Sunday, April 8, 2012

Military Monday-Rations in Germany

If you are already located in Germany then you probably already know about rations.  If so, just ignore this post.  If not, this will be new information for you.

We are all familiar with the idea of rations and heard of the times, such as the Great Depression or the World Wars, in which rations were in place in the United States.  However, there is no current need for rations in the US and most are unfamiliar with how they work.  Upon arriving in Germany though, you will learn that there are several products that are rationed including gasoline, cigarettes, hard liquor, and coffee.

As for the products that our bodies consume-- cigarettes, liquor, and coffee-- you will be given a piece of card stock that folds to the size of a business card (see above) that must be presented during the purchase of these products.  The cashier will then mark off how much you purchased and that will be the end of it.

A lot of people are originally worried that they would be allocated enough of these products but I have never personally had this problem.  I always have plenty of rations left at the end of the month.  Both you and your spouse will be given a ration card so even if one runs out of rations in a month there should still be enough to go around on the other spouses card.

For gasoline, the concept is still the same as for the other products but the steps to process your rations are a tad bit more complicated.  You are allocated 300 liters a month and as a single car family we have never gotten below the 150 liters mark, even with plenty of traveling.

Rather than have a paper card that is written on, you will receive a card that is swiped when purchasing your gasoline.  Purchasing your gasoline can go two ways:

1.  You can upload money onto your ration card and use those funds to pay for gasoline.  It makes the payment portion a one-step process which is faster but you need to always be aware of your balance which can be a bit cumbersome.  If you ever find yourself in a situation when you only have say $10 on your card but need $30 of gasoline, you are allowed to go in the red but will not be able to purchase gasoline again until the balance in completely paid.

2.  You can pay with cash or debit card.  For this method, the cashier will swipe your ration card in order to update your ration balance.  You will be asked if you would like to use your cash balance on your card to pay for the transaction, you select "no" and slide your debit card.  Easy enough.  This method is only available if you go to an AAFES gas station.  If you go to an esso station on the economy you are required to use the prepaid balance.  So be sure to load it up before you take a trip.

Please remember that if you do not have your ration card on you and still pump gas, you will be required to pay the economy price for gasoline which can often be double the cost.  So be sure to keep it in the car where it can be easily accessed.

NOTE: The fuel card is only good for the country in which you reside.  Even if you are traveling to a country that has a duty station for armed forces, the card will still only work in Germany.  Be prepared for hefty prices when traveling!

Where to get ration cards?
The cards for coffee, liquor, cigarettes, etc. will be provided to your SO during in-processing.

The gasoline ration card must be obtained on your own time by going into an exchange gas station and filing out a quick form.  It takes about 5 minutes to complete and process.

If you have questions about the limits and policies of the gas ration card visit the FAQ on the AAFES website

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