Should I Get the AAFES Military Star Card or Rewards MasterCard?

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Short Answer: No, there are better credit cards out there. Here are the ones I use to get 1-5% cash back, no foreign transaction fees when I'm TDY, and access to airport lounges around the world.

Long Anwer: The AAFES Military Star Card (login required) is offered through the Exchange Credit Program, part of the Exchange, NEX, MCX, and Coast Guard Exchange brand of services offered on most military installations.

The Military Star Card has two main products: the Military Star Rewards MasterCard, offered by Chase Bank, and the regular Military Star Card.

The Military Star Rewards MasterCard (MSRM) is a traditional credit card while the Military Star Card is more like a line of credit within the military Exchange system.

Based on the two offering, the Rewards MasterCard is definitely the superior product. It's accepted more places and has a decent rewards program as well.

Both cards should show up on your credit report and factor into your credit score. By using these cards smartly, you could build an excellent credit history early on in your military career which could pay nice dividends later in life. For instance, with a excellent credit score you could have access to better rewards credit cards and lower mortgage rates some day.

Military Star Rewards MasterCard Rewards Point Program

The Rewards Program for the MSRM is not the greatest, but certainly not the worst either. One point is issued for every dollar spent, except at Exchange locations (including gas pumps), where 2 points per dollar is given.

These points can then be cashed out for a variety of rewards including:

  • Cash back (100 points = $1)
  • Exchange Rewards
  • Gift Cards
  • Airfare
  • Hotels

Not as good a program as the ones I use. If you do a lot of your shopping on base, this could be a good option for you, when used responsibly (I.E., paying in full every month).

Would I recommend either of these cards?

No, unless you have never had a credit card before. Because these are available exclusively to those with Exchange access, you shouldn't have much of a problem being approved for this card with a poor or nonexistent credit history.

If you have a good to excellent credit score, there are much better options available to you, such as any of these cards or no annual fee (exclusively for active duty military personnel) American Express cards that offer massive sign up bonuses and much better rewards programs.

Military Star Card as a First Credit Card

If you have no credit history, the MSRM could be an excellent first card to begin building your credit history. With no annual fees, a decent points program (100 points = $1), MasterCard global acceptance, and no foreign transaction fees, you could certainly do a lot worse for a credit card. If you're deciding between the MSRM and a secured card that has an annual fee, definitely go with the MSRM.

The Rewards MasterCard version of the Military Star Card would make a great first credit card. You could use it just to make gas purchases, wait for your statement to post, and then pay the statement in full. Do this for a few months and you'll rapidly see an increasing credit score (which you can check for free).

Just remember these cardinal rules of credit cards:

  1. Pay your statement balance in full every time you receive a statement
  2. Never charge more than you have in your accounts
  3. Consider setting up a “bills account” so you're not surprised when the credit card bill comes in

After 6-12 months, you'll probably be eligible for much better credit cards. Since the Military Star Card has no annual fee, it's an excellent card hold on to to build your credit history. That way your average age of accounts will continue to increase and you'll keep your oldest line of credit almost forever.

12 thoughts on “Should I Get the AAFES Military Star Card or Rewards MasterCard?”

  1. How would I get my star card back? I joined a program called consumer alliance to help paying my star card. I did not realize that it would mean my star card would be terminated? I would be happy to continue making payments monthly on my card, in addition to the CA payment, if I could have my star card returned.I really do love my star card would really appreciate having it returned! we are leaving on a trip soon and we use for gas,commissary,gifts, etc. I am very sorry for this mistake. I would never have closed my star account if I had realized this was going to happen. If there is any way I could have my card returned please advise. Thank You, sincerely – Rich

  2. Military Starcard is a total waste of time. This card service has one of the worst customer service and reward point system ever. They pretty much reward you with $20 for every 2,000 points, but what they don’t tell you is after one year from April what ever points you have left over is automatically expired. In other words, if you earned new points like me in March and it happens to be less than 2000 points, you will lose it automatically. Even if you contact their customer service over the phone, they will tell you to email them. After you email them, they will tell you they are sorry and will take your comment into consideration. So they pretty much are saying, we are not giving back your points and hoped you enjoyed our scam. If anyone or any of your family or friends are considering to apply for a Starcard then let me save you the trouble and tell you that you will have better options of getting rewards from other credit card companies like Discover or Chase.

  3. One thing to note as a caution is the Chase Military Star card has two separate lines of credit. As you can make out on the image above, there are two credit card numbers associated with the account, a Chase MasterCard and a Military Star card. While I do not claim to be an expert, I consider myself somewhat personal finance-savvy. Still, when I received my card, I did not realize I had two separate accounts. Two accounts, with two different bill cycles, and two different websites to pay the bill online.

    I paid the first bill I received and thought nothing of it for the rest of the month. Therefore, I did not pay off the second bill, incurring an interest charge. As soon as I realized my mistake, I set up the separate online bill pay and have had no problems since.

    The 10% off first day’s purchase is nice, and why I got the card. It’s also nice for 5 cents off of gas and most food courts offer 10% off meal purchases. For those reasons I still keep my account. However, I was not impressed with the fact that when signing up, it was not made clear that there would be two separate bills. There is actually a third line, specifically for uniform sales, which I believe has no interest for a period of time (I think six months), but I have never investigated further because I do not need another line of credit on that card.

    • It’s made 100% clear that they are separate accounts. Even if someone told you wrong… all of the evidence in the pamphlets and web pages would tell otherwise, along with your bill not adding up. Classic case of user error.

      Start card/MasterCard owner since 2011.

  4. Justin,

    I have the Military Star Rewards MasterCard, how do I know I’m getting the 5 cents off at the pump on the military base? Does the savings reflect on the price display at the pump? I have not seen any credit on my Chase statement, either. What’s the deal? Thanks.

    • 5 cents off applies at the pump. After you slide your Star Card, you will see the price-per-gallon decrease by 5 cents. As for the credit on your Chase statement, see my post below regarding the separate bills for Chase vs Star Card.

  5. The military star card is probably one of the main reasons why I have a decent credit score today. When I first got it, my credit limit was a measly $500. Over the years I’ve gotten the limit to a generous $8,200. While the card isn’t AMAZING, I still recommend that military members use the card. You get 5 cents off per gallon of gas on military installations and it sometimes goes as high as 15 cents off per gallon. It’s perfect when Chase Freedom and DiscoverIT aren’t offering anything good for gas. Also, you can get 10% off dining on post these days and on certain holidays it goes up to 20%. They will also throw in some decent coupons every now and again if you use the card to make a certain purchase.

    • For a newly enlisted servicemember or commissioned officer, the Star Card could be the perfect way to start building credit history and get approved for a low limit credit card early on in their career. The longer you keep the card, the higher your average age of accounts, which should result in an even better credit score. I like the idea of using it when Chase Freedom or Discover it aren’t offering cash back on gas. However, if gas gets back up to above $4/gallon, it might be worth using another card like the Barclaycard Arrival, which offers 2.2% back on all purchases.

  6. The star card was my first credit card. It allowed me to by essentials like a TV and CD player when I got out of basic training. The interest rate is very good and I still use the card for military clothing purchases with a 0% interest rate.


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