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Understanding Army Base Pay and Allowances

I think I receive more emails about pay than anything else. So I’m going to try to address some of the most common questions. The pay rates given below are based on 2010 rates. All of these are assuming the soldier is married, lives off post and is stationed CONUS. If your soldier is single or lives on post, he will not receive BAH.

1.      Will he get paid in basic training? If so, how much?

While your soldier is in basic, he will receive base pay based on his grade/rank. For instance, the base pay for an E-3 is $1,705.80. This pay is taxable while he is in training or at his duty station. If he is married, he will also receive BAH (housing) based on where the wife lives as well as FSA (family separation allowance). BAH can vary greatly depending on location. You can look up rates online – it is based on rank, zip code and whether there are dependents. FSA is $250/month and begins after the 30th day of separation. Be aware that FSA is normally $100/month but since the war in Iraq started, it has been $250/month. Allowances are NOT taxable regardless of whether he is in training, at his duty station or deployed.

2.      How long will it take to get paid for the first time?

Your soldier’s pay will be direct deposited into his bank account on the 1st and 15th of each month. Some always seems to get the pay a few days ahead of time while others don’t receive it until the exact day. This largely depends on your bank. It will generally be about six weeks before he receives his first paycheck. Some may receive it sooner and some later but six weeks is a general rule of thumb.

3.      What are clothing allowances?

Each year, your soldier will receive a clothing allowance. This is generally paid around his anniversary date. In 2010, a male with less than three years of service would receive $370.80.  This allowance is to replace any uniforms, etc.

4.      What pay will he receive once he is assigned to his duty station?

He will receive his base pay, BAS (food) and BAH. BAS in 2010 is $323.87. This allowance is not taxable. He may also be entitled to special pays such as airborne (commonly referred to as jump pay) which is an additional $150/month. Special pays are based on his MOS and any additional training he has received.

5.      When will we receive his bonus?

Most people were told that their soldier would receive his bonus as soon as his training was complete. I know exactly ZERO people who have had it actually happen that way. His bonus is broken up over the time of his enlistment. He is eligible to receive up to $7,000 as his first payment. Any remaining bonus will be divided among the rest of his years of service. So if his bonus is $13,000 with a four year enlistment – he will receive $7,000 the first year and $2,000 per year thereafter. We have received my husband’s bonus at the first of each year, others receive it close to his anniversary date. The key – don’t count on it until its in your hands!

And remember, this bonus is taxable! If he receives a bonus while he is deployed, it is generally not taxable. But the bonus must be awarded overseas. For instance, if when it is time to receive his enlistment bonus he happens to be deployed, it will be taxed. Because technically when he was awarded the bonus (at the time of enlistment) he was stateside. If he re-enlists when he is overseas, it generally is not taxable because he earned the bonus while deployed.

6.      What extra pay will he be awarded when he is deployed?

First, his pay is not taxable when he is overseas (state and federal). He will continue to receive his normal pay (base, BAS, BAH and any special pays). In addition, after 30 days, he will receive separation pay of $250 if he is married. He will also receive imminent danger/hazardous duty pay of $225 as well as location pay of $100. There have been many rumors that location pay was increasing to $750. While there is a bill for it, there is no sign that it will pass. The max location pay available now is $300 and the majority of soldiers only receive $100 so even if it increases to $750, its unlikely we’ll see that much of an increase. I know some who basically already had that money spent believing he would receive that much when he deployed and were disappointed to say the least when it didn’t show up. Don’t spend your money before you get it!

7. When will he receive raises?

While there is no guarantee, there is typically a cost of living raise in January of each year. Over the past few years, it has been in the 2.5-4% range. In addition, he will have an increase in pay when he is promoted to a new rank as well as with years of service (2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year and every even year after that).

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 116 comments… add one }
  • Jordan March 30, 2012, 2:51 am

    I am enlisting in the army my husband has a couple of charges on his background does that effect him being able to go with me??

    • Johnny April 14, 2012, 4:34 pm

      UMM…. Jordan i ask if i could go to the army and they did a back round check on me and i have 2 disoraly conduct or how ever u spell it. It depends on what charges ur husband has.

  • Cole March 30, 2012, 5:53 am

    just a tidbit. All soldiers do recieve BAH. However, it is in no way created equal. As a single E-4 with no spouse or dependants, living in the barracks, I recieve $8.10/month BAH. BAH rate in my area if I were married is $759. This is the equivilant to renting a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, about 650 sq. ft. appartment.
    That being said, my living space is around a 180 sq ft. bedroom with a shared bathroom and kitchen area. (which btw has no means cooking anything other than in a microwave)
    Hardly the deffinition of “equal pay for equal work.”

  • Nicole May 18, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I am marrying my boyfriend who is enlisted, very soon. I’ve read the comments and understand how BAH works but he will more than likely get deployed before years end. I just wanted to know if he gets deployed how he will receive his money while stationed over seas. If he has no access to his bank the direct deposit thing wouldn’t help out. How will the army take care of his expenses there?

    • Stacey May 20, 2012, 11:07 pm

      He will either need to set up automatic drafts before he leaves or have someone here who can take care of his bills while he is deployed.

  • Patricia May 27, 2012, 4:48 pm

    My spouse said he is projected to go to Korea for a year. We were wondering how does that effect his pay? We know we will still recieve bah,regular pay and seperation pay(i think). But does he get hardship pay? And some of his fellow soldiers keep telling him he wont be taxed, but we didn’t think that was correct seeing as it is a US Post. Also our son and I will be staying stateside.

  • Adam June 21, 2012, 1:42 pm

    Hey I’m enlisting in the army and I have a brother I help out to pay rent is their any way I can help him when I’m in the army

    • Sean July 7, 2012, 2:36 pm

      You can claim your brother as your dependant after your provide proof that you are helping to support him and after some lengthy paperwork. Talk to your chain for more details.

  • luis August 10, 2012, 10:42 pm

    I’m a single guy. I’m 19 years of age. I want to go in as infantry. Will I get a good amount of money if I serve 10+ yrs ??

    • alex August 19, 2015, 1:31 pm

      My husband is infantry, while he was single he made a good income just being there for 2 years. But he only made enough for living and things like dates or drinking. Never enough for vacation, come leave time.

  • JAMI August 16, 2012, 4:40 pm


    My husband just joined the army and is currently in basic. I was wondering when I can expect our BAH so that I can pay our mortgage and not have to pay it late. I do not make enough money to support my whole household on my own, and I was just wondering if I should be expecting some help sometime soon. I have access to all of our accounts so I know that if it comes in I will be able to pay for the bills.


  • Marisa October 20, 2012, 10:15 pm


    My boyfriend and I are getting married before he goes to basic. I am attending college already, So next year when he is away I will be a softomore. I was wondering if there would be any benifits that I could recive. I also have heard that I can get help with a place while he is away. Is this true?

    – soon to be army wife

  • Celine November 18, 2012, 9:55 am

    Hello, i am an army wife, were still kinda new married couple but we been bf/gf for more than 3yrs now, so im still new about military stuff and don’t know a lot of info, my hubby is e6 (career counselor) and been in the army for 14yrs now, im not that type of person who ask a lot of questions especially if it comes about money, that is why i even don’t know how much exactly my husband get payed everymonth, i still don’t have any access in his card so i really don’t have any idea whats going on with our financial thing, i am just waiting that he will tell me everything one day without me asking about it, i also don’t have a job yet so most of the time im just at home. I just wanted to know how much he exactly make everymonth, included with everything, and is it true that being married can get additional pay? Does military spouse has a right or included into some of their allowance?

    Thanks and i hope somebody can answer my questions.

  • Carla Harrington November 26, 2012, 4:21 pm

    My husband will be leaving for Basic and AIT training soon. We have been raising my 16 year old sister since birth when my mom passed. We don’t have any legal guardianship or custody and has never had to pursuit any. How would this affect our chances of receiving on-base housing and adding her to our benefits package? Also, if there is a problem, what steps must we take to prepare for this transition in our lives.

    Thank You

  • Ashley February 11, 2014, 4:12 pm

    My husband is now in AIT and we got married months before he shipped. We never received any FSA he’s been gone way over 30 days now. I was wondering how that worked and does he really get that in basic?

  • laura a Leal April 11, 2014, 8:58 pm

    I fiancée of the army soldier.he is on Libya mission and he ask a permission for comeback an we will married. But I get email. Where the say we have to pay. 3800.00 to get a permit to five months. I ever listen some think before. Is this true.

  • Taylor September 22, 2014, 9:12 pm

    Hi i am 18 and my boyfriend is leaving for basic November 17, 2014 I am going to be on his bank account he wants to ask my dad if he can marry me in uniform. so sometime when he gets back after basic he will ask. i just don’t know i live in Indiana (he does too) i plan on getting an apartment in December after this semester in college. I just can’t seem to find what the housing allowances are … (the apartment will be in his name not mine.) I don’t know how well off i will be with money and i am worried we will have money problems. i don’t currently have a job. I plan to get one while in college after i move though.

  • Marsha Lutz March 4, 2015, 7:48 pm

    An E-4 is wants to marry my daughter. What benefits would he receive?

  • Maria Acumulado October 5, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Hi my name is maria i am soon to get marry with my fiance thats going to the army i want to know if i can go with him to the base and hes three daughter and if not whst will happen with us while hes in there.

    • Stacey Abler October 8, 2015, 10:05 am

      You can go with him if you’re married after he’s assigned to his first duty station.

  • Tiffany April 5, 2017, 7:48 am

    My husband recently left for army basic training on March 21st. Will i receive his first pay on the 15th of April, because he didnt get payed on the 1st of April? Also, what are the dates i will receive the BAH & FSA & Food?

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