Commissary gift cards offer unique value for patrons

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Defense Commissary Agency. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/ Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Defense Commissary Agency. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/ Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer)

FORT LEE, Virginia -- Gift cards are a great idea. They solve the problem of trying to figure out what to give someone with a simple answer: give them a choice. But then you’re faced with a different question – which card to give? Sure, you could give them one for an online retailer, but then much of the card’s value would probably go toward paying shipping costs and handling fees.

What to do?

Here’s an idea: get them a commissary gift card! Authorized shoppers can then pick out what they want, knowing they’re getting the biggest bang for every dollar spent by shopping at the commissary and taking advantage of the best prices in town. From meat and potatoes to hanging plants, commissaries sell a surprising variety of everyday needs.

“The cards can be used to purchase anything sold in the commissary,” said Bob Bunch, the Defense Commissary Agency’s gift card program manager. “And we do about $5 million a year in gift card sales.”

The program, which enters its 6th year in June, has seen just shy of 660,000 cards worth more than $22.5 million snapped up by givers. Unlike most gift cards, shoppers actually use the commissary gift cards they receive.

“Our redemption rate is really phenomenal,” said Bunch, adding that almost 90 percent of all cards sold have been fully redeemed. “The industry average redemption rate for a gift card is about 75 percent.”

The cards are available to anyone online at commissaries.com and in-store for authorized commissary shoppers.

Here are some commissary gift card quick facts:
• Gift cards are available at all commissaries worldwide – on a rack at full service, front-end registers – as well as the website. Just use the “Place your order” button on the gift cards page.
• Cards are good for five years from the date of purchase.
• Only gift cards purchased online incur a shipping and handling fee. There are no fees when the card is purchased in a store.
• There is no limit to the number of gifts cards that a purchaser can buy. However, DeCA officials recommend organizations and activities consider purchasing their cards online if they plan to purchase more than 50 at a time.
• The cards can be sent anywhere in the United States. However, cards can only be shipped to APO, FPO or DPO addresses outside the United States.
• To check card balances, use the “Check Your Balance” button on the gift cards page.

Customers who still have unused gift vouchers, the precursor to the gift card, may still redeem them through Aug. 31, regardless of the expiration date printed on it. After that date, DeCA will no longer accept the vouchers as a form of payment.

For customer service questions, please call 877-988-4438, which is also found on the back of the gift card. Customers can also use this number to check the balance on their card.