Should Spouses use Military Discounts?


I remember the first time I heard of a military discount. “Are you military?” the little clerk folding clothes into my bag at the store asked. “Yes,” I said. “If you show me your ID I can give you our 10 percent military discount.”

Mind blown.  A discount? Just for being a military family member? Heck yes!

It never even dawned on me not to say “yes” to these wonderful treats. I quickly learned to start asking at stores if they had one. I figured it never hurts to ask. And that 8 or 10 percent off is just a little way that I knew businesses in America hadn’t forgotten that my husband was out there fighting for their right to sell stuff. Three cheers for capitalism.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized that some spouses not only aren’t comfortable with asking if a store has the discount, but they say “no thanks” when it is offered. They say the discount isn’t really for or about them – it’s for and about actual servicemembers.

I can see where they are coming from. Perhaps they think that even a discount may potentially give off a sense of entitlement – something I have no intention of communicating. Or, maybe they think “I didn’t serve – no need to thank me.”

And then there are the people far on the other side – those who love discounts so much that they wait until a discount and military freebie heavy day, like Veterans Day, and strike while the iron is hot. In honor of the day at least 18 chain restaurants offered free meals to anyone with a military ID, while many retail stores offered additional discounts. Everything from shoes to mattresses is discounted. Some people love these so much that they go, in my opinion, way overboard. I’ve even heard of people ordering the free food as takeout, hauling it home and freezing it for later.

In my personal opinion, using the discount as spouse that a store already offers (or politely asking if they have one – and, if so, taking advantage of it) does not cross a line. If the discount was only meant for the servicemember and not his dependents, they would not accept dependent IDs. Just like when someone finds out I’m a military spouse and says “thank you for your sacrifice,” I politely respond “you’re welcome” – the discounts are meant as a sign of thanks.

What do you think?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

46 Comments on "Should Spouses use Military Discounts?"

  1. Considering that my husband is the one who works and everything I buy is with the money he made, I don't see an issue with accepting a military discount at a store. Just because I'm the one at the store buying wood flooring for our home doesn't make the purchase any different than when he goes to buy the same wood flooring for our home.

  2. I agree. My husband may be the one doing the "real work", but I'm the one buying him clothes, food and everything else. If they want the discount to only go to servicemembers, then they'll say so. Otherwise, we all are making sacrifices on this journey. For me, it's not living near a good mall, ahem…

    P.S. Amy, you rock! :)

  3. I was a milspouse before I became a dual mil family, and I had no issues either way with accepting a discount. I always asked, never complained. Like many have said, that military income is supporting the family and as a spouse you're typically shopping for the family's needs or working within the family budget. Like you said, if they didn't intend for it to be for dependents, they'd only accept CACs.

  4. From the other side of it, if the stores include dependents AND they can afford to give the discount, then I think we should accept the discount.

    I believe too if you are buying lets say a pair of 4 inch heels and a slew of nail polish, no matter how pretty it makes you look to your servicemember, I'm convinced taking the discount is not in the spirit it was intended!

  5. I am not a service member, nor are either of my parents. Two of my three uncles served, my grandfather (on my dad's side) was discharged due to pore vision, and both of my mom's parents served. My little sister married a "Military brat" (their words not mine), and I have a nephew in law that is currently serving. And many friends that have served or are serving.

    My sisters mother in law buys diapers at the PX for her grand children.

    My niece is a single mom as her husband is overseas. Her sacrifice is tangible she may not be in harms way but she willingly gave her husband to the service of our country. And if she wants to use a offered discount to buy 4 inch heels I'm fine with that, I'm fine with if she uses a discount to buy yarn to make goods and sell them. (I do not know if she does these things but I am okay with it)

    I think anything I can do to make the life of a service members family better I am for. I would rather shop at a place the offers a discount to military families then one that does not.

    LL I get what you are saying. I however think that if the spouse is buying something they would buy anyway and it is for personal use there should not be a problem. It is helping the family and I think that is the intent of the discount.

    I will say that I think it is wrong if they buy the heels with a discount to sell on Ebay or something like that. That is taking advantage of the offer.

  6. BIG TIME DISAGREE!!! Only the White and Blue I.D Cards should get the discount. Just because you are a spouse doesn't afford you the right for a discount % at a business for MILITARY, YOU ARE A CIVILIAN. Spuses really PISS me off, they all try to live thru the RANK of there spouse. BS!! That's like saying If I was a GS employee for either 1 day or 29 yrs on the job with "zero" military service I should have the benefit to shop at the commissary, get gas…ect

  7. You deserve the discount, Thank you for making it possible for him to serve. A happy home makes for a focused service person.

  8. john giantonio | November 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    absolutely, the spouse is more then likely buying for the military spouse ,so it ultimately goes to him/her ,that's the way it should be !!! and it's not like the military are getting paid millions !!!

  9. Military spouses put up with a lot of crap. Family separation is hard on everyone. My wife cared for my children while I was doing 6 deployments, 6 field exercises and multiple schools. All spouses don't pretend to have rank. I've only noticed that among the officer wives. Spouses sacrifice also. Give them the discount. They earned it.

  10. Being a veteran and now a dependent spouse, I think I can speak on this issue with a unique perspective. Military discount should be offered and accepted by military spouses. These discounts are meant to help the military family, not just the military member themselves. As has been pointed out many times already the spouse is the one who is most likely to be doing the shopping for the family because often the military member is unavailable to do so. Even if the Active duty member is at home, their schedules are rarely flexible enough to allow for the majority of household tasks, not to say some don't manage exceptionally well when needed (single parents, etc.), and therefore spouses often take on the majority of household purchasing. These discounts are an effort of local businesses to honor Military and ease the burden of financing a household on pay that is not equivalent to the civilian pay scale. I support all military spouses in taking discounts when offered and asking if one is available if not offered. Thank you to all our Service members, past and present, and their families who sacrifice right along with them.

  11. SFC Stahl Retired | November 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    I am retire d Army and feel that if a spouse should be allowed the same benifit the the spouse. Rememmber they hae to sacrifice almost as much as the service menber. It may not be in combat but they sacrifice also to support them no matter what. Those who are against this should join the military and see just how hard it is on them. My wife was with me for 20 years of the 21 I served. I was married in 1970 and went to Vietnam for year . She has never once complined about me me gone. When i went to Germany the first time she had to fly over there with three kids between 5 month and 4 years old and to she and all spouse's think it's easy try it. Better yet join and see why they earned the discounts. Don't bitch untll you walked in there shoes.

  12. I just retired and I think the dependent spouses deserve the same if not more for their,often thankless, job they do. Couldn't have been as successful without her.

  13. I would be upset if she did not.

  14. I can't believe this is even a question. A spouse is the military, they suffer every day along side their husbands and wives. This question is a product of the liberals who have never given anthing.

  15. You are doing nothing wrong – the stores give the discounts as it generates a lot of repeat traffic. Free markets and commerce are wonderful things!

  16. As a service member I agree that military spouses should be allowed the discounts and thanks that their respective husbands or wives recieve in uniform. For one when we are married we are 1 family not 2 persons per se and my spouse represents me and I her, but more importantly without my wife doing "her service" for our family and others, I can't do my service for our country, so even though she is not "under oath to defend the Constitution" she is still a service member in my book and should recieve the same respect, recognition, and thanks as a uniformed member……Just my 2 cents.

  17. This is disrespectful. My wife is a disabled vet, we both served. She gets mad when sometimes she has to walk with a cane, and someone who MARRIED into the military gets a discount. Being the spouse of a stress magnet (Like firefighter.cop.logger etc.) Does NOT MAKE YOU ONE! There are plenty of distressed and honorable spouses that are not married to military, you are special, but you ARE NOT MILITARY!

  18. The only thing that irritates me is (when I was working in retail) was when I had a military spouse (husband was an O-5) buy over $100 in baseball equipment for her 5 year old only to find out that we offered a 10% military discount at our store AFTER she purchased, so she returned everything and re-bought it so that she could get the discount. To me, that is absolutely ridiculous. I am a military spouse, and yes, if a store offers a military discount, I would use it, but I would never ever do something like that!

  19. Most of the discounts are minimal but are still graciously accepted by myself , a military spouse. In my opinion the discount comes as a way of the business saying ,"thank you. I dont understand all the hostility behind a spouse getting a discount. AND it is up to the business to accept or deny dependents.Some businesses will even say "active duty military only". The way i see it is if they give a discount Yayy! if not, no love lost. I have never asked, unless im with my spouse BUT if they ask me i always say im a dependent because that;s what I am. Those spouses who act like they are in the military may act like that because of all they sacrifice by being a spouse. They are right there dealing w/ everything in the household. How can they not feel apart of the bigger picture (their spouse serving). Also since the spouse is out serving, he or she more than likely does not have time to shop, the civilian spouse does. Discount or not discount, spouses will still shop. But to those who offer a discount, it is still nice to know businesses don't mind sacrificing a little to say thank you and in the process gain some business.

  20. Since a Republican senator is now talking about the "duplicative" nature of the commissary/PX system, it looks like on-post shopping will be taking a hit and military families will have to go where the civilians go to shop. Having a military discount will take the sting out of no longer being able to use the benefit of shopping near home and enjoying the military's buying power. Don't ever be afraid of taking advantage of a military discount… pretty soon that's going to be just about the only benefit of service that your family will be able to enjoy once the cutting is complete. The schools are next on the chopping block.

  21. Here is what confuses me….. 4 u that DONT Think WE the Military Wives do not deserve the discount or want to put conditions & stipulations on what we purchase, take this as food for thought; THE BIBLE says when WE enter into a marriage, WE BECOME ONE…. now while I understand that I DO NOT and DID NOT Physically serve in the Military – I/WE deserve the discounts plus more for what we sacrifice…..but YOU wouldn’t be able to WALK A CITY MILE in my shoes let alone a lifetime…… WE sacrifice more than you will EVER BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND…..EVER!!!!…. We are entitled to medical benefits, continuing educational benefits, but you have a problem with us getting 8-10 percent of food and retail items? GIVE ME A BREAK that’s ONLY TAX anyway!….

  22. We sacrifice so much more as a spouse that the 10percent that you are bitchin about! That 8=10% PALS IN COMPARIONS…. to what we go thru……our children have questions constantly about their father/mother/service person, and We THE GOOD ones are lonely! Not for sex but just for his/her presence in the home, whether good or bad,,,, we sacrifice during the HOLIDAYS like NOW when our children and other family member are HAPPY we have to put on a HAPPY FACE while covering a HURTFUFL HEART…… our husbands miss MILESTONES in our children’s lives( i.e.… Births, Deaths, babies taking first steps, speaking their first word, they miss graduations, birthdays, weddings, grandkids being born and such……….. YET you are BITCHIN about 10percent which isn’t going to make or break ANY OF YOU….

  23. So until you have understanding of the Sacrifices & Struggles, have the FAITH, STRENGTH & RESILIANCY and posse the ADORATION and LOVE that WE have to have EVERYDAY, don’t EVER TALK about what we DON’T DESERVE, because while you are with your Family getting fat on turkey –U REMEMBER THIS…….. MY HUSBAND, SON and FATHER are fighting for you to eat YOU REMEMBER that my children are WITHOUT THEIR FATHER, UNCLE & GRANDFATHER….and remember YOU READ THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. I see nothing wrong in excepting a discount offered by a business to anyone who has a military ID. I think it is honorable of a business to offer anything to military persons (and their dependents). They don't have too. They want too. I don't like to think of supporting my husband at what he does and taking care of our children as a sacrifice or serving along side him just because he is in the military. I see it as meeting my obligations and responsibilities of being a wife and mother.. That being said, I do see the argument that military spouses are serving and sacrificing. I do this because I love my family and I don't want my husband to worry about what is going on at home. When he is gone, he as enough to worry about. When people thank me for what I do, as a military spouse I always respond by saying thank you but I am only doing what any other wife and mother should be doing.

  25. If Reservists get it, spouses should get it.

  26. I see nothing wrong with taking the discount. As a matter of fact I will be using it for the holiday as I travel out of town.

  27. The pay in the military isn't really that much. Anything that amounts to saving can be really helpful.

  28. Amy, As a retired servicemember I've always felt that the discount was meant to benefit the military member. So, how would it be any different if my wife or son used the discount? Doesn't it still benefit 'me'? It benefits my family which, especially during deployment, eases my mind that my beloved wife is using our resources smartly so that they will go farther. I think that a spouse, or dependent (I know, non-politically correct term) child, using the discounts for things that are needed is just fine. After all, my family sacrificed all those same holidays and family times when I was on watch or deployment as I did.

    Jeff M

  29. Spouses should get discount cards/ID Cards for military bases only for whatever they need, whether its the commissary or exchange stores. This has been a talk for some time on the executive level, but the policies and orders get shot down. The discounts off/on base should be priveliged for Military Troopers ONLY, whether your Active Duty or Reservists. They’re cutting back on cuts for commissary and the exchange stores for all branches and closing them down 1 by 1. I like hearing all these excuses on how im deployed, i work 12 hours a day. FYI your in the military 24 hours regardless what branch your in. Didn’t you all get the memo that your signficant other has a difficult job and will miss majority of your life whether he/she does 4-20 years or so. There is MOSs that don’t get deployed at all. I work among officers and NCO’s who have been in Active duty for 15-25 years and never done 1 tour overseas. Now the rest of the MOSs are deployable .Bottom line the discounts are used for Military Troopers not SPOUSES. Being medically retired and working among wounded warrior and families we all need to help each other regardless of ranks and politics. Spouses I do understand your struggles, take advantage of it, but don’t abuse it. You all have a great Thanksgiving!

  30. Yes, it’s acceptable. Military spouses make sacrifices everyday especially ones with children and their spouse is not always around, you take the place of two people. I say go for it, it’s a way the community gives back and we keep them in business by returning for more merchandise. I am a veteran and currently a military spouse.

  31. what is the meaning to this question? for sure, for sure! if you have been in service as a spouse, and i mean service too, because like it or not we deal with sooooo much garage, and the need for understanding of what WE do to support the military, why should anyone deny a small thank you for ALL we do? after 24 years plus of duty ,I think I have done my share. During these years I've feed and hosted young Marines, helped rise funds for balls, and ironed uniforms for burials, so 10% is nothing but a small thank you. God bless the miliray and all who love this country.

  32. The wives have an ID card and should benefit from the spouse's service! They are as much a part of the military system as the soldier! The money they spend is usually the only paycheck so indirectly, the solder is paying for it anyway! Families suffer the most in the military!

  33. @ Curtis and others with similar thoughts…..

    I have three questions regarding your comment:

    1) Besides our wives taking care of everything on the home front, which allowed us to focus on our jobs, are you suggesting military spouses are not deserving?

    2) I am 80% service-connected / disabled and, though I'm now a civilian, we do utilize these discounts. Are you suggesting I should not be able to accept these offers?

    IF SO, how much more sacrifice do you suggest spouses and disabled vet's pay, in order to be allowed to accept these discounts?????

  34. We all (active, reserve, retired, spouses, etc.) need all the help we can get.

  35. There is absolutely NO doubt that spouses should use military discounts when available. I served 2 years in the Guard and 20 years in the Navy and I can tell you my wife served right alongside me. There is as much sacrifice on the home front from spouses as there are on the lines. Sometimes I think it may even be harder in that she had to adjust her life for my absence while still having reminders around keeping her aware of me. I had to adjust as well but immersion in my job had its distracting benefits. If a military spouse is thanked for their service, believe me they earned it. On a side note the money saved from the discount is money from military pay and so……

  36. I take the discount, nothing wrong with it since I hold a military ID card, for what we as service family members put up with not a big deal. Money is usually tight around here and we need all the help we can get.

  37. stop the dependent term and use family memberthe dark ages are gone

  38. My husband is the spouse(he is a vet too) and I know he takes the discounts offered but if they don’t offer then he doesn’t ask. He takes care of our 4 children and 2 grandchildren (their father was killed in Iraq, mom not in picture). I do deploy often I believe that all spouses should take the discounts. It helps with the day to day things diapers are expensive!

  39. Member/Spouse | November 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm |

    You want the discount? Join. You don't have a Military ID you have a dependant ID. Know the difference.

  40. I don't see the problem. Military families are a whole unit and when one is deployed, they all deal with this. My husband is happy to know that I get discounts, he feels the appreciation from it. We are a team and when something affects one of us, it does the other as well. So military spouses should absolutely be able to get a discount. We sacrifice with our spouses, we have stressed during deployments (a different type of stress, but it is still hard either way), and we are ONE family unit. What effects one, effects all! That is how it works.

  41. I'm a Gulf War/Somalia time formerUS Marine, served 8 years to the red white and blue and my beloved country. I never married when I was in the Corps. I have this to say, military wives are entitled to whatever any given business offers them. There sacrafice is a great one having there military member overseas in harms way. Taking care of everything on there own, bills, kids, house, and any number of things and having to worry constantly which way there loved one is coming home (battered mentally, physically, maybe in a body bag.)It takes a special woman to do this. MILITARY WIVES I SALUTE YOU! STAND BY YOUR SERVICE MEMBER! TAKE ALL THE DISCOUNTS YOU CAN GET! My opinion is this topic is silly at best a makes me mad. Support your troops and there families here at home. PERIOD!

  42. This story didn't even need to be written. You can't begin to place a value on a military spouse. The knowledge that there's somebody back home who loves you and is keeping all the other aspects of your family's life in order is a national asset, well worth recognizing.

  43. Here's some food for thought….yes, as a spouse, I take the military discount without guilt and admit to looking for special offers for military families. However, one thing that I firmly believe is that each offering is a kindness and you must pay that kindness forward. I donate to organizations that help militarynfamilies, Ive done fundraising for families in need, and when I find an amazing deal I buy several so I can donate them.

  44. As a retired, 25 years, service member I have to say "Yes" my spouse as well as all spouses have served. Maybe not in the combat theater but certanly everywhere else. I have always felt that spouses almost always get the short end of the stick. Going into combat is far simpler (more dangerous) than than raising a sometimes single parent and sometimes dual parent family. Anything that says "Thank You" to them has been well earned.

  45. David Sobel | March 29, 2013 at 12:31 am |

    I hope the guy who thinks that our spouses do not deserve discounts is sitting down because I do not want him to fall down and hurt himself after reading my post! First, I am a disabled veteran rated at 100%, my son from my first marriage wanted to go back to college so I asked my DAV Officer what help was available. He asked me for the SSN's for my children All my children even my step children. There is 4 total. We filled out the paperwork and he provided a booklet describing the benefit they would receive from my disability. As it turns out only 3 of the 4 kids took advantage of the benefit which was $33,500 per. child over four years tax free! My son graduated Suma Cum Laude with a 4.0 in Computer Engineering, my two step daughters graduated magna cum laude with education degree's and teach grade school with one specializing in teaching special Ed students. What will it cost me? How about my life as I will die way too young and will miss so much! In fact, I almost died two weeks before Christmas last with a Stroke. So even when we stop serving in uniform and they use you up and send you home you are still giving them their pound of flesh!

  46. Use it or lose it. If nobody accepts the discounts then they will cease to be offered. I never understood this mentality. Or the well you should have said no to I do? Really so put a rule stating military members aren't allowed to get married. See how well that goes over………I am a bit different than military spouses because I knew my then boyfriend, and now husband before he became NAVY, like in high school. So after 6 years of dating I am told I should have said no when he proposed because he entered service? Those same people would have ripped me apart for saying no to a service members too which I find hilariously hypocritical. I got my bachelors degree in education before I even married him, so no educational benefits for me needed or wanted (who grows up wanting to be a dental hygienist anyway?) since MYCAA those big deal educational discounts only covers associate degree or short certificate programs for dead end near minimal wage jobs. We moved across the country from anything and anyone I know to a state with massive layoffs in my field after leaving a STABLE well paying job to be with him. I had to not only learn new grocery stores but a whole new state and a whole bunch of NEW everything. Searched for a job for almost a year and faced discrimination because it was obvious one doesn't move across the country unless one is affiliated with the NAVY. After working several crappy jobs I got a job paying HALF of what I used to make at a Base preschool and worked my way up from a flex employee to full time teacher to now a department lead…..NOTHING was handed to me and because of LACK OF SENIORITY due to my being a milspouse I never get any of the major holidays off and this while working on base. I finally started an accelerated one month course (12 total) at NATIONAL UNIVERSITY for my masters which offers discounts for those working through the NAVY and I AM PAYING MY OWN WAY THROUGH when I put my foot down and refused the NAVY to deny me this as well. So I work 9-6 Mon-Friday then come home and cram for school (5 months of materials into one month) and even then my fields were limited since I had to be online since WE MIGHT MOVE AGAIN and transferring credits is a bitch. So please tell me I don't sacrifice anything by being with my husband, tell me I don't miss my family during big holidays, tell me I didn't cry after seeing my mother after 3 years of accumulating vacation time in a job that is only flexible vacation wise for locals that don't have to fly home. You people that say that are the reason why I want to punch you because you haven't walked in any milhouse shoes and yet you judge. I've been told I would cheat on my husband because of being a milspouse, funny how the other way around is more prevalent in the military. So I will take my discount and you can shove your petty ignorant comments back down your throat or I hope a milspouse does it for you.

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