Chevie Crow, 2, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Clay Crow, Air Force Global Strike Command, plays in a toy kitchen at the Base Exchange on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 30. Exchanges are rolling out deals for the holiday season. (Senior Airman LaShanette V. Garrett / Air Force)
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The military exchanges are giving shoppers some breaks during the holidays, such as free shipping on some items in the Navy exchange online store and reimbursing layaway fees in Army and Air Force exchanges. As you eke out every possible penny of savings, here are some things to consider.
The Navy Exchange Web store, http://www.mynavyexchange.com">mynavyexchange.com, is offering deals on shipping during the holidays for customers spending at least $150 on certain items:
Oct. 31-Nov. 21: Free standard shipping on any toy purchase of at least $150.
Nov. 22-26: Free standard shipping on any total order of at least $150.
Nov. 31-Dec. 21, free standard shipping on any purchase of at least $150, or discounted priority delivery for $9.95, or discounted express delivery for $17.95.
At the all-exchange online store, http://www.shopmyexchange.com">shopmyexchange.com, customers receive free standard shipping year-round on orders of at least $49; orders containing at least one item from the military clothing sales store; orders purchased with the Military Star card; and orders shipped to a deployed area.
Authorized shoppers from all branches of service can shop at these websites.
Retail commercial websites often also offer shipping deals during the holidays, so shop around before clicking to buy. The total cost of that item price, tax and shipping charges is what matters.
Remember that the exchanges don't charge sales tax, unlike civilian retailers. And keep in mind that states are increasingly requiring retailers to charge sales tax on online purchases.
Customers who use layaway at Army and Air Force exchanges will get their $3 layaway fee reimbursed under the AAFES holiday program.
Customers pay their $3 fee for new layaways and receive a $3 Exchange Merchandise Gift Card when they make the final payment and pick up their items.
You must make an initial deposit of 15 percent of the cost of your items.
The holiday layaway program runs through Dec. 24, except for toy layaway, which runs through Dec. 23. And for a limited time Nov. 1-Dec. 16 customers may put computers, laptops, iPads and netbooks on layaway.
Navy Exchange stores charge a $5 fee for new layaways, and the fee continues through the holidays.
Marine Corps Exchange stores no longer offer layaway; their home layaway program was discontinued Sept. 1. As an alternative, MCX offers some promotions when using the exchange Military Star credit card. For example, a holiday promotion running Nov. 21-Dec. 24 allows six months with no interest and no payment for purchases made with the Military Star card.
Just be sure to pay it off before that six-month period ends to avoid paying interest.
The annual Toybook Exchange shopping guide features more than $475 in coupons for toys, helping authorized exchange customers stretch holiday dollars.
Items in the guide can be ordered online at http://www.shopmyexchange.com">shopmyexchange.com or purchased in your local Army or Air Force exchange store.
Among the Toybook's offerings are the V-Tech InnoTab 2, Lalaloopsy Ivory Ice Crystals, Furby 2.0, Baby Alive and Koosh Galaxy Solar Recon, to name a few.