manage their credit responsibly will take advantage of it safely, he said.
One advantage to using the Star Card is its 9.99 annual percentage rate, Anstey said.
If a customer purchases 12 gallons of fuel with the card at $2.55 per gallon during the 20-cent promotion, he could wait three months to pay the balance and still save $1.71 more than if he had not used the Star Card at all, Anstey said.
Even with the 5-cent discount, customers could wait two months to pay off the debt and still see some savings.
"AAFES seems like they are trying to help," Hurd said, "but they can’t manage an individual’s financial responsibilities.
"Those that use their credit cards need to use discipline. Remember, you always have to pay the piper."