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Commissaries and Exchanges


Commissaries and exchanges are stores located on military installations that provide savings and other benefits to eligible members of the military community.

What are commissaries and how can they benefit me?

The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries and related household items to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a five percent surcharge, which covers the costs of modernizing and replacing existing commissaries. On average, shoppers save more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices.

Who is eligible to shop at commissaries?

Department of Defense Instruction 1330.17, "Armed Services Commissary Operations" defines authorized commissary patrons and lists others who may be permitted commissary access to make purchases.
Individuals authorized commissary privileges include:

  • Uniformed personnel (including Coast Guard, Reserve Component and armed service academy cadets and midshipmen)
  • Retired uniformed personnel
  • Medal of Honor recipients
  • Disabled veterans (100 percent disabled)
  • DoD civilian employees stationed outside the United States
  • Authorized family members

How can I find the nearest commissary?

The Defense Commissary Agency operates 248 commissaries worldwide. The commissary store locator on the DeCA website can help locate the closest store and provides store information to include hours, directions, phone numbers, contact information, a floor plan and special savings.

What are exchanges?

Exchanges are a type of retail store operating on military installations worldwide. Typically, the main exchange resembles a department store or strip mall, but other services are also included as part of the exchange. These include stores such as uniform shops, barbershops, laundry and dry cleaning, gas stations, fast food outlets, convenience stores and lawn and garden shops.

Who is eligible to shop at the exchange?

Eligibility for access to the exchanges is determined by Department of Defense Instruction 1330.17, "Armed Services Commissary Operations". Authorized patrons are classified into one of two categories: limited or unlimited exchange privileges. Generally, limited exchange privileges exclude tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and military uniforms.

Patrons classified as unlimited access include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Uniformed or retired uniformed personnel, either on active duty or serving in any category of the Reserve Component
  • National Guard members not in federal status
  • Medal of Honor recipients
  • Honorably discharged veterans
  • Military members of foreign nations, U.S. civilian DoD employees (when stationed outside the United States)
  • Authorized family members

How can I find the nearest exchange?

Depending on the branch of service, the exchanges are operated by different organizations and use different names for the stores. Store locators and store contact information for each of the services can be found through the following:

  • Army and Air Force Exchange Service - An exchange on an Army or Air Force installation is referred to simply as AAFES or "The Exchange". The Shop My Exchange website provides a store locator that lists the retail outlets on the installation, contact information and hours of operation.
  • Navy Exchange Service Command - An exchange on a Navy installation is referred to as a NEX. The My Navy Exchange website provides a store locator that lists the main retail outlet on the installation, contact information and hours of operation.
  • Marine Corps Exchange - An exchange on a Marine Corps installation is referred to as an MCX. The My MCX website provides a store locator that lists the main retail outlet on the installation, contact information and hours of operation.
  • Coast Guard Exchange - An exchange on a Coast Guard installation is referred to as a CGX. The CGX website provides a store locator that lists the main retail outlet on the installation, contact information and hours of operation.

 


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