Entertainment Love and Romance What Is the Commissary Early Bird Program? Tips for Savvy Commissary Shoppers Share PINTEREST Email Print MoMo Productions/Getty Images Love and Romance Relationships Sexuality Divorce Teens LGBTQ Friendship By Kim Wilson Updated July 13, 2017 Early Bird programs at Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and overseas commissaries are a boon for shoppers who need 15 items or fewer. During the Early Bird hours, you can stop at the commissary before normal operating hours and pick up your necessary items. The items are cheaper at the commissary than at a convenience store because they must be sold "at cost" by law. The Early Bird program offers consumers both convenience and affordability. About Early Bird Hours Early Bird days and hours vary, so you'll need to check your local commissary listing to find out when they are available. Some locations hold Early Bird hours every day, while some commissaries limit the hours to a few days a week. In some locations, the Early Bird hours are 8 to 9 a.m., and in some commissaries, they are 7 to 9 am. To learn more about your commissary, including its Early Bird and regular hours of operation and featured selections, browse an alphabetical listing of commissaries and select the nearest commissary to your location. Note: You can shop at any commissary, regardless of the service branch you belong to. Tips for Shopping at the Commissary Don't forget your military ID when you leave home. You won't be allowed to shop without it. Sign up for a Commissary Rewards Card. The card is recognized at all commissaries. You sign up, register it online and load electronic coupons to it. Then, a quick scan at checkout processes all your savings. Clip coupons. You can use paper coupons at commissaries as long as they aren't expired. If your commissary is in Hawaii, Alaska or overseas, you can use coupons up to six months after they expire. However, don't expect the commissary to double your coupons. Do your shopping any day but payday when the commissary typically has long lines and crowded aisles. Sign up for the newsletter "Commissary Connection" to find out about special promotions and sales. Some commissaries offer online ordering with curbside pick-up. Check your local commissary to see if it offers this service. Baggers work for tips only, so if you are pleased with the service, take cash to tip. Some shoppers tip a fixed amount and some tip a percentage of their totals. You don't have to use their service, though. If you prefer, you can use the self-checkout, bag your own order and take it to your car yourself.