Cashback Rewards Plus Amex Not Paying 5x for On-Base Purchases

Recently, on-base purchases that I've made at commissaries and military exchanges using my Cashback Rewards Plus Amex are not paying the promised 5x in rewards. I noticed that instead of the usual "Government Services" code, as which these kinds of charges have always been labeled, the transactions are now coding as "Grocery and Supermarkets" and "General Merchandise", which don't reward at the 5x level. I am nowhere near the $3000 annual cap. I talked to Customer Service/Card Rewards department, and was told that there's nothing USAA can do if bases change their merchant codes. Yet a published benefit of this card is 5x on base spending, right there in the Terms and Conditions. I'm not sure how widespread the problem is, but if USAA doesn't find a way to reconcile this, the card is going to become mostly useless for a lot of cardholders, as well as contradict the card terms.


@RRR1, I understand that you have concerns about the merchant description for purchases made at commissaries and military exchanges, as rewards are impacted by the merchant description. I'll share your post with the appropriate team for review. ~DC


Important Disclosure: Rewards are earned on qualified purchases only, and not valid on balance transfers, cash advances, or convenience checks. Redemption of earned rewards can take 1-2 business days to show in your account.

I received an email from Jessica xxxx on June 19th indicating that she would research the issue and get back to me within 2 business days, but I have heard nothing else since. (FYI)

Update: I just received direct confirmation that USAA is working to resolve the issue for everyone affected.

I received a similar email from Albert Garcia, Advocacy Specialist Senior, and telling me that he would contact me within two business days. I did not hear back and called the extension in the email a week or so later, and it went to voice mail. I left a voicemail and still have yet to hear back. This was back in June. 

I missed this post and made one similar a few minutes ago. American Express  still has the commissary MCC as government services (checked today with a purchase and one of my AMEX cards). Going to try Mastercard, Visa, and Discover in the coming days to see what they have listed. 

For those that are not aware, each entity can have something different listed for the merchant code. 


I am very intersted in what USAA still has coded as "governement services." Not to mention the site states the card gets you 5% on "military base purchases." It is certainly not doing that. 

As I understand it, it's the merchants that determine their own code, not American Express or other card issuer. In any case, let's hope USAA finds a solution soon. (Maybe USAA could just load all existing U.S. military merchant IDs into the rewards system instead of using the merchant code...?)

I have had the same problem starting in April of this year.  I have gone to a lot of trouble to document the problem in writing to USAA and have got a lot of excuses from "We are reserching it" to "There is nothing we can do about it. "  It seems to me that if they can't live up to the terms of their agreement, they need to inform each of their customers what the new agreement will be and then see that they (including their partner AMEX) live up to it.  I am afraid that USAA is becoming (or maybe has become) a center of excellence in bureaucracy.



Hello @WKA1, I understand your concerns with this. I have forwarded this to a subject matter expert for further review. -Colleen


Yes, they need to either find a solution or revise the terms of the card. The FAQ still says this:


What are Qualifying Purchases on Military Bases?

"Qualifying Purchases on Military Bases" are Qualifying Purchases made at businesses that are included in a merchant category identified as primarily selling goods and/or services on United States military bases (such as commissaries, exchanges and shoppettes).



I'm earning the 5% at MCX, but not NEX, and only 2% at the Commissary on either base. I'm not sure about Army and Air Force or Coast Guard exchanges. Maybe someone could comment...?


I'm absolutely baffled that no communication has gone out to cardholders regarding this issue, although I did get a personal call after I inquired.