Thursday, March 26, 2020

AAFES Goes Cashless in Wake of Coronavirus Pandemic

  I used to buy all my running shoes from the local PX when I was in the military.  It wasn’t until my final years in the service that I purchased my footwear from running specialty shops.  In that time, I have not handed over any physical bills for shoes in well over a decade… at least.

  Last night, I received news that AAFES, the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (think Wal-Mart or Target, but for two of the branches of the Department of Defense), is asking all its customers to minimize the use of cash and checks, and instead go with credit/debit cards or gift cards.  This will limit exchanging physical items since the Chief Financial Officer of AAFES pointed out that bacteria and viruses can live on paper and coins for a period of time.

  This kind of reminded me of my last several deployments when the base shops would not take coins, but instead use pogs as currency. Of course, back then reducing a type of money was not for sanitary reasons, but for dealing with funding shortages, because no one wanted to pay for a soda in nothing but pennies.

   Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic is something to take seriously.

You can read the email I received below:

How you can help keep military communities safe from COVID-19

Dear Soldiers, Airmen, military family members, retirees and Veterans,

It has been an honor to serve you amid the global disruption caused by COVID-19. As the virus spreads, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is taking precautions to protect the health and safety of our Nation’s heroes. But we need your help.

Studies show that paper money and coins can harbor bacteria and viruses long after they change hands. We are asking Exchange shoppers to help in the fight against the transmission of COVID-19 through increased reliance on bank-issued credit and debit, MILITARY STAR® or gift cards instead of cash. Please note that cash-back and check-cashing transactions may be unavailable during this time.

While some Exchanges may transition to a card-only environment as local needs dictate, we ask that shoppers minimize the use of cash regardless of location. Customers in need of cash transactions or services can contact their local Exchange to inquire about the status of such transactions at their nearest location.

On behalf of the Exchange, thank you for joining us in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. We are in this together!


Jim Jordan
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Army & Air Force Exchange Service
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