Being in the military can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Whether you joined the military to start a career, or were married into the military, there is no denying it’s a way of life unlike any other.
I read an article a while back about how 25% of military members seek food stamps and it made me wonder if some military families may not know some of the current discounts available to them.
Hopefully, this will help you to better know about some programs and discounts you may not have known about, and help save you some money in the long run.
Military Car Insurance Discounts
Although there are many places that offer military discounts on car insurance, here are few well known ones:
- Geico – (Active, Reserve and Veterans) The Geico Military Program offers up to 15% off your total insurance premium.
- USAA – (Active, Reserve and Veterans) Switching to USAA could save you up to 15% off or an average of $409 a year, according to an article I found on the USAA website.
- AAA – Although not known for saving money on car insurance, they are a great option to still maintain a discount with another car insurance provider that may not offer a military discount. Savings can be anywhere from 5-15% off your monthly bill.
Military Cell Phone Discounts
Most well-known cell phone companies offer up to a 15% discount for current active military members, as well as veterans. You need to provide proof of service such as your military CAC card, Veterans card, or your DD214 to be able to get the discount.
In the past, some places have allowed using your .mil e-mail address but it seems like most places are moving away from that direction.
Here are some of the latest discounts:
- Verizon – (Active, Reserve and Veterans) 15% discount & 25% off accessories
- Sprint – (Active, Reserve and Veterans) 15% discount
- T-mobile – (Active, Reserve and Veterans) 15% discount
- AT&T – (Active, Reserve and Veterans) 15% discount
If you are worried about having to cancel your contract cell phone plan due to moving to a new permanent duty location without great reception, then I can assure you there is no need to worry!
Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), you can terminate your cell phone contract by providing a copy of your orders and written notification of the date to cancel.
If you cancel, by law they are not allowed to charge you an early termination fee. You can read more about it at the FCC website, but below is an excerpt from the SCRA itself mentioning this specifically:
A service member may terminate a contract described in subsection (b) at any time after the date the service member receives military orders to relocate for a period of not less than 90 days to a location that does not support the contract.
To get out of your cell phone contract, your Title 10 order must show that you are either:
- Deploying outside of the continental United States for not less than 90 days or
- Receive PCS orders within the United States for not less than 90 days
If you’re deploying, check with your provider to see what options they have for temporarily suspending your service while deployed. Most places only require a Title 10 order as proof of your deployment. Your service provider will either reactivate it at the end of your orders, or you can specify a date.
If at any time your orders are cut short, you can always call customer service or go to the store to have your phone line taken out of suspension. Keep in mind to also provide a name of someone who can call or talk to a representative on your behalf while deployed in case someone needs to pay your last bill for you.
Military Home Utilities Discounts
This one was a hard area to find, but it seems like there are places that offer discounts on utilities. If you’re about to PCS, you can contact the MWR or Family Support Group for assistance. They may offer insights on available discounts offered by small businesses in the immediate area you’ll be moving to. Sometimes, you’ll also be able to find the discounts on the Installation’s website.
One place you can consider checking out is Direct Energy for your gas/electric needs. Direct Energy offers a Military Savings Program that gives home energy discounts to Active Duty military, Reserve/Guard, Veteran/Retiree, and Military Spouses/Dependents.
Plus, you can also connect your rewards account to earn rewards points just by paying your bill every month. You will need to provide documentation for verification purposes, and they must clearly show your name and military affiliation. Below are the requirements when applying:
Active Duty military
- Any document that proves you are currently serving under Title 10 Active Duty Orders for 30 days or more
- Any document that shows you are currently serving in the National Guard or a Reserve Component of The United States Armed Forces
- Any document that proves you are currently serving under Title 32 Active Duty Orders for 30 days or more
- Any document that proves you are a Retiree from the US Armed Forces
- Any document that proves you met the qualifications of military service and were honorably discharged
- Any document that proves you are a registered Military Dependent
Military Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction
Did you know that you can reduce your credit card interest rate down to 6% while on Active Duty? This would be a great opportunity to take the time to pay off some credit card debt at that interest rate! The interest rate is not automatically reduced by calling your credit card company.
Things to keep in mind:
- The 6% interest rate is permanent, and should not be removed once leaving Active Duty. This is new from previous years, as it was set to “expire” 6 months after service.
- The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) only talks about debt that was established prior to active duty or
- The creditor can choose to deny you, and you may have to file for an appeal with the creditor.
If you’re a spouse, you are not covered under the SCRA. However, there are some possible ways I’ve heard that you can try and go around this legally:
- Have your military Spouse fill out a form for a Joint Account. The benefit has to be under the spouse’s name, and this is one way to add his/her name to the account.
- Transfer balance to your military Spouses accounts (if allowed).
- Spouses and dependents can petition a court for relief if the service member provided more than one-half of the individual’s support for the 180 days immediately preceding an application for relief. Contact your military legal service office for more information.
To request a reduction in your credit card interest rate, you have to provide a letter with your Title 10 orders to get the rate reduction.
I’d also send this as a certified letter so that you can prove that you requested it if the issue ever arises. For any questions or assistance with completing this process, you can also contact Military OneSource.
Student Loan Debt Relief
Although not everyone will qualify for aid, you may be eligible for certain student loan debt relief if you fall under one of the below categories:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – you may qualify after 120 continuous monthly payments (about 10 years) if you’re employed under certain public service
- Military Service Deferment – you can postpone payments during certain periods of Active Duty service.
- Heroes Act Waiver – If you are on a repayment plan based on your income, and military service prevents you from regularly providing updated information on family size and income, you can request to maintain on your current payment plan.
- 0% Interest – If you’re currently serving in Hostile area where you qualify for Special Pay, you’re qualified for 0% interest on your student loans for up to 60 months.
- Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge – you can have 100% of your student loans discharged if you have documentation showing that you are 100% disabled.
It’s important to note that student loan debt is not something that a bankruptcy will discharge, so working with your loan servicer is a must if you fall behind on payments.
Up to 25% of a service member’s paycheck can be used to pay overdue student loan debts incurred while on Active Duty, and that includes being able to seize bank accounts and personal property. If you’re struggling with making payments, call your lender where they can work out a new payment arrangement with you.
Living the life surrounded by the military lifestyle can be a rewarding experience. You get to meet lots new people, enjoy new places to live every few years, and possibly even travel the world.
While you’re enjoying the military life for however short or long it may be, it’s important to know that there are discounts available to you to make your financial situation a little bit easier.
Besides looking for ways to save money on your groceries, or finding ways to save money on cable TV, you’re being offered these discounts and savings based on your continued service to our country. So why not take advantage of these discounts while you can?
Want more on military life?
- Military Life and Money: How to Keep Your Financial House in Order
- Manners for Milspouses: Must-Know Etiquette Rules for Military Life
- 7 Free Resources for Surviving Deployment as a Pregnant Military Wife
- Dear Military Spouse Who Feels Tired
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