Commissary Rewards Card Has Saved Shoppers $5 Million


Commissary shoppers who have used the Commissary rewards coupon card since its launch in August, 2012 have saved over $5 million on their groceries, commissary officials announced Aug. 14.

The card, which you can pick-up at the checkout or customer service desk in your nearest commissary, allows you to load coupons online or via the commissary coupon app. The checker then scans your card or enters the phone number associated with it and, ta-da!, the savings from any coupons you have matching products you bought are deducted from order.

Officials said users have downloaded over 34 million coupons since the launch two years ago. But they said 500,000 users have started the registration and never completed it.

Unlike electronic coupons at many civilian retailers, the commissary does not allow you to use both an electronic coupon and a paper coupon on the same product, a practice known as “stacking.” In fact, their system automatically flags any products for which you have tried to use both coupons, and blocks the register from allowing the electronic one if a paper one for the same product has already been scanned.

For me, the hardest thing about using electronic coupons is remembering what I have. That’s why the commissary’s coupon app, which you can read more about here, is so darn handy. Instead of having to remember to load coupons at home, I often do it for a few minutes in the car while sitting in the commissary parking lot (and trying to ignore my kids’ pleas to get out and score the lone car cart in their view before someone else does).

The app also allows me to scroll the coupons I’ve already downloaded to see which ones might be applicable. That means if I’m standing in the cereal aisle trying very hard to ignore my son shouting “THE LUCKY ONE!!!!” while pointing at a box of magically delicious Lucky Charms, I can just slip into the app to see if I have a coupon ready for that brand.

Have you used the commissary coupon rewards card or app? Do you love it? Hate it? Tells us in the comments.

UPDATE: Everyone makes mistakes, and we are no exception. The original version of this article misreported the amount DeCA officials say commissary shoppers have saved by using the card. The correct amount is $5 million. 

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.
  • Wayne Perry

    This is the exact type of deficiency the Joint Staff was alking about DeCA needing to make up. I do not believe their numbers one bit and apparently whoever posted this article to the SpouseBuzz wall doesn’t either because they too questioned DeCAs numbers.

    DeCA has to manipulate numbers to justify their subsidy. I would love to see that article written and the ugly truth come out.

    I don’t think our govt should be in the grocery business.

    And I think DeCA is manipulative in the way they report numbers. They lack transparency and accountability and and MOAA(and everyone else) give them a free pass to allow it to continue. Shameful.

    • Jeremy

      Wayne, You should write that article. I’m serious. Go for it.

      • Wayne Perry


        I’m not a reporter. I am merely a concerned citizen, who would like accountability and transparency, with one powerful voice.

        And appearantly I am also pretty good at budgeting for grocery shopping because I am the only one who seems to know the commissary isn’t really “worth the trip”.

        Actually, that’s something most of us know and talked about openly until the subsidy money was being talked about being taken away, then it became your golden goose over at KYP.

        Curious though, how much has this red herring interupted your effort to seemingly posture yourself politically.

        Hopefully you are learning about ethics. It does appear the KYP smear campaign is loosening up its grip on demeaning every leader possible.

        I do want to thank you for teaching me how to be such an effective advocate though. Your tactics work. Just happens they been turned around on ya.

        • Jeremy

          You’ve obviously written before Wayne, for SpouseBuzz in fact. You have an entire blog where you’ve laid out how you feel about this…I suspect there are about five people (including myself) who have read it If you feel strongly that your position has merit, you should provide a coherent written piece and back it up with data and information. I suspect the Washington Post or other outlets might even be interested in publishing it. Here’s your advocacy tip for the day….if you truly believe in your position, you need to shine a light on it for others and see what kind of feedback you get. Maybe you are exactly right….maybe you are not. The only way to find out is to take a step out in faith.

          • Wayne Perry

            When I came to you with my DeCA numbers, as cofounder of Keep Your Promise you said you didn’t want to know what they are because you wanted “plausible deniability”.

            I will be honest, I had to look up what they meant.

            I’m not going to share my numbers with just anyone because I don’t know who to trust. I thought I could trust you and that’s why I wentto you with the numbers, but when I found out I ccouldn’t trust you, it rocked my world. You were one of the more trustworthy people I knew. I didmt know you put politics before truth until you refusednto do anything with my findings, findings not a single person has disputed.

            As I said, I am taking a break from “reporting”. My credibility to be a writer is gone as long as I am fighting this deca fight.

            But if you really want me to write, I habe been wrotong open letters directed at people because it is easier for me to write that way. Wouldnyou like me to write you one?

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Wayne, my man:
      1. As I have said before, how about you stop complaining and start doing something about it? @jeremy is on target in his comment.
      2. This article contained an error, which I have corrected. I read the press release incorrectly. You’ll note the correction note at the bottom of the story. Everyone makes mistakes, including me. Thanks for inspiring me to double check.
      3. Stop being a jerk, dude. You have a problem with something I report, you know where to find me. We’re Facebook friends, for the love.

      • Wayne Perry

        Amy, I offered you the numbers that shows my findings. You didn’t want them. This has been 5+ months now. I’ve earned the right to be a jerk based on my persistance for the truth.

        Families don’t, on average, save 30% or $4500 over regular shopping on name brand items. It is something we all know, but if we speak the truth the subsidy may go away.

        Tell me, do you believe DeCA when they say the average E5 family of 4 adds $4500 to their budget if they shop at the commissary? Do you believe the commissary is anywhere close to 30% cheaper (overall) on same items at Walmart?

        Put their numbers to the sniff test. They don’t pass.

        And once again, the forner DeCA Chief said he knew the numbers didn’t line up and he regretted towing the company line in support of the fabricated numbers.

        • Amy_Bushatz

          Can you share that quote with me from the DeCA Chief? I’d appreciate it.

          I actually asked you to help me expand on your limited data to something we could use in a larger project and you refused.

          • Jeremy

            Amy, here is the article Wayne continues to recycle as “proof” of his vast conspiracy. Of course, it doesn’t say what he alludes too (no surprise).

          • Wayne Perry

            Beale recalled that while he was DeCA director, the agency also was under enormous pressure to reduce its appropriations.  That’s when it began using a nationwide estimate of average shopper savings to tout the benefit.“The notion of 30 percent savings on groceries for the military community was a useful sound bite, slogan, bumper sticker and rally cry,” he said.  But “it has now created a perception of a standard which can be trimmed with minimum consequences.”The 30-percent savings estimate is derived by comparing DeCA’s Basic Ordering Agreement price points, as offered by suppliers, with pricing strategies used by grocery chains.  But what commissary shoppers actually save varies widely by region based on local food prices, Beale explained.“For example, in my last year at DeCA when the published national savings exceeded 29 percent, the Southern Region savings were in the low 20’s whereas in the Northwest-Pacific region savings were in mid-30’s.  And so it went across the country,” Beale said.More than half of active duty forces and retired military live between Tidewater, Va., and East Texas, he said, where actual commissary savings are “much lower than the published national average.  I have maintained that position personally since I was the director.  Publicly, I stuck with the party line.  In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.”

            That comes from a Stripes article that I believe Jeremy already shared.

            While still a 20+% savings would be an enormous savings, that number is not accurate because it includes prices that are irrational for even the least budget savvy shopper.

            DeCA includes prices from stores that reauire a “club card” like Safeway, Albertsons and Publix. Stores like those often have items like 12 packs of Coke marked for $5.50+ when NOT using the club card. Those inflated prices jump the overall “savings” number but it is safe to say most shoppers would use their club card.

            That’s just one piece of the scenario that makes DeCAs numbers appear better than they are.

            As for refusing to participate in your study, I have been worried that was going to come back to bite me. I couldn’t figure out a way to readdress the issue with you in a professional manner.

            I wont participate in that because I already did it. But instead of doing it over x amount of days at x amount of stores on a very small list of items, I had previously used a shopping list with 60+ items at 3 stores plus the commissary. My findings proved what we have all known, the commissary is worth the trip, for some stuff.

            The question isn’t can someone save money by shopping at the commissary over stores beyond the installation gates, we all know the commissary saves is money (on some stuff).

            The questions are:

            1) Does the commissary save the average customer 30% per year off their total shopping budget (as DeCA has claimed) on brand for brand/size for size items? If someone shops at Safeway and never uses the “club card” then yes they most certainly can save 30+%. But if someone is that irresponsible to shop like thatmaybe ACS needs to teach more budget classes than we thought. My findings had Walmart at roughly 6% more than what the commissary charges and I had to pass 2 Walmarts to get to the commissary.

            2) Does they average E5 family of four really save $4500 per year by shopping at the commissary? That number has since been changed to approximately $3000 depending on shopping habits but MOAA does still use a higher number in their “purchasing power” loss estimate. As an E5 family of 4 I would love to be able to go to the commissary and *add* $3000-4500 to my budget because essentially that is what is being said.

            MOAAs use of “purchasing power” brings into play an even bigger question: What store offers our troops (especially JR Enlisted) the most “purchasing power”.

            Hands down the answer is Walmart. From shampoo to antacid to diapers to mac n cheese to sliced bread and the lunch meat to put on it, Walmart is drastically less expensive to shop at. Yet we tell our troops a falsetruth by telling them (especially the new ones) that they can save a very substantial amount of money by shopping at the commissary. We are doing a disservice to them by encouraging them to spend more money than they may otherwise need to. Especially when on many products Walmart is consistantly cheaper than the commissary. To tell our troops (especially the new ones) that it is worth passing other stores for, its just not right. At least not for thisE5 family of 4.

            I believe it is wrong to tell Congress and the American people that their billion dollar subsidy is saving our troops 30+% or $3000+ per year.

            If someone were to say the subsidy is used to keep prices in line with Walmart on name brand items while offering a great moral benefit to our military families, that I can’t argue with. But until I can be shown how I can trim $3000+ per year from my current grocery budget (or anything close to that) I am calling foul on this.

            Amy, I have regurgitated this same information over and over. Its nothing new.

            My “shopping list” used for my own independent shopping trips is not limited data. It is limited to the JBLM area, but it is the same thing I found at Ft Sam and Ft Riley and every milspouse I have talked to…. its only worth the trip on some stuff.

            Some stuff is not a worthy tradeoff for not having a room at an MTF for a suicidal combat veteran/spouse.

            Because the bulk of MOAAs #’s are formulated from DeCAs own self reported numbers, their testimony before Congress is false. It is untrue. It is not accurate. And what makes this deplorable is all of us know that at the end of the day, the commissary really is only worth the trip for some stuff, some times.

            And why does this all matter? Because when the budget proposal came out and Keep Your Promise and MOAA promoted the $5000+ lossfor an E5 family of 4, they got a lot of support come their way by using a scare tactic to make our families think they will be losing a very large chunk of money each year when in reality the Joint Chiefs and DoD may have had a good plan regarding the commissaries since all weren’t going to be effected.

            But we may never know what that plan was. And we may not get true reform in the commissary.

            Not all of us can eat like Officers. Some of us have to live like Sgts. And I don’t know many Sgts who have a nearly $15k yearly food budget, do you? That’s above the USDA avg for a family of 4.

          • Wayne Perry

            I went shopping. I did something. And when I brought it to all the powerful advocates who I know that have a voice, they told me “you aren’t necessarily wrong, but the way you are sahing it is wrong”.

            I don’t know any other way to say it than the way I do. Lets all just be glad I am more censored when I write than when I speak or this could be all so much worse.

          • Wayne Perry

            If the commissary saves our troops, on average an overall savings of 30%+ (or $4500) how is this even possible?

            Personally, I don’t believe all the info in this link but I find it very relevant to the conversation at hand.

            DeCAs numbers are what is being used to tell Congress we deserve the subsidy. Their numbers aren’t accurate. And that’s misleading. And we all knoe they aren’t accurate. And those not acknowledging that are doing something worse than misleading.

            FYI…. I did share your article that basically says this article is puffed up. I believe this article is another great example of scare tactics and bending the truth in a partisan manner to benefit us.

            That’s not how we should roll. Its not who we are.

  • Michelle

    I use the commissary card, and for the most part I really like it. It’s helped me save a good bit of money. The only issue I have with it is that sometimes the coupon I downloaded doesn’t work, so I either have to pay full price for something I might not have gotten originally (like a new type of laundry detergent) or I have to ask the checker to remove it from my purchase. Otherwise, I haven’t had problems, and I like the user-friendliness of it.

  • Butch Manning

    I wish these people would stop whining about which percent the commissarys save the shoppers. I know they save on some items. You’ve got to do your homework, go to wally world and check some prices, then go to the commissary and see which prices are better. For instance I bought canned veggies at the commissary for 1/3rd what they cost at Walmart. 93% lean hamburg was 60 cents a pound cheaper than off base.

    • Wayne Perry


      The percentage matters and needs to be brought up because people have testified that our families save 30% or more (and $3000 or more) shoppiing at the commissary.

      Testimony is pretty serious business, especially when before Congress, so it would help if the testimony was accurate. I want my represenatives to make an informed decision, not one based off a lie.

      And remember, this is also about how the JR enlisted are being hurt by not having cheaper alternatives. Just because officers can afford Boars Head meat doesn’t mean my E5 family of 4 can.

      Our advocates not fighting for commissary reform are hurting us more than pulling the subsidy ever could. It is just a shame that there is so much posturing going on and nobody will tell the whole story.